The Compromise of 1850: Chris Mahin writes about abolitionism then and now

[People’s Tribune correspondent and independent scholar Chris Mahin writes about history so that we can learn from it.  The fight against slavery has a lot to teach us today about the property relations under which we live.  The article challenges us to think about what being “moderate” in today’s world means.  LR]

The Compromise of 1850:

Learn from the uncompromising spirit of the abolitionists!

BY CHRIS MAHIN

He spoke to a packed chamber, in 100-degree heat, for three hours and 11 minutes, barely using his few notes. Afterward, a leader of the fight against slavery declared that the oration had transformed the man who delivered it from a lion into a spaniel. One of the country’s most talented writers composed a famous poem likening him to Satan. A prominent New England minister compared him to Benedict Arnold.

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Daniel Webster, the Senator from Massachusetts, who used his oratory to support the “Compromise of 1850,” and thus was transformed from a lion into a spaniel.

This month marks the anniversary of the day that U.S. Senator Daniel Webster of Massachusetts gave his notorious “Seventh of March” speech in the U.S. Senate. On March 7, 1850, Webster used his considerable eloquence to support the “Compromise of 1850,” a series of measures designed to appease the slaveholding South. The events of 1850 are worth examining because that political crisis has much to teach us about how the fight against unjust property relations unfolds – and who can be trusted in such crises (and who can’t).

The crisis of 1850 had been brewing for a long time. While the United States was founded on slavery, by the middle 1800s, the population and economic capacity of the free North was surpassing that of the slaveholding South. The defenders of the slave system desperately needed to expand slavery into the West. When the settlers of California petitioned Congress for admission into the Union late in 1849, the stage was set for a showdown. Admitting California to the Union as a free state would tip the balance of power in Congress in favor of the free states. To prevent that, representatives of the slave states threatened to secede from the Union.

In response, Kentucky Senator Henry Clay crafted a series of proposed laws. While described as a “compromise,” they were heavily weighted in the South’s favor. California would be admitted into the Union as a free state, but slavery would not be banned in the rest of the vast territory seized from Mexico in the war of 1846-1848. While the slave trade would be banned in the District of Columbia, slavery itself would remain legal there. The “compromise” also included a new, stronger Fugitive Slave Act requiring the free states to send runaway slaves back to slavery. 

Clay’s “compromise” outraged not just those people who advocated the immediate abolition of slavery throughout the United States, but also those who accepted slavery in

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Kentucky Senator Henry Clay, who, since the Missouri Compromise of 1820 had built a reputation as the great compromiser.

the South but were opposed to slavery being spread elsewhere. Daniel Webster had been on record since 1837 as opposing the extension of slavery into the territories. Yet, on March 7, 1850, he vigorously supported Clay’s proposals. Webster argued that preserving the Union was more important than anything else. 

Webster’s speech split the country. Shortly after the speech, the abolitionist newspaper The Liberator published an eight-column analysis refuting Webster’s arguments. Within days of the Massachusetts senator’s appearance on the Senate floor, a mass meeting in Faneuil Hall in Boston condemned Webster’s speech as “unworthy of a wise statesman and a good man,” and resolved that “Constitution or no Constitution, law or no law, we will not allow a fugitive slave to be taken from the state of Massachusetts.”

In his speech, Webster had denounced the abolitionists, referring to them contemptuously as “these agitating people,” and declaring that they had contributed “nothing good or valuable.”

“At the same time,” he declared – with great condescension – “I believe thousands of their members to be honest and good men. … They have excited feelings; … they do not see what else they can do than to contribute to an Abolition press, or to an Abolition society, or to pay an Abolition lecturer.” 

Webster specifically condemned the abolitionists for fighting to convince people that the question of slavery was a moral question. He argued that by posing the slavery question that way, the abolitionists treated morality as if it had the certainty of mathematics and made compromise impossible. 

By the end of September 1850, all the different pieces of the “Compromise of 1850” had been passed by the U.S. Congress – but civil war was only postponed, not averted. The new Fugitive Slave Law allowed slave catchers easier access to their prey – even in Boston, the city where the killing of a runaway slave by British troops had begun the American Revolution.

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The Liberator, a preeminent voice of abolition, inscribed on its masthead, “Our Country is the World, Our Countrymen are all Mankind”

For 10 years after the compromise which was supposed to settle the slavery question in the United States “forever,” the abolitionists hammered home their message about the immorality of slavery. It was not Webster’s willingness to compromise his principles that helped push history forward; it was the abolitionists’ unwillingness to compromise theirs. Today, the world needs revolutionaries willing to be as uncompromising as the advocates of the immediate abolition of slavery were in the 19th century, and willing to proclaim their message as forthrightly as those abolitionists did.[

As we fight an unjust set of property relations today, we should strive to use the revolutionary press and the speaker’s platform as skillfully as the abolitionists did then. Like the abolitionists, we should be bold and insist on describing the existence of massive wealth alongside massive poverty as a moral question – because it is one. If we do that, we will pay the best tribute that can possibly be paid to those “agitating people” of the 19th century with their abolition presses and lecturers and societies, people who – Daniel Webster notwithstanding – contributed something very good and valuable to society indeed. 

[This article originally appeared in the March 2000 edition of the People’s Tribune. We encourage reproduction of articles from the People’s Tribune, so long as you credit the source. Copyright © 2019 People’s Tribune. Visit us at http://peoplestribune.org.
Please donate whatever you can! We are supported by reader donations. We get no grants, have no paid staff and have no advertisements. Donate via PayPal at peoplestribune.org or send to PT, PO Box 3524, Chicago, IL 60654-3524.]

 

 

Chicago Elections 2019: The Day After

Chicago Elections 2019:  The Day After

Lew Rosenbaum

[This article was written for the People’s Tribune Chicago Area Facebook Page.

The People’s Tribune encourages reproduction of articles so long as you credit the source. Copyright © 2019 People’s Tribune. Visit us at http://peoplestribune.org Please donate whatever you can to the People’s Tribune! We are supported by reader donations. We get no grants, have no paid staff and have no advertisements. Donate via PayPal at peoplestribune.org or send to PT, PO Box 3524, Chicago, IL 60654-3524.]

If the November midterm elections were a wave of resistance, how to describe the Chicago general election of February 26, 2019? With sub-freezing weather coupled with a lackluster bevy of 14 mayoral candidates, turnout rose only slightly above record low numbers.  One thing was consistent throughout: the electorate is showing how fed up they are with the officials who ignore them or actively work against them.  The people are taking their fight for housing, healthcare, schools and a safe community to the polls, and candidates are stepping up to respond.

Here is a brief list of what the people of the city of Chicago accomplished yesterday:

  • 1st. Ward: Voted overwhelmingly against corrupt incumbent Proco Joe Moreno, electing in his place Daniel LaSpata
  • 5th Ward: William Calloway, perhaps best known for fighting to have the video of the murder of Laquant McDonald released, appears to have forced Leslie Hairston into a runoff.
  • 10th Ward: Sue Sadlowski Garza won re-election in a deindustrialized South side ward, once a center of steel production in the midwest.
  • 14th Ward: Ed Burke, longest sitting alderman in Chicago history, now under indictment for extortion, retained his seat by an unexpectedly slim margin.  Tanya Patino captured almost a third of the vote in her challenge to Burke.
  • 15th Ward:  Rafa Yanez forced incumbent Raymond Lopez into a runoff.
  • 20th Ward: Jeannette Taylor, long time community activist and leader in the Dyett School hunger strike is the leading candidate in a runoff in a ward without an incumbent running.
  • 25th Ward:  Byron Sigcho-Lopez, an activist in the Pilsen Alliance and in struggles around education, won nearly 30% of the vote to force a runoff in the ward formerly represented by the corrupt former chair of the zoning committee, Danny Solis.
  • 33rd Ward:  Rosanna Rodriguez-Sanchez actually leads incumbent Deb Mell in the vote tally.  Both are polling a little above 40%,  in a ward that will see a runoff in April.
  • 35th Ward: Democratic Socialist Carlos Ramirez-Rosa was reelected.
  • 40th Ward: Andre Vasquez will face incumbent Pat O’Connor in a runoff.   The main issue in this ward, says Vasquez, is affordable housing.  O’Connor has been Emanuel’s floor leader in the City Council, was tapped to head the finance committee when Burke was stripped of his chairmanship of that committee.  One of the most powerful of the City Council, O’Connor only got a third of the votes.
  • 45th Ward: We missed this one in the original article. Jim Gardiner defeated incumbent John Arena in a close race, capturing 51% of the votes.  Arena was elected in 2011 and in 2012 was one of very few alderman willing to walk a Chicago Teachers Union picket line. He was reelected in 2015 by only 30 votes.  In the last years he has taken heat for supporting affordable housing in his ward, assailed by critics who accused him of bringing “Cabrini Green” to his ward — a naked racist slur referencing the now-demolished near north housing project. Kathy Powers writes us: “You missed the 45th ward (Jefferson Park) .We lost the very special John Arena who actually fought and won a NEW building for accessible, affordable housing on Northwest Highway. I protested there a couple of times. The racist SOBs in JP didn’t like it.”
  • 46th Ward: With 3 precincts left to be counted, three challengers are separated by 300 votes in their bid to unseat gentrifier-in-chief James Cappleman.  Maryann Lalonde seems most likely to wind up in the runoff, followed closely by Erika Wozniak Francis and Angela Clay.  The challengers have promised to support whoever gets into the runoff against Cappelman, whom Emanuel has tapped to lead the Zoning committee instead of disgraced Danny Solis.
  • 49th Ward: Maria Hadden trounced 28 year incumbent Joe Moore, winning nearly
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    At the Maria Hadden campaign office on election day, Feb. 26.  Maria is in the right foreground.  Photo taken from her FB page, posted by Jeff Reed

    2/3 of the votes against her opponent.  Hadden announced in her victory speech that the next step would be to mobilize to help other similar candidates in other wards.  This could have important consequences for runoff campaigns, especially the 40th and 46th Wards, where entrenched, reactionary aldermen are vulnerable.

  • Furthermore — incumbents were forced into runoffs in the 16th, 21st, 30th, 31st and 43rd, Wards.  It’s noteworthy that incumbent John Arena lost to James Gardiner in the 45th Ward. It’s also worth mentioning that Ariel Reboyras, the incumbent in the 30th Ward, distinguished himself in the last year by bringing to City Council two police oversight proposals intended to undercut the CPAC (Chicago Police Accountability Commission) proposal, an outgrowth of community, grassroots agitation.

And then there is the mayoral election itself.  While there were some very fervently held opinions about the candidates, the most consistent at the grass roots was against Bill Daley, scion of the Daley dynasty. There was very little enthusiasm for anyone. People often modified their arguments for any candidate  by the proviso, “She’s not perfect, but . . .” All of the top four candidates, who together garnered about 60% of the votes, had ties to the “Chicago Machine.”  Lori Lightfoot, who had never won elected office but had been appointed to various positions in city administration, was the “outsider” and  won the most votes.  Daley, who served in the Obama and Clinton administrations , received $2 million from hedge fund billionaire Ken Griffin.  Toni Preckwinkle is Chair of the Cook County Democratic Party.  She occupies a power base in the Party tactically in opposition to Emanuel, but strategically going in the same direction.  Susana Mendoza, on the other hand, has distinct connections to Emanuel.  The indictment of Ed Burke ensnared both Mendoza and Preckwinkle in a web of corruption that they can’t entirely shake.  The runoff between Lightfoot and Preckwinkle will yield the first African American woman mayor of the city.  It will not yield a mayor friendly to the interests of the working class, whatever it’s color.

The tremendous advances that we’ve seen in this election should only whet our appetite, not satisfy us or make us complacent.  In fact, for all that was accomplished, here are a couple of sobering thoughts.

First of all, the election turnout.  What do the majority of Chicagoans think about these candidates?  Does the electorate think that voting makes a difference?  Even in wards like the 49th, the turnout was 40% and rarely in the city exceeded 45%.  In some wards, the cynicism was rife.  But how can you blame people whose votes are taken for granted and whose elected representatives don’t bother to represent? The signs are there that a sleeping giant is awakening, how quickly we don’t know, but direction is more important than speed.

Second, even if we can toss O’Connor and Cappleman overboard onto the trash heap of history, even if in Wards 5, 15, 20, 25, and 33 the winners are ready to fight for a program of the working class, that still leaves a large number of politicians in place that graze in the pastures of wealth.  It will be an uphill battle for the working class, and we’d best remember that the victory is less in the seats captured than in forming ourselves into a battle-ready contingent for future encounters.

We won a lot in this election cycle, which continues now until April 2 and the runoff. No matter what happens in the runoffs, we have a potential network of grass roots activists developing across this city. We especially won the right and responsibility to up our game and keep fighting together for that which did energize the electorate:  the right to housing, education,  police accountability and an end to violence, and all the basic needs of the people.

[See also “The Four Aldermen of the Apocalypse” on this blog.]

Chicago Elections 2019: Willie Horton Comes to Rogers Park

Willie Horton Comes to Rogers Park

by Lew Rosenbaum

[This article was written for the People’s Tribune Chicago Area Facebook Page.

The People’s Tribune encourages reproduction articles so long as you credit the source. Copyright © 2019 People’s Tribune. Visit us at http://peoplestribune.org Please donate whatever you can to the People’s Tribune! We are supported by reader donations. We get no grants, have no paid staff and have no advertisements. Donate via PayPal at peoplestribune.org or send to PT, PO Box 3524, Chicago, IL 60654-3524.]

Most of my older friends will know what I am talking about when I ask “Do you remember Willie Horton?’  They may not remember the year, the presidential campaign, and the names of the candidates. They’ll know I’m not talking about a baseball player and his homerun hitting heroics.

The candidates were George H.W. Bush and Michael Dukakis in 1988.  The latter, a Democrat, hailed from Massachusetts and opposed the death penalty. Horton, an African-

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Mug shot of Willie Horton from the 1988 G.H.W. Bush campaign ad

American man, had been convicted of murder.  He was on leave from prison under a program in place while Dukakis was governor.  While furloughed, Horton raped a white woman and stabbed her partner.

Bush launched an ad with the mug shot of Horton, and with these words spoken by a narrator and flashing across the screen: “Dukakis not only opposes the death penalty, he allowed first-degree murderers to have weekend passes from prison,” and ends with “Weekend prison passes, Dukakis on crime.”

Unless you have forgotten your recent history, you know that Bush I won in a landslide

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Detroit Tiger Willie Horton, NOT the subject of the campaign ad

over Dukakis, and that this ad was very successful.  It tapped into the long simmering racial schism that has besmirched this country since its inception.  It is the primary way an otherwise out-of-touch elite has been able to divide and conquer, especially after the Civil War (when legal equality between white and Black began to be legislated). It has been all over the map, openly, in the last two years with a federal administration that courts the KKK and the Nazis, while using the one word “wall” to summon up the most vicious myths of people “threatening” our existence. And now Willie Horton has come to Rogers Park.

Today, February 22, the birthday of George Washington (incidentally the wealthiest man in North America at the time of the revolution, a considerable amount of that property in enslaved people), the postal person delivered two mailers. They say substantially the same thing:  “Maria Hadden wants to take police officers from safe neighborhoods.” She “supports moving officers from Rogers Park to other neighborhoods, putting our safety at risk.” Joe is white.  Maria is Black. Pictures of each. In stereotypical fashion, Rogers Park is safe (because it has cops); the South and West sides are unsafe (because they don’t have cops).

First of all, does anybody reading this NOT see: the “Black woman is soft on crime”

Maria soft on crime?

Joe Moore’s “Willie Horton” leaflet

message in this? Does anyone NOT see: residents of Rogers Park, especially white residents, are supposed to protect themselves from the hordes on the South and West Side with this message?  This is a barely clothed appeal for white unity.

Second, the source for the smear is an answer that Maria gave on the IVI-IPO questionnaire to aldermanic candidates.  The question (#82) is: “Do you support reallocating police services from high-crime to low-crime neighborhoods?”  There is no sane person who would answer that question “No.”  Moore himself “reallocates police services” within his ward from one neighborhood to the next depending on the crime rate.  It is bogus.  But it is sensationalized in this mailer.

Third, if we are going to talk about soft on crime:  what about Moore destabilizing the community by advocating with the Mayor to close half the mental health clinics in the city (there were only 12 at the time; now there are six) including one in the 49th ward?  What about lying to the community that they could find the services they need in the privatized sector?  The reality is that Cook County Jail has become the largest provider of mental health services in the County.  Thanks Joe.

And what about public schools, the anchors of the neighborhoods?  Maria has always championed the neighborhood school, while Joe has led the fight to privatize education — he has brought two charter schools into this community, stealing resources from both the elementary schools and the high school. He advocated for a third charter to which  community residents expressed such opposition that the plan fell through. Joe supported efforts to close two neighborhood schools (parents and teachers resisted this and embarrassed him so badly he could not complete that plan);  he ignored legitimate and documented claims of lead paint in Gale School, thus delaying remediation — he claimed that he did not know of a study CPS had done a decade earlier that revealed the lead paint, and that CPS (in typical Daley-Emanuel style) had simply neglected to correct.  Community residents had to embarrass him at a meeting on violence in the ward that he called to welcome a new police commander. We pointed out that lead paint in the schools does a violence to our community. We also pointed out that the school had been

Maria soft on crime? 1

Maria Hadden’s plan addresses the root causes of crime

asking CPS to fix a fire alarm that was out of order and got no response from his office nor from CPS. In a school named after Stephen Gale, who from 1844-47 served as the chief engineer of the Fire Department, Moore failed to advocate for fire safety. In a city that early in its existence almost completely burned down! If he wanted to reduce violence he should pay a little attention to that kind of violence.

And then there is the little matter of housing and services. Diana and I moved into Rogers Park a few years after Joe became alderman. One could find affordable housing here still, but the winds of change were blowing.  The Rogers Park Community Action Network (RPCAN) had its hands full doing the research and confronting the alderman about prospective TIFS and redevelopment plans that were created sub rosa, without community input, while continuing to disinvest in the area north of Howard, the most poverty stricken area of the ward.  At one point, the alderman denied that plans to redevelop were in existence, only to find RPCAN had found them and made copies to distribute among activists.  Complete plans, in fact, with extensive implications for community residents such as displacement at least by rapidly increasing rents. You can see how Moore had learned the business of denial, which he employed in his stonewalling Gale’s lead paint, early on in his administration. Development with displacement has become the rule in this ward as affordable units are converted to luxury units;  and only with tremendous resistance are affordable units maintained.

Joe Moore:  a friend to private developers, privatization of public mental health services, privatization of public schools.

So who mailed this flyer smearing Maria Hadden with Willie Horton claims?  “Paid for,” it says, “by INCS Action Independent Committee.”  Further, the INCS AIC is not authorized by Joe, nor did Joe authorize the content of this communication. In Crook County, are we to believe the emperor has a tuxedo?  INCS is the acronym for the “Illinois Network of Charter Schools,” and the “Action Independent Committee” is a PAC that supports candidates that support charter schools. Joe has been THE pivotal person on city council to block an advisory referendum from coming before the entire city electorate on an elected school board.  And, as mentioned above, he has been actively soliciting charter schools to his ward to the detriment of the public neighborhood schools in the ward.  Joe is clearly acting in their interest, a mainstay on the city council at a time when nearly every mayoral candidate now has expressed a concern about proliferating charters and declared a willingness to invoke a moratorium on charter expansion. Incidentally, the INCS PAC has contributed heavily to Moore’s campaign.

The history of the 49th ward is an important one.  In 1983,organizers in this ward were on the front lines organizing on the North Side for Harold Washington.  While Alderman O’Connor (just south of the 49th in the 40th ward) joined with “Fast Eddie” Vrdolyak and Ed Burke to lead the pernicious Council Wars against newly elected Mayor Washington, David Orr from this ward took a leadership role in organizing to support the Mayor. The election of 1983 was a partisan election — that is contested by Republicans and Democrats.  Washington won the Democratic primary by a plurality among the three major candidates.  Winning a Democratic primary was the expected prelude to a guarantee to occupy the mayor’s office — at least for the entire 50 years prior to 1983. O’Connor et al were shocked by Washington’s stunning victory and deserted the Democratic Party to endorse the Republican candidate. But once Washington won, the Vrdolyak 29 engineered changing the primary system so that never again, they thought, could a radical emerge as a winner.  Thus came about the “non-partisan” mayoral and aldermanic elections we have today. The form of this was a racist attack on Washington. The content, however, was an attack on the movement that Washington symbolized, a movement of the disenfranchised, the working class of the city in all its hues. Momentarily a movement emerged that began to recognize that there was no demand that the African-American working class could make that would not benefit the entire class.

And now, 36 years after the Harold Washington election, the Bush-Trump-and-Vrydolyak-like Democrat in office in the 49th ward conducts a racist smear campaign against a candidate I have no hesitance in comparing with Harold Washington. Joe should be ashamed of himself.  But then Joe, after 28 years feeding from the trough of the privatizers, has no shame.  I hope that the good voters of the 49th ward will resist the politics of division and embrace the politics that has long characterized our ward: the politics of a multicultural, diverse class unity.  I’m casting my vote for Maria.

Chicago Elections 2019: Interview with Erika Wozniak Francis

[Eric Allen Yankee, on behalf of the People’s Tribune, interviewed Erica Wozniak Francis, running for alderwoman in the 46th ward.]

Housing is a Human Right

Eric Allen Yankee interviews  Erika Wozniak Francis

*EAY Why did you get into the race?

EWF I decided to run for alderman of the 46th Ward because I believe strongly that our community needs and deserves principled, progressive leadership that can stand up for all its residents and ensure the 46th Ward is a place where we ALL can thrive. For too long, we’ve been represented by an alderman who puts the interests of big corporate pt.2019.02.09_erikawozniakdevelopers, wealthy campaign donors, and Mayor Emanuel ahead of the very real needs of the 46th Ward’s residents.
I’ve spent my career standing up for progressive values. Whether it was speaking out against the Emanuel administration’s egregious misspending of $55 million that were meant for CPS on private interests; or fighting back against the 50 school closings that devastated so many communities, including our own, I’ve always tried to do what’s right for Chicagoans.
I’m rooted in my values because of my upbringing and my family. I come from a working class family–my father was a public school teacher for 38 years, and my mother worked office jobs. At a young age, I was taught to look out for others who may not be able to stand up for themselves. This has been my life’s mission.
We can do better—through compassionate, responsible, principled leadership. I will bring that leadership to our ward and to City Council.

**EAY What are the main issues you think are important in the campaign?

EWF Education: Every child deserves access to a high-quality public education in their own community. As alderman, I will focus on providing fair and equal resources for our neighborhood schools with wrap around social services, strong programming and funding for early childhood development.
Public Safety: I believe in a proactive approach to keeping our community safe. I will work to advance public safety policies that support well-trained, fully-staffed public safety departments that work in strong cooperation with the diverse civic communities they serve. I will create and maintain a service-oriented, community-centric ward office so that all resident concerns brought to me are addressed swiftly and appropriately.
Housing: Housing is a human right. I will make sure development is ethical, equitable, and puts the needs of our neighbors above the interests of big developers and corporations. As a teacher, I have to meet the needs of every child in my classroom. As alderman, I will work to ensure that every resident in the ward has a safe place to live, and every neighborhood in the ward receives services equitably; from street sweeping and sidewalk maintenance to parks and public safety. I will engage representative voices from the 46th Ward, and create opportunities for all neighborhoods in the ward to be heard.

***EAY How would you as an Alderman approach the issue of Homelessness in the 46th ward?

EWF With empathy. I would work to ensure that those experiencing homelessness have a seat at the table while making decisions about policy that will directly affect them. I will work with existing organizations to help to get those experiencing homelessness access to both housing and the services they need. I support the Bring Chicago Home initiative.

****EAY What are some of the city wide issues you will address as an Alderman? How do you see yourself working with other Alderman?

EWF To boost our local economy, we must focus on creating and protecting living wage and prevailing wage jobs with good benefits and paid sick and family leave. We must foster a diverse economy and provide equitable opportunities to those who have been pushed to the margins.
As alderman, I will work with other progressive leaders to fight for a strong local economy that works for all of us, including the passage of a $15 minimum wage. I support the Chicago Fair Workweek Ordinance to give Chicago workers more control over unpredictable, last-minute workweek schedules that make it difficult for people to

Erika and other challengers in 46th ward

Erika Wozniak Francis and the other challengers show their united determination to unseat Cappleman, gentrifier in chief, whom Mayor Emanuel has just gifted with chairmanship of the Zoning Committee

predict their income from week to week. I will stand with workers seeking to organize and bargain collectively, as I have done throughout my career as a union steward. I believe that access to affordable healthcare is a human right. In the 46th Ward, uninsured and underinsured people suffer from inadequate access to physical and mental healthcare. With affordable, accessible healthcare under attack by the Trump administration, and many 46th Ward residents still reeling from the closure of Chicago’s public mental health clinics, we need an alderman who will stand up and fight for access for all our residents. In addition, our physical and mental health is intimately linked to environmental health: it is difficult to take care of our planet when our basic needs for survival aren’t being met. As alderman, I will work to fully fund our city’s remaining public mental health clinics to ensure neighborhood residents have equal access to psychologists and other healthcare professionals on site.
I will work with other members of council to take immediate action to address aging infrastructure – such as lead pipes leaching lead into our drinking water – that poses health risks to children and adults. I support the broader goal of establishing investment policy that mandates investment in ESG (environmentally responsible, sustainable and good governance practices) compliant investments and committing to move the City to 100% clean energy sources by 2030. I will advocate for the ban of coal tar sealants from being sold or used in Chicago. This ban will help prevent dust from coal tar, a known human carcinogen, from polluting our air and being tracked into our homes. I will join the fight to demand a full audit of the City’s recycling and waste management programs, and advocate for smart solutions. The Department of Streets and Sanitation recycling contract is up for renewal in 2018. Today, the City’s recycling program falls far short of where it should be, and aldermen lack the data they need to evaluate it effectively.
[We encourage reproduction of articles from the People’s Tribune, so long as you credit the source. Copyright © 2019 People’s Tribune. Visit us at http://peoplestribune.org.
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Chicago Elections 2019: The Four Aldermen of the Apocalypse

[This article was written for the People’s Tribune Chicago Area Facebook Page by Lew Rosenbaum.  This is a tale of four aldermen embroiled in the kind of corruption Chicago is known for — and the challengers who are bringing the demands of the people to the polls on February 26.

The People’s Tribune encourages reproduction of this article so long as you credit the source. Copyright © 2019 People’s Tribune. Visit us at http://peoplestribune.org Please donate whatever you can to the People’s Tribune! We are supported by reader donations. We get no grants, have no paid staff and have no advertisements. Donate via PayPal at peoplestribune.org or send to PT, PO Box 3524, Chicago, IL 60654-3524.]

Chicago Elections 2019: The Four Aldermen of the Apocalypse

by Lew Rosenbaum

In this election season, the truth is clear now: Chicago lies at the corruption center of Crook County.  Retiring Alderman Solis (25thward) wore an FBI wire for two years and, in the wake of revelations about his trading sexual favors, was stripped of his Zoning Commission chairmanship (it’s now obvious why he decided not to seek re-election); Ed Burke (still running in the 14thward) has been indicted for extortion and stripped of his chairmanship of the Finance Committee.  These two most powerful chairs, allies of Mayor Emanuel, have been replaced by two more staunch cronies of the Mayor (Cappleman from the 46th, O’Connor from the 40th).  These four wards are shaping up as key battlegrounds in the February elections. As Chicagoans bring their demands to a political elite wallowing at the public trough—an elite who refuse to hear their constituents – insurgent candidates are fighting to become the representatives of a program of the people.

25-sigcho-lopez

Byron Sigcho-Lopez

Byron Sigcho-Lopez, who ran for the office of alderman in the 25th ward in 2015, is running again.  He has supported the People’s Tribune and has the endorsement of the CTU and the Pilsen Alliance, and has fought in the 25thward for education and housing for all. He also signed on to the five point program advocated by the Concerned Puerto Rican Voters, a program of what we-the-people need to survive.

In Burke’s ward Tanya Patino is striving to win against long odds, but this year, because of the indictments, Burke may be vulnerable.  Patino  has been endorsed by Chuy Garcia (who also endorsed Hilario Dominguez in the 25thWard). Patino told the Chicago Tribune that this is these are her top priorities: “The top campaign issues I am advocating for are; equitable education and social services funding, funding housing improvements and security to improve residents homes and facilitate them remaining in the community, increasing opportunities for and access to good jobs which will also require more frequent and reliable transportation services in the neighborhood, and a greater focus on safety in our neighborhoods. To accomplish that I intend to work to pass legislation such as an Elected Representative School Board, TIF Reform, a reformed property tax system, rent control, a $15 minimum wage, Fair Workweek Ordinance, a welcoming ordinance with no carve-

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Taanya Patino

outs, abolishing the gang database and new activities for our youth.”

Hopefully, O’Connor and Cappleman will not be around to enjoy their new chairmanships for long.  In both wards, at least three worthy opponents are vying for their seats.  In the 46th, activists Erika Wozniak Francis, Angela Clay and Marianne Lalonde have challenged the incumbent.  The 46thward is where the city evicted an encampment of people who were homeless from a sheltered area under the Lawrence and Wilson viaducts.  Cappleman lied when he promised to find homes for the people living in the encampment.  Public housing,  education, and sufficient social services are among the chief concerns of the ward. Erika recently spoke at a United Working Families and People’s Tribune joint fundraiser and was interviewed by Eric Allen Yankee for the People’s Tribune. Her full interview is available on this pageHere is a snapshot of  two other challengers:

46-lalondeMarianne Lalonde (46th Ward) “We need to ensure housing stays affordable – meaning we must preserve each and every unit of affordable housing in our ward, and also add more. As we’re adding additional units, we should add family-sized affordable housing where parents can raise their children and send them to 46th ward schools, creating a long-term investment in our community.”

Angela ClayAngela Clay (46th Ward) “Uptown’s history and core values of community, family, opportunity, and affordability are all currently under attack. Many of my neighbors, longtime residents who built this community, are being displaced because they can no longer afford to live in the neighborhood that made them. Without investing in our schools, affordable housing & resources, our neighborhood will continue to push us out – which is why this matters. Uptown matters! Affordability matters! Your vote matters!”

 

The nearby 40thward also boasts three challengers all of whom are responding to concerns that the incumbent refuses to heed.  Here Diane  Daleiden, Andre Vasquez and Ugo Ukere all express that housing is the major issue (Daleiden, whose experience is as a teacher, also speaks authoritatively about what needs to be done in the public schools).  In both the 40thand 46thwards, the sometimes unspoken fundamental issue that strides forth is privatization on steroids: unbridled corporate development without any attempt at affordable housing and encouragement of charter schools.  Here are thumbnail 40-daleidensketches of what the 4oth ward challengers are saying:

Dianne Daleiden (40th Ward) “My number one priority to help traditional neighborhood schools. We are building a two-tiered education system in Chicago, with privatized charter schools and some elite schools getting the resources they need, while other schools suffer. If we really want to improve educational outcomes, we have to invest in traditional attendance based neighborhood schools.”

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Andre Vasquez (40th Ward) “On a public policy level, affordable housing is the number one issue that I hear from neighbors who are being priced out of this ward every day when I knock doors. I support the creation of affordable housing in my ward and across the city in a lot of different ways: rent control, greater investment of public dollars in housing stock and rent subsidy, and protection of existing affordable housing.”

40-okereUgo Okere (40th Ward) “I have been a vocal opponent of the Cop Academy because the issue of crime and violence in this city is an issue of austerity. Instead of further investments in the carceral and repressive functions of the city, money needs to go into public schools, the re-opening of expansive mental health clinics, and community centers to tackle the root causes of violence – poverty and youth who are given no path to a better future. Ending gun and intra-community violence means properly compensating and supporting teachers in CPS, by hiring social workers, nurses and teachers in every school.”

There is a golden thread which ties all these ward struggles together – it is indeed the golden thread of bribery and corruption and subversion of democracy that the corporate control of the electoral process has.  The not-so-veiled hand of the Democratic Party machine is fighting to maintain its power through the city-hall-connected incumbents.  Meanwhile the people are seeing an opportunity to take to these elections the demands they have not been able to have resolved by the miscreants who have occupied these offices for decades. In the wake of the turmoil grass roots leaders are stepping forward in a bid to take on the machine. February 26 can lead one step away from the apocalypse and toward achieving the program of the disenfranchised.  Let’s get prepared for new battles in City Council.

 

Chicago Elections 2019: Maria Hadden in the 49th Ward

Market City or People City? Most People

Want to Be Involved

[Lew Rosenbaum interviewed Maria Hadden for the People’s Tribune.  She is running in the 49th Ward to unseat long time incumbent Joe Moore.  The incumbent has a long record of courting charter schools and neglecting the neighborhood public schools; of supporting the closing of half the city’s mental health clinics (including one in his own ward); of opposing an elected school board; of prioritizing the needs of the gentrifying corporations over the residents of the Ward; of offering to help Mayor Emanuel avoid blame in the coverup of the Laquan McDonald murder. This article also appears on the People’s Tribune Chicago Area FB page.

The People’s Tribune encourage reproduction of this article so long as you credit the source. Copyright © 2019 People’s Tribune. Visit us at http://peoplestribune.org Please donate whatever you can to the People’s Tribune! We are supported by reader donations. We get no grants, have no paid staff and have no advertisements. Donate via PayPal at peoplestribune.org or send to PT, PO Box 3524, Chicago, IL 60654-3524.]

The People’s Tribune talked with Maria Hadden about her candidacy for alderman in Chicago’s 49thward.

We asked how she decided to run.  It began when the developer who owned the condominium building where she lived absconded with the residents’ money, leaving stacks of unpaid bills and the apartment building only half completed.  Faced with losing her home, she found that “The city of Chicago had no plan when things fell apart” in the 2008 housing crisis.  “I talked to not-for-profits, the city, the current alderman, and none had a solution.  I asked Alderman Moore what kinds of discussions City Council was having to address what was happening.  The only thing he could say was ‘It’s a really big problem, and no one person can fix it.’  But isn’t that what government is for?”

In contrast, Hadden got involved with participatory budgeting (PB) in 2009 and has worked with aldermen around the Chicago area implementing the program. Residents of a ward vote on how the alderman’s discretionary funds will be spent, a program that ax224_77e0_9-e1548619332497gave her some insight into what democratic processes could be like.

She found out three things. “First, government works better when people most impacted by problems have a seat at the decision making table. Second, a lot of the ways that especially local government works are still based on 200 year old policies, practices and charters;  they aren’t set up to be inclusive for the people we see today. Third, most people want to be involved.  They don’t necessarily want to be involved deciding all the time, but people want to be involved making their communities better for themselves and their families.”

What are the main issues in her campaign?

“My first priority is development without displacement. The status quo of housing is unbridled development, which is not meeting the needs of most residents.  In a community like the 49thward, diversity of housing serves a variety of racial, cultural and ethnic groups, it’s built on the fact that many people can find a home here and afford to live here.  I want to maintain that and manage it so the people who live here now can continue to live here.”  She added, “Nearly all new developments require some change in zoning. Developers need to come to the alderman to get approval. Our current alderman does not use that authority in our best interests. Alderman Moore is chair of the Housing and Real Estate Committee [in the City Council], but also he is heavily influenced by developers, more than by the residents. . . [I am concerned with] what is it going to take for people who currently live here to stay and want to live here? . . .What are the needs of the ward residents, how much can people afford, what kinds of services are needed?  As alderman I want to be able to negotiate for us to have more affordable units, accessible units.”

We could not discuss housing without raising the question of homelessness, something often swept under the rug, hidden from view.  Hadden answered our queries by pointing out that, though there are some “fantastic social services” available in Rogers Park, they don’t meet the need here, and that she would be an advocate for more and better services throughout the city, private as well as public. In her view, “Until we fundamentally change we are still very reliant on the non-profit sector. . . we could increase the public safety net, publicly funded SRO’s for example, things that are done in other cities to make sure that people are not just discarded. “

The problem, Hadden said, is explained well in a new book she is reading, Market Cities, People Cities: The Shape of Our Urban Future. *  The book contrasts Houston and Copenhagen, but, according to Hadden, they might as well have chosen Chicago as Houston. “Market cities,” she said, “are based on how do we show up in the market, in the capitalist economy? How are we bringing more business and industry to the city?”  On the other hand, “People cities are framed around how are we best serving our residents?  What are we doing to provide the best quality of life?

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Volunteers at the Maria Hadden campaign office 

“People cities are cities that include how the market works, good jobs, and other market issues, but they’re goal is people. . .Chicago long has had the goal to be a driving economic force — by pursuing Amazon for example. . . Because of what we are seeing globally, nationally and locally, I don’t think a market driven city is going to lead us to a future stable city. We have to change our focus, otherwise we will continue to have inequity, continue to struggle, and make ourselves vulnerable to takeover as in Michigan.

“When we have 12,000 people on the streets to protest closing 50 schools, because they are making decisions (not wrong for their frame of a market driven city) that are not meeting people’s needs.  This is not about politics, it’s about buckling down in the city, long term goals, make some conscious intentional choice. It’s not about Democrats or Republicans, capitalist, socialist or communist ideology— its about what is really happening.  You can believe what you want, but this is what’s real.  I don’t want a city that is filled with buildings that provide housing for international wealthy visitors along side empty buildings and machines.”

Cities have a decaying infrastructure that politicians in the past refused to plan for. “How could the people in power 20 or 30 years ago not see what could happen  . . . People in power are profiting off of an existing system.  They’ve come to a conclusion that we don’t matter enough.  A fair amount of members of city council members care about their community, but it’s not their number one priority.”

Maria Hadden’s campaign combines attention to the basic needs of the residents of the community as well as the vision and outlook of someone who understands the city, national, and global context in which the campaign takes place. This would be a breath of fresh air for the 49th Ward.

 

Chicago Elections 2019: Something New Struggles to Be Born

[This article first appeared in the February, 2019 issue of the People’s Tribune. The People’s Tribune encourages reproduction of this article so long as you credit the source. Copyright © 2019 People’s Tribune. Visit us at http://peoplestribune.org

Please donate whatever you can to the People’s Tribune! We are supported by reader donations. We get no grants, have no paid staff and have no advertisements. Donate via PayPal at peoplestribune.org or send to PT, PO Box 3524, Chicago, IL 60654-3524.]

Something New Struggles to Be Born in Chicago

by Lew Rosenbaum

CHICAGO – A pall hangs over the Chicago elections scheduled for February 26. It is the ghost of Laquan McDonald, murdered by former officer Jason Van Dyke, covered up by

Laquan-McDonald

From the video of Laquan McDonald being shot 16 times by then officer Jason Van Dyke.

his fellow officers, elected officials Mayor Rahm Emanuel and ousted State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, and nearly all the members of the City Council. The January 17 exoneration of three other officers who cooked their reports to cover for Van Dyke was followed the next day by Van Dyke being sentenced to fewer than seven years for the murder.

Police murders, massive school closings, shutting down half the city’s mental health facilities, and a housing and homelessness crisis are issues fighting their way into this election cycle. The people, abandoned by their elected leaders, are calling on new forces to answer their demands. The established incumbents, nearly all Democrats, have shown their inability to respond to their constituents. A thousand strings and ropes tie them to the corporations who buy them. On this page you will see some of the new voices who are fighting that old machine. But it’s not just about candidates. What’s important is that the old political apparatus cannot contain the anger of the people they have discarded. Harold Washington said it best, when he declared about his own candidacy, “It’s not the man, it’s the movement.”

This election, much like the trials associated with Laquan McDonald’s murder, is a school for visionaries who want a new society. In those trials, we celebrate that activists fought for and got the release of the murder video as well as drove out of office the police superintendent, the Cook County state’s attorney, and even the mayor of Chicago. We got the first police officer in 50 years convicted of a killing while on duty. But because power does not reside in the grasp of we-the-people, those victories were undermined in the courts. The set back will not stop us. We are now being summoned to answer how we can come together across the city and make our demands the center of what those in the halls of power are debating. Out of the wreckage of the old machine something new is struggling to be born. Working in this election cycle can let us be the midwives of a new day.