In last week’s column, I inadvertently stated that Harold Washington ran against Bernard Stone. I should have said Bernard Epton. I do apologize to Alderman Stone for the error.
Now with that out of the way, you know I have to talk about the Westside NAACP’s candidate forum. I see that we have a two-tiered mayoral race going on. If the event involves television and non-political black folks, then Gery Chico and Rahm Emanuel are front and center. But if the audience consists of politically astute black folks asking hard questions and wanting answers, then the two aren’t to be found.
I had been forewarned that Rahm, although in town, didn’t consider the NAACP forum to be worth his time. My friend, who is working his campaign, wasn’t as enthusiastic as she had been as she made excuses for why he didn’t feel the need to come before the audience at Friendship Baptist Church last week. So I’ll say it for her and him: “Hell, we’re just Westsiders. We don’t count or matter. We get the last and worst of everything. We don’t complain. And when we do, it is just amongst ourselves. As rumor has it, we don’t even half vote. So there’s no need for the so-called front-runners (Emanuel and Chico) to waste their gasoline on us unless they have a minister or two at their side.”
That’s just my opinion, but before I continue on my tirade, I need each and every one of you to understand exactly what is at stake in the quest to be the next mayor. Thanks to Dwayne Truss of the Westside NAACP, we started the forum off with a PowerPoint presentation as to what kind of funding the current mayor has under his belt.
The mayor controls, first and foremost, the city of Chicago’s budget: $6.15B. Yup, that “B” is for billion. Add in the CPS budget of $6.6B; CTA, $2.6B; CHA, $1.6B; City Colleges, $582M, McPier, $480M; Park district, $398M; O’Hare expansion $6.6 to 15B; Tax Increment Financing (TIF), $1.2B; and as head of the Public Building Commission, the mayor controls contracts worth tens of millions, totaling billions, depending on the project. And folks, that is each year. So there is a lot at stake as to who gets their hands on that money in the next election and how it is spent in our community.
When Mayor Washington got into office, he issued an executive order that began to redistribute that money to black folks. But few politicians want black voters to be knowledgeable, so they don’t talk about what is at stake. Rather, they offer us scare tactics of the monster “Republicans” and what will happen if they get in office. But the mayoral primary election is non-partisan. It’s simple: Whoever gets 50 percent of the vote, plus one, wins.
So hell yeah, the so-called front-runners aren’t willing to come to the West Side and tell you what they plan on doing with all that money. Instead, they view us as being so stupid that all they have to do is run a few commercials or appear with Pastor This, Bishop That or Reverend Whomever, and we’ll rush to the polls and give them our vote.
Well, I know my people and we ain’t falling for the okey-dokey this time. We saw thru Alexi Giannoulias when he campaigned and expected that the Obama effect would glide him into the U.S. Senate, and the same is true for Emanuel. Plus, he still has to survive the court challenge to his candidacy, which I hear isn’t looking so good.
The four candidates who did come to the NAACP forum were Carol Mosley Braun, Patricia Van Pelt Watkins, Miguel Del Valle and William “Dock” Walls. They answered questions about their priorities when they become mayor, what they will do regarding the huge ex-offender population on the West Side, if they had ever attended a budget hearing, and questions regarding education.
To be fair, I won’t write about any of their answers so that I won’t be accused of favoring my candidate over the others. But if you visit my blog, I did tape a lot of the forum and you can see what they had to say.
The Feb. 22 primary election is more important that the 2008 one in which we elected President Obama. Why? Because whoever leads us through the next four years will have to be creative, resourceful, innovative and technologically savvy to put Chicago back in the running as a major player in the world economy. That is why the president of China, Hu Jintao, is making this city the only other place he visits besides Washington. He sees Chicago as a Chinese economic gateway to America, the same way my candidate sees Chicago becoming the nano-technology capital of the world.
We are still talking politics every Sunday night on WRLL 1450AM from 10 until midnight on the Garfield Major Show. Call-in number is 773-591-8000. Share this with everyone you know.