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06/23/2010

Daley's WalMart Race Card

  You know its serious business in Chicago when Mayor Richard M. Daley plays the race card.

  As a critical showdown in the city's "WalMart War" approaches, hizzoner angrily smacked down his ace of spades:

  "Why is it only that in the African-American and Hispanic community you cannot build a Wal-Mart?"

   This reporter immediately asked Daley if he was accusing the union leaders who oppose the controversial retailer's expansion in Chicago of racism.  Inexplicably, the Mayor insisted he was not suggesting racism was in play.

  But at the news conference, where he asked the loaded question, you can see the reaction of two African-Americans in the background.  CAPS director Ronald Holt and 8th Ward Alderman Michelle Harris nodded their heads as they pantomined their agreement with Daley's racially-charged analysis of the WalMart standoff.

  Remember the last time the Mayor used the race card to get what he wanted. 

  In 2008, he goaded Aldermen to break tradition and approve a children's museum in Grant Park.  He suggested that condominium owners who lived nearby opposed the project because they didn't want busloads of field-tripping public school kids, mostly black and hispanic, in the upscale lakefront neighborhood. 

  Ridiculous, you say? 

  But it worked.

  It amazes this reporter how much Chicago has changed in the 20 years since Richard M. Daley was first elected at the end of the two-year political storm that followed the death of Harold Washington.  The white Mayor from Bridgeport now counts the African-American and Hispanic communities as his "go-to" constituencies.  And its good politics for Daley in 2010 given the fact that blacks and latinos now make up a majority of the city's population.

  If the mayor prevails in the WalMart War, it could be better politics in 2011...

  ...if he decides to run for another term.

   

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