The petition for an advisory referendum to bring participatory budgeting to the 50th Ward did not get the required number of signatures to appear on November’s ballot. The Chicago Board of Elections officially ruled the petition off the ballot yesterday.
We will therefore launch a new petition drive in Spring 2017 to ensure that we make the ballot for the 2019 municipal elections.
The alderman’s claims of neutrality on this issue proved false. A ward resident who was clearly acting as aldermanic surrogate challenged the petition; he was represented by the same lawyer who represented the objectors to Silverstein’s opponents’ signatures in last year’s aldermanic elections. She doesn’t fool anybody with these shenanigans, but at least it will cost her some money.
We obtained 466 signatures, about 52% of the total we needed (893). The Electoral Board itself would have disqualified the petition for that reason. But the alderman wanted to be sure the petition would die, so two objections were raised: (1) We did not obtain enough signatures; and (2) “in the alternative,” the petition’s question could not be understood because it was ungrammatical and too long. The “alternative” objection–in case the Board was inclined to break its own rules and allow us on the ballot–was just insurance and easily dismissed. But this is what some politicians pay lawyers to do to keep the citizenry from having an ongoing voice in government.
So much that is positive emerged from this petition drive that I hardly know where to begin the good news:
- A committed core of volunteers coalesced around this issue and is ready to resume work on next year’s campaign
- The CBOE, by accepting Silverstein’s lawyer’s argument, has made our task easier–it’s clear now that we need 8% of voters in the ward, not in each precinct
- In just four short weeks, volunteer petition circulators did a tremendous job, pulling in almost 125 signatures per week–working part-time during a hot and humid Chicago summer for a cause in which they believe
- We now know firsthand how the process works–as well as how it can be stopped
- PB is an issue that won’t go away, and neither will the activist citizens who are working on this and many other issues throughout the 50th Ward
- If the alderman continues to refuse to introduce PB to the ward, it will be a major campaign issue in the 2019 aldermanic race
The PB Steering Committee thanks everyone who supported the drive to bring participatory budgeting to our ward. Special appreciation goes to our organizers and petition circulators. And to those who signed–fully understanding the issue and the question as stated on the petition–thank you!
The alderman apparently thinks her constituents are too stupid to understand what they’re doing in asking for a say in spending the menu money. Rumors were spread in the immigrant community, for example, that the petition was an attack on the alderman. If you’ve lived under a repressive government, you don’t want to do anything to call attention to yourself, so this kind of whispering campaign works–once. Among another group of residents, a refusal to sign was often accompanied by the statement that we shouldn’t take “her” money away, but pressure her to spend it differently. Her money?
Residents of the 50th Ward are mobilizing around a host of issues that they understand and care about. PB is just one of them.
Silverstein can get on board, or be left behind. But she can’t stop the train.
I got to thinking about a reader comment on my August 12 post* about FunFest volunteers. Robin wrote to ask why the event organizers didn’t use Warren Park, and referenced the Taste of the 50th. Long-time residents and regulars at former area businesses will remember the Taste, an event organized by Ald. Bernie Stone. Modeled after Taste of Chicago, Taste of the 50th featured food from local restaurants and was held at Warren Park. It attracted both neighborhood residents and visitors from across the City and the suburbs.
Maybe neighborhood groups and local residents could invite the alderman to a meeting to discuss reviving the Taste of the 50th in time for Labor Day 2017. I think the idea just might generate some excitement and enthusiasm. Successful community events have to be developed and organized with input from as many sources as possible, and would profit from new ideas generated by individuals, block clubs, social media groups, community organizations, LSCs, parish councils, religious or ethnic associations, book clubs, etc. It’s a real opportunity for community-building and getting to know one’s neighbors.
It’s been so long since the last Taste of the 50th that the entire event could be reinvented. Should it run for one day or a full weekend? Could or should it be combined with a mini–carnival? Or a farmers’ market? Or would it be better as a food event only? Where should it be held? We have several large parks in the Ward–would multiple venues be a good idea? What about activities for kids? I’ve noticed that in many other neighborhoods events are family-oriented during the day and afternoon hours, with nighttime hours reserved more for adults. Would this be a good idea for the 50th?
Let’s work together to plan a Taste of the 50th for 2017!
* on 50th Ward Follies, my blog about the 50th Ward
Ald. Joe Moore (49th) has announced that the City Council’s North Side Police Accountability Subcommittee that he chairs is holding its only North Side meeting next Tuesday, August 9, at 6:30 p.m. at Senn High School, 5900 North Glenwood (at Thorndale).
To quote from Moore’s announcement:
“This is one of five public hearings to be held across the City of Chicago in August to gather public input regarding proposals to replace the Independent Police Review Authority with a new civilian investigative agency and create a Public Safety Auditor to audit the Police Department and investigate allegations of misconduct within the Department. Both reforms were recommended by the Police Accountability Task Force. For a copy of the task force report and a list of the Task Force’s recommendations, click here.”
“These community hearings follow a series of hearings held at City Hall and are intended to solicit input from community residents who are unable to attend daytime hearings at City Hall. I urge you to attend this hearing, as the input offered at this and the other four community hearings will inform the City Council’s decisions on the important goals of reforming the police accountability process and assuring the public that any instance of police misconduct will be thoroughly and independently investigated.”
“A separate engagement community engagement process, led by neighborhood-based community organizations, will soon be held on a proposal to establish a Community Safety Oversight Board. This is another reform recommended by the Police Accountability Task Force and would be designed to give community residents a role in overseeing law enforcement.”
The other hearings will be held at the following times and locations:
- Thursday, August 11, 6:30 p.m., Little Village Lawndale High School, 3120 S. Kostner
- Tuesday, August 16, 6:30 p.m., Westinghouse College Prep, 3223 W. Franklin
- Monday, August 22, 6:30 p.m., North Grand High School, 4338 W. Wabansia
Moore notes that several North Side aldermen are expected to attend, including Ald. Harry Osterman (48th); the meeting is being held in Osterman’s ward. No word on whether Ald. Silverstein will be there. The event was not mentioned in her newsletter today, although she had room for three pictures of herself at Ward events. Her attendance is unlikely unless she cancels her property tax seminar scheduled for the same night for property owners North of Devon.
Tonight is National Night Out, an event designed to bring neighbors and police officers together to build community, fight crime, and have some fun. There will be events for the kids, prizes, food, and a chance to meet and get to know your neighbors..
Petitions in support of participatory budgeting will be available at three of the 50th Ward’s four events: at Green Briar, Indian Boundary, and Warren Parks. Some petition circulators will also have petitions in support of LEARN, the citizen initiative to build a new library in West Ridge.
Support your community and your police officers, sign the petitions, and enjoy a good night out with friends and family!