The boisterous City Club of Chicago crowd fell silent when David Axelrod described sobbing the night Congress voted on the Affordable Care Act.
The political analyst who advised President Barack Obama in campaigns and the White House reminisced about those years during a noontime event Monday at Maggiano’s.
Axelrod remembered Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and others who worked on the legislation gathering in the Roosevelt Room that night in 2010 to watch the vote on a video feed.
“There was joy” in the room, Axelrod recalled. “In the midst of this, I got up and went to my office. I closed the door, and I wept. I sobbed. I wasn’t sure why I felt that way at first.” Then he knew.
He was reminded of the day his now-adult daughter, Lauren, was discovered in her crib “blue and limp.” She was 7 months old. “We thought the baby had died. We rushed her to the hospital and she had a grand mal seizure. It was the first of 19 years of seizures,” Axelrod said. Medications were expensive, insurance didn’t cover all expenses and “we couldn’t change insurance because we had a pre-existing condition.” He earned a reporter’s salary at the Chicago Tribune at the time, so it was difficult coming up with $1,000 a month out of pocket to keep their daughter “alive and well.”
“I cried that night because I knew there were families all over this country who have felt the terror that we felt during that period,” he said. His daughter today lives at Misericordia, a campus on the North Side for people with developmental disabilities.
As the Affordable Care Act takes center stage in a new administration, Axelrod said he’s worried about efforts to dismantle it — or parts of it.
“You move one brick,” he said, “and it falls apart.”
A jab at MF Global settlement
Chicago financial executive James Koutoulas is outraged that MF Global CEO Jon Corzine received a “wrist-slap” settlement for losing $1 billion in customer money.
The complicated and controversial MF Global case began in 2011 when the financial company overdrew an account at JPMorgan Chase and then transferred money from customers’ accounts to clear it up.
Koutoulas, CEO of Typhon Capital Management in Chicago, played David fighting Goliath.
He founded the Commodity Customer Coalition and represented 10,000 customers, working pro bono to get back money his clients lost. Eventually, other farmers and retirees who had accounts with MF Global got their money back too.
MF Global went bankrupt. The courts decided Corzine and his cohorts didn’t intentionally try to steal client money. And last week, Corzine was ordered to pay $5 million as punishment. No jail time.
“If a teenager steals a $100 TV from Wal-Mart, they catch him and they get back the TV. But the teenager still goes to jail,” Koutoulas complained.
Before leading MF Global, Corzine, an Illinois native, was a U.S. senator and governor of New Jersey. He also raised money for President Barack Obama — to the tune of $500,000 in 2012.
Isn’t it curious, Koutoulas says, that a major donor to the president would be fined a measly $5 million for mismanaging $1 billion in client money while still having a reported $300 million net worth.
“Corzine is Obama’s Marc Rich,” Koutoulas said, referring to the commodities trader and donor to former President Bill Clinton who was pardoned after being convicted of tax evasion.
A medical professor who uses magic to teach classes at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine is taking his act to the stage.
Dr. Ricardo Rosenkranz is starring in “The Rosenkranz Mysteries” at the Royal George Theatre’s cabaret space.
Rosenkranz started pursuing magic as a hobby about 15 years ago and then incorporated it in the classroom. “The most important thing to me is that medicine needs to pay attention to doctor-patient relationships,” he says. Just as performers script shows, so should doctors prepare for important conversations with patients and families, he says.
Rosenkranz, who also serves on the volunteer boards of Lyric Opera and Harris Theater, is now taking his artistry to the next level.
In the “Rosenkranz Mysteries,” he stars as “The Doctor Magician.” The production runs through Feb. 12.
John Kelly, the owner of Kelly’s Pub in Lincoln Park, turns 80 on Jan. 15.
The bar has a rich chapter in Chicago history. Kelly’s parents opened the pub at 949 W. Webster in 1933, right after the repeal of Prohibition. Kelly’s has stayed in the same location with John Kelly at the helm since 1957. The pub’s outside deck was showcased in the 1986 movie “About Last Night.”
Read more Taking Names at shiakapos.com.