Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A couple of good columns today...

From Kristen McQueary of the Daily Southtown, taking aim at the elections that took place in the south suburbs. She really talked about the shenanigans in the suburb of Harvey. Why did the voters choose Mayor Eric Kellogg despite the problems with his administration. Let's have a looksie...

As much as I hoped to credit this newspaper's year-long "Eye on Harvey" series for a Kellogg loss on election day, it didn't happen. Residents re-elected the guy we've been lambasting on a weekly basis and whose government we had to sue to gain access to city financial records.

What does this mean?

a) The Daily Southtown has zero clout in Harvey.

b) Corruption, nepotism and incompetence are OK.

c) The voters of Harvey are remarkably uninformed.

d) All of the above.

I'm going with "D," all of the above.

In the end, the Southtown's almost-daily coverage of mismanagement in Harvey -- family members on the payroll, police department ineptitude that required outside intervention, missing city revenue, dozens of expensive federal lawsuits -- actually worked to Kellogg's advantage.

We were viewed as being too tough on the hometown guy; the "white" newspaper down the street beating up on the black mayor. Even Kellogg's opponents admitted as much.

There's also the question of vote accuracy. The Cook County clerk last week flagged questionable absentee voting in Harvey, and it's long been a Harvey tradition to bus-in and "reward" voters who cooperate.

Still, Kellogg's commanding win over his opponents diminishes any credible claims of widespread foul play.

I doubt Kellogg's re-election will soften coverage of his administration on the news pages here, but let the guy savor his victory. Tomorrow it's back to work.

Certainly, it's not the first time voters disregarded newspaper coverage and ignored editorial endorsements. Todd Stroger won the Cook County Board presidency despite a spate of disapproving news stories and only one major newspaper endorsement.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich won a second term despite an overwhelming, years-long wave of damaging headlines, from federal and state investigations to contract scandals to Blagojevich's personal finances and the indictment of a close friend.

So voters, what are you trying to tell us, the news media? Buzz off? Get lost?

Or is our "we told you so" moment still on the horizon?
Originally I was going to run off at the mouth seeing this one, but it was better to let her tell her story. Eventually the wrong doing with the Kellogg administration will catch up to him. It's only a matter of when. If it's not the next election it will certainly be an indictment. We'll see.

I want to point out my favorite columnist Mary Mitchell's column. This is her take on what happened in the 3rd ward and why...
Earlier in the day, she talked about what she would face if elected. She would have to pull off "a sensitive balancing act," she said. "I have to have a White Castle to White House mentality."

That was clear at her election night celebration, where supporters reflected every region of the ward -- from the South Loop to west of the Dan Ryan Expy., from public housing residents to those who live in expensive greystones

On Tuesday, the battle for the ward came down to old school vs. new school -- old school being Tillman, a civil rights icon who shaped what was once a vast wasteland of dilapidated high-rises and neglected greystones into one of the hottest neighborhoods on the South Side -- while Dowell, a former city planner, represents emerging black leadership.

"A lot of single people in cars have been pulling up and coming up to the polls and voicing their opinion," Isaac said. "Many of them feel that Dorothy Tillman let them down.''

After all the speeches, coffees and fund-raisers, elections boil down to who can get their supporters out to the polls.

I tagged along as Dowell went from precinct to precinct checking on how things were going. There were concerns that her workers may have been targets for intimidation.

For her part, Tillman, if she were in the fight for her political career, was making a good showing -- at least when it came to outsiders. She scored a big coup when she got Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) to endorse her campaign since doing so appeared to contradict his own presidential theme of representing "change."
Old school voters were plentiful in nursing homes, senior citizen residences and the few standing public housing buildings at CHA's Dearborn and Ickes homes. Tillman used a tried and true method of getting them to the polls. She brought vans. She made promises.
At Dearborn Homes, a van with loudspeakers on top blasted old school jams in the middle of an empty parking lot.

"She came out here and promised to bring back Old School Sundays," said a young woman who lives in one of the buildings.

Old School Sundays was an impromptu music fest shut down by police after several people were shot. Maybe Tillman's promise was enough to bring out some voters, but many of the young people who cared about the issue were likely unable to cross gang turf to cast ballots.

Dowell knew the real battleground was in Bronzeville on 47th and King Drive.

When she arrived there about 4 p.m., her signs had disappeared. A supporter quickly came to the rescue. She spotted two boys playing on the sidewalk and offered them $5 apiece to put the signs back.

They skipped away to complete the task, unaware they were major players in a battle for the future of the South Side's mecca.

Late Tuesday, Zakiyyah S. Muhammad summed up the mood at Dowell's gathering: "It's a new day. Out with the old. All the king's men and all the king's horses couldn't save Dorothy and all of her forces.''

Well Bronzeville is gentrifying so there is bound to be a clash between the old poorer resident versus the much more well to do. What did Tillman in certainly was that she no longer had the projects along State Street and she's Alderman of a significantly different ward with some constituents across the Dan Ryan. So the municipal election season in Chicago is just about officially over.

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