Chico would have intrigued Royko, says former Chicago Sun-Times colleague

17 Dec

The late, great Mike Royko, Pulitzer Prize winning Chicago newspaper columnist, would have had a ball covering the Feb. 22 city election. Every one of his former readers can agree on that. From Slats Grobnik, his literary alter-ego, to more direct approaches deflating political balloons, the City Hall runoffs would be target-rich turf for Mike’s one-of-a-kind style and knowledge. Here is the first segment in a periodic “Royko Retro” series leading to Feb. 22 voting for a new mayor and aldermen.

Herb Gould sat down with to discuss Mike Royko and the 2011 Chicago mayoral election. (Photo by Jean Lachat/Sun-Times)



Herb Gould, Chicago Sun-Times sports columnist, who worked with Mike Royko at both the old Chicago Daily News as well as the Sun-Times. They were softball teammates, sat on Billy Goat barstools trading jokes and solving world problems, and watched rain-delayed baseball games together in Mike’s office.

According to Herb:

“If Mike were writing about this election, he would have great nicknames for the contestants, especially Rahm Emanuel. Something like Little Big Obama Man, only better. Remember when he called Jerry Brown Gov. Moonbeam? Rev. Meeks? I won’t even venture a guess. And of course, he also would have a great time with the homeless petition-signature guy, dipping into his memory bank for Chicago-style election antics of the past.

“My first thought is that he would be very intrigued by the candidacy of Gery Chico, and would take a hard look at whether Chico’s background would translate at the mayoral level.

“Mike also would delve into why everyone thinks Rahm Emanuel is the frontrunner. What’s the deal there? Does money automatically translate into votes? Is it his Washington service? His Obama connection? He would ride Emanuel hard on many things. But he would scoff sarcastically at the self-righteous attempt to strike Emanuel from the ballot over the residency issue.

“One way or another, he would make the point that whoever the next mayor is, he or she will need to deal with our mounting economic problems. To do that, the new mayor will need to know how to bring everybody into line, from politicians to business people, from ghetto dwellers to strapped bungalow owners to lakefront liberals.

“The Royko I knew would have a candidate in mind, but I’m not sure which one. And he’d take that candidate to task as whole-heartedly as the candidates he had no use for. Think, “Comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable.’’ It’s a newspaper credo that goes way back. Mike embraced it.

“Having had the pleasure to work and play with the greatest newspaperman I can think of, I try to follow that philosophy.”

By Megan Ashley

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