Tuesday, November 04, 2008

News From the Front

I'm just stopping by the office for a minute and wanted to put a quick post up. Suffice it to say that I don't think that we'll soon, if ever, see election turnout like this again in our lifetime. Although part of me hopes that civic duty fever will stay with voters for future elections. Time will tell.

I do think that it's great though that people have been willing to wait 2+ hours in some cases for the chance to cast their ballots. And what's really impressive is that we've seen many fewer problems at polling places today than during much slower elections.

I'm back out to the precincts, but I'll leave you with a couple pieces of street art that went up in my ward which I think are really cool. What's even more impressive is that a woman who saw it being done said that it was all done with spray paint.


At November 6, 2008 at 4:06 PM, Anonymous Andrea said...

Hopes for long-overdue reforms in Illinois property taxation, school funding, and stronger political ethic laws were dashed with the November 4, 2008 defeat of the Illinois Constitutional Convention Referendum.

Prejudicial wording on the ballot measure confused voters, and opponents sewed the seeds of fear that killed the initiative – one that comes before voters once every 20 years.

Dusty politicians, union and political lobbyists suggested that the best way to institute needed reforms was to wait on our legislators or elect new legislators to grapple with these issues. We should trust that these legislators will not be influenced by special interests, burdened by reelection requirements or be subject to the leadership, as the architects of perpetual gridlock.

Three prominent thinkers endorsed a vote yes on calling a citizens convention. Paul Vallas, nationally recognized former CEO of the Chicago Public Schools for raising test scores and balancing budgets. And Cook County Assessor James Houlihan and Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.---all know a thing or two about the dire need for more equitable systems for taxation and school funding.

Unfortunately, their support, along with the efforts of under funded grassroots organizations (left, right and center), was not enough to bring the national mandate for change in alignment with local needs for action.

Chicago minority communities strongly supported the referendum, while communities with higher number of union and public employees tended to oppose it. In Chicago, for example, minority communities cast the highest number of yes votes for the constitutional convention ---between 48% to 55% of the electorate.

The highest votes ---50% or greater voted yes for a con con referendum in communities like Englewood, West and East Garfield Park, Lawndale, Chicago Lawn, Chatham, and Greater Grand Crossing. These are neighborhoods with citizens that have seen first hand the inequities of our school funding and tax systems. These communities voted on faith and not fear in spite of a $600,000 radio and TV anti-Con Con ads.

In Mt. Greenwood and Jefferson-Edison Park, with heavy populations of public employees and retirees, voters heard their pensions might be threatened, and they voted against Con Con by 70%.

The wording on the ballot, crafted in back rooms by our legislators, was so prejudicial that the courts declared it unconstitutional and ordered supplemental clarification language to be handed to each voter. The court ordered constitutional referendum clarifications to be made available to voters varied greatly from precinct to precinct, as did the methods of posting the same in or around the voting booths. The only thing that was consistent among voters was the confusion and misunderstanding about what this referendum called for.

When the Illinois legislature can stop school funding reform, and true property tax reform, and then taint the ballot language on an historical public policy issue that comes only every 20 years -- there is something fundamentally broken in our government.

The 1,420,643 yes votes for a Con Con was, at the very least, a demand for a more equitable tax system to better educate our children and to keep our property tax bills payable.

A huge price was paid for the no vote stealthily orchestrated by union bosses and well connected political consultants. That price was a continuation of under funded public school system in areas that have low to modest priced homes and of course, higher property tax bills in the future.

Let's see how our legislators solve the largest district-to-district educational funding gap in the nation in the coming years.

Andrea Raila

At November 6, 2008 at 4:07 PM, Anonymous Cheryl said...

So are you going to run to replace Rahm Emanuel?

At January 5, 2009 at 8:24 AM, Blogger David said...

I hope that first picture of Obama stays up for a while.

I like being able to see it every day.


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