What a runoff! I had no idea voter apathy could be so hyper-local!
Wait, I thought runoff was what was in my yard after a rainstorm, not the MEDIA EVENT OF THE CENTURY!!!! Alderman Freddrenna Lyle lost????? Michael Chandler is back???? Smith beat Egan??????? My world is going to change foreeevvvvveerrrr!
I understand that this is hyper-local news at its core. The people who care about the runoff election in the 24th ward are either a) voters or b) niche blog editors. I'm not sure a random Chicagoan could name more than three alderman. So the loss of Lyle, Dixon and Stone probably won't change much. Listen, we have a new mayor and it's probably okay that some of the resident alderman shuffle out. Hopefully the newcomers can either a) be better than the old alderman or b) be as good as the old alderman.
So instead of the mayor appointing aldermen, 14 percent of the ward chooses who gets paid $119,000.
Funny story: I talked to a friend today who said she didn't have a runoff in her ward, because her alderman, Mike Quigley, had already won. I told her Quigley was her U.S. Representative, not alderman. She then said, "Oh!!! I meant Deb Mell." Nope. Deb Mell is her state representative. "Oh. Wait, so who's my alderman?" Good question.
I think the better question might be, are we over-represented?
Here are my quick, random observations from the 2011 aldermanic runoff:
Rhymefest lost by 300 votes in the 20th ward. Well, he isn't conceding because his camp is claiming "massive voter irregularities." They pulled a mini-Tony Peraica last night and stormed the Chicago Board of Elections. Well, by stormed, I mean they brought a couple lawyers to a closed door meeting. I was hoping Rhymefest would come down, someone would throw a chair through a window and then have an impromptu rap concert.
So I was disappointed when I tagged along with Tony Arnold to cover the event. I recuse myself on covering Rhymefest because we are friends. He's a funny dude and we do a lot of performing together, even before he ran for alderman. We released a video last night of my character, Alderman Ed Bus (fictitious 53rd) teaching Rhymefest how to raise money. Anyway, the reporters grilled Rhymefest's lawyers about what could actually be done and it seemed that this was more for show, less for changing the vote. Ah, well. Rhymefest got more pub for running for alderman than he did with his last record. So something tells me he knows what he's doing.
Berny Stone has left the building! The elder statesman of the City Council was trounced last night by Debra Silverstein. So another of the Daley rubber stamp City Council members rides off into the sunset. It's kind of like Jedi when Luke sees the glowing images of Yoda and Obi-Wan. In this case, Waguespack will look over his shoulder and see images of Burt Natarus, Bill Banks and Berny Stone. And oh how the Ewoks will dance.
I think I will like this Nicholas Sposato. He is a firefighter who beat Bill Banks' chosen one, John Rice. Sposato should be a fun guy to cover. Rice's loss is more symoblic than anything, as he was backed by big Chicago machine committeeman. Emanuel also endorsed Rice, but - according to the latest state records - gave no money. Not a huge vote of confidence in the machine, eh?
And how 'bout this for an internship coup? This photo was on the front page of the Chicago Tribune today. Stone is talking to the media. Next to WBEZ's Odette Yousef (red jacket), stands our new intern, Kate Dries. Find a paper copy and put that in the ol' scrapbook, Dries!
B story: Enough elections. Let's get to the real stories of this city. As you may have heard, Batman is not coming back to Chicago. They are shooting the next installment of the Batman movies in Pittsburgh. See what happens when you lose a series at home to the Pirates? Boom, $50 million in lost revenue.
C story: The Reader reports that the Wild Hare is closing. The Wrigleyville reggae bar was a destination spot for touring bands and adventurous Cubs fans who couldn't get into Sluggers. I raise a Red Stripe in your honor, out-of-place reggae bar. You treated me well a few times. Is Exodus 2 still open across the street? Indeed it is!
D story: They did it! Blewt and Steve Gadlin raised enough cash to produce a pilot for WCIU! We should be seeing a new gameshow called "Don't Spit the Water" soon. GM Neil Sabin will have to honor his word. Wait - what? Want me to back up? Ah, just click the link (above).
Sports: Don't look now, but a young star is budding on the North Side. Starlin Castro has been lights-out at the beginning of the season. He is hitting over .500 and leading the charge for a Cubs team that is 3-2. Can it continue? Will this be the best shortstop the Cubs have had since swingin' Shawon Dunston? And in college basketball news, a guy from the Illini squad is going pro. I wouldn't know him because he didn't play in either of the NCAA tournament games because of a suspension. The paper told me he averaged 7.6 points a game in his freshman year in Champagne. Sounds great.
Kicker: Have you been out to Wrigley yet? I want a progress report on our new PA announcer. Andrew Bellison was chosen as the winner of the Cubs' contest to take over duties announcing at the ballpark. Here's his audition tape, where he tells the world that he "I always idolized Paul Friedman as a kid growing up." Paul works with us at WBEZ.
And now, he's an old man. Hilarious.