Former East Chicago native Phil Ponce is now a TV news anchor at Chicago's at WTTW in Chicago. Ponce, who lives two doors down from Mayor Rahm Emanuel in his tony Ravenswood neighborhood, had a lot of troubling questions about the state of affairs in Chicago he could have asked the Emanuel and his opponent, Chuy Garcia. It seems that a son of Garcia, who grew up in a tough neighborhood, had once belonged to a gang and gotten into trouble as a youth. He's turned his life around and now works as a chef, but that didn't stop Ponce from questioning whether Garcia was fit to be mayor if he couldn't keep his own son out of a gang, a question which drew boos from the audience. On cue, Emanuel, who I'm sure didn't discuss the debate with his good friend and neighbor in advance, feigned outrage at the debate.
If Ponce is so concerned about the candidate's kids, I'm wondering why he didn't ask Emanuel what his 17-year old son was really doing when he supposedly left daddy's house to make a cell phone call down the street out of sight of the mayor's 24/7 police protection and video surveillance at the Emanuel home when he got mugged by a young black man he just happened to run into in the lilly white neighborhood? Most people have a pretty good idea what Zach Emanuel was up to when he got messed up by the 18-year old, who only got 50 hours of community service so Zach wouldn't have to testify, just before the family was set to jet off on its South American vacation, but the Chicago media wouldn't dare go there.
Chicago Tribune political columnist called up Ponce to ask him about the question. He now agrees he was out of line.
"I crossed the line," Ponce told me. "As I think of it, there is no nexus between being a good parent and having a good-kid.
"You can be a great parent and have lousy kids. Or you can be a terrible parent and have great kids. And the skill set in being a parent are not the same as being a mayor. You can be a great parent and a terrible mayor, and you can be a terrible parent and a great mayor.
"So in retrospect I think that question was off the mark and that I blew it on that one," Ponce said.Yeah, I crossed the line, but having a good pay check with a cushy job in the newsroom is more important. Ponce, who didn't mention during the debate that he lived two doors down from Emanuel, assured Kass the only time he sees Emanuel is when he's sitting across the desk from him in the news room. Yeah, right, Phil.
Note: An earlier version described Ponce as a former Fort Wayne TV anchor and native. His son, Anthony, worked for TV stations in Fort Wayne and Indianapolis. Phil, an IU graduate, never worked in Fort Wayne.