The Reader's second annual awards for political "achievement" 

Honoring some of the more notable deeds from our elected leaders in 2012

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You might remember that 2012 was the year of the latest most important elections of our lifetime—a chance for all of us to help get the country back on track by electing candidates who would fix the economy, clean up corruption, help the little guy, and protect our rights.

Now that it's over, we can say with some hopefulness that the 2014 primary is less than a year and a half away.

That doesn't mean that many of our local and national leaders didn't distinguish themselves in 2012. Some even deserve gold stars and trophies. Of course, we're too cheap to hand out gold stars and trophies. But we are happy to announce our Second Annual Reader Awards for Political Achievement. We're hoping the winners will be inspired to another year of even better public service.

And without further ado, the 2012 honorees are:

THE BILL CLINTON AWARD … 

for saying one thing and doing something else even after you're caught doing what you say you're not: Mayor Rahm Emanuel—for the second year in a row! He still hasn't hired those 1,000 new cops, reformed the city's TIF program, or ended the gimmicks in the city budget, like diverting water and sewer tax revenues to things that have nothing to do with water or sewers.

First runner-up: Mayor Emanuel, for promising to extend the school day, then keeping kids out of school for a week and a half after picking the fight that led to the first teachers' strike in 25 years.

Second runner-up: Mayor Emanuel, for promising to do everything he can to lessen the impact of the parking meter deal while quietly having city lawyers fight in court to keep it in place—and putting countless other city properties up for auction.

THE RAHM EMANUEL AWARD … 

for never letting a serious crisis go to waste: Juan Rangel, CEO of UNO Charter Schools, for using the CPS teachers' strike as an opportunity to recruit students for his nonunionized schools. Always open for business—and still plenty of seats available!

THE O'JAYS "BACK STABBERS" AWARD … 

for the most public and devastating betrayal of a loyal ally: Mayor Emanuel, who unceremoniously dumped his schools chief, Jean-Claude Brizard, soon after the teachers' strike ended. J.C., we hardly knew ye.

THE JACKIE BROWN AWARD … 

for the tough black chick who sticks it to the man: Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis, who emerged from the strike more popular than ever among her rank and file. We're all still wishing we could have witnessed her exchange with Mayor Emanuel at City Hall: "Fuck me? Fuck you, you low-life piece of … "

THE RIP VAN WINKLE AWARD … 

for waking up after a prolonged sleep: President Barack Obama, who regained consciousness sometime after the first presidential debate, just in time to remind voters that Mitt Romney was Mitt Romney.

THE BERT LAHR AWARD … 

for playing a cowardly lion: Mitt Romney, who never found the nerve to stand up to birthers, gun nuts, Texas secessionists, homophobes, climate change deniers, and other right-wing crazies during his losing path from moderate Massachusetts governor to conservative presidential candidate. And why cater to them? At least 47 percent of these people were going to vote for the Republican no matter what.

THE ROMEO & JULIET STRANGE BEDFELLOWS AWARD … 

for the oddest political coalition: Willie Nelson, Snoop Dogg, Reverend Pat Robertson, Congressman Ron Paul, and the voters of Washington and Colorado for doing what they could to legalize marijuana. Illinois politicians, you're free to step it up any day now.

THE DR. NICK AWARD … 

for the politician who most resembles our favorite mail-order doctor from The Simpsons: Congressman Joe Walsh, who, during his failed reelection bid, declared that "with modern technology and science, you can't find one instance" where women could die as a result of complications from pregnancy.

First runner-up: Losing senate candidate Todd Akin of Missouri, who offered the theory that women don't get pregnant from "legitimate rape."

Second runner-up: Losing senate candidate Richard Mourdock of Indiana, for telling us that "even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen."

THE YELLOW DOG DEMOCRAT AWARD … 

for citizens most resembling the southerners of old who'd vote for a yellow dog over a Republican: Voters from the tenth state legislative district, who overwhelmingly reelected Derrick Smith after he was arrested and indicted for taking a bribe.

Runner-up: Voters from the second congressional district, who overwhelmingly reelected Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. even though he hadn't been seen in public in weeks and was reportedly suffering a mental breakdown.

THE MRS. DOUBTFIRE AWARD … 

for the candidate who tries to win election by pretending he's something he's not: Tom Swiss, the white Republican who ran as a black Democrat in the hopes of fooling west-side voters into backing him over Derrick Smith.

THE EDGAR ALLAN POE AWARD … 

for an unusual interest in necrophilia: Cook County state's attorney Anita Alvarez, for saying "it's possible" that a serial rapist's DNA ended up on a murder victim because he assaulted her after she was dead—instead of just admitting the county probably prosecuted five innocent men for the crime.

THE KANYE WEST "GEORGE BUSH DOESN'T CARE ABOUT BLACK PEOPLE" AWARD … 

for bravely stating the ugly truth only to make a politically correct apology after the shit hits the fan: Cook County Board president Toni Preckwinkle, who apologized after saying President Reagan deserves a "special place in hell" for ramping up the war on drugs.

First runner-up: Cook County Board president Toni Preckwinkle, who stepped back after saying the crime-fighting strategy of Mayor Emanuel and police superintendent Garry McCarthy amounts to "just arrest everybody."

Second runner-up: Cook County Board president Toni Preckwinkle, who said her comments about the Chicago Public Schools being "a miserable education system" were aimed at "society as a whole" and not anybody in particular.

THE "WHO SAYS CARTOGRAPHY IS A LOST ART?" AWARD … 

for creative gerrymandering: Illinois house speaker Michael Madigan, for successfully drawing state and congressional legislative maps to guarantee Democratic victories, even in the places where a few residents still admit to being Republican.

First runner-up: Alderman Richard Mell, for redrawing the Chicago ward boundaries to protect the incumbency of mayoral suck-ups while mapping opponents like Robert Fioretti out of their wards.

Second runner-up: Republican lawmakers throughout the country who guaranteed that the GOP would maintain control of Congress—in the face of a Democratic landslide—by successfully making use of each and every wingnut they could find.

THE JAY CUTLER AWARD … 

for only being as good as your offensive line: Police chief Garry McCarthy, who won comparisons to Braveheart and George Washington for standing behind a wall of armor-clad, billy club-wielding riot cops during NATO summit protests.

THE CHRIS ROCK AWARD … for having a way with words: City workers who came up with an array of nicknames for the vertically challenged Mayor Emanuel, who was once an undergraduate ballet major. Our favorite: "Tiny Dancer."

THE DALLAS COWGIRL AWARD …  for rooting for the home team: Alderman Joe Moore (49th), who's turned from independent City Hall watchdog into happy mayoral cheerleader since Emanuel's election. We love you anyway, Joe.

THE EDDIE HASKELL APPLE-POLISHER AWARD … 

for the politician who most enthusiastically brownnoses his or her boss: Alderman Patrick O'Connor, who never saw a mayoral proposal he didn't shower with praise, from Mayor Daley's budgets that plunged us into debt to Mayor Emanuel's plans to turn over city property to advertisers.

Runner-up: The rest of the reliable yes votes in the City Council. Unfortunately, we don't have the space to print all their names.

THE WHITNEY HOUSTON "GREATEST LOVE OF ALL" AWARD … 

to the elected official notably moved to warmth and affection for other elected officials: Alderman Carrie Austin, who gave a heartfelt shout-out to the person most responsible for ushering Mayor Emanuel's budget and digital billboard deal through the City Council: "I want to commend myself," she said at a December council meeting.

Runner-up: Alderman Walter Burnett Jr., who compared council passage of the mayor's digital billboard deal to the "miracle of the Chanukah lights."

THE HINDSIGHT IS 20/20 AWARD … 

for denouncing Mayor Daley now that he's left office: The multitude of aldermen who now trash the boondoggle of a parking meter deal—four years after they voted for it.

Runner-up: Chicago voters who have no one but themselves to blame for electing these aldermen.

THE LEON DESPRES AWARD … 

for showing a little backbone, named for the former Hyde Park alderman who was an indefatigable opponent of corruption and Machine politics): The aldermen who not only held their own budget hearings this year—after the mayor canceled his—but listened to enough constituents to vote no on the mayor's budget proposal. That would be aldermen Robert Fioretti, Scott Waguespack, and John Arena.

First runner-up: The other aldermen who participated in the aldermanic budget hearings before they gave in and voted with the mayor anyway: Aldermen Roderick Sawyer, Toni Foulkes, Rick Munoz, and Nicholas Sposato.

Second runner-up: Alderman Leslie Hairston, who officially sponsored the budget hearings but ended up attending none prior to signing off on the mayor's budget.

May the competition in this category be fierce in 2013.

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