InsolvenCity's council district 3 is a Girl Talk-level mashup. Sometimes within a single block, women who have lived on that block for seven decades (without requiring much English) produce pierogi using methods that have endured twice as long, while multicultural doctoral students conduct pioneering robotics research, building humanoids that play soccer and cars that drive themselves.
And all of them, when arriving for work in the morning, find the sidewalks splattered with urine and vomit and blood, courtesy of the South Side Intoxication District. Whether the sidewalks are cleaned often hinges on the day's level of political obligations perceived by InsolvenCity's Public Works Department, a strong player in Council District 3's politics.
Against that background, City Councilor Bruce Kraus (left) seeks re-election.
Like those of most of his colleagues, the resume Kraus brought to InsolvenCity's council -- recovering alcoholic, interior designer -- was an odd match with the responsibilities of representing a one-of-a-kind district in a teetering, crumbling city. Kraus has, however, become a forceful, insightful advocate for sound policy throughout the city and, in particular, for his district.
Kraus has overcome his limitations, at least in part, by seeking expert advice and consulting constituents. He was part of the unexpectedly solid coalition that capsized the Not-So-Great InsolvenCity Parking Garage Sale. Kraus has been particularly active, and is beginning to be surprisingly effective, in pursuing solutions to the deadly, demoralizing situation created by the clustered, out-of-control saloons along Carson Street.
These services to residents have placed him squarely within the crosshairs of the Ravenstahl administration, which desires to remove Kraus from council in the worst way possible. And, true to established form, that's just the way the Ravenstahlers are going about it.
In political science, the belief that the best way to defeat an incumbent involves a single challenger is labeled a theory. Much like gravity and evolution are theories. But Kraus' foes apparently missed class that day, because they have sent two opponents -- one eager, the other reluctant -- to split votes against Kraus.
Lawyer Gavin Robb (right) is the enthusiastic candidate -- he must be, if he proposes to climb the tall obstacles confronting him. Robb's Republican registration record should not be held against him by the Democrats who dominate the third district, but his Republican playmates -- Robb announced his candidacy at the home of a Republican, introduced and funded by Republicans -- should and probably will damn him in that context.
The most troubling aspect of Robb's candidacy, however, is not party -- it's partying. His political support is supplied by Carson Street's liquor business. Robb was introduced at his campaign opener by the landlord of the Hofbrauhaus, which, according to police, sold and served the three liters of beer that sent a 23-year-old motorist careening at 66 miles per hour (and three times the legal blood-alcohol limit) into the life -- and death -- of a young family recently. Also at Robb's side: The proprietor of the Carson Street club that reportedly fueled the drunken driver who killed Donna Bird's husband and the father of her three children.
In other words, Gavin Robb's campaign appears to constitute the single-minded pursuit of Charlie Sheen's endorsement.
Why would Robb jeopardize his -- and his law firm's -- municipal and school solicitor gigs by wading into the South Side's partisan thicket on behalf of those whose customers are repeatedly killing and maiming the innocent users of public streets? We can't understand it, either.
Kraus' second Ravenstahl-sent opponent is Jeff Koch, a former member of council who seems reluctant to return. Koch started late and has barely campaigned, reportedly because running wasn't his idea. A plausible story places Koch (left) in the race solely because, after departing council, he returned to the public works department by a route that did not involve union membership (and corresponding job protection). That point reportedly was pressed upon Koch when he expressed reservations concerning a race against Kraus. (This sequence of events was described, astoundingly, by someone who advanced it as evidence of the Ravenstahl camp's political acumen.)
A fourth candidate, Jason Phillips, is as flaky as Snowpocalypse (the public works response to which was choreographed by Koch). He is helping Kraus, an enemy, by further diffusing the vote and by bashing Robb.
There is no need to wonder how Kraus might fare against a single challenger, or a solid one. Kraus' real opponent will be the Ravenstahl administration, and it's no contest for the Infindorsement, seemingly little contest for the council term.
Infindorsement: Bruce Kraus
Infinonytune: I Don't Want To Go Home, Southside Johnny And The Asbury Jukes (with Bruce Springsteen)
Tax policy? It depends.
8 hours ago