What Could Go Wrong?

by Mike Houlihan

February 8, 2023

Wishing John Kass a speedy recovery on his recent heart surgery. Now I’m hoping for my very own speedy recovery from last  month’s Emerald Society Chili Cook-Off.

I’m proud to say my pals at the Emerald Society have honored me before, (2020-2021 Irishman of the Year!), but this was a little bit different, and I’ve got the boxer shorts to prove it.

I was invited to be a “celebrity” judge of the Chili Cook Off contest, along with some retired coppers, CPD Chaplain Father Dan Brandt, and Casey Doherty, the newly crowned Queen of Chicago’s St. Patrick’s Day 2023 Parade.

Paul Vallas, Mikey Houlihan, and Mike Houlihan

My grand-son Mikey had a great time that night meeting the Queen and her court and Mayoral candidate Paul Vallas. Mikey wisely skipped the chili and opted for hot dogs that night.

But I had no way out. There were 14 entrants, which meant us judges had to sample all 14 of these home-made chili recipes. Some were great, and some were not so great, not sure what ingredients were included in those sphincter-tightening dixie cups of joy, but the only thing missing was a wick to the stick of dynamite I was ingesting.

Sure, what could go wrong? Plenty, as it turns out, but I have survived my chili purgatory and lived to chow down another day. One of the things I learned that night was that a steady stream of Guinness helped to tamp down the gurgling cauldron of my gut.

The Emerald Society are the Irish American police of Illinois and we have bonded ever since starting my Hibernian Radio show back in January of 2019, dedicated to Irish First Responders, our cops, firefighters, paramedics, and nurses.  As I’ve said on the radio: they represent the modern-day equivalent of our ancient Irish mythological warriors and it’s important to salute them and the great work they do risking their lives every day for us and our families.

My dad’s two brothers were both cops and I guess that’s where my admiration started when my Uncle Paul would come over for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner when I was a kid, and he would sit in our living room and entertain us all with some of his cop stories.

Hibernian Radio Hour yearns to continue hearing those stories, especially in this climate when phony politicians like Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Fox call for  “de-funding the police”.

In the last three years Chicago has slowly been circling the toilet as criminals walk free and terrorize the good citizens of our town with car jackings, smash and grabs, shootings, and murders of children.

They’ve tied the hands of our cops and they can’t even chase suspects anymore without some goo-goo filing a lawsuit on behalf of the crooks.

But not everybody agrees with me, and I’ve taken considerable heat from progressive lefty morons for “backing the blue”.

Yes, we’re living in a world gone mad. But hopefully we can begin to change some of that with the upcoming mayoral election on February 28th.

The Fraternal Order of Police has endorsed Paul Vallas in this election. Vallas makes the most sense because he recognizes we have big problems in Chicago with crime.

And Vallas has a plan, something no other candidate in this race seems to have. I worked on Chuy Garcia’s last campaign, and it was run by left wing progressive stooges. The same ones running his campaign today.

Chuy’s a nice guy but he’s not who you want covering your six in a show down with street criminals. Listen to the cops, they know best about how to solve Chicago’s current madness and they have endorsed Paul Vallas.

Think about what might happen to Chicago if any of these other candidates get elected. We are doomed, forget about the Loop, taking the El or Metra downtown. Think about a long hot, sweaty summer night when you are surrounded at Taste of Chicago by a group of scary malcontents, armed with guns who grab you and shove you up against the wall and ask you, “Have you tried OUR chili?”


Mike Houlihan is a Chicago writer and director.

Known around town as “Houli,” he is former features columnist for The Chicago Sun-Times, Irish American News and currently Chicago correspondent for The Irish Echo. He began his career in 1973 as an apprentice with The American Shakespeare Festival, appearing in the classics there and in regional productions across the nation as well as Off-Broadway, on Broadway, on TV and in major motion pictures. He is a playwright and author of anthologies “Hooliganism Stories” and “More Hooliganism Stories” and the gonzo Mayoral campaign journal “Nothin’s on The Square”. Founder of the Annual Irish American Movie Hooley film festival each Fall at The Wilmette Theatre. He was honored as 2020/2021 “Irishman of the Year” by the Emerald Society, the Irish American Police Association. His Hibernian Radio Hour podcast can be found at hibernianradio.org and streaming worldwide on Sat. nights from 7-8PM on Global Irish Radio, GIR.ie.

His book, “Chicago Irish Mythology” will be on the bookshelves by St. Patrick’s Day . 

Comments 24

  1. I was duped into support for Lightfoot in ’19. As is said, “fool me once, shame on you…” I won’t make that mistake again. Mr. Vallas is truly the only candidate on the slate who knows how to address many of the issues faced by the city. I only hope that he can coalesce a solid backing in the city council if he’s elected.

  2. Very well done, Mr. Houlihan, and as a 36-year retired Irish-American Cop I agree with your analysis of both crime and politics in Chicago.

    Regarding the chili contest, did you ever wonder why, in some restaurants, they list “Chili-in season” on the menu? Chili is ALWAYS IN SEASON for real Americans!

  3. Mike with everything you ingested over your lifetime your stomach must have a cast iron lining. A little chili, nothing for a guy like you.
    If Paul Vallas is to be successful he needs to return to the old ways of winning an election. Put troops on the ground to get out the vote. That’s the way it was done. All the TV adds do not vote.
    His suburban supporters need to become willing to work a precinct in the city and get out the vote.

  4. I agree, Paul Vallas is head and shoulders above the rest of the race hustlers, pimps, fake leftists, and the overmatched, but nice man, Willie Wilson to run the city. He’s the only one with detailed position papers who will hit the ground running on day one! He doesn’t need fact finding, studies, round tabes, blue ribbon committees, or any of that.

    The cops are endorsing him, and they have no choice given the leftists who are perfectly content to let them get spit on, shot at, and demeaned on a daily basis. But Paul will demand accountability. He will demand that they work, hard. He will hold their feet to the fire. He will clear the decks of as many slobs and malcontents as he can.

    This is precisely what he did at CPS. This is why many former employees dislike him. He turned up the heat, made everyone be accountable, and called out the incompetent and the lazy.

    He’s precisely what the city needs right now, but don’t think he wont rock the boat. There will be a new sheriff in town and he will be licking ass and taking names. Lots of heads will roll.

  5. Mike – that about covers it – lefty morons, and stooges! Not to mention their socialist agenda and mental cluelessness. Thanks for backing our friend Paul, the man with a plan! God willing, he’ll be the next mayor, before the city is finally flushed down the toilet!

  6. Vallas is unquestionably the most qualified of those running for Mayor this year. It comes down to who is paying attention and who will show up to vote.

    The contrast with Lightfoot is stunning. He has the qualifications, experience and demeanor. She combines mediocrity with ambition, sleaze, and foul-mouthed crudeness.

    The Chicago-Way favors incumbents by setting elections on off-years and off-months to keep turn-out down when few other than payrollers and insiders are paying attention and show up to vote. City job holders and their families and friends will show up not matter the weather. Will voters vote on the basis of competence or TV commercials or union or other endorsements?

    We’ll see.

  7. Mike,
    Well-stated! In 2019 we all went with the “unknown” vs the “known” in the run-off. As usual, it wasn’t much of a choice. The goo-goos and race-baiters will not be voting for Paul, because he’s not “progressive” enough and isn’t promising more “free stuff” if elected. That means the rest of us must all be campaigners on his behalf. To all, talk up Paul Vallas to your friends and neighbors, get a yard sign, and kick in $omething to his campaign. Politics ain’t pattycake!
    Bill Desmond

  8. Allot of nuance tossed aside here. Everyone ‘backs the blue’, the push back is against the minority of officers who abuse their authority, incidents which go viral every week. Analogy time-A Dr who consistently gives the wrong diagnosis or a carpenter who can’t cut striaght won’t be employed for long, yet there is a culture in law enforcement (your nod to cultural/generational..) that states “one of ours, right or wrong, no matter what” that doesn’t exist in any other profession. No one is ‘against’ law enforcement, just the bad cops. It’s an incredibly challenging job that requires a very special person, one who won’t abandon their training the moment a suspect has the audacity to talk back. Rahm Emanual attended dozens of funerals for crime victims, no one cared much because the bulk of those incidents were on the south and west side. Now that social media has enabled/engineered organized smash and grab incidents downtown do we no longer feel safe. It was always there, just not in ‘our yard.’ I like Vallas, hope he prevails.

  9. Mike, enjoyed your article. I love Chilli competitions but I don’t have a great poker face for bad Chilli.
    Paul V. Will hopefully get elected and start the needed cleanup program.
    Stay safe!

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