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The Mechanics
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Media Fri Oct 08 2010

Unseasonable Weather Weekend

In recognition of our unseasonable warmth this weekend, here's a stroll down memory lane to Mayor Jane Byrne's 1979 victory night, which came on the heels of a once-in-a-lifetime (well, maybe somewhere other than Chicago) blizzard:

 
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Jeff Smith / October 9, 2010 9:05 AM

The winter of 1978-79 was actually the third horrendous winter in a row in Chicago. 1976-77 had been about the coldest in a century. Then 1977-78 got about as much, maybe more, snow than we'd ever seen. The next winter, 1978-79, during which the mayoral occurred, broke both those records at once, it was really cold AND really snowy, which usually doesn't happen.

But it was not just the snowstorm, and Bilandic's failure to plow the side streets, that did him in. Note in the first few seconds of the clip above, that practically the first words out of Byrne's mouth are "greased jobs, contracts, the whole thing." The election of Chicago's first (and to date only) female mayor was due in large part to an anti-corruption theme of a campaign that began in warm weather, and a large electorate that was in fact ready for reform and more equity. The blizzard itself would have had little impact if Byrne had not been pounding those memes for months.

The uprising aspect of the Byrne campaign, as well as the unprecedented votes in the precincts that gave her her margin, has been buried as deep as a Woodlawn side street for decades, and needs to be seen as foreshadow that made the election of Harold Washington four years later -- without benefit of any blizzard -- even imaginable.

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Feature

Parents Still Steaming, but About More Than Just Boilers

By Phil Huckelberry / 2 Comments

It's now been 11 days since the carbon monoxide leak which sent over 80 Prussing Elementary School students and staff to the hospital. While officials from Chicago Public Schools have partially answered some questions, and CPS CEO Forrest Claypool has informed that he will be visiting the school to field more questions on Nov. 16, many parents remain irate at the CPS response to date. More...

Civics

Substance, Not Style, the Source of Rahm's Woes

By Ramsin Canon / 2 Comments

It's not surprising that some of Mayor Emanuel's sympathizers and supporters are confusing people's substantive disputes with the mayor as the effect of poor marketing on his part. It's exactly this insular worldview that has gotten the mayor in hot... More...

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Mechanics is the politics section of Gapers Block, reflecting the diversity of viewpoints and beliefs of Chicagoans and Illinoisans. More...
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