Friday, January 8, 2010

Cook County Commissioners

Last night we had two candidates for Cook County Commissioner come to our block club meeting. I have no illusions of grandeur that this kind stuff is going to change the world. I'm no revolutionary or system guy, I know this because one time I said said to my Principal on my first day teaching, and I quote " I am going to change the system in CPS", and that didn't happen. I do believe in incremental change. I do believe in education and connecting the dots. What I mean is that little things like knowing who is on the ballot before the election, who your candidates are by name and face, what they stand for, knowing the address of the polling place make a difference.

Let's connect the dots, my alderman won a landslide victory in 2007 with 70% of the vote, just 3,400 votes. There are 370 registered voters in my three block precinct. If we organized to get our three 1500 N. blocks of Keystone, Karlov,and Kedvale to vote, we would've had over 10% of the vote. We have the power to make change, in the political sense, at this small scale and over time. Oh I think its a travesty that only 15% of the registered voters in my ward voted for my alderman. I'm suggesting we can wrap our heads around this thing; politicians look at numbers and just a small coalescence of grass-roots, registered voters in forgotten places is scary and can get an elected official's ear.
My goal last night was to facilitate a situation that would allow my neighbors in this remote, unassuming part of Chicago to feel like they have a voice, that big struggles and complaints that we have everyday about how the system fails us doesn't fall on deaf ears and we're not always just pissin' in the wind. The goal was to educate neighbors so that they weren't voting on February 2nd blindly, it was also to get some aspiring politicians to get comfortable in our basement, tell us what they do or like to do, tell us their platform, and take questions. I found it to be beautiful. Simple, beautiful, radical Democracy.

P.S. If you want to get a better blow, by blow perspective on the night read this post by Emily called Politics:

January 8, 2010 by runyanthree

We had the 2 candidates running to fill the seat for Cook County Commissioner at our block club meeting last night. How humbling to see two politicians shaking our hands in their thin little black dress socks (because everyone takes off their shoes before they come in to the basement). It was really interesting to hear more about the politics and inner workings of Cook County (which short of NPR, I know very little about)…how much money is spent, how much they make, bits and pieces of their role in the overall functioning of our city and who likes and does not like who. And of course the commitment to end patronage. They were able to provide some specific things they would do and then avoided other questions. Dave famously asked many questions and even explained at the end that we felt all politicians were full of shit. Diana talked about her horrible experience at Cook County Hospital regarding her current kidney stone and Dan asked for money for our block club to start a summer program. I loved the opportunity to connect a name and personality and I told Bill that I think he should arrange it each election in some capacity. Oh! I almost forgot the most important thing–while one candidate was here the other arrived with his Dunkin Donuts and coffee for everyone. Bill told us later that when he went out to greet the candidate and his crony that the guy had fallen down our stairs and was mad so he went to wait in his car. With our recent snowfall the stairs were slippery…whoops. Bill had fun imagining him fly down the stairs in his nice suit. He told Bill he would only be able to stay for 15 minutes but must have had so much fun talking about himself that he stayed for over an hour (and then apparently went to go ice his back). So just so you know any day now we might be sued for all we have.

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