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.

Looking from the other end of the telescope

Not too long ago I had what I will generously call a mini-epiphany. I ask you to please understand this is about elections-not partisan politics. No matter which way we look at it, the Black community et al has an abysmal voting record.
There are countless voter registration drives that don’t significantly improve outcomes
We lament poor turnout election after election. GOTV initiatives rarely produce the numbers they should. All traditional practices leave us wanting for more voters.

So, the thought occurred that MAYBE we have been looking thru the wrong end of the telescope. I am thinking it might be more beneficial to focus on why people vote, instead of the putting so much attention on the ones who don’t. We know a large cohort of Black voters show up at the polls out of respect for previous generations of African Americans who made tremendous sacrifices to gain the right for us to vote.

There also are a few who routinely succumb to peer pressure and vote because neighbors, friends, and families also vote. No doubt, there also are the voters who believe their participation will change or maintain the status quo.

While those who cast a ballot make up the minority of registered voters, they are the ones who determine what stays the same, what changes, and who gets into office. That means the majority of constituents in a ward, district, county or state must live with the will of the minority.

Have we been looking though the wrong end of the telescope on the voter participation question?

The Chicgo Board of Elections expanded early voting, did away with the requirement to give a reason for absentee voting, and now allow Saturday voting. Yet, none of these steps have pushed voting toward the upper strata. The changes were made after solid research, a lot of deliberation, and measured implementation. Primiarily though, they were made with more input from voters than non-voters.

When we have empirical data re why people don’t vote maybe then their concerns will be addressed, and the majority, rather than a minority will put elected officials in place.

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.

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”

Rahm should follow the leader

Instead of repeatedly throwing ideas against a wall to see if any stick Mayor Rahm Emanuel should follow the lead of the Office of Neighborhood Safety in Richmond, CA.,http://_wp_link_placehol der

Gun violence
The mayor should admit he is clueless when it comes to reducing violence

where shootings have dropped precipitously. It has been reported countless times that Mr. Emanuel usually believes he is the smartest person in the room. When it comes to solving the violence issue he doesn’t get a C.

Understandably it is not the mayor’s job to make sure gun violence doesn’t get out of control; but it is his obligation as the city’s C.E.O. to make our streets as safe as possible. That is where he is failing miserably. Continue reading “Rahm should follow the leader”

Police superintendent can make a difference

Superintendent Eddie Johnson
Superintendent Eddie Johnson has a tough road ahead convincing residents CPD will be different

It’s difficult to watch a news conference or interview with Chicago police superintendent-in-waiting Eddie Johnson and not think about music. For  Johnson it’s the Mission Impossible theme song that seems to be playing in the background. When Mayor Rahm Emanuel arrives to talk police, Frank Sinatra’s “I Did it My Way” looms in the distance.  Mr. Johnson takes the helm of the Chicago Police Department when local law enforcement controversy is at an all time high.

Chicago is poised to pay another $4.9 million to the family whose son was subjected to repeated Tasing by CPD officers and drug handcuffed from a cell into a hallway. Click here to read Chicago Tribune story. It is the second such payment in less than six weeks. So Johnson, who took office in the last week of March, is charged with not only turning around what some see as a rogue culture w/in CPD; but getting folks on the South and West sides to see CPD in a less-harmful, less-threatening light. Animosity over the  murder of unarmed 16-year-old Laquan McDonald by former CPD Officer Jason Van Dyke simmers just below the surface in those community. That is Mr. Johnson’s Mission Impossible. Young McDonald’s family also is scheduled to receive a $5 million wrongful death payment. Continue reading “Police superintendent can make a difference”

Put less focus on voter registration

While plethora organizations and individual opt to affect change in the political process by conducting voter registration drives, the DVC philosophy is it critical to work to get the one million registered, but inactive Chicago voters to the polls.

This approach can VoteSticker_FINALbetter utilize the energy expended to find, register and inform those who have yet to register. Reaching out to those already registers is more efficient too because:

  • Their whereabouts are largely known
  • Unless they have moved or married and changed their names, the old registration is still good
  • Their reasons/explanations for not voting can prove invaluable in crafting future GOTV campaigns

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Medical cannabis dispensary plans July opening

Editor’s note: The words cannabis and marijuana are used interchangeably

Across the nation medical cannabis legislation is being crafted, reworked and debated.cannabis-big

Given that Illinois had legislation in place since August of 2013 the focus on medical cannabis has been at the local rather than state levels. When all the legislation was in place and licenses awarded to be a marijuana grower or dispensary, only one African-American firm was on the list – Illinois Grown Medicine (IGM). The company met staunch opposition to its original proposed Calumet Heights location; but according to IGM CEO Les Hollis “the law restricted us to Hyde Park Township, which encompasses most of the city’s South Side.

Continue reading “Medical cannabis dispensary plans July opening”

Do we need a third political party?

♦Editor’s note: The 2016 presidential primary campaign has been one of the most contentious and vile in recent memory. The level of acrimony has re-ignited in many circles the call for a third political party. DePriest Voters Chronicles, in hopes of facilitating meaningful dialogue on that topic will offer readers a series of essays from everyday citizens on the pros and cons, as well as whether there is a necessity to have a choice besides Democrats and Republicans. 

The level of outright nastiness, lies and revisionist history we are seeing at the presidential nomination campaign level can be described as nothing less than shameful. America has seen vitriol in politics, but not to the level we are witnessing today. While the Republican presidential primary bears a remarkable resemblance to a school yard fight; and the Democratic run is only slightly better. One truth is extremely clear. America needs a third political party. Discussions and examinations of the issues has taken a backseat to presidential aspirants playing the dozens.

Dissatisfaction with both major parties has some voters calling for the establishment of a third political party
Dissatisfaction with both major parties has some voters calling for the establishment of a third political party.

Continue reading “Do we need a third political party?”

When Rahm leaves, then what?

Amidst all of the clamor for Mayor Rahm Emanuel to resign in light of his refusal to release CPD dashcam video of a white veteran police officer shooting an unarmed Black teen 16 times, the question not being asked is what if the mayor does quit, then what? We know that should the mayor opt of completing his term – the most unlikely of any scenarios – Alderman Brendan Reilly of the 42nd Ward is in line to serve as interim mayor.

Brendan Reilly, Rahm Emanuel successor, Chicago City Council,
Alderman Reilly’s ascent to the mayor’s office, although temporary, will cause chaos.

His council colleagues will then set a date for a special election to fulfill Mr. Emanuel’s unfinished term. Next we should expect a mad scramble of  real contenders, also-rans, and perennials to start courting voters. There’s been no shortage of job-seekers for the city’s top post in the last two elections. In the foreseeable future, there is no reason for that scenario to change much. We should expect to see at least one major new mayoral candidate name in the scrum,

Her ties to the business community and statewide name recognition positions her as a potentially prolific fund-raiser
Her ties to the business community and statewide name recognition positions her as a potentially prolific fund-raiser

and that is president of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District and Public Building Commissioner (PBC) Mariyana Spyropoulos. She is a Democrat with strong ties to the business community and brings tremendous fundraising capabilities. Her PBC role provides her insights about the city’s future development that her opponents won’t have. As a millennial Caucasian, female, M.B.A., attorney, Ms. Spyropoulos will bring a background to the race not seen in decades. Currently, there isn’t much conversation about her potential candidacy, but she surely is among the credible to keep an eye on. A Rahm resignation would not give her enough time to complete her biggest hurdles – connecting with and being embraced by African-American voters, but should he remain another three years, that is plenty of time for her to accomplish that mission.

Continue reading “When Rahm leaves, then what?”