By Dan Haley
Odds and ends with some a bit odder than others:
Mandela Drive: I actively like State Rep. La Shawn Ford's idea that Cicero Avenue be renamed to honor Nelson Mandela. Ford floated the idea just after the death of the remarkable political leader and activist from South Africa.
Of course there is pushback. It comes especially to Ford's optimistic and certainly overstated hope that honoring Mandela by christening a street which runs through tough city neighborhoods might inspire some who live along Cicero Avenue to take on some of Mandela's belief in reconciliation and forgiveness.
So to those who want their politicians hard-boiled and without aspirations for their neighborhoods, cluck away. I like Ford's belief in hope and change and admire it all the more in a man who is, as critics have pointed out, under indictment by the feds and will go on trial in 2014.
I've said it before: La Shawn Ford is not like other Chicago politicians. He deals with tough issues. He is actively visible and engaged on the West Side and in Oak Park. And he operates with an idealism and a pragmatism that we could use much more of in our public life.
Finally, we name things — streets, schools, highways — both to honor people we admire and to reflect virtues we want to promote in our lives. So to those who object to Nelson Mandela Drive, are you ready to give back the bountiful honors accorded John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan, Richard Daley and, of course, Casimir Pulaski? Didn't think so.
Then there's Ike Carothers: Someone handed me a campaign piece for Ike Carothers. He's running for the Democratic nomination for Cook County board from Oak Park and the West Side in the March primary. If you like your pols connected and greased, then you'll like Ike. Just back from prison having pled guilty and been convicted of having his house fixed up — $40,000-worth — in exchange for zoning changes on a giant development up in North Austin, Carothers is looking for a new payday.
His flyer notes that he is compassionate, a visionary leader/advocate and a "dedicated former public servant who comes from a legendary political family." Somehow fails to mention that Ike and his legendary father, William, both went to the hoosegow on corruption convictions tied to their time in public office.
There are other candidates in this race, thankfully.
Harmon and pensions: State Sen. Don Harmon, Oak Park's very own, finally came through on his promise that the inert state legislature would pass substantive pension reform that would set Illinois on a more sustainable financial footing. Last week the legislature did that, Harmon helped, and credit is deserved.
Would note that the reform passed with a combination of Democratic and Republican support and, locally, notable Democratic opposition. Joining Harmon on the right side of history was State Rep. Chris Welch. Not a fan of Welch, but he has been right recently on pensions and gay marriage and he gets credit for those votes.
Getting no credit are La Shawn Ford, Camille Lilly and Kimberly Lightford, who all voted against pension reform. This was one of the critical votes this trio will ever make and they were flat-out wrong.
Very quickly: Evanston is Oak Park's parallel universe. We've got Lake and Forest. They've got 708 Church St. High-rise. Long-delayed. Questions of ownership of the site. Public opponents. Plan commissions. Requests for extensions. We are not alone.
Strictly personal: So many words of kindness and support for our family after the column two weeks back about Mariah's battles. Our thanks.