How Chicago bosses gave fiscal bone cancer to a beautiful city

And I'd respond, foolishly, by comparing and contrasting Chicago politics to Chicago organized crime. Like I said at the outset, that was wrong and stupid of me.

So I'd like to apologize.

To the gangsters.

Sorry, you wiseguys.

Because when gangsters take your money, you usually did something to deserve it. You borrowed their money, you sold their drugs, you drove their cars, you used their juice to get a liquor license, and on and on. The point is, dealing with gangsters is usually about choice. Your choice.

But the taxpayers of Chicago didn't have that choice. And their children and grandchildren, who will pay for this outrageous borrowing — or watch Chicago become another Detroit — had no choice either.

Chicago bosses have a loophole. They don't need to ask taxpayers to vote on bond referendum measures. Taxpayers in most major cities and in many of our suburbs have a choice. They vote directly on bond issues. But not Chicago taxpayers.

When gangsters take, they take from people who live in the present. The gangsters take risks in the present, they live and go to federal prison in the present. And some are buried in lonely holes in the present.

But when the Chicago political bosses take, they take from the future.

Chicago Way bond deals are like time machines. The mayors get into the capsule and fly forward into the oncoming decades.

The time machine hovers lovingly over the cribs of grandchildren who haven't been born. And the money flows.

And once they take from the future, the political bosses return to spend it all in the present and make influential friends in the present.

So I was dead wrong to put Chicago politicians and gangsters in the same paragraphs.

It's almost criminal.

jskass@tribune.com

Twitter @John_Kass

CHICAGO

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