Monday, January 16, 2006

Condemned to Repeat It?

Governor Blagojevich's "keno" proposal brings to mind a ghost from legislative sessions past. When Democratic titan Henry Horner was in office, Mayor Ed Kelly rammed a gambling bill through both Houses. It would have applied only to Chicago and had already been approved by, ironically, Attorney General Otto Kerner. The tax revenue would be used only to pay teachers. (During the Depression, CPS teachers were being paid in script or not at all, though many of them continued to work.) But, it was "no dice" with Horner. While sympathetic to the city's plight(and not so sympathetic to Mayor Kelly), Horner heeded the calling of moral responsibility.

No one would want to honor Blago with a Horner comparison, but the two Democrats have much in common(though, apparently, not gaming). Each is (or was) a Chicago Democrat who was at one time the toast of his party. (Believe it or not, Horner was slated by Cermak.) Each had been, at various times, at war with his lieutenant governor. The Governor's father-in-law has been almost as big an antagonist as the Kelly-Nash machine was to Horner, though a slightly less pervasive one. (Mayor Kelly also exercised a lot of clout with federal relief officials, which became Horner's undoing. That's another story.) Let's just hope the similarities stop there. After all, Horner served (nearly) two terms.

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