Notes for 2/6/19

Sometimes It’s Better to Not Endorse

This week, the paper that endorsed libertarian wacko Gary Johnson for president in 2016 released a slew of endorsements for this year’s aldermanic races. To be clear, the Trib’s endorsements are not made by the actually knowledgeable reporters who cover these candidates; they are made by a mostly-white editorial board which skews notably conservative. That means that in their endorsements, they prize political experience—that is unless there is a conservative candidate with no political experience, like nineteen-year-old David Krupa, who happens to be standing up to Mike Madigan’s Democratic organization. And, though the board-members typically champion anyone who opposes the Democratic machine, they enthusiastically endorsed the conservative-leaning 11th Ward Alderman Patrick Daley Thompson, despite he and his family’s notably Machine-like connections to a now-shuttered Bridgeport bank. Reflecting the conservative values of the paper’s owner, the editorial board is openly anti-tax, anti-labor, pro-business, and pro-privatization and its endorsements reflect this (the worst thing they could say about 17th Ward Alderman David Moore, whom they endorsed, was that he opposes charter schools).

Lest you think we’re singling out the Trib, the Sun-Times ownership is made up of leaders from Chicago-area unions including the CFL, and though they pledged that unions would not interfere in the paper’s endorsement process, the paper’s editorial board is friendly—though not exclusively so—to Big Labor candidates. And the big unions themselves often have obscure endorsement processes that have more to do with currying clout than representing the views of the rank and file workers. The Weekly does not endorse candidates, but for folks seeking guidance in the municipal elections, we recommend you consult last week’s Election Issue, the community organizations in your ward, or even your civically engaged neighbors.

Daley’s Telling Choice

Early this week, Chalkbeat Chicago released mayoral candidates’ responses to their questionnaire regarding who the candidates rely on as key education policy advisers. Most of the names that candidates tapped were unremarkable and some didn’t really answer the question, but predictably, Bill Daley kept his choices close, naming Peter Cunningham: his communications director, former Arne Duncan aide at the Department of Education, and the author of a 2016 op-ed titled “Is School Integration Necessary?” In it, Cunningham not only completely misunderstands what “intersectionality” means, but also attempts to make the point that the battles to reduce poverty and segregation are not only way too expensive but also unnecessary, to school improvement. Cunningham doubled down with some more Jim Crow rhetoric the day after it was published, tweeting, “Lamenting segregation is just an excuse to avoid improving schools.” Cunningham also wrote a 2015 op-ed for the Tribune against elected school boards, noting that compared to elected board members, appointed members are “insulated from politics,” which made us wonder if he even lives in Chicago at all.

Flying the Nest

Big Marsh, the Far Southeast Side’s most-loved wetland, has undergone a few transformations over the years: it spent a few millennia as a swamp, several decades as an industrial trash heap, and now almost three years as a popular cyclocross park. But at a fundraiser party last week, the Friends of Big Marsh discussed an even bolder vision for Big Marsh: what they’ve called, in true birdwatcher form, “Leaving the Nest, Taking Flight.” The backbone of this plan is the Ford Calumet Environmental Center, a long-proposed space for education and events, but newer additions include a nature play space for children, the development of a “Big Marsh ambassadors” program, and the expansion of BMX terrain. Though it can be difficult to get to Big Marsh (particularly on bike, an irony lost on no one), the park has seen rapid growth since the cyclocross course’s opening in 2016. It’ll be exciting to see how this community can grow with new resources and new support.

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