Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Will electorate trust Lori Lightfoot to fill city school board vacancies?

I’ve never been amongst those people who think we ought to be putting it up to the Chicago electorate to decide every few years who should be serving on the board of education for the Chicago Public Schools.
del VALLE: New school board president

Yet there are those who have argued incessantly that giving the mayor the authority to make such appointments is far too much power and influence to be entrusting to one individual.

SO I’M GOING to be curious to see what kind of reaction arises to the fact that newly-elected Mayor Lori Lightfoot has gone ahead and made appointments to the school board.

Seven, to be exact, including the pick of one-time city Clerk and state Senator Miguel del Valle to serve as the new school board president.

Who, as somebody who once tried himself running for mayor against Richard M. Daley, has a political reputation of someone who wasn’t exactly a part of the old boys network and was interested in bringing about change.

Which would sort of put him in line with the image the Lightfoot is trying to create for her own term as mayor. Although Lightfoot herself was opposed to the bill that would have created an elected school board for Chicago (just like all the suburbs have), because she thought the bill’s mechanism was too convoluted.

BUT ARE THE people who view Lightfoot as being all about change and shaking everything up going to accept a school board that they didn’t personally pick?

It could be the big issue. Although I don’t have much of a qualm about accepting it – largely because I think it’s absurd to go about expecting voters (many of whom think there already are too many obscure political posts to have to pick people for) to make qualified choices.

I could easily envision an elected school board becoming a lot like all those judicial posts people are asked to make picks for. Many would wind up skipping over the ballot spots, while others would randomly pick people without much of a clue as to who they’re voting for.
LIGHTFOOT: Picks former mayoral challenger

And yes, I’d put into that category the kind of people who say only semi-jokingly that they look for good Irish-sounding names on the ballot; figuring that’s a sound of respectability and experience.

PERSONALLY, I THINK it is nonsense, and there have been times I’ve been spiteful enough to deliberately vote against an Irish-sounding name – just because I figure that candidate will get too many votes from other people.

I did find it interesting that Lightfoot, amongst her school board picks, were people with education backgrounds – instead of what often becomes of school boards. They get filled with people who have electoral ambitions who, for whatever reason, wind up being unable to find any other office for which to run.

And the idea of del Valle in the top post is also intriguing – and not just because I personally have an interest in seeing increased political empowerment of officials with Latino ethnic backgrounds.

I’ll admit that any Spanish-sounding name on a ballot usually gets a second-glance and extra bit of consideration. So the idea of del Valle – once the first head of a Latino caucus in the General Assembly – isn’t exactly the most outrageous pick that a mayor could make to be in charge of the school board.

WOULD HE HAVE had a chance of getting the post if it had been up to voters making picks on the ballot?
EMANUEL: Would he have ever appointed del Valle?

I don’t know. I suppose he might have, IF the political bosses who put together candidate slates would have seen a benefit to themselves to having del Valle be in the running for the post.

But this may have been an example of how we’re better off with the school board members being political appointees. After all, we always can hold the mayor accountable for her picks if they turn out to be poor ones.

Besides, I suspect the desire of many people to have an elected school board will wither away, now that we have a mayor, such as Rahm Emanuel, whom many of them found so objectionable and whom they were eager to diminish in authority to whatever degree was possible.


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