The Political Roundup: January 31st – February 4th
Missed anything this week in Chicago politics? We have you covered with our weekly digest of the best game in town.
In the beginning, there was crack
The blizzard may have hit Chicago on Tuesday, but white stuff started swirling early this week: at a candidate’s forum on Sunday, mayoral candidate Carol Moseley Braun accused the lesser-known Patricia Van Pelt-Watkins of being a former crack addict. Watkins, who admits to using drugs in the past, responded later that Moseley Braun’s comments were unbecoming of a mayoral candidate and, by the way, she’s never even seen crack. Watkins called for an apology, Moseley Braun initially declined to do so (though eventually did), and Watkins ultimately called for Moseley Braun to leave the race.
Early voting: in like a lamb
In the meantime, early voting began Monday, with Rahm Emanuel and Miguel del Valle getting their ballots in with plenty of time to spare. They weren’t the only ones—plenty of regular folk also voted early on Monday—good move, perhaps, as voting ended up shut down for a few days due to the storm. It’s supposed to be back in swing as of Friday.
Candidates shovel, too
Oh, and about that storm: it prompted varied reactions from the mayoral candidates—from a video of Gery Chico shoveling snow to statements of some disapproval from other leading candidates over the city’s handling of the blizzard, especially on Lake Shore Drive. But when it comes to dibs, no probs, say the candidates, aside from Bill “Dock” Walls.
Public service announcements
But maybe, just maybe, you want to know how the candidates feel about the issues unrelated to snow (or crack). Good news for you: the Chicago News Cooperative has in-depth answers from candidates on a questionnaire regarding city budget woes. Equality Illinois has answers to a questionnaire on LGBT issues; Greg Hinz summarized the responses. And NBC Chicago’s Ward Room has a nice, quick roundup of how candidates would improve the city’s transportation infrastructure.
The Chicago Sun-Times put out the word early this week that the paper endorses Emanuel. Del Valle, natch, disagreed with that editorial board, linking both Emanuel and Chico to convicted former Streets and Sanitation chief Al Sanchez. Sanchez was sentenced this week to 30 months in prison for political corruption.
More blizzard woes
Mayor Daley has largely avoided fallout from his association with Sanchez; this week, he also deflected criticism for his administration’s handling of the blizzard. That hasn’t stopped some aldermen from dishing some, with some incumbent candidates worried that they’ll bear the political brunt in elections if neighborhood snow removal isn’t deemed adequate.
On the other hand, some of those same aldermen are among the candidates perhaps getting a boost from the group For A Better Chicago. The business-backed PAC issued endorsements earlier this week, and has some money to throw around.
Meanwhile, an American Airlines spokeswoman says the blizzard is to blame for the cancellation of a meeting with Daley and United Airlines. They were scheduled to talk on Thursday about the troubled plan for O’Hare expansion; the Daley administration accused the airlines of stalling.
And talk of privatizing the Taste of Chicago has officially stalled, as the administration rejected the lone bid to take it over.
County cuts coming
As for Cook County government, it seems to be full steam ahead for budget cuts—Board President Toni Preckwinkle put out a proposal on Tuesday calling for some 2,000 layoffs, and County Sherriff Tom Dart seemed to be on board.
On the Board of Review for Cook County, meanwhile, is Michael Cabonargi. The SEC attorney was appointed to replace Joe Berrios on the board that hears property tax appeals—47th ward alderman Gene Schulter famously quit his bid for re-election in an effort to snag this position for himself.
State snowed out
Not too much happened this week in the realm of state politics—the legislative session and committee meetings were all cancelled due to the blizzard.
On Monday, though, Governor Pat Quinn signed a bill legalizing civil unions in the state. The law goes into effect June 1st. Last Friday, State Rep. Deb Mell said now’s the time to push for gay marriage.
Some D.C. bits
And in Washington, a repeal of last year’s health care legislation was killed in the Senate. Sen. Mark Kirk was among those voting for the repeal.
Also this week, 8th district Congressman Joe Walsh (who unseated Melissa Bean) scored a House subcommittee chairmanship—a significant get for a freshman.
That’s it for the political week in review—let me know if we missed anything, and get some rest from shoveling this weekend!