Joe Rick­etts’ racist emails could cost Cubs own­ers try­ing to oust Tun­ney

Chicago Sun-Times - - OPINION - LAURA WASHINGTON lauraswash­ing­[email protected] | @Me­di­aDervish AP FILES

Joe Rick­etts’ emails must be a tempt­ing tar­get. Should Tom Tun­ney knock them out of the park?

Rick­etts, 77, is the bil­lion­aire founder of TD Amer­i­trade, a ma­jor Repub­li­can donor and the pa­tri­arch of the wealthy fam­ily that owns and op­er­ates the Chicago Cubs.

Tun­ney, the vet­eran 44th Ward al­der­man, is in a po­lit­i­cal slugfest, fac­ing busi­ness con­sul­tant Austin Baidas and El­iz­a­beth Shyd­lowski, a non­profit con­sul­tant, in the Feb. 26 mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion.

The at­tacks are fly­ing faster than out­field blasts. Tun­ney’s op­po­nents charge he has supported ram­pant prop­erty tax hikes and over­seen a de­cline in pub­lic safety and schools in the north lake­front ward.

Tun­ney de­fends his record, say­ing he has supported com­mu­nity-based de­vel­op­ment and af­ford­able hous­ing and won new fund­ing for schools and parks. Tun­ney claims he serves as a cru­cial bul­wark against the wealthy Rick­etts fam­ily’s mas­sively lu­cra­tive and grow­ing Wrigley Field em­pire.

Last week’s email dump ex­posed a fer­tile fault line. The web­site Splin­ter News pub­lished a slew of mis­sives ex­pos­ing the big­oted views that travel through Joe Rick­etts’ in­box.

Barack Obama is “a liar and a cheat,” Rick­etts wrote in 2010. “Thank God there are a lot of people like us.” His mus­ings touted the non­sen­si­cal and racist “birther” the­o­ries about where the for­mer pres­i­dent was born.

‘‘Is­lam is a cult and not a re­li­gion,” Rick­etts wrote. “Chris­tian­ity and Ju­daism are based on love, whereas Is­lam is based on ‘kill the in­fi­del,’ a thing of evil.’’

Joe Rick­etts has apol­o­gized. Cubs Chair­man Tom Rick­etts called his father’s emails “racially in­sen­si­tive” and said “these emails do not re­flect the cul­ture we’ve worked so hard to build at the Chicago Cubs since 2009.” His father has no in­volve­ment in team op­er­a­tions, he added.

Joe Rick­etts has been here be­fore. In 2012, the Rick­ettses were push­ing Mayor Rahm Emanuel to back a $150 mil­lion tax­payer­funded sub­sidy to help ren­o­vate Wrigley Field.

Then the New York Times re­ported that Joe Rick­etts was plot­ting a racially mo­ti­vated ad cam­paign to un­der­mine Obama’s 2012 re-elec­tion cam­paign. The sub­sidy never hap­pened. Now the Cubs want to ex­pand their busi­ness dy­nasty in Lake View and turn Wrigley Field into a Dis­ney­land by the L.

In a re­cent, scathing op-ed pub­lished in Crain’s Chicago Busi­ness, Tom’s sis­ter, Laura Rick­etts, called Tun­ney “a rubber stamp for the mayor and other in­sid­ers.”

“Tun­ney has a 16-year track record of vot­ing for some of the largest prop­erty tax hikes in Chicago his­tory, the ques­tion­able park­ing me­ter deal and hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars in po­lice mis­con­duct set­tle­ments.”

The Rick­ettses want him out be­cause he did not cave to their de­mands, Tun­ney re­sponded in his own opin­ion piece. The “fam­ily’s fran­chise did not get ev­ery­thing they want — un­lim­ited night games and ac­tiv­i­ties, a bridge from the ho­tel to the sta­dium on Clark Street, and com­plete closures of nearby streets.”

Shyd­lowski has re­ceived a $10,000 cam­paign con­tri­bu­tion from Tom Rick­etts. The fam­ily wants Tun­ney gone.

Those evil emails are rich fod­der for ex­pos­ing a bil­lion­aire fam­ily that is out of step with Chicago’s po­lit­i­cal winds.

Tom’s brother Todd, the Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee’s fi­nance chair, has been tapped to over­see fundrais­ing for Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s re-elec­tion cam­paign. Another brother, Pete, is the GOP gover­nor of Ne­braska. (Laura, a Demo­cratic donor and LGBTQ ac­tivist, is the ex­cep­tion.)

Tun­ney should ig­nore the po­lit­i­cal noise and keep his eye on the ball.

It’s a sim­ple pitch: Should an al­der­man look out for the bil­lion­aires, or his con­stituents?

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