PERSPECTIVErnHere Come the Judgernby Thomas FlemingrnIt is the worst kind of nightmare, to wake from a bad dreamrninto a worse one, with the sickening realization that you arerncondemned to run, like the incredible shrinking man, throughrnan infinite regression of worlds, each more terrifying than thernlast. My first dream last night was elegiac: a visit to my desolaternhometown, where there was no familiar face, no word of welcome.rnA faceless voice whispered to me: there is no place onrnearth that you can call home.rnI “awake” into the dismal predawn grayness of a Novemberrnday in northern Illinois, knowing that the shadow will not lightenrnfor several months. At breakfast I pick up the local Gannettrnpaper and see the face of the leader staring at me. Here in thernRockford nightmare, it is not Bill Clinton or Mayor Charles Boxrnor any elected official who cracks the whip and grinds the peasants,rnbut an appointed potentate named Michael Mahoney,rnwho IS content to be called “the Judge.” His picture is everywherern—in the newspaper, on television; it is a face bloated withrnarrogance and contempt.rnToday, the Judge has made himself the lead story by issuingrna decree that local property owners will be assessed another 12rnpercent (making a total of a 17 percent increase this year), tornpay for his favorite sport: a game called musical schools, inrnwhich children are bussed around the city, schools opened andrnclosed, academic programs turned upside down and inside-out.rnThe winners—the students who learn the least—are givenrnguaranteed jobs at Burger King, but the Grand Prize (onlyrnAfrican-Americans need apply) is an all-expense paid lifetimern(Food Stamps included) in a federal housing project of yourrnchoice. The Judge’s personal motto is borrowed from one of hisrnpredecessors: the power to tax is the power to destroy, and hernwill not rest until he has destroyed the city.rnThe Judge’s chief collaborator—a rich Chicago lawyer whornhas declared himself the counsel for a class action antidiscriminationrnsuit—will probably think the decree does not go farrnenough, and at some point he will inevitably enter in anotherrnplea, which will cost the homeowners almost as much as therndecree itself, and so it will go on into the next millennium. Byrnthen the Judge and the Lawyer will be residing in the DominicanrnRepublic or some other place where the living is easy andrnpolice protection is cheap.rnThe Judge (with help from his many colleagues on the federalrnbench), in his desire to educate the population, has drawnrnup a new lexicon, in which democracy is dehned as the whim ofrna federal judge, equality means no-quality, and arbitrarily imposedrntaxes are described as “certificates of participation.” Inrnresponse to this latest judicial fiat, the school board will routinelyrnfile a motion to stay the order, as it has done so manyrntimes before, and, as the Gannett paper puts it, “Mahoney usuallyrnrejects the requests.”rnIn other nightmares, there are underground resistance movements,rnbut not in this one. The African-American mayor ofrnRockford fully supports the Judge in his efforts to bring equityrnto local education—equity in this case meaning no educationrnfor all—and the City Council sit on their collective hands,rnwhistling the “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Every once in arnwhile, a number of school board members try to protest orrn8/CHRONICLESrnrnrn