December 1999

...And That's My OpinionŠ

By Sandy Goldman

The Rogers Park Community Curmudgeon

Legislators.... Aren't We Lucky To Have Them?

"I have got to talk to you," said my friend from Tarpon Springs, Florida where he lives in retirement. Ever since 1953, when he and I saw the movie "Beneath The 12 Mile Reef", he has been obsessed with harvesting a giant sponge from the reefs of Tarpon Springs, a feat that Robert Wagner accomplished in the movie. While he wanted to emulate Robert Wagner, I wanted to find actress Terry Moore, but that's another story.

"So," I said, "have you finally found the giant sponge?"

"Never mind that, I want to talk about what's going on in Springfield and in the Chicago City Council," he retorted.

"Yes?" I said, afraid to say more.

"The way we hear it down here is that Governor Ryan has called special sessions of the House and Senate to correct some flaws in the Safe Neighborhoods Act after the Supreme Court struck it down as unconstitutional. How come all those bright legislators and their highly paid lawyers and consultants couldn't get it right the first time? Didn't any of them have the time to read the Illinois Constitution? Didn't any of them know that each piece of legislation needs to deal with only one subject? Apples and oranges-we learned in high school that they don't mix.

"But the Constitution is cumbersome, and lawmaking is a complicated and imprecise art," I responded.

"Balderdash", he bellowed, "they all knew how to solicit funds for political campaigns at the offices of the Secretary of State and at huge fund-raising parties! But what really has us laughing down here is your Lt. Governor Woods campaign against the racy and suggestive holiday catalog of Abercrombie and Fitch, which, she says, features all kinds of and suggestive poses. Down here in Florida, people walk around all day in fewer clothes than those models-and that's the blue-haired, bifocal crowd. You ought to see the young folks; not only on the street but also on the beaches. Talk about suggestive...Hey wait a minute...I remember the Oak Street Beach."

"Oak Street Beach is pretty in the summertime," I mused slowly.

Back on track, he tittered and said, " And now I read that Mayor Daley is livid because his nominee for Fire Commissioner was approved 42-5 instead of a unanimous vote."

"Yes", I shot back, "he is not used to such 'overwhelming' dissent."

" Furthermore," he continued, "only a few days ago this august body jumped on the bandwagon and attempted to ban the same Abercrombie & Fitch catalog for reasons of immorality and indecency."

"They were afraid of the bad example it would set for the youth of our city," I informed him.

"Really," he said, "was anyone posing with an AK-47 or a Saturday night special? Were the models pretending to do a drive-by shooting? Were there pictures of rampaging youths breaking store windows to run off with Abercrombie & Fitch merchandise? There is more graphic indecency and immorality in the magazines and tabloids on the newsstands and in drug and grocery stores throughout Chicago than in that catalog-remember, I used to live in Chicago."

"OK," I replied, "but the Chicago City Council and the Lt. Governor are in a way responsible for the morality of the citizens of the city and the state!"

"What do you mean?" he exclaimed in total astonishment. "Just look at the record of the Chicago city government, the judiciary and other elected officials, shall we? Dozens of dishonest, unscrupulous aldermen from Michael "Hinky Dink" Kenna and "Bathhouse John Coughlin in the late 1800s to Tim Evans and the great reformer Larry Bloom in the 1990's. Look at the Greylord scandal; traffic court bribes, illegal fly dumping and wire-tapping evidence of unscrupulous activities...and on and on and on. There is the real immorality. Abercrombie and Fitch...it's just a catalog for goodness sakes!!"

"Pause for a minute," I said, "you're running out of breath."

"Never mind that!" he continued, "I grew up in Chicago in the era of massage parlors and adult book stores-in fact I owned a couple of them. I know what it took for these stores to stay in business. I never heard hardly a peep about morality. Some are still in business and there is still not a peep. Abercrombie and Fitch indeed! I have just on final question Sandy old buddy, does anybody in that city council understand the meaning of hyperbole?"

"I don't know!" I said, "I'll have to think about that!!!"

...And that's my opinion.

And I'm Sandy Goldman

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