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Op-Ed Wed Dec 30 2009
[This is an Op-Ed submitted by GB contributor Cliff Etters]
I'm not sure if it's me or not, but this past year seems to be chock full of body blows and the occasional groin shot to the city of Chicago. Cop beatings, patronage issues, CPS school beatings, another CTA Doomsday proclamation and bailout, an exorbitant amount spent on a failed Olympic bid that the majority of the city didn't want, the demolition of Bauhaus architectural master works, and the privatization of the city parking meters for about $1.2b, of which we've already spent nearly $1b due to budget mismanagement.
And these are only the ones that I can think about without delving into a fast Google search of "Chicago Political Scandals 2009" which provided 1,410,000 hits but included stuff like Blago, and the nimrod who took photos for Lashkar-e-Taiba's 2008 Mumbai attacks. Dumbasses.
It's pretty much gotten to the point where most Chicagoan's have a bemused "Well, it can't get any worse..." sort of attitude. Mainly because we feel that unless we're part of the Machine or exceptionally wealthy, there's no recourse to fixing the problems.
But I have a proposal to change that. In fact, it may be the single thing that we can do as a city that will balance the budget, let our sitting representatives know how we feel, and ensure that anyone running for office asks themselves if serving the public interests is really in their best interest. I call it The Slap Tax.
For $1 you can slap your alderman or one of the county commissioners. For $3 you get to slap the County Board President. And for a whopping $5 you get to slap the Mayor.
Like everything dealing with the government and money, there ARE rules:
1. You cannot slap with the intent to injure.
2. Your feet must remain planted.
3. You must slap from the elbow and your wrist must be loose.
4. Every donation you make, the slap recipient may match your donation to cancel the slap.
5. You may make multiple donations to make multiple slaps ($20 = 4 Mayoral slaps, 6 Board President slaps with $2 in change, or 20 slaps to 20 aldermen, your call.)
6. All donations will be accounted for clearly in the city budget
7. Slaps can be given for four hours after every city council and county board meeting.
8. The Mayor, Board President, Commissioners, and Aldermen must stand for slaps on the 2nd and 16th of every month. Slapping will commence at 9am and end at 5pm with 30 minutes given for lunch and two 15 minute breaks to be taken at the slapee's discretion.
I'm sure that there are folks that will see this proposal, and worry about some pensioner who spends her entire paycheck on slaps and is forced to eat her cat's food for the month, but the benefits outweigh the disadvantages in that at least 3 times a month our elected representatives will know if they are doing a good job or not. Those representatives that grow tired of being slapped have to ask the question "Is public service something I really want to do?" And citizens seeking office have to ask themselves if they can handle not only the intellectual and moral rigors of the job, but also getting slapped.
The Slap Tax. Who knows? Maybe if it's successful in Chicago, we can take it to Springfield.