Saturday, October 8, 2011

Chicago a changing place, even though political slating process isn’t

The process by which the Cook County regular Democratic organization puts together its list of candidates whom people are supposed to vote for come the March 20 primary seems to give the same result as the past.
ALVAREZ: Keeping her post?

A balanced ticket that gives everybody an official who is somehow just like them, along with the idea that party loyalty requires them to accept everybody else. (And to also vote for Patrick Daley Thompson for a seat on the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District – because we all remember his Uncle Rich).

YET THE MODERN-DAY realities of Chicago in the 2010s also managed to show themselves – particularly in the hostility felt by some toward the idea that Anita Alvarez should remain as state’s attorney beyond next year.

The party earlier this week picked Alvarez despite the opposition of black committeemen from the city. Officially, they say she has refused to reach out and show sympathy and support for African-American people, who according to the latest Census Bureau population count are still the largest group in Chicago.

Albeit not by much – 33 percent black, compared to 32 percent white and 29 percent Latino.

That latter portion is the one that is relevant to comprehending what is going on here.

THE LATINO POPULATION is growing. And when one considers the difficulties of getting an accurate population count when it comes to ethnic minorities, there is a part of me who wonders if a truly accurate count of Chicago’s population would show that Latinos are actually the largest group in the city – RIGHT NOW!

At this rate, they’re going to be the largest group when the next official population count is done for April 1, 2020.
BROWN: Some don't change

That has created a sense among some officials and activists who represent the black community that they’re somehow being displaced by the Latinos – who are, in their own way, looking out for their own constituents by demanding more political representation.

To me, the significance of the effort a couple of months ago when black aldermen offered up their take on what new City Council ward boundaries should be for the next decade was that they protected their own, and ensured that any political gains for Latino officials came at the expense of white incumbent officials.

SO DOES IT cause some black officials to start getting wary when they see Latino officials in prominent positions – particularly one as unique as state’s attorney, where her office is inevitably going to be prosecuting many of those black men who wind up creating those high crime statistics?


This is going to be an ethnic/racial brawl that will keep cropping up in coming years as Chicago adjusts from being a black/white city to one where a growing Latino population looks at the black and white people and wonders why, in the words of Rodney King, can’t we just get along?

The problem is going to be to keep the rhetoric from getting overly stupid – which in Chicago is always a strong possibility, particularly whenever City Hall is involved.

ALVAREZ WOUND UP hanging onto the concept of Democratic Party support, even though one segment of the party was bothered enough by her presence to try to make a public stink about her.

21st Ward Alderman Howard Brookins led this effort, although 7th Ward Alderman Sandi Jackson was vocal enough in supporting this effort that some party officials are now wondering if some Latino activists might wind up retaliating against her husband.

Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., D-Ill., is facing a vocal challenge from former Congresswoman Debbie Halvorson; one that he should win if everything goes as expected. But if Latinos start deciding they’re voting against him because his wife opened her big yap against Anita?

That’s one headache I’m sure the Congressman would prefer to avoid in next year’s election cycle.

OF COURSE, THE same element came up in the circuit court clerk slating, where the party big-wigs ultimately decided that there is no reason to replace Dorothy Brown. She has the party support to run for another term, even though 22nd Ward Alderman Ricardo Munoz had wanted to run for the office – and even had county board President Toni Preckwinkle saying she’d support him in such a campaign.

That may have been more a case of keeping things in the same balance as they already were. Since I could envision the African-American party bigwigs getting all outraged had their challenge to Alvarez been rejected, then seeing Brown replaced by a Latino!

The sad part of all this is that the only winner out of seeing these ethnic/racial hostilities stoked would be the remaining third (all the white ethnics of Chicago) – who would probably enjoy sitting on the sidelines and watching everybody else fight it out.

Petty brawls can have long-lasting results.


No comments: