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Monday, February 20, 2012

The Great Debaters: Alderman Joe Moore and I go at it

Posted By on 02.20.12 at 10:24 AM

Joe Moore
  • Joe Moore
This must be my time for hanging with Rogers Park politicians—last week I talked to Don Gordon’s political science class, and this week I debated Joe Moore.

Hold it, time out for an explanation. Rogers Park’s the community on the city’s far north side. Joe Moore’s been its alderman since, like, forever. Don Gordon ran against him in 2009.

And that, my friends, is pretty much all you need to know to continue…

Wait, wait—time out for personal reminiscence....

I’ve known Joe Moore for almost 30 years. Thirty freaking years, people! That’s a long time to have known anyone—let alone an alderman.

Time out for song. "Sunrise, sunset, sunrise, sunset—swiftly fly the years...."

OK, back to reminiscence….

When we first met, Joe was a young, idealistic gonna-change-the-world lawyer for the city. And I was a young, idealistic reporter, who was gonna write about changing that world.

Somewhere along the line lots of things change—though not, alas, the world.

Joe evolved into a more practical politician who learned, as they say, to pragmatically work within the system.

And me? Well, I remain hopelessly and foolishly anchored in the idealism of my youth, like some funny little oddball you show off to schoolchildren on field trips.

“Look, children, that’s the nutcase who thinks we should spend more on libraries.”

Back to our debate….

It wasn’t positioned as a debate. More like two old guys answering questions about Chicago politics asked by a group of 20 or so college students from across the country brought together by the Associated Colleges of the Midwest. (Let's give a shout out to Mary Scott-Boria, the ACM official who organized the session.)

But since Joe looks at Chicago politics one way, and I look at it another way, we pretty much disagree, though politely, on everything.

So that’s how things turned into a debate.

For instance….

I said TIFs are an abominable scam that take from the poor and give to the rich. And Joe said it’s a valuable tool for economic development with flaws that can be fixed with a little tweaking.

I said Mayor Emanuel’s an impulsive political schemer who rarely takes the time to think through whatever scheme pops into his brain. And Joe said the mayor really, really cares about what aldermen think.

I said the upcoming G8/NATO summits were a colossal waste of money, and Joe said it’s good to shine an international spotlight on our fair city.

I said I’d rather spend all that money on something more tangible—like libraries—than an international spotlight shining on our fair city. And Joe said money’s not really an issue 'cause the feds are picking up most of the tab.

I said Chicagoans spend federal taxes too.

And Joe said, then it’s good those taxes come back to Chicago.

I said I’d rather have them come back to pay for something we really need—like libraries.

And Joe said—what's with you and those fucking libraries!

Just kidding. Joe didn’t really say that. Probably didn’t even think it. Mayor Rahm on the other hand….

Afterward, Joe and I posed for a photograph. Part of my plan to pose with every politician in town. Let's see—posed with Mayor Daley and Alderman Richard Mell. Guess Mayor Rahm’s next.

On second thought, I’m not sure either one of us is ready for that…

It was fun jousting with you, Joe!

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