BLOG
From Chicago to London – one corruption scandal to another
21 July, 2011

In all my years of living in Chicago, the city known for its ridiculously cold winters and daily corruption scandals has never looked so magnificent. So what if the sales tax has been hiked up so high 10.25%, highest in the country, that the public outcry actually made the officials roll the tax back to 9.75% to equal that of Los Angeles? For all that money Chicago has one beautiful downtown with gorgeous landscaping done at the Grant Park as city’s

crown jewel. It had taken ten years to finally finish the park, but it was worth the wait. Situated very close to Lake Michigan, the park is the only free paradise to frolic through. I have to say I spent more than one day walking through the beautiful flowers and trees, listening to the free concerts, and popping in and out of the Museum of Art Institute. Of course nothing is really free, and those concerts and the park have been paid for by specially assigned ‘amusement’ taxes, but it is only fair to pay for something to be built. There is no need to speculate on how much money officials and contractors skimmed off the citizens of the great city before they let the project finish, but that is business as usual in Chicago and that’s what the city has tax hikes for.

Walking down the Michigan avenue, not much had changed  since I had left in 2003 for California to thaw out. Same businesses and restaurants occupied the southern part of the Avenue as they did before. A poster store was going out of business, but the Russian Tea Room, Au Bon Pan caf?, Bennigans pub and many more staples of the Avenue, remained. One such staple is a music store selling as you might have guessed Musical Instruments. The owner of the store had taught me to dance argentine tango when I was still in college, so I always visit him whenever I happen to be in town. Sometimes we dance in his little studio in the shop and sometimes when he isn’t feeling up to it (he is turning 80 this year) I get an earful of the latest Chicago political scandal. Chicago, where votes can be bought, Senate seats can be traded, and money laundering schemes and scams are coming out of peoples ears, this city has something new happening to it everyday. This time around I heard the gossip on how Rahm Emanuel got his job as the Mayor of Chicago, and it wasn’t pretty. It is rumored that some six hundred job were held hostage by Mr.Emanuel, and if he hadn’t gotten his way those jobs would either disappear or worse, be reassigned to different people.

I am rarely surprised by any of Chicago officials’ antics and this was no exception. Then my former teacher did something surprising and started complaining about someone who has nothing to do with Chicago, Mr. Rupert Murdoch. I thought this strange for two reasons. One reason being that the hacking news scandal was happening in London, and my former teacher rarely paid attention to scandals outside Chicago city limits, and the second reason was that he seemed genuinely surprised that scandals in news organizations happen elsewhere. His indignation on the subject of illegal phone hacking and eavesdropping was real, and it confused me because this man had heard and seen all sorts of corruption happen all around him for fifty or so years, and yet he was outraged at little illegal phone tapping. He kept talking about it like it was another Watergate, and it made me wonder. If Watergate could bring down a president of the most powerful country, what made Mr. Murdoch think it wouldn’t touch him?

Print