My Chicago buddy returns
COLUMBIA, Mo 1/22/16 (Op Ed) -- So I was talking to my ol' pal Slats Grobnik, longtime confidante of famous Chicago muckraker Mike Royko.
Slats and I have chewed the fat about Boone County government; the County Commission; the Columbia City Council; marijuana laws and smoking bans; even climate change.
He was in town visiting friends. We were at our favorite hangout, Flat Branch Brewery, and sat by the front windows. As usual, Slats parked without feeding the meter, and wanted to keep an eye on his car.
We talked about how much he still missed Mike, and if Police Chief Burton still bellied up to the Flat Branch bar, "like a reg'lar guy." It was a trait Slats much admired.
Then, as always, the conversation took a wild turn.
Slats and his friends had gone to Parkade Mall. "And I met this Carrie person you've been telling me about," Slats said.
He meant Carrie Gartner, the Loop CID director, whose office is in Parkade. "I think she has telephonetic powers."
You mean, 'telekinetic'? I asked.
"Yeah! That's it," Slats said. "Telekinetic powers. Just like that other Carrie."
The one Stephen King immortalized.
When I asked Slats what gave him that idea, he was just sure that's how Gartner got "the CID thingy" through.
"It's either that or some powerful voodoo magic," Slats said. "How'd she get just enough folks to vote 'yes' on a sales tax that only helps businesses?"
I have to admit, it was an intriguing idea.
First, "Carrie" (in quotes, in case there's a spooky novel here) managed to get past a one-woman whirlwind named Jen Henderson, once the ONLY voter identified in the Loop Community Improvement District (CID).
Then, "Carrie" got a bunch of ol' boys to pay her $70,000 a year to "manage" difficult people like Jen -- and post some rah rah stuff about the Loop on Twitter and Facebook.
Next, "Carrie" somehow maneuvered around the bad PR Jen generated, after she tried to get Henderson to "unregister" to vote.
Whoever heard of "unregistering" to vote? It's like Slats said -- some kind of Voodoo doo doo must be goin' on.
Finally, even after 14 more eligible voters were identified -- a 1,400 percent increase over Jen's single vote -- "Carrie" got four to vote yes, while three voted no -- and eight others stayed home!
The whole thing was so weird, Jen and her lawyers filed a lawsuit challenging it.
"There's just no way telephone -- I mean, telepathy -- wasn't involved here," Slats insisted. He turned to look out the window.
"Oh no!" he exclaimed. A meter maid was towing his car. He stood up, put on his coat, and shot a nasty glare at the tow truck.
"If only I had telekinetic powers!" he griped.
Suddenly, the tow chain snapped! The car dropped with a bounce and the meter maid jumped back, dropping her ticketing machine. It hit the street with a magnificent smash, bursting into a thousand defiant little pieces.
"It worked!" Slats said. "I don't believe it!" He took my hand and gave it a strong shake. "Gotta go. I can't wait to use these new powers on my next project."
What next project? I asked.
"A CID -- and I know just what to call it," he said. "The Loot!"