Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Whitening of Chicago

Russ Stewart's January 10th column.

Stewart takes a look at the upcoming municipal elections taking a look at the changing demographics of some black wards...

Chicago is certainly not Bosnia or Cambodia, but in the city's black community, there's a definite perception that "ethnic cleansing" is afoot and that Mayor Rich Daley is the cleanser.

As development explodes in the areas south and west of the Loop, as upscale whites replace poor blacks, the "whitening of Chicago" continues on a steady pace. The 2nd, 3rd, 24th and 27th wards, now represented by black aldermen, have large and growing white populations.

Also, as the city's Hispanic population grows, blacks are being pushed out of areas on the West and Southwest Sides. The 9th, 15th and 37th wards, now represented by black aldermen, have large and growing Hispanic populations.

At present, there are 22 white aldermen and 19 white-majority wards, eight Hispanic aldermen and 11 Hispanic-majority wards, and 20 black aldermen and 20 black-majority wards.

At least 16 black incumbents face a serious challenge on Feb. 27. There are a number of issues riling the black community. First, there is the belief that development means that blacks get pushed out and whites move in. Condominiums in the South Loop 2nd Ward are selling for $400,000 and up, and whites are buying them. Daley talks about broadening the property tax base, but blacks dissent: They view him as wanting to broaden the white voter base, and they're angry at black aldermen who support development.

Second, there's chronic unemployment, high crime and gang problems in black wards. They see Daley doling out city jobs to the Hispanic Democratic Organization in the Hired Truck Program and wonder why blacks don't get their share.

Third, the issue of police abuse resonates. Former police commander Jon Burge, according to a special prosecutors' report, allegedly oversaw the torture of at least 75 black arrestees from 1970 to 1993. He can't be prosecuted, as the statute of limitation has expired. "It's police abuse as usual," said Frank Avila, the attorney for one of the victims, who is suing the city.

And fourth, there's disappointment over U.S. Representative Jesse Jackson Jr., who toyed for 2 years with challenging Daley and then wimped out.
Things change in Chicago but the 3rd Ward turning white would disappoint me. The 3rd ward is basically the Bronzeville neighborhood (the black metropolis if you will) it's almost like the gentrification of Harlem in NYC. It wouldn't be cool, but what can you do if most of the original residents of the neighborhood are poor.

Anyway he analyzes the aldermanic races. He goes from the 2nd, 3rd, 7th, 8th, 16th, 18th, and 37th wards. And predicts that incumbent Alderman Madeline Haithcock of the 2nd ward, Dorothy Tillman of the 3rd ward, and Shirley Coleman of the 16th ward will face runoffs and lose. I really want to quote what he says about the 7th ward. One race that I really have an eye on with Beaver's budding machine and Rep. Jesse Jackson's wife...

7th Ward (South Side: South Hyde Park): Longtime (1983 to 2006) alderman Bill Beavers, a solid Daley backer, was elected a county commissioner in 2006. The ward is more than 90 percent black. Daley appointed Beavers' daughter and top aide, Darcel Beavers, to the seat. Sandi Jackson, the wife of the congressman, filed, as did Ron David, Jesse Harley, Curtis Hinton, Eric Brown and Tennesha Frierson.

As an ally of John Stroger, Bill Beavers, who is the Democratic committeeman, packed his ward with county patronage jobs. He is a key supporter of new Cook County Board President Todd Stroger, and he has plenty of precinct workers.

However, Jackson leads a "movement," not a "machine," and by declining to run for mayor, his movement has deflated. He has harshly criticized Daley, but rather than take a chance on running and losing in 2007, he has astutely concluded that he should wait until 2011 -- when 4 more years of investigations will, at best, cause Daley's indictment or, at worst, force him to retire amid a cloud of corruption.

My prediction: Running his wife was a dumb idea. The mayor, and everybody who wants to show Jackson's political feebleness, will pour workers into the ward for Beavers, who will win on Feb. 27.
OK, but what he says about the 9th and 16th wards are also interesting...

9th Ward (far South Side): Incumbent Alderman Anthony Beale has estranged himself from Jackson and state Senator James Meeks, the pastor of the Salem Missionary Baptist Church in Roseland, which draws 20,000 worshippers every Sunday. Beale, first elected in 1999, won with 66 percent of the vote in 2003. He faces five foes, the most prominent being Harold "Noonie" Ward, a former "governor" in the Gangster Disciples street gang.

My prediction: Churches and gangs are an enduring presence in the black community. Beale must heal his rift with Meeks to win re-election. He will win narrowly.
I wonder how Stewart comes across his information and I wonder what happened with the Jackson and Rev. Meeks. How has Beale estranged himself from his allies?

16th Ward (South Side: Englewood): Shirley Coleman, first elected in 1991, is the target of a federal investigation into her ties with a real estate consultant who reportedly paid $50,000 to Coleman's church and $20,000 to Coleman's interior decorator. In exchange, Coleman sent a letter to a home investment company vouching for the consultant. The investors then advanced $515,000, which has vanished. A federal racketeering lawsuit seeks $6 million from Coleman and others.

My prediction: Coleman won with 53 percent of the vote in 2003. She faces 10 opponents, including Hal Baskin, who lost to her in 2003 (with 21 percent of the vote) and 1999 (with 26 percent), and Darryl Smith, who barely lost a primary for state representative in 2006. Expect a Coleman-Smith runoff and a Smith win.
OK, Ald. Coleman hasn't been busy around here but she does have issues I just recently linked to an article about her in my Del.icio.us account. She has been ducking a man attempting to serve her some court papers. And also I did blog about the story about her relationship with an interior decorator. It looks like a mess right now.

2007 will prove itself to be very interesting as far as the elections for Chicago city council goes.

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