Candidates give what we ask for – nothing

A common practice in successful public relations campaigns is research. Long before many PR firms issue the first news releases or advise the client of detailed campaign strategies; they conduct research. The beauty of this exercise is it allows the firm to get feedback from target audiences, and others, and plan accordingly. They can tailor the campaign to the audience’s interests, expectations, and preferences.

This strategy also has been applied successfully to political campaigns. Candidates enhance their positions and ideas on policies by checking in with their constituents via research. The end product is something palatable to voters. Sometimes, even without the formal research voters give candidates enough to fine-tune their positions. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case in the upcoming April 2 municipal runoff elections.

Even though we are voting in an election with no incumbent mayor for the third time in Chicago history, voters are dodging providing the mayoral candidates with input on issues.

Social media are loaded with posts, tweets, and comments about the two women’s appearances, relationships, and past achievements, or lack thereof. However, when it comes to addressing fiscal problems, or basic neighborhood improvements, as well as economic developments; voters aren’t sharing their thoughts, or even asking the candidates tough questions about those areas and more.

That leaves the candidates with what should be the unacceptable option of addressing only the matters of their interest, and taking a pass on the tough ones. While voters are engaged in the mundane and mud-slinging, so are these two candidates. It is unfortunate that two successful women rarely elevate the discussion beyond who is more progressive. I have to wonder if the average voter knows, or cares what comes with the progressive tag.

The overwhelming majority of Chicago’s registered voters don’t vote

There are moments when the campaigns resemble two students setting up for a schoolyard fight and the rest of the student body edging them on. I am not sure if enough voters aren’t familiar with many pressing issues, or they just don’t care. Nor do I know if there is enough time to force the candidates to provide their perspectives on the city’s most critical issues.

There is a reason to vote

April 2 is a critical day in Chicago’s future

When Chicago voters go to the polls to elect 50 aldermen and a new mayor, it will be only the third time in the city’s history residents don’t have the option to vote for an incumbent mayor.

More importantly, it will be the first time Chicagoans will elect an African-American female to city’s highest office. Others, including Cook County Court Clerk Dorothy Brown, former U.S. Senator Carol Mosely Braun, and State Sen. Patricia Van Pelt all have tried.

Despite the real and implied historical aspects, there is no reason to believe the turnout April 2 in the runoff election between Cook County Board President and former federal prosecutor Lori Lightfoot the voter turnout will top the February 26 election total. That topped out at less than 36 percent.

Ms. Lightfoot received the endorsement of Willie Wilson, who finished third in the 2015 election, and fourth on February 26. However, it is not likely the 58,000 voters who selected Mr. Wilson are likely to follow Ms. Lightfoot, as she is a virtual unknown in most of the Black community. There is not enoughtime to immerse here in the community.

Wilie Wilson, who has lost two bids for mayor hopes to be a kingmaker by endorsing Lori Lightfoot

Suzana Mendoza is the real prize among those who didn’t make the runoff. While she garnered about 8,000 votes less than Willie Wilson, her base is the Latino community. If she chooses to back either candidate and delivers them the Latino vote that person will walk away an easy winner.

More so than at any time in the recent past voting matters because it can help shape the city’s future. A first-time mayor will be more inclined to listen to the voting bloc that put her in office. We also are seeing neither candidate will come into office with solid plans to address the most pressing problems, as well as the public’s highest priorities. Additionally, a first time mayor needs to perform to constituent’s satisfaction, rather than her own agenda to have a chance at a second term.


Don’t “kneejerk” county commissioners

Since the pop tax was announced and ultimately went into effect, there has been a battle cry of “vote em all out.” The sentiment is extremely understanding and equally short-sighted.

We have five months before we can cast a vote for Cook County Commissioner-any of them. That is five months to take two critically important steps. The first is asking yourself why did you vote for that person nearly four years ago. The second is to do a little research and find out how your commissioner voted on issues since being in office. If you voted for an incumbent, what did he or do or say to earn that vote? Has that position changed? If no, is the pop tax enough to change who represents you? It is wise to look at the commissioner’s history of voting rather than one disastrous vote.

With less than six months to go until the election, already we should be seeing signs or at least getting subtle signals or who is running against the incumbents. It would make sense to pinpoint one or two or even a handful of commissioners to turn out, but every incumbent doesn’t make good political or governmental sense.

With the rationale of voting them out hinging on this single vote does that mean eight commissioners who voted against the tax should be broomed out as well? It is imperative that Cook County voters, especially Chicagoans, start voting more strategically and less emotionally. A social media recently offered in the “all out” discussion that Commissioner Jerry Butler should be exempt because of his singing career. Really?

Deer was appointed in July following the death of Comm. Robert Steele

 

Let’s take freshly minted Commissioner Dennis Deer.   Deer has not had a chance to show what he’s made of, and the next four, five or six months might not give him a chance to do so. However, Deer did face formidable competition, especially from Springfield lobbyist Frank Bass. But will Bass or the other long line of Deer’s former opponents be  back in the fray come election time next March?Speaking of Third District Commissioner Jerry Butler there is a

Jerry Butler has been in office since 1986

the persistent buzz among the insiders at the county building that his health will prevent him from seeking another term. So it makes sense for commissioner detractors to focus on his replacement.

We also have Commissioner Richard Boykin who represents the county’s First District. Boykin has made no secret about the possibility of challenging Ms. Precwkinkle in the upcoming election. If that comes to fruition then West Side residents and those in the western suburbs will be voting for a new commissioner, not looking to vote anyone out of office.

Commissioner Richard Boykin may be Toni Preckwinkle’s most formidable challenger

The feelings of betrayal, insolence, and that the tax is a money-grab are not only understandable but expected. County officials did a horrid job of initially explaining the need for the tax, how it will be applied, and why not another commodity.

Regardless of the number of commissioners, who lose their seats come March, as residents we have to be more diligent, aggressive, and attention to what happens at every level of government even when it is just in the proposal stage.

Serve and Protect and Ticket

Like 99.9999 percent of the people I have met, I have never run a police department or been a police officer. My guess is it is a job that has components us civilians can’t understand. One component that comes to mind is with  Chicago on track to at least equal the 3,000-shootings that occurred in 2016, and CPD clearance rates of homicides still below the 30 percent mark; why are police officers writing tickets in residential areas at night.

EighthWard Alderman Michelle Harris

The city’s Eighth Ward is home to two exceptionally popular night spots – The Family Den and the Dating Game Lounge. The side-by-side locations in the 8900 block of Stony Island attract Millennials, octogenarians and just about everyone in between.

Parking on Stony Island fills up early and stays that way for much of the night. Club latecomers are relegated to spots a few blocks unless they want to risk a parking ticket. That’s right even at 11 p.m. CPD SUVs pull up on the street immediately west of Stony and start writing tickets.

This has to be one of the most extreme revenue hustles in Chicago. Isn’t there a better use of CPD personnel than writing tickets at night? Yes, these men and women enjoying the clubs are parked illegally, but wouldn’t it be more cost-effective to give overtime to some of those same people we see walking the street during the day issuing tickets? It simply seems that with crime at its current level, Alderman Michelle Harris would push Chief Eddie Johnson to have officers fan out into the parts of the ward where the real crime is going on. The move obviously is not a deterrent as on any given night every available parking spot on that street-Harper-are took for at least a couple of blocks from the clubs.

Nothing is safe from the watchful eye of CPD ticket enforcers 

CPD police officers go through extensive training to become part of the department. They bring a special skill set not found in the general public. It’s insulting to put that training on the back burner so the city can get a few more bucks. Is the ticket writing part of why the city has been shelling out more than $100,000 in overtime pay the last few years?

Sure, the city is making money on the tickets. One has to wonder though, wouldn’t they make even more if those lower on the pay scale were doing the work? Check the math Superintendent Johnson.

Tio Hardiman is at it again

I now have to wonder if Tio Hardiman understands what a governor does. Hardiman, who is far better known for his anti-violence work than anything related to government or politics, is hinting at another run for the state’s top office. It seems if he understood what the job entails and his lack of any level of governmental experience, he would run the other way.

If he follows through, this campaign would be more bizarre than his previous attempt in 2014. According to his latest Facebook post, Hardiman mistakenly believes the 125,000 votes he garnered back then was an endorsement of his candidacy.

Former Gov., Pat Quinn

The reality is a significant number of those voters were voting against former Gov. Pat Quinn-not so much for Hardiman. No doubt a sizeable number of Mr. Hardiman’s tally came from people like him, who don’t really understand the role of a governor.

Just like in his earlier bid, Mr. Hardiman looks like he will rely heavily on social media. It is a strategy that makes sense when one is without the ability to raise the kind of money it takes to run a viable campaign.

Personally, Mr. Hardiman has a point when he derides the fact that the wealthy – Chris Kennedy and J.B. Pritzker are gobbling up the vast majority of media attention for the race. However, Mr. Hardiman showed a practically never seen level of naivete when he suggested that one of them back him financially.

Chris Kennedy

J B Pritzker

Normally, when such deals are struck they aren’t conducted in the public’s eye and the person needing or requesting that kind of backing is believed to have a chance of winning.  Mr. Haridman has not demonstrated any fiscal management experience. That is going to be key for whoever the next governor is as he or she attempts to sort out the damage done by the incumbent to the state’s budget and scores of agencies that rely on state funding.

Although both men are propped up in everything they do by virtue of their last names, both Mr. Kennedy and Mr. Pritzker can lay claim to being at the helm of large national enterprises. Mr.  Kennedy also has the advantage of the last name that has been favorably associated with  African Americans and Democrats for more than a half of a century.

To date, both men appear to be scandal free. However, it is early as neither has been a declared candidate for two months yet.

The real race for the governor’s job is far more likely to see Mr. Hardiman a distant fourth once Chicago City Treasurer Kurt Summers quits fawning with voters and gets in the race.

Kurt Summers, Chicago politics,
City Treasurer Kurt Summers

By his own admission, the trial balloon, or email in this case Mr. Summers sent was overwhelmingly well received. He was exploring how an array of voters would view his candidacy. A second email all but said his run is a go. Summers, to date, is the only candidate with a wealth of public sector management experience. The fact that experience is in finance is another plus for him. The learning curve for Mr. Summers would be relatively flat given he has worked at both the county and municipal levels.

Voters who are close personal friends of Mr. Hardiman are likely to justify a rationale for overlooking his missing expertise in finance,

Tio Hardiman-governor is not the job for him

and not even tangential connection to government, and still vote for him. Sadly, if he continues this trail, it will be a wasted vote.

 

 

Next issue: Why J.B. Pritzker is wasting everyone’s time trying to be governor.

Willie Wilson please stay out of the race

Set aside the singing, television show, mayoral and presidential runs; and Willie Wilson bears the distinction of being Chicago’s most prominent African-American philanthropist. Most recently he was in the news for bailing out hundreds of Cook County residents who weren’t able to pay their back property tax due to an accelerate collection plan.

Taxes., Willie Wilson, Cook County
Former mayoral candidate Willie Wilson (second left) has re-entered the media spotlight by saving the homes of hundreds of Cook County residents

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was only a month or so ago that Mr. Wilson was dominating the news cycles again thanks to his generosity. That time he was putting up tens of thousands of dollars to gain the release of Cook County jail inmates who were unable to post bail-sometimes as little as $500.

The medical supply magnate’s gestures are certainly without equal. His actions are being much better received than his attempts to be mayor of Chicago or President of the United States.

Men and women who were being held in the Cook County jail were able to go home due to Willie Wilson and his bail money campaign

Both moves were rooted far more in ego, than pragmatism. Although he brought a war chest that made him a potential contender for mayor, his wholesale lack of political and governmental experience doomed each bid before either really got started. Mr. Wilson’s malaprops and overall lack of eloquence was the source of much ridicule, especially among African Americans.

A common description used to describe watching one of Mr. Wilson’s speeches was “painful.” African-American voters were looking for a politically knowledge, thoughtful, and articulate opponent to take on Rahm Emanuel. Mr, Wilson disappointed on all fronts. The 50,000 votes he received in that election fueled Mr. Wilson’s delusion he was destined for public office and he ran for POTUS. That can be summed up kindly as Disaster II.

Mr. Wilson, who has a compelling rags-to-riches backdrop to his life, seems to forget two key things about the top job in any level of government. The first is it cannot be run like a business; he introduced Gov. Bruce Rauner as a friend in 2014 before a predominantly African-American audience at Chicago State University. It’s no secret how Rauner the businessman is faring as Rauner the Governor of Illinois.

Continue reading “Willie Wilson please stay out of the race”

Are we ready for a Black mayor or governor?

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: Not too long ago an informal discussion occurred among a handful of Black men re: the political future of Chicago City Treasurer Kurt Summers and what was the outlook for him as a candidate for governor or mayor of Chicago. As a result of that discussion lifelong Chicagoan, Antwan Dobson was invited to pen his opinions on the general topic of a Black mayor for Chicago. His observations are below, immediately followed by my thoughts on a Black mayor, and that running for governor might be Mr. Summers’ best bet.

Continue reading “Are we ready for a Black mayor or governor?”

Hillary Clinton will be a president in the making for more than 40 years

Seeking Democratic nomination for president
Presidential run goes back to the Clinton dating days

For those who read the seemingly interminable Autobiography of

Bill Clinton
Former Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton is instrumental in bringing his wife to the victory line for President of the United States

President Bill Clinton – “Between Hope and History” – you might remember a small passage buried in those 1,100 pages. It is a passage about Yale Law School dining room conversation where the yet-to-be married Clintons committed to eventually both being President of the United States.

We have to suspect there are and have been thousands of politically astute couples over the decades who have made similar commitments.  The most intriguing part is from all appearances it looks as though this couple might pull it off. If Mrs. Clinton does become the 45th POTUS it will be a job more than 40 years in the making. Continue reading “Hillary Clinton will be a president in the making for more than 40 years”

Presidential candidates shun Black voters.

Some remember the monumental Black National Political Convention held in Gary, In in March 1972. It was convened by former Gary Mayor Richard Hatcher and author/activist Amari Baraka and Michigan Congressman Charlie Diggs, both of the latter are now deceased. It was the first time a collective of African Americans exclusively set out to forge an agenda in America focus solely on Black people. This weekend June 10 and 11, the same mission, with another group of African Americans from all walks of life is set to take up the mantle from 1972.

Bobby Seale and Jesse Jackson
Back Panther leader Bobby Seale confers with the Rev. Jesse Jackson during the 1972 National Black Political Convention

The main difference this year is that the top three presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, all were invited to address the convention and be part of a panel discussion. Guess what? Despite a Black captive audience, a near-guarantee of national media exposure, and the opportunity to rebut some of the criticism leveled against them by Black backers, all three refused the invitation. Their refusal speaks volumes about how little they regard connecting with Black voters. Continue reading “Presidential candidates shun Black voters.”

Lucas, Hobson, and Emanuel blew museum deal by ignoring the little people

Mellody Hobson, Star Wars Museum
Mellody Hobson, Chicago native and wife of George Lucas

The fiasco that was to be a Star Wars-themed museum nestling Lake Michigan demonstrated a little discussed fact – the uber rich don’t think like the rest of us.

When George Lucas, creator of Star Wars and his Chicago-bred wife initially proposed the 300,0000 square foot edifice approximately two years ago they sought the blessings of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, which turned out to be mistake number one.

Of course there was no doubt the mayor could put the proper spin on why the museum was the best thing to come to Chicago since Lake Shore Drive, and that he knew what numbers to toss regarding how many jobs would be created. He and his predecessor Mayor Richard M. Daley had gone through this drill countless times. Continue reading “Lucas, Hobson, and Emanuel blew museum deal by ignoring the little people”