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Some toasts and takedowns of 2011

Updated: January 27, 2012 8:04AM



This year is going out with a bang. So why are we whimpering? The economy is peeking around the corner, yet our “representatives” in Washington are elevating inanity and infighting to new heights. America has become just one big reality show.

A look back at the 2011 archives delivers rapscallions, heroes and headscratchers aplenty. As the bubbly chills for New Year’s cheer, consider my toasts and takedowns of 2011:

Toast: The Fat Nag formally endorses Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s wellness agenda. Less than 8 percent of city workers account for two-thirds of City Hall’s health care budget, he says. Emanuel wants city employees to either participate in a wellness program or pay more in health insurance premiums, saving about $20 million in 2012. Emanuel, who religiously swims and gyms, will put our money where your mouth is.

Takedown: Mr. 9-9-9. Herman Cain was the most covered Republican presidential candidate in 2011, according to a study by the Pew Research Center. The media lavished attention on a guy whose entire campaign hinged on three meaningless numbers. Maybe it was the sex, but Cain never delivered on the drugs and rock ’n’ roll. Darn.

Toast: The Pump Room is back in action, thanks to a sparkling resurrection of the once-moribund Chicago icon. Watch the bar for misbehaving pols and celebs.

Takedown: Donald Trump. No elaboration necessary.

Toast: To Brooke Anderson, Gov. Pat Quinn’s go-to spokesperson, for a “novel” public relations approach: She actually answers questions and delivers real information to the media. (Of course, she was one of my star students.)

Takedown: The Chicago City Council’s ill-advised revival of Council Wars. For months, black, brown and white aldermen have been mired in a dangerous stalemate over the city’s proposed ward remap, complete with signifying, near-fistfights and backstabbing. Special recognition goes to the African-American aldermen who vow to “keep their seats” despite steep losses in the city’s black population over the last decade. What part of minus-181,000 don’t they understand?

Toast: Peace in Boystown. In July, a midnight street brawl and stabbings sparked a great debate over burgeoning violence in the Lake View enclave. Does Boystown want to be a welcoming mecca for young people of all racial and sexual stripes or a gentrified haven for the elites? Kudos to the Center on Halsted, Gender Just, 44th Ward Ald. Tom Tunney and the Chicago Police Department for working hard to to create a culture of calm and averting a long, hot summer.

Takedown: Blago. No elaboration necessary.

Toast: To Desiree Rogers, who traded the White House for the CEO seat at Johnson Publishing. She’s infused the Ebony/Jet empire with new promise, not a moment too soon.

And a tinkle of the glass to you, dear readers, for supporting the Chicago Sun-Times crew as we toil to sort it all out for you. Happy New Year!



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