The Tim Floyd era begins at the Chicago Public Library | Bleader

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Tim Floyd era begins at the Chicago Public Library

Posted By on 01.26.12 at 05:01 PM

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Tim Floyd. Thanks, coach!
  • Bobak Ha'Eri/Wikimedia Commons
  • Tim Floyd. Thanks, coach!
As Mary Dempsey, the old library commissioner, walked out, and Brian Bannon, her replacement, walked in, I had a flashback to 1998.

That's when Tim Floyd replaced Phil Jackson as the coach of my beloved Chicago Bulls.

Before I go further—time out for an explanation for our more sports-challenged readers. We'll take it one step at a time, like it's a TIF explanation.

The Bulls are the professional basketball team in Chicago.

Phil Jackson coached them for most of the 1990s, when they were really, really good and won a bunch of championships.

Ah, the glory years.

At some point in that run, Jackson had a falling-out with Jerry Krause, the team's general manager.

Michael Jordan declared he wouldn't play for the Bulls unless Jackson was the coach. (I suspect even our most sports-challenged readers know who Michael Jordan is.)

So Jerry Reinsdorf, owner of the Bulls, essentially had to choose between Michael Jordan and Jerry Krause.

He chose Krause.

That sobbing sound you hear is coming from me.

Jackson was not rehired. Jordan quit. And into town came Mr. Floyd, a young college coach, who had been one of Krause's fishing buddies.

Thus ushering in years and years of misery from which the team has only recently recovered.

For which I say—thank you, thank you, Derrick Rose!

By the way, you can read all about those Jordan years in great books by Sam Smith, David Halberstam, and other writers, which you should be able to find at your local library.

Provided you don't go there on Sundays. Neighborhood branches are closed on Sundays.

Or Mondays. Branches are also closed on Mondays.

Or need the assistance of a librarian, who probably will be in the stacks reshelving books. In the old days, pages reshelved books. But Mayor Emanuel fired the pages on the grounds that we can't afford to pay someone about $11 an hour to shelve books cause we need to spend that money building a grocery store in Greektown and staging spectacles for the G-8 and Nato summits.

Sorry, tangent. Where was I?

Oh, yes, Jerry Krause's fishing buddy ...

I don't know if Brian Bannon and Mayor Emanuel are fishing buddies—not even sure that Mayor Emanuel fishes. And I certainly hope that Bannon's tenure with the libraries is more successful than Floyd's with the Bulls.

But essentially, Mayor Emanuel's done what Krause did—replacing a seasoned vet with an out-of-town rookie whose greatest qualification seems to be his ability to tell the boss exactly what he wants to hear.

In contrast to Mary Dempsey, who apparently told the boss what he didn't want to hear—namely, that firing employees and cutting hours will destroy the library system she spent so many years trying to build up.

Thus, at his introductory press conference, Bannon dutifully nodded along as Mayor Emanuel explained his library cuts this way: "The debate is not just about library hours—[it's] what will our neighborhood branch libraries be like in this information age. We need to define that next mission, write that next chapter, and adapt to the changes."

In other words, let's pretend that the recent spasm of library cutbacks, firings, and closings is part of some larger, well-thought-out strategy.

As opposed to some half-baked budget-cutting idea that popped out of Mayor Rahm's head in between lunches with members of the millionaire's club.

Look on the bright side, people—if you need to visit a well-funded library with convenient, seven-days-a-week service, you can always go to Wilmette, the mayor's hometown.

Somehow or other the library functions in Wilmette without people having to redefine its mission.

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