2011: A year of ups and downs in Chicago

December 31, 2011 (CHICAGO)

Oprah told Chicago "goodbye" but not before a big celebrity send-off.

It was the year Illinois' income tax went up. Then, Sears and the CME lobbied to have their tax bills come down, and the state is still in the red.

Civil unions became legal, and the death penalty was banned. In politics, former Gov. Rod Blagojevich quoted Kipling - again - and lost his battle in court and found guilty of corruption. He thought he was "bleeping golden," but instead he's headed for at least a dozen years in prison. It was home sweet home for Rahm Emanuel after a court decision confirmed that he was indeed a Chicago resident, paving the way for him becoming our city's new mayor. Perhaps it was appropriate that he was "sworn" in. The man he succeeded will always be "the" mayor. Richard M. Daley left his fifth floor office at city hall after 22 years of leadership. Later, our city grieved with him as we lost former first lady Maggie Daley, a champion for children and the arts. And our state's former first lady, Lura Lynn Ryan, died while her husband, former Gov. George Ryan, remained in prison. Park Ridge resident Dorothy Rodham, the mother of Hillary Rodham Clinton, passed away. Former Chicago Bear Dave Duerson sadly took his own life. He was 50. In sports, the Bulls made it happen in the regular season but faded in the playoffs. The Bears made it to the playoffs, too, until they met the Packers. Dare we say, wait until next year. Bt that's the refrain reserved for Cubs fans, and they have hopes that Theo Epstein will turn the club around. At least Ron Santo finally made it into the Hall of Fame, although too late for him to see it in his lifetime. On the South Side, Ozzie packed up and headed way south, and we'll miss using "the bleeper" in his comments. What a year of weather extremes. We won't soon forget the blizzard in February, and all those drivers stuck on Lake Shore Drive certainly had some choice words. Then, we had spring storms, summer storms, a heat wave, flooding, and high winds and waves on the lakefront that could knock you down. It was a warm December, but who knows about the winter to come? Some of you believe it could be a real 'bleep.' Watch that language and have a great 2012.

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