This editorial was submitted by Cali Slaughter and Harishi Patel.
If anyone reminded young, progressive Chicagoans of the potential of the underdog in our most recent election cycle; it was Ameya Pawar. Pawar, an Indian-American, just 29, is not only going to be the youngest member of the Council when inaugurated on May 15; he is the first Asian-American elected to the City Council.
His rival, Tom O'Donnell, was personally selected by incumbent Eugene Schulter, who boasted a solid (albeit rusting) thirty-six year rule over Chicago's 47th.
O'Donnell was buttressed by loads more money and he possessed that inevitable confidence accompanied by the endorsement of a handful of Chicago's old guard. It seemed that minimal effort would be necessary for a landslide victory.
There are a few assumption I make here and a few things to keep in mind. The first assumption is that voting precincts have some relationship to the community around them; in other words, they reflect pocket neighborhoods whose residents share some common issues and concerns. This obviously doesn't always hold. Another assumption is that the precincts, if perfectly registered and with full participation, would end up near even in numbers. Also not always the case. Something to keep in mind is that individual wards obviously are not like states in the electoral college, so winning precincts is meaningless except as a way to measure popularity/hatred by mini- or pocket neighborhood.
Perhaps he was surprised because he didn't expect to do so poorly outside of his base. He actually lost more precincts than he won. Solis' people were certainly reassuring him that his base would keep him far ahead of the upstart Morfin, so unless he completely collapsed elsewhere, victory was assured.
The 15th Ward is the name of a website that I found in the Google Ads here at Mechanics. I had hoped to post about this before the February 22nd municipal elections. I wanted to share this with you now because of the runoff there between Ald. Toni Foulkes and Raymond Lopez.
Here is the introduction on the homepage:
It seems that every four years we come to a decision that we strongly believe may end our misery. We vote. We listen to candidates that pride themselves on Union backing yet neglect creating jobs, pride themselves on involving themselves with youth yet help only a small handful, favor opening businesses solely on racial make-up. We certainly buy into it. Where has that pattern taken us? Absolutely no where. We seem to be going backwards in the 15th ward while the rest of the city of Chicago seems to be moving forward. What's happened and when is it going to finally change?
An impressive crowd of about 75 turned out a few nights ago at Gill Park
to hear the two runoff candidates for alderman in Chicago's 46th Ward, Molly Phelan and James Cappleman, weigh in on transportation issues at a forum hosted by Walk Bike Transit (WBT)
, a newcomer to the political scene who may end up having an important impact. The non-partisan WBT says its mission is "to mobilize voters throughout Chicagoland [on] biking, pedestrian, and transit issues." The event was the first in a week of near-nightly matchups between the two would-be successors to Helen Shiller, and, while billed as a forum rather than a debate, it nonetheless offered insight into the contrasts between the candidates as well as showcasing the interest in issues affecting those who use their own footpower, or public transportation, to get around.
The Illinois State Board of Elections issued a decision denying that the For a Better Chicago PAC, which distributed as much as three quarters of a million dollars on the municipal election on behalf of pro-business candidates, had to disclose its donors. A complaint was lodged by the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform against the PAC, which is operated by Greg Goldner, principal at Resolute Consulting and a former campaign manager for both Rahm Emanuel and Mayor Daley.
The Board has in practice created a form of legal political money laundering in our elections. Any party can, by first giving to a corporate entity that subsequently creates a PAC, pour as much money as it wants into that PAC to be spent on elections. While campaign contribution limits would restrict how that PAC gave to candidates directly, there would be no practical limits on electioneering, a distinction hardened in law under the regime created by the Citizens United decision.
Information can now be disseminated without giving voters the benefit of knowing who is providing that information.
I wonder if groups like the Commercial Club who have for generations mewled and puked about city machines giving out $40k a year jobs to those who provide political support, will buck and howl about this new regime of unrestricted cash in politics, cash coming from unknown sources and therefore for unknown reasons. The legal trend has not been to limit the influence of this cash, but instead to protect it.
The result? Corporate power will continue to dominate our elections, and those on the side of economic justice will have to find some way beside elections to pursue that justice.
Put yourself for a moment in the shoes of those men and women running the campaigns for the runoffs that will take place in April.
You ran a tough race, slogging through phone lists and knocking doors in frigid weather for three, six, nine months. Still, your candidate couldn't top 50%. You spent most of your money, but raising money won't be too much of a problem: you've got a list, and your candidate has proven their viability.
The question is: how do you get those X votes you need to top 50%?
Presumably, the people who voted for your opponent won't vote for you. So you need to try to get enough of the votes that went to the other candidate or candidates. If you're challenging an incumbent, maybe the answer seems easy: the people who voted for the candidates who couldn't cut know the incumbent and presumably don't like them, so just snatch up those votes.
Let's go with an easy set up. You've got Andrea, Beth, and Carl. Andrea is the incumbent, Beth and Carl challengers.
Last summer, Chicago's 50th Ward alderman and Vice Mayor Bernard Stone was contemplating retirement -- until Mayor Richard Daley announced his own.
"I feel it's my duty to come back," said Stone, noting that no matter who is elected, Chicago's next mayor will be a "neophyte."
At 83, Stone is Chicago's oldest and second longest-serving alderman. The days when he chugged throughout the ward in a motor home to speak with voters may be long gone, but Stone's sense of obligation to his constituents hasn't changed in nearly four decades.
Yet the four challengers vying for Stone's City Council seat -- attorney Michael Moses, architect and community activist Greg Brewer, CPA Debra Silverstein, and 26-year-old community organizer Ahmed Khan -- insist he hasn't answered the call of duty during his past term, and that's why they're angling to change the ward's future. Though the candidates up against the 10-term incumbent diverge on the issues, they agree on one thing: the 50th Ward needs change.
In an old post here from a little over two years ago? 18th Ward Ald. Lona Lane wanted to ban ice cream trucks back then because she believed that one ice cream truck she observed had been involved in a drug transaction. No evidence except that she saw something changed hands.
It seems someone else hasn't forgotten that. They've set up a website at lonalane.com. Of course that ice cream truck ban was one of at least four issues that is juxtaposed with badly cropped pictures of Ald. Lane. I almost wonder who set this place up.
It's creative, so my props to whoever created this site. Unfortunately I'm not certain how I found it.
Ameya Pawar, one of the candidates for 47th ward alderman, created an iPhone app that lets you report problems, make service requests and send feedback to your alderman. Whether Pawar wins or not (he's up against Schulter-backed Tom O'Donnell and two other candidates) let's hope this app or something like it gets some City Hall backing.
In the wake of political inaction, Chicago environmental coalition will hold a People's Hearing
The Chicago Clean Power Coalition comprised of over 50 health, community, environmental and business groups, shared something in common recently with the "Anybody but Rahm" contingent of the Chicago electorate...briefly succumbing to the joy of witnessing the fruition of poetic justice, only to be struck down by the daisy cutters barring bad news. On January 27th it was discovered that an official Health Committee hearing, which was slated to take place on the 14th, was delayed indefinitely by Daley Administration allies in the City Council. However, the coalition announced that they will move forward with a "People's Hearing" in City Council chambers on February 14th.
Alderman James Balcer (11th) is the new chair of the Health Committee and would've presided over the first council hearing that examined the Clean Power Ordinance introduced by Aldermen Joe Moore (49th) and sponsored by 16 other Aldermen. A majority vote of the joint committee is needed for the legislation to advance to a vote by the full City Council.
Personally I think President Obama has zero judgment when it comes to local municipal politics, built his Senate campaign by soliciting millionaires who made their fortunes on real estate and high-finance connections, and never lifted a finger to do a single thing to challenge the undemocratic status quo in Chicago when he was purring and cooing in the laps of power to worm his way into higher office, and should therefore keep his nose out of city politics.
All that said, for some reason people think we should care what Obama's opinion is about anything having to do with Chicago. For example, the Emanuel campaign released a radio ad meant as a quasi-endorsement by the President, and some enterprising fellow has posted this endorsement by Obama for Del Valle's City Clerk campaign:
Modern mayoral elections in Chicago have usually assumed the aura of a coronation. But these are rare times in our broad-shouldered megalopolis on the lake. Four high-profile and viable candidates -- Rahm Emanuel, Gery Chico, Carol Moseley-Braun and Miguel del Valle -- are out in the campaigning trenches every day. Extend the media lens out a bit and two more candidates, Patricia Van Pelt Watkins and William "Dock" Walls, round out the ballot.
The Chicago Tribune follows the endeavors of three young men running for office for Alderman in the municipal elections:
In Chicago, a town that loves its politics almost as much as its sports, these three young aldermanic candidates are going against the contrary belief that young people are uninvolved and don't care. Khaliq Muhammad, Devon Reid and John Kozlar hit the campaign trail in hopes of spreading the word and changing their community.
Ramsin, the Tribune points out today that Judges Hoffman and Hall were both originally "slated" by Ed Burke's party committee. What does slating typically entail? Just making someone the nominee? Or is there financial backing as well?
Slating is the process whereby the Cook County Democratic Organization selects candidates to endorse for elective positions. Typically a person is slated through sponsorship by committeeperson, and then approved by the organization in slating sessions. Typically the County organization then gives cash or in-kind support to slated candidates if they're in tough fights. For judges, this usually means inclusion on official literature and palm cards. Thanks for the question Pete.
As the Chicago Tribune's David Kidwell revealed last night, Burke is responsible for slating both Thomas E. Hoffman and Shelvin Louise Marie Hall, the two Appellate Court justices who wrote yesterday's majority opinion. There is no direct implication of Burke's involvement with the ruling, but if the state's high court does choose to hear Emanuel's appeal, the Honorable Anne M. Burke, the Alderman's wife, awaits their argument. It would appear that Burke would recuse herself from the case, although that's unknown at this time. Whatever the end result, Ald. Burke has cast a large presence over the election.
Emanuel Supporters at the corner of Dearborn and Washington
Rahm Emanuel's campaign organized a demonstration at the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners office tonight following an Illinois appellate court's 2-1 ruling that he does not meet residency requirements to run to be Chicago's mayor. For their efforts, several dozen demonstrators showed up, some with handmade flyers, most with official "Rahm for Mayor" signs. While the demonstration only lasted a few minutes before leaving the office, the issue will be around until the Illinois Supreme Court rules on the case.
There's a lot of political schadenfreude going around in reaction to an Illinois Appellate Court decisionto remove Rahm Emanuel from the municipal election ballot. A local objector filed suit to prevent Emanuel's candidacy, with the argument that Emanuel failed to meet the requirement that candidates for local office in Chicago both be a qualified elector (i.e., voter) and have "resided" in Chicago for a year before the election.
The latest turn in Emanuel's on-going legal troubles in getting on the ballot was a shock to many (but not all), and has naturally led to indignation at the injustice done to voters (i.e., "Let the voters decide!") and the justice of the universe ("He's buying the election! He failed to meet the letter of the law!")
I implore everyone to take a breath and consider their arguments outside of the election fight context for this one instance; in a post-Bush v Gore society, we can't afford any more "I'll cheer when it helps and screech when it hurts" approaches to legal decisions like this.
The Opinion and Dissent
The decision was split 2-1. The majority opinion is seductively argued. Basically, they build upwards from the idea that the Chicago election law is conjuctive and not disjunctive--in other words, it is an "and" not an "or." Where there is an "and" in a statute, that means that two distinct, non-redundant elements are necessary. The two elements in question here: (1) Is candidate a qualified elector? and (2) did candidate "reside" in Chicago for a year before the election?
An Illinois appellate court ruled 2-1 today that Rahm Emanuel should be removed from the ballot for mayor in the election next month, on grounds that he did not meet residency requirements. The ruling reverses the decision by the Chicago Board of Elections, which was upheld by the Cook County Circuit Court.
According to the Chicago News Cooperative, the court's ruling stated, "We conclude that the candidate neither meets the the municipal code's requirement that he have 'resided' in Chicago for the year preceding the election in which he seeks to participate nor falls within any exception to the requirement."
This battle isn't over, of course. Get ready for the appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court. And get ready for a fistful of expletives.
Some "people" who give to candidates are not people at all, but institutions. It's a storied tradition in Chicago politics for "people" with names like "29 N. Michigan Ave, LLC" to give tens of thousands of dollars to their favored candidate. Here are some of the institutions that gave big money to Gery Chico and Rahm Emanuel in the race for mayor:
Rahm Emanuel and Gery Chico have raised the most money in the mayoral race by far. Below are lists of givers groups by their employer, with the total given by employees. This can give some insight into institutional support and support by sector, as well as give us a sense of who is bundling for whom. Obviously given Emanuel's comically enormous fundraising lead, there is more eye candy there, but these things are all relative. Take a look through the below lists and see if any givers grab your attention.
There is a pattern that shows what was suspected, namely, that Rahm Emanuel has very high-level financial and real-estate sector support, with Chico raising (non-comparatively) lots of money from law firms and construction concerns.
The vast majority of givers fall under three groups: "Homemaker," "Self-Employed" and "Retired." Not all givers were required to detail their employer, which is important to keep in mind.
The 25th Ward is a horseshoe-shaped district on the Near West Side of the city. Its hodge-podge of varied ethnic and commercial centers are representative of Chicago at large. From its southeastern edge in Chinatown to gentrified University Village, pockets of Little Italy and Tri-Taylor, and nearly all of the heavily Hispanic Pilsen neighborhood, the ward encompasses an assorted mix of communities with distinct needs that serve as indicators of similar issues facing the entire city. The three main candidates for the aldermanic post -- current Ald. Danny Solis, CDOT employee Ambrosio "Ambi" Medrano Jr., and community organizer Cuahutémoc Morfín -- showcase various pieces of the the city's political puzzle, and perhaps, a movement towards ending the old standards of Chicago realpolitik.
Since 1996, the 25th Ward has been represented by Danny Solis, the current Chairman of the Committee on Zoning, and Mayor Daley's former President Pro Tempore on the City Council Floor. Solis, a Tri-Taylor resident, comes from heavy political stock. His sister, Patti Solis Doyle, is a long-time political operative who once served as Hillary Clinton's campaign manager and later, as a senior aide to Barack Obama's 2008 campaign. Ald. Solis has been a consistent supporter of Mayor Daley throughout his tenure, and was heavily involved in the now defunct, criminal-ridden Hispanic Democratic Organization.
With Daley's pending departure, and as one of his closer aldermanic allies, Solis finds himself running without the same degree of institutional backing in this year's race. Solis is hoping that his longevity, name recognition, and accomplishments over the past fourteen years make voters pay credence at the ballot box on February 22nd. His two opponents, Ambrosio "Ambi" Medrano Jr., the son of former 25th Ward Alderman and convicted felon Ambrosio Medrano Sr., and last election's loser, the progressive minded Cuahutemoc Morfin, hope otherwise.
Rahm Emanuel's campaign released a plan today to soften regressive taxes--particularly the sales tax--and compensate for the lost revenue by closing loopholes on "luxury" taxes paid primarily by people in upper-income tax brackets:
In comments he made before meeting with Crain's editorial board, Mr. Emanuel said his intention is to make the tax system simpler and less onerous, while also pulling in a bit more cash for the city.
"I believe if you close loopholes and simplify things, you can be more progressive and pull in more revenue," he said. "That's good for everybody."
Under one part of Mr. Emanuel's plan, he would ask the Legislature to extend the current sales tax that applies only to goods to cover services mostly used by upper-income groups -- items like private club memberships, pet grooming, limo rentals, tanning parlors and interior design.
Miguel Del Valle is being considered the progressive candidate for a variety of reasons. His record of independence from so-called "Machine politics" is considerably free of the spots found in those of Emanuel and Chico in particular; no organizational or professional ties to Mayor Daley. His policy positions on schools and teachers, the environment, and housing position him to the left of the field. While these positions are more liberal, they are also not controversial; meaning that, generally speaking, they are probably not significantly to the left of the average Chicagoan.
But there's something deeper in Del Valle's politics that may warm the cockles of a progressive's heart while simultaneously causing the city's power players, including its media organizations, to tremble with febrile dreams.
Based on his public statements about the relationship of the Mayor to the City Council, Del Valle appears to believe that conflict compels collaboration which leads to stronger results. In other words, by formally decentralizing power so that no one party or institution can simply act-and-make-so, they will be forced to negotiate one with the other on terms equitable to each, and thereby the best feasible solution will emerge.
The Mayor's race has a settled field. Four major candidates have emerged: Rahm Emanuel, Gery Chico, Carol Moseley-Braun and Miguel Del Valle. Now that they know their opponents, the campaigns are now in a furious infrastructure-building phase based on what their leadership and staff believes is their electoral Path to Victory.
"Path to victory" is a media concept, really, meant as a sort of executive summary of the realism of the strategies of a campaign's communications, field, and fundraising arms (note the absence of research and policy). The realism of a given campaign's path is subjective, and journalists often use poll numbers as a quasi-objective measure of its likelihood.
In big-city politics, these paths to victory are in practical terms processes of growing social, economic and community networks to generate cash and organizing activities -- door knocking, neighborhood meetings, get-out-the-vote (GOTV) volunteers. Each candidate is building their campaigns on these networks, jealously guarding them from other candidates and meticulously cultivating relationships within them.
This isn't about popular support. Candidates will appeal to voters only after they've built campaigns from the ground up; that goes for all the candidates. Despite the simpler narratives, none of these politicians simply flies in with a message and organizational capacity in hand. All of these candidates need to build networks of supporters through outreach to individuals and organizations that will, in the final weeks of the campaign, generate popular support from a voting public that tends to not pay attention until the last few weeks. Despite notions that voters come in foreseeable blocs, they are actually quite discerning, and no one candidate can be pigeonholed into narrative characters.
As the ticking clock on Gery Chico's website indicates, the first round of the mayoral election is getting closer by the second. The final stages of the race are taking shape in arguments over who is best qualified to stir Chicago's ship straight as it fiscally sails to the bottom of Lake Michigan. And while the $600+ million budget deficit does balloon over everything, most of the talk emanating from the remaining candidates shows an equal deficit in meaningful ways to reshape and reform Chicago.
Each of the candidates have taken legitimate shots at criticizing some of Mayor Daley's failings, especially in regard to the botched parking meter deal, education reforms, and the continuing debate over privatization of city festivals and assets. There's been talk of lawsuits from Miguel del Valle and Carol Moseley Braun to cancel the parking meter lease, a call by Chico to outift every CPS student with a laptop, and in general, very controlled messages from the seeming front-runner Rahm Emanuel. With few exceptions, the race has simply been about band-aiding things that ail the city at present. Lacking in the discussion thus far is a concrete vision about pushing the city forward in ways that the citizenry interacts with it on a daily basis -- and especially, in the shape of the city's streets.
In flusher times than these, it was easy to see vision blasting forth from Mayor Daley's office, a concrete vision laid out literally in, well, concrete. Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin picked up on this most tangible part of Daley's legacy shortly after the mayor announced his intentions to retire. The recession, and Daley's imminent departure, have obviously changed this dynamic, as current economics continue to force everyone to maximize for the most effect with minimal cost. There's been a glaring lack of ideas and information put out by the remaining candidates for doing so though. Yes, times are extraordinary on local and state levels, but such trying circumstances are also chances to inventively implement low cost initiatives that continue to move the city forward and show the city is capable of action no matter what. More so, Chicago must be in a position to stay ahead of the curve to ensure that when good times return, the city is a position to capture renewed demand of services and its infrastructure without having to play catch-up.
Examples of such initiatives are easily seen in a series of recent low cost fixes in New York: turning Times Square into a pedestrian pavilion, or creating a new network of dedicated bike lanes to the cool cost of just $8.8 million. Similar quality-of-life projects, such as shrinking Lawrence Avenue, have just gotten under way in Chicago, but for the most part, these type of street level and impactful measures are not being discussed in the mayor's race. As easy as it would be to cast stones as this being a mayoral candidate's responsibility to take up, perhaps some of the reason we don't hear much talk about such initiatives is because Chicagoans tend to wait for a vision from the top, and not exert pressure on their elected officials from the ground.
With the city purse empty and Daley vacating the Fifth Floor -- things that seem seismically poised to change the city regardless -- the next few years actually have the potential be a tremendously effective and innovative time period. However things get accomplished, or wherever the initial spark lights, Chicago needs to see itself moving forward and maximizing incremental changes to the cityscape that make it a far more involved place. And whomever ends up occupying the mayor's office should encourage creating new ways the City and its citizens can interact with one another, recognizing that you can't paint a new vision of a place solely using band-aids. There's no better indication of how that process plays out than in design and use of the city's streets.
In further proof that 2011 is not an analogue of 1983 or 1987, but in some ways bears closer resemblance to 1979, City Clerk and former state senator Miguel Del Valle has garnered the endorsement of two political organizations with strong independent/reformer roots, especially in the critical lakefront wards, namely the Independent Voters of Illinois (IVI-IPO) and the Northside chapter of Democracy for America ("DFA"). After winning the official backing of IVI-IPO's board last week, Del Valle was endorsed handily by the lakefront DFA group last night, with only Carol Moseley Braun, who appeared and spoke before the group earlier in the evening, showing any other support.
Congressman Danny Davis dropped out of the race for the Mayoralty on Friday, endorsing Carol Mosley-Braun, achieving through attrition what Black civic leaders were unable to achieve through acclamation, a "unity" candidate for Black voters.
Greg Hinz, on his blog at Crain's, laments the playing of the "race card" by Black candidates, saying, "Imagine the reaction if a bunch of white ward bosses had met with the stated goal of selecting one white candidate."
This canard stinks enough now for disposing. There are a number of things one needs to imagine before this thought experiment is properly controlled. Imagine first, for example, that white ward bosses represented city residents who made up about 75% of murder victims; imagine next that those white ward bosses represented city residents still living in neighborhoods that were typically 90-98% racially homogeneous as a legacy of segregation; imagine also that those white ward bosses represented wards where the unemployment rate was double that of the other wards. Suppose those white ward bosses were also hearing from their constituents about how the infant mortality rate was approaching Third World levels in their wards. Perhaps those white ward bosses would then have more incentive to work together under a consensus that wasn't merely, "Keep the other race out of power."
To say that Danny Davis's withdrawal from the Chicago mayor's race, and his endorsement of former U.S. Senator Carol Moseley Braun, changes the landscape is understatement. The emergence of one, and only one, strong African-American candidate in a field where no one is named Daley would be noteworthy under any condition. But for that candidate to be a history-making personality who now also happens to be the only woman in the race is an earthquake of far greater magnitude than the tremor felt in Chicago a few days ago. Effectively narrowing the field to four strong candidates, west sider Davis's weight being thrown to South Sider Braun now makes clear what had always been true but not recognized by some: the ascendacy of Rahm Emanuel to City Hall, despite numerous advantages, is not an inevitability. Some other person, including Carol Moseley Braun, could be the next mayor of Chicago.
As in George Clinton, not Bill. On Dec. 28, Che "Rhymefest" Smith held a fundraiser concert at Lincoln Hall (far from the 20th Ward where he's running for alderman) featuring the funk legend. Len Kody covered the concert, and fortunately brought along his videocamera. Smith did a little freestyle rapping inbetween sets, stumping for his campaign.
UPDATE 3:50pm: Jumped the gun. This is a user-generated page; the Emanuel campaign website allows supporters to create their own fundraising page to direct people to. The Obama campaign introduced this into mainstream on-line political campaigning. Apparently there was some failure of whatever monitoring system is in place. Sorry everybody.
As I write this, the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners has just denied the challenge to the mayoral candidacy of Rahm Emanuel. Late last night, about a day-and-a-half later than expected, hearing officer Joseph Morris recommended that Emanuel be allowed to stay on the ballot. Morris's report is posted at Early and Often and possibly elsewhere by now.
Morris's recommendation, with which the Board agreed, focuses on whether or not Emanuel "abandoned" his residence, following the logic of a post-Civil War Illinois Supreme Court case in which a judge was allowed to keep his position after a couple years in the army. The analogy is not particularly compelling, because the statute at issue today is an Illinois Municipal Code re-write that was enacted more than a century after the Civil War. Sure, if you focus on "resident" as a noun, or "residence" as a status, Emanuel wins -- because those terms are legalisms determined largely by declaration and intent. Emanuel should be able to vote in Chicago -- and has.
The issue is that in addition to saying that a candidate has to be an "elector" of the city, which already includes the requirement of "residence," the statute, Section 3.1-10-5 of the Illinois Municipal Code, also has the requirement that the candidate have "resided," as a verb. The question is whether owning real estate out of which you've completely moved your family, and which you're only using for income and a storage unit -- which is good enough to vote -- still constitutes "residing" in a city, and simply incorporates the legalistic "elector" residency definition as its own, or whether using two separate phrases implies something more.
Normally, in interpreting statues, a court assumes that language wasn't meant to be surplus or nonsense but was put there for a reason (that may give legislatures too much credit, but it's the rule). Since the "elector" requirement already incorporates "residence," saying you have to also "reside" suggests some affirmative action, more than legal technicality, is also necessary. That's the wrinkle that makes the strongest legal appeal. It's also a salient political point.
Why does it matter? Why should anyone care? The Tribune says "he's a Chicagoan" and that ends the discussion. But one gets the impression that the Trib, like many, would applaud Silvio Berlusconi being a candidate if they thought he could get the CTA to run on time, or Chicago's fiscal woes straightened out.
Fact of the matter is, not every person who has real estate in a city gets to run for office. Not even every voter. Let alone every person who might be qualified to run the city. The law, on its face, seems to want candidates to have actually lived there. Recently.
Is it an unreasonable requirement if a state says that, in order to be a municipality's chief exec, a candidate should have spent the last year living as one with the people of that city: chafing under its traffic congestion, suffering the injustice of its taxes while millions are paid out for insider deals or lawsuits against the city, dodging the bullets on its streets and the dog poop in its parks?
A principal problem with government these days is the disconnect, the gulf between those who govern and those who are governed. The chief fail of top-down management is that too many at the top are clueless about who and what policy soaks when it finally trickles down to the bottom. So, yeah, where you live matters. So does how you live. One of the reasons the Current Occupant has survived scandal and deficits is that, in appearance and speech, many Chicagoans accept him as one of their own.
Will Emanuel get such a pass? I was not advising any candidate at the objection hearing. But if I was, I would have asked, maybe, only one question: "Mr. Emanuel, what does it cost to feed a meter these days in Chicago?" Because pretty much anyone who really resides here knows that.
It's unfortunate that the legalistic issue of "residence" is emerging as the biggest consumption of ink and bandwidth to date, rather than, say, schools or pensions, transit or debt. But whether or not Rahm Emanuel survives the legal test, the question of where he has lived remain legit. Where are your head and your heart? How well do you really understand how most of your future constituents do live? That is a perfectly legitimate challenge, that every candidate, in some form, and in more than one forum, should have to answer.
On a sharp, chilly Tuesday evening, a crowd of people that appeared to represent the full racial, ethnic and social diversity of Chicago gathered in the UIC Forum on the south-west side for the New Chicago 2011 mayoral forum.
Organized by a coalition of over 26 community organizations "united for a fair, progressive Chicago", including the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, the Southwest Organizing Project and the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, the forum was a rare opportunity for grassroots leaders to come together and hold mayoral candidates feet to the fire before an election that has galvanized Chicago's community organizing base like few others have.
Seven candidates whose petitions for mayor received at least 35,000 signatures were invited. Gery Chico, Danny Davis, Miguel Del Valle, James Meeks, Carol Moseley Braun and Patricia Watkins were present at the forum, with the announcement of the notable exception, Rahm Emanuel, greeted with boos.
The forum focused on five key issues - violence, human rights, education, jobs and housing - with testimony from a community member on each, a question, and then one minute for the candidates to speak on the subject, and a mystery question pulled out of a Cubs' hat at intervals.
On stage in front of organization representatives decked out in the orange, green or yellow T-shirts of their organization, the mayoral candidates cut stark figures in their regulation business attire. During the forum, the candidates traded jibes, spouted rhetoric and offered solutions to some of the biggest problems affecting the city on the lake.
On Monday, Dec. 13, a small group of journalists, reform advocates, and political junkies gathered in a conference room at the Michael A. Bilandic Building to hear a three-person panel review some of the important changes to Illinois election law enacted last year in what was finally passed as Public Act 96-0832 (click preceding link to view text of Act as it amended existing law; click here to download as a PDF). Cindy Canary of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, Andy Nauman from the State Board of Elections' division that regulates campaign finance reporting, and Cara Smith (no relation), the Public Access [FOIA] Counselor for the Illinois Attorney General, did their best in a quick review to navigate attendees through a pastiche of legislation that, as Canary put it, is "like going into the inner chamber of hell." The changes have some immediate impact on the municipal elections barreling down upon us all, with larger ramifications for other future races. However, reviewing what the law does and doesn't do also highlighted new ambiguities created, and how in significant areas much remains to be done.
Chicago's great new local politics reporting site, Early and Often is reporting on the efforts of Mayoral hopefuls Miguel Del Valle and Gery Chico to pin Rahm Emanuel on his commitment to making Chicago's public schools institutions worthy of the ideal of equality of opportunity. Dan Mihalopolous reports:
Almost as soon as mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel balked when asked Tuesday whether he would enroll his three children in Chicago Public Schools, rival Miguel del Valle's campaign fired off a brief news release to emphasize del Valle's "history as CPS father and alumnus."
Soon after del Valle's missive...Gery Chico also sought to capitalize on the situation[:] "There is something to be said for leading by example and having a personal stake in the system you seek to reform," Chico said in the statement. "I would never tell a parent what decision to make for their own child, but personally, I wouldn't feel comfortable asking parents of more than 400,000 public school students to do something I wouldn't do myself."
The great local politics site Early and Often has been covering the petition submission process for the 2011 municipal elections all day. Head over to see who is filing on the first day, how many signatures they're turning in, and all types of highjinks (highjinx?).
Potential mayoral candidates take note: in a city where politics are often viewed through a prism of black, white, or brown, a broad-based coalition will be demanding that a green hue merit equal consideration. The Chicago-based Environmental Law and Policy Center (EPLC), one of the midwest's foremost think-tanks and advocacy centers, is spearheading a drive to bring issues of sustainability and environmental quality to the forefront in the Chicago municipal elections, which will rear their head the moment the dust settles on the Nov. 2 general election. ELPC already has a survey in progress to show that voters care.
Political movements don't happen overnight. Changing a political structure, especially one so entrenched in its own power as the Chicago machine, requires organization, patience, and an ability to focus on the long view. But since Mayor Daley announced that he won't be seeking another term, community organizers across the city have seen the window to mounting an effort towards overhaul crack open after years of being nailed shut. And in this context, one name has been on everyone's tongue--Harold Washington.
For many, the former Chicago mayor who tragically died in office represents a myriad things, from progressive politics to community activism to grassroots politics. What gets lost in the nostalgia, according to Harish Patel, are the long years of organization that went into Washington's successful campaign.
Officially Sheriff Tom Dart is just running for reelection (although it's pretty clear he's going to run for mayor also), and because he's running for Cook County Sheriff again he is legally obligated to make campaign financial disclosures. Earlier this week the disclosure for his PAC Friends of Dart for the period between July 1-Oct. 3 was released.
The earliest donation came in late September, after Mayor Daley announced his intention not to run for reelection so every donation could have been toward Dart the candidate for mayor. Within this period Friends of Dart raised $170,000. Interestingly, $500.00 of that $170k came from Bettylu Saltzman, who The New Yorker's David Remnick described in his book The Bridge as President "Obama's wealthy friend and patron on the North Side." Rahm Emanuel's financial disclosure reports aren't due yet because the earliest and only election he's running for is in February, but it will be interesting to see if one of Obama's big name Chicago backers donated to Emanuel's campaign as well.
Besides Saltzman, other notable contributors include SEIU Local 73 B-Pac ($1,000) and the lobbying firm Nicolay & Dart LLC, the lobbying firm where the Sheriff's brother works. One of the oldest rumors of this still young mayoral race is that Dart would win the backing of the SEIU, which increasingly appears to be more than a rumor.
Did I miss anything? You can read the report below. Please let me know in the comments if you find anything interesting.
One Monday hip hop artist Che "Rhymefest" Smith teased a "big announcement" at 10:30am this Thursday, Oct. 21, at Exclusively Yours Auto Spa, 5820 S. State St.
The video all but says he's running against Willie Cochran for alderman in the 20th Ward, and Smith has been coy about what he's announcing. But he proclaimed his candidacy Oct. 9 at a hip hop festival in Atlanta (see below). "I'm from a community named Englewood," Smith told the audience. "This is the same neighborhood where Jennifer Hudson's parents and people got killed. I'm from the fifth most violent ward in the city. And in that ward, in that district, I'm currently running for City Council."
"I want to let you know, y'all see me drinking, hanging and all like that, but I'm in my right mind. I see what shorties need. We need jobs, we need re-education, because the education we got ain't hot, and we need our police, we need mentors. When I was growing up, grown men used to go out and play football with the kids on the block. They're not doin' that no more. People go to work, they come home, they're like, 'I ain't got time to deal with nothin' but me and mine.' But you gotta realize your village is you and yours. And that's, hopefully, why the next element of hip hop is political power."
Smith is already listed as a candidate for his upcoming appearance on Mark Bazer's Interview Show. Consider this ward battle joined.
Gov. Pat Quinn's campaign has released a commercial blasting Republican candidate Bill Brady for sponsoring a bill in the state senate authorizing the mass euthenization of dogs.
The ad says it was Brady's first act after winning the primary, but PolitiFact notes that he was confirmed the winner on March 5, a month after the bill was introduced. On a more significant point, Politifact also notes that Brady took his name off the bill in the weeks after, and was no longer a sponsor by the time he was certified as the Republican candidate.
In recognition of our unseasonable warmth this weekend, here's a stroll down memory lane to Mayor Jane Byrne's 1979 victory night, which came on the heels of a once-in-a-lifetime (well, maybe somewhere other than Chicago) blizzard:
Early and Oftenreported today that on Chicago Tonight the other night Dick Durbin gushed about three (possible) mayoral candidates: Rahm Emanuel, Tom Dart, and Gary Chico. Why these three candidates? Well because they're the three most serious candidates. Emanuel and Dart are the two frontrunners. Chicago is close to Mayor Daley. As for the rest, well:
Bur Durbin did not have the same sort of praise for his former Senate colleague Carol Moseley Braun — “She loves this city and is being encouraged by some to get involved” — and said he disagreed with state Sen. James Meeks on gay rights.
Durbin had little to say about City Clerk Miguel del Valle: “I worked with him on education issues when he was a state senator.”
Durbin was not asked about the mayoral aspirations of U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, who is circulating petitions to get on the ballot but has not declared that he will certainly end up running.
This is all more a reflection on the strength of the candidates. Durbin is generally a no-drama guy when it comes to Chicago politics. He tries to stay out of that stuff as much as possible. The fact that he doesn't say much about Braun, Meeks and the rest is really an indication of how viable each mayoral prospect is. Durbin isn't worried about the backlash from the candidates that aren't Dart, Emanuel, or Chico now or later on, in all likelihood because there probably won't be much.
Early and Often, the new Chicago politics reporting venture, had a story about a proposed "plebiscite" of Black political and community organizations to find a single candidate to represent the interests of the Black community. This was a compelling idea that could have really started something of a groundswell and, to some degree at least, consensus. It also generated possibly the best quote of the cycle so far, from state Senator Ricky Hendon, who said the original crowded Mayoral field "looked like the Universal Soul Circus." Bless that man's wit.
One of the organizers of the meeting, NEIU political science professor Robert Starks, is backtracking or correcting the record, stating that the second meeting of organizations will be a candidate forum rather than a plebiscite:
But less than 24 hours later, the chair of the meeting, Robert T. Starks, a professor of political science at Northeastern Illinois University, said "it's not going to be a plebiscite."
"It's going to be a forum, a candidates forum," he said, sighing deeply. "There will be no vote."
With an open Mayoral seat, Chicagoans a generation removed from the last competitive election for that office are unsure of their footing. The media is either causing or reflecting that confusion, unsure where to start an analysis of what this election "means," what will determine its outcome, who the players are. Path of least resistance: we focus on the personalities running, the staff they're hiring, the money they're raising. Is this a new chance at democracy? Have we had democracy all along? Does Chicago need a strong hand? Or are we looking for the next Harold? White? Black? Latino? Man? Woman? Gay? Straight? Machine? Progressive?
The cat's away. The mice are frantic.
"Progressives" are eager to make this election a change election, to "take the city back" from what they perceive as decades of corporatist policies under Daley's leadership. Their archenemy is Rahm Emanuel, the insider's insider who has openly mocked progressive leadership nationally and who made a curious insta-fortune on Wall Street after his years in the Clinton White House. And, it should be noted, who made his bones raising money for Mayor Daley. Whet Moser of the Reader directs us to a painfully prescient piece by David Moberg from those days, wherein Moberg by simply looking at Daley the Younger's fundraising deduces that the "new Machine" will be run by big money rather than neighborhood patronage.
The perpetual election cycle is a cause for consternation on many fronts. While news today that Cook County property tax bills will not be delivered to taxpayers till sometime near Thanksgiving isn't really all that surprising, the consequences of this stalling tactic have far greater reach and implications than our elected officials intend. Cook County Assessor candidate and current tax appeals board member Joseph Berrios can point the finger at outgoing Assessor James Houlihan all he wants, saying Houlihan's failure to assess property in a timely fashion has in turn pushed back the appeals schedule, but engaging in this futile blame game is too transparently cynical to work to anybody's advantage. Perhaps Berrios can adopt the campaign slogan: "If nobody notices, nobody gets hurt."
Except, in reality, all of us do.
Without property tax bills, homeowners obviously cannot pay their property taxes. Without the funds from these taxes arriving into municipality's coffers (coupled with the permanent vacation of due monies from Springfield) and then being applied to pay for essential services, governing bodies will have to operate from a dearth of funds to provide any services at all. To fill that hole, the cities and towns will have to look towards borrowing money just to be able to keep the lights on. And of course, borrowing will eventually cost extra money. It's not too difficult of an equation to figure out where taxing bodies will look towards to get that extra money in servicing this new debt.
It seems as if there's a systemic condition throughout Cook County that plagues it citizens to either not notice, not care, or remain too numb to machinations such as these. But it is exactly these type of small procedural missteps that make it so difficult to enact long-lasting and meaningful reform. It's these type of blatant and short-sighted maneuvers that initially make privatization of public services look attractive (as governing bodies force the hand of other bodies who effectively are unable to follow through on their essential functions), but then also make privatization something to vilify, when the same cycles repeat itself, and there's either a raid on reserve funds or nothing else to sell.
Cook County- its government, its citizenry, all of us- needs to start sweating the small stuff.
Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias held a conference call today to take a couple shots at Mark Kirk for his vote on a small business loan bill. While the conference was happening, an AP reporter asked why Giannoulias was doing this on a conference call, not in person at a press conference. His answer? Bad hair day.
CBS 2: Daley Mentored Others as He Shaped Chicago: But he's still "absolutely the best mayor in the country," Berry said. "Nationally there's no question he's been probably one of the most successful and important big-city mayors in the last couple decades."
Progress Illinois: Shift Expected at CAPS: The ground continues to shift at the Chicago Police Department. On Thursday, outgoing Mayor Richard Daley said he wanted civilians rather than uniformed police officers to run the Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS) program. Ron Holt, the CAPS director, told the Tribune that too many of the 200 to 300 officers assigned to CAPS were doing administrative and civilian tasks. Many are expected to be reassigned to patrol work.
In These Times Working Blog: Hotel Quickie Strikes Build Union, Workers' Determination for Contract Battles: Workers in Chicago, like most of these cities, are responding with overwhelming strike authorization votes, protest rallies, sit-ins and civil disobedience, campaigns to persuade organizations and individuals to boycott certain hotels, and-last week-a planned one-day strike against hotel union UNITE HERE's national target, Hyatt, in four cities.
People of Color Organize!: Solidarity With Whittier School Occupation: The Whittier Parents' Committee has been organizing for seven years to push Pilsen alderman Daniel Solis to allocate some of the estimated $1 billion in Mayor Daley's TIF coffers to their school for a school expansion - he finally agreed to give $1.4million of TIF funds for school renovation. Cynically, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) has earmarked a part of this money for the destruction of the school's field house, which has been used for years as a center for community organizing and services. This would directly undermine the ability of the Whittier community to organize and struggle for educational rights. Parents are demanding to be part of the decision-making process.
Austin Talks: March against violence challenges community to fight back: Graham urged residents to take a stand against gun, gang and domestic violence. Rev. Jennie Jones of Pleasant Ridge Missionary Baptist Church led the group in prayer and pleaded for strength in the fight against violence plaguing Austin.
Chicago Union News: Adjunct faculty at Chicago college cries foul while trying to organize: With only a few weeks until fall classes begin, some part-time instructors at East-West University in Chicago's South Loop are still waiting to see if they will be hired back to teach after what has been a "messy" summer-long conflict involving efforts to unionize.
Is one of Mayor Daley's legacies ending the city's explosive racial politics?
Given the concerns that the race-based "Council Wars" of the 1980s could boil over again without a strongman at the top, that seems to be a hard case to make. Something that was truly ended wouldn't loom as an existential threat. The Mayor incorporated major identity groups into his ruling coalition using a not dissimilar approach from that of Harold Washington: minority contracting rules, grants and contracts to influential community organizations, and appointments of local leaders to influential city and state boards and commissions. He kept a balance that didn't fundamentally alter Chicago's racial politics, but merely placated the actors most willing or able to intensify those politics.
If identity does come to play an important role in the coming election campaign, years of idle speculation tell us that a Latino is the best placed to win the day. The Latino population has grown significantly in the last two decades--to approximately 25% of the population, when "Hispanics of all races" are computed--while the Black population has dropped by about 10%. Given the Black-brown affinity on economic issues and the prevalence of mixed white-Latino neighborhoods, there is some circumstantial evidence for that view. The candidacies of Luis Gutierrez and Miguel Del Valle could help us walk through whether there is a strong likelihood of a Latino Mayor in 2011.
Forgetting for a second (or preferably forever) the meaningless insta-polls people are doing, what exactly would you expect a Rahm For Mayor campaign to look like? Meaning, what would his message be? He obviously can't run against the Mayor's record in a meaningful way--and his many opponents will belabor that fact from beginning to end--so will he soft-pedal the Mayor's recent record? Promise to do the good but leave behind the bad? And how do you put that in a simple campaign message?
The Progressive Change Campaign Committee of the local "Bold Progressives" is circulating a petition to encourage it's members to...discourage Rahm Emanuel from running for Mayor. And we're off.
Yesterday, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley announced he would not seek re-election.
Within minutes, the media were reporting that Rahm Emanuel -- who as White House chief of staff has consistently urged President Obama to cave to corporate interests and Republicans on issues like the public option -- may run for mayor of Chicago.
Can you sign our pledge? "I will not support Rahm Emanuel in any future election -- for Mayor, Governor, or other office."
Then, please send this email to others.
To be clear, Rahm leaving the White House would be great. But by drawing this line in the sand, we're breaking through in the media with a larger point about 2010.
Here's a PCCC quote reported yesterday by the Huffington Post, Politico, and The Nation:
"Rahm is unfit to represent Democrats in office. He's a cancer on the Democratic Party.
Democrats' current 2010 situation is due to a weak Rahm Emanuel mentality that says water down real reform at the urging of Republicans and corporations, thus making Democratic reform less popular with voters than the real deal would have been.
If Democrats had passed the overwhelmingly-popular public option and broken up the big banks when they had the chance, they'd be cruising for a landslide victory right now."
Over 2,000 folks have signed the pledge so far -- saying we want bold progressives representing Democrats, not weak Democrats like Rahm.
Please help continue our momentum by signing then pledge today -- then pass this email to others.
This is the biggest political news story Chicago has had in maybe twenty years: Mayor Daley will not be seeking re-election, according to severaldifferentsources.
Let the jockeying begin. Is the Regular Democratic Organization based in the County Party organized enough to anoint a successor? Will the Mayor tap somebody? Are we looking at an imminent run by Rahm Emanuel--just in time to step down after the mid-term elections? Will the rumors about County Board candidate John Fritchey turn into a run? Will the Mayor's tenuous coalition--Lakefront Liberals, South Side ward organizations and the Southwest and Northwest Side "ethnic" wards--hold together or will individual ambitions tear it apart?
Will the city's racial politics, subdued in deference to a Mayor who knew how to divvy up the goods, explode back into the fore?
Is there time for anybody to raise the money necessary to take on any candidate deemed a Daley-tapped successor?
Will the independent politics resurgent in places like the near Southwest Side provide the backbone of a legitimate independent candidacy? And with no Mayor Daley, what will "independent" mean?
Chicagoist's political guru Kevin Robinson reports on rumored aldermanic retirements before the upcoming February 2011 municipal elections, indicating that we may end up seeing as many as nine or 10 new faces in the City Council by next year, to add to the half dozen or so freshmen who came in in 2007. If this scenario plays out, seasoned mayoral allies could be replaced by neophytes, always an unwelcome change for a long-time incumbent executive.
If the Mayor runs again (and I don't see how he can't), he'll almost certainly win, though with a significantly smaller margin, even if he only gets token resistance from a dimly suicidal opponent. That potential challenge will certainly not be what dissuades him; in fact, a challenger emerging will probably whet his appetite and prove he's still got the muscle -- and perhaps more importantly to his psyche, the popular support -- to crush all comers.
Via Chicagoist, 46th Ward (Uptown) Alderman Helen Shiller has announced she won't seek reelection for a seventh term. This will no doubt come as good news to Shiller's many local political enemies, who have rallied around the controversial Wilson Yard development and recent localized spikes in crime. Shiller's '03 and '07 reelection campaigns were both hard fought and the latter was particularly bitter, with accusations of racism and corruption thrown around liberally.
Photo: Silvester on Flickr The further away we get from the Fourth of July, the less socially acceptable — and still totally illegal — it is to shoot flaming balls into the air of a crowded urban environment. I know,... More...
It's not surprising that some of Mayor Emanuel's sympathizers and supporters are confusing people's substantive disputes with the mayor as the effect of poor marketing on his part. It's exactly this insular worldview that has gotten the mayor in hot... More...