Chicago Mayor, and former Obama Chief of Staff, Rahm Emmanuel has not impressed many to be a calm, cool, or collected. . .anything.
Yet the Chicago city council, on a 43-3 vote, has deemed petty marijuana possession as an infraction, one in which police may issue a citation instead of incarceration. Has the chief executive of the Big Easy decided to come clean about a new therapy to chase away the jitters of his high-stakes, hectic political career?
On a more serious note, the leadership of Chicago should be commended for taking the lead on a cost-cutting and liberating move which will do more to combat crime while diminishing the number of minor offenders crammed into local prisons.
"This is about being efficient and realistic," one alderman commented. Never would anyone expect to hear those two words issue from a politician, especially a local city leader in one of the most liberal enclaves in the country. Economics and revenue shortfalls plague every municipality, rich or poor, right or left, and to see a left-leaning community of such width and influence take a relaxed approach to a controlled substance would suggest that the tide is turning against the overcriminalization of drug possession in this country -- and not a moment too soon.
Cost-cutting measures in government budgets are a necessity, one which as galvanized the controversial mayor to take on the powerful Chicago teachers' union, demanding drastic concessions and reductions in pension and pay. Yet if voters cannot stand to see less directed toward public education, then perhaps they will have no problem with curtailing the powers of the police, directing them to spend more time preventing future crimes and saving taxpayers at least one million dollars.
Imagine the green haze that will amaze visitors to the Windy City, now certain to be known for more than the not-so-gentle breeze of institutional corruption and the crude Daley cops of 1968 infamy. Perhaps this hallucinogen will induce more cost-cutting measures, like an end to the outrageous pension liabilites which still drag on the Chicago economy. Better yet, perhaps the brief, hashish-induced euphoria will infuse alderman and city staff to give the taxpayers a break and cut the city's expenditures, including overburdening regulations and unconstitutional gun-control laws, to the irreducible minimum.