CHICAGO FREE PRESS LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Issues with Daley
Last week’s Chicago Free Press was strikingly contradictory. On the one hand, an excellent editorial calling for LGBT people to stop providing cover for gutless politicians who gladly take our support while opposing our legal equality, including our right to marry. As the editorial stated, it’s not enough for pols to oppose the other party’s constitutional amendments and then stab us in the back by also opposing marriage equality (hear that, Blago, Obama, Durbin, et al?).
In trying to understand gay backing to anti-gay politicians, is it self-hatred that induces some LGBT people to support people who think we don’t deserve the same rights that other citizens enjoy? Are we pathetic doormats who fawn over politicians who simply deign to acknowledge our existence? Why is it that politicians who oppose legal equality for gay people are invited to march at the front of the gay “pride” parade?
On the other hand, the Free Press ran a glowing interview with Richard Daley, complete with a cover page photo of da mare, a “great mayor” according to that unimpeachable authority on greatness, George W. Bush. Now when Topinka hung out with Bush, we were asked over and over again, “What was she thinking?!” But when Daley met several times with the man voted the nation’s most anti-gay politician, the last time the two of them practically shoving birthday cake in each other’s mouths, nary a comment from Daley’s gay hangers-on.
Daley also met on at least four separate occasions with Poland’s bigot-in-chief, President Lech Kaczynski, who repeatedly shut down gay pride celebrations in his country, ordered the police to imprison the participants and allowed fascist thugs to violently attack our Polish brothers and sisters. If Daley or any other U.S. mayor had met with apartheid era South African President P. W. Botha, there would have been hell to pay, not only from African Americans, and rightfully so. But again, nary a peep from Daley’s gay hangers on when Daley hangs with Kaczynski.
Daley’s gay defenders point to da mare’s promotion of the Gay Games as proof of his being a true “friend” of the community. But this is mostly proof of this administration’s love of all things greennot planters in median strips, but tourism dollarsand a transparent bid for the 2016 Olympics. Whether it’s jobs, contracts or TIF-gift rip-offs for already wealthy businesses, this has been a City Hall for sale. For every City dollar given to pro-gay causes like the Games or the Center on Halsted, many times that are given to anti-gay outfits like the Salvation Army and Catholic Charities, which refuse on principle to hire us.
As a people often on the receiving end of inequality, can we be indifferent to an administration which has raised inequality, brutality and corruption to a high art? Millions in “minority and women-owned” contracts have gone to white male mobbed-up mayoral buddies like the Duff brothers, an army of unqualified campaign hacks have been favored over qualified candidates for jobs involving public safety like building inspectors (echos of George Ryan here), millions in tax dollars have gone to mayoral contributors whose firms do little or no work, mayoral cronies have ripped millions off of city taxpayers through fraudulent workmen’s comp claimsall this in a city which can’t come up with the money to get its trains to run safely and on time.
But the financial scandals of indicted and jailed top mayoral buddies pale by comparison to the lives destroyed as a result of the city’s systemic failure to curb brutal and illegal conduct by its police officers. Perpetrators responsible for millions in civil jury verdicts and settlements are almost never fired, let alone criminally prosecuted by Daley’s buddy (and second in command when he was in that office), Cook County State’s Attorney Dick Divine. Indeed, they’re disproportionately promoted over their fellow officers, sending precisely the wrong message to the rank and file.
The city is currently facing several multi-million dollar suits as a result of the Jon Burge-led police tortures of over 100 African American mentortures that Daley did nothing to stop despite being notified of them by his police superintendent and the city’s own 1990 Goldston Report. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Jon Conroy of The Reader and the Chicago Tribune have all amply documented the tortures by Burge, et al, yet Daley has had city lawyers and outside counsel forking over good money after bad to avoid the day of reckoning of the suits brought by torture victims.
Finally, for anyone who knows the Daley family history, the most jaw-dropping part of the Free Press profile was its headline: “Daley says his dad taught him to respect gays.” Chicago under Daley the First was a city where gays lived in constant fear of bar raids by the mayor’s police, and finding their names and occupations printed in the Tribune. A city where for most of his reign the only gay bars that could stay in business were mob associated joints that kept a steady stream of payoffs flowing to the mayor’s cops. The current mayor learned “respect” from his father? What a sick joke. Gay Chicagoans, all Chicagoans, deserve better.
Andy Thayer, Bob Schwartz, Craig Teichen, Thomas Goree, Darrell Gordon, Roger Fraser, Brent Holman-Gomez, Scott Free
Gay Liberation Network Chicago