Thursday, February 22, 2007

43 Ward Aldermanic Challengers appear on Chicago Tonight

The four challengers for the 43rd Ward Aldermanic seat appeared on WTTW's Chicago Tonight tonight.

Just to set the stage: Tim Egan looked like he may be growing a mustache. Rachel Goodstein wore a necklace with a giant, vertical "VOTE" on it. Michele Smith wore lipstick that matched her hair color. Peter Zelchenko held a roll of masking tape.

The show featured the candidates in the order that their names will appear on the ballot, so I am, too. You'll find some representative quotes from their appearance below.

Vi Daley did not appear due to a "scheduling conflict." (Yeah, right.) What really ticked me off was that the moderator, Eddie Arruza, asked the candidates what Vi Daley had done well and what she hadn't done well. He pressed the candidates to answer the first part of the question and then he blew off the second part of the question! Then, he defended Vi Daley's position to them later when they mentioned the problems in the ward!

What is wrong with our media these days? They absolutely coddle people in power. I just don't get it. A democracy needs a press that presses its leaders, not helps them when they fail to show up and take responsibility for their office and their actions. I think that was completely disrespectful to the four candidates and a failure of journalistic responsibility.

Here are some notable quotes:

Michele Smith

"As a former federal prosecuter, a corporate executive for 15 years, the social action chair of the Chicago Sinai Congregation, and a ward resident for well over 20 years as well as a parent, I think I bring the kind of sophisticated expertise that's expected in the ward."

"What I really intend to do and what this ward needs is a comprehensive plan for the future. I intend to convene a ward-wide strategic plan so that we can have the input of the best in urban planning and make Lincoln Park and the Gold Coast a model of urban planning instead of what we have now, which is the neighbors have to ban together and sometimes and fight lawsuits in order to fight in appropriate development."

On Children's Memorial Hospital site: "That's the spot where we can hope to have a devleopment that we can be as proud of in Lincoln Park as our city is of Millennium Park. That should be a crossroads for our community."

Rachel Goodstein

"I have a very broad background in terms of education, business experience, and volunteer experience. It gives me a great depth about how the city works."

"One of the things that I have proposed in terms of how to deal with the communications is I've made a commitment. There are 59 precincts in the 43rd ward and to meet with each precinct on an ongoing basis --59, a day off. So that you get more involvement of people, but you also get them to know each other. . . There's litigation, but before you get to litigation. It' s a lack of not knowing your neighbors and lack of civility."

"I think the board of the CTA needs to be people who ride the bus and take the el, and they are not."

Tim Egan

"As a hospital administrator I maintain the practical, professional experience that's needed in our aldermanic office."

"We need new and aggressive forms of communication when it comes to development. There is a hysteria that happens in the 43rd ward that is unnecessary. We need to go out and reach the ward through every means possible. "

"Creating a ward-wide community committee for development is a great idea and it's very necessary, but at the end of every result, you need a strong leader to come in and make that final decision. . . Litigation is a huge part of the communication process in the 43rd ward. We have neighbors suing neighbors, neighbors suing businesses. We have a group of neighbors that sued a homeless shelter in the middle of our ward. We need a mediator to step in and take the heat and the middle ground."

"Children's Memorial has been a wonderful corporate neighbor in the 43rd ward. . . (Children's) is going to have a hand in who buys that property and what goes in there. So, I have full faith in their cooperation in the future."

Peter Zelchenko

"I grew up in the ward, and I know it better than any other of the candidates."

"The problems we're having are the result of the ward being run by a very small and exclusive cabal of people, some connected with community groups and others. Right now, what we're really seeing in the race is a kind of tug-of-war between Marty Oberman, who is Ms. Smith's Chinaman, and Vi Daley's people in terms of who is going to control the ward. I, and other candidates, want to develop a true community council forum where these interests are diffused a little bit better."

"Children's (Memorial Hospital) is an institution. It's a corporation, and we mustn't get too sentimental about it's relationship to the community. It's upping and leaving. There's a lot of rich opportunity for that as a real, walkable community-centered structure where we can maybe put the library and other things. We're going to squeeze every possible community benefit out of that space with the help of the community.

UPDATE: And, I meant to add, I think Vi's not showing up was a failure of her duty to her constituents. This was PBS for gosh sakes. Perhaps she doesn't want the job as much as she implies she does.


Anonymous said...

Was Peter getting ready to tape someone's
mouth shut?
Seriously he made some points,
especially about Children's. Rachel got in the
knockout of the evening at the end by questioning
Michelle's non -voting status in last two elections.
Michelle was ok but health insurance and Big
Box are not hot 43rd Ward issues. The host oddly
threw the discussion off track and no one brought
it back -so much for leadership.
Tim Egan landed a punch that hopefully will
take him out of the running completely...
he bascially blamed community groups for the
problems of the ward. The self-styled "mediator"
took a cheap shot at non-paid volunteers...weird.
And the winner is -Vi Daley by default

Jennifer said...

Anon - 11:49, thanks for commenting, but I have to disagree.

Vi Daley was a NO SHOW on a PBS program discussing issues in her ward about a week after her campaign manager labeled anonymous commenters in this blog "chickenshit." Seems his boss was the one who was chickenshit tonight. I think Vi was the real loser of the evening.

Peter did make some good points, but I have no explanation for the tape. Perhaps he was trying to calm some nerves by holding onto it and thought it wouldn't make it in the shot.

I thought Rachel's comment on Michele's voting record came across more as a cheap shot than anything else. The rest of her performance, I thought, was solid.

Same w/ Michele's. Her not voting seemed a heckuva lot less relevant when I learned from Tim Egan that they're expecting only 19% turnout in the ward on Tuesday. Everybody's doing it except for the handful of us who refuse to miss an election unless our lives depend upon it. And even then it bothers the heck out of us.

I didn't hear Tim's comments as being against community groups. Rather, I thought he was trying to say they weren't representative enough and Vi seems to over-rely on them.

Lincoln Park deserves an alderman who is more than a "default" candidate in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

It was amusing, overall. I was shocked to learn Michelle did not vote! So much for taking a stand for the neighborhood. Maybe Marty voted for her. I liked Rachel, and Tim as individuals, but they lack a clear agenda. Peter, well, nothing needs to be said. To the rest of the city, the 43rd looked like a bunch of trust fund kids fighting to be class president. Better moderating that Carol Marin has done- she had let the ald. candidates run all over her on previous shows.

Anonymous said...

Michele Smith does not vote and she wants a political office?

Jennifer, Rachel's comments about Michele have been mild compared to the campaign material that Michele and Vi Daley have been putting out there.

I really was suprised that Vi did not show up that to me is a sign.

Wow didn't vote.....

Anonymous said...

This makes two forums that Vi Daley missed due to "scheduling conflicts." Apparently, the incumbent has an aversion (one wonders why) to public speaking, competently putting voice to platform. Political views aside, that alone is enough for me to not to consider her. Being alderman means leading, representing and speaking for the people. If she hasn't figured out how to do that by now, she shouldn't be running for a second term. At least the four other candidates have had the courage and conviction to show up and say what they believe.

Anonymous said...

Oh, please! I thought Rachel Goodstein's last second salvo comment to Michele Smith was a cheap shot. What all the candidates should be concerned with is the actual voting record of our current alderman in City Hall.. (Pretty much a rubber stamp for everything...) So, Smith didn't vote in the last election! 90% of our ward didn't vote in the last election! Did it occur to anyone that Smith may have had some legitimate reason for not voting? Or maybe she felt like the majority of ward residents do...that: a) there hasn't been a choice of viable candidates, or b) that their vote won't make a difference. This time it can. Vi should be running scared.

Anonymous said...

If a candidate can't be bothered to vote in two elections (did not know it was 2), it's a sign of no community involvement- period. Sugar coat it all you wish, it's still a sloppy mistake in a neighborhood where people care. What community groups has she been involved with? Was she at the Columbus meetings? Has she volunteered for ANYTHING in the 43rd? Has anyone even heard of her before this fall? You might not like the other candidates, but start asking the questions worthy of your vote.

Anonymous said...

Please folks, there are all sorts of ways to become "involved" in a community: Vi came up through a neighborhood organization so she naturally emphasizes that avenue, Tim participates via the Irish Brotherhood, Michele promotes social justice through her religious affiliation, Rachel & Peter have been engaged with city-wide concerns that, nonetheless, impact our ward. I bet that most members of Tim's organization have never even heard of Lincoln Central or Mid-North Associations. So what? Some of us have more time than money, others work at multiple jobs, some are retired while others are still raising children, I may have great ideas but be weak on execution & you may be just the opposite. People can find a variety of different ways to impact their communities; and each path, hopefully, is right for them.
A problem arises, however, when we feel that only our own approach is valid - and that others aren't running their lives, business, family, campaign, etc the right way. If you're just saying that for rhetorical purposes - okay, try to convince me "your" candidate is best. But if you really believe most of your own BS, get real & get a life. (The term "you" is plural and not directed at any poster in particular)

Anonymous said...

Thank you, I could not have said it better. Great on ideas but weak on execution does not cut it in Chicago politics. Get it done, make time- or get lost. Sorry to be harsh, but do want leadership or excuses?

Anonymous said...

Voting is not absolutely everything. There may be a few reasons to not vote--I just moved, had to leave town on family emergency--haven't heard any of those or anything like it from Michele Smith. Haven't heard anything really other than slams on Vi Daley. Their voting patterns are the clearest testimonies of their community involvement. Vi is and has always been here. We know her. We call/visit her when there's a problem. She's there for us. Smith hasn't been here. Smith moved back into the ward just in time to qualify as aldermanic candidate. She criticizes Vi on host of issues on which she has no background/no experience. Smith actually models her talk after much of what Vi does in her work like positions on Lincoln Park Shelter, 7% assessment cap, Children's, etc. Smith says she will establish a new cmte to replace neighborhood orgs. Who will that be? Marty Oberman, "her chinaman" as Zelchenko put it, should have run for alderman if he thought Vi wasn't doing it right. But then he has a long ago record to defend which many of us don't remember fondly. Instead he plucked some neophite to fight his battle with Vi. Maybe he owns the apartment Michele is renting? Why is Oberman after Vi? She doesn't give him the attention he thinks he deserves or doesn't direct business to his law practice? It's very obvious where I stand, and most of my neighbors on my block. We're proudly voting for Vi Daley and Mayor Daley. Ask Smith about her vote for mayor in this race, or is she skipping that one again?

Anonymous said...

So, if someone wants to protest the inefficiencies & corruption they see in the Daley/Stroger government - and wants to replace the aldermen who willingly facilitate it - who do you suggest we vote for? Egan, maybe? Can he win in the run-off? I'm not at all sure Zelchenko or Goodstein can. Vi is clearly most worried about Smith.

Anonymous said...

It's Amazing how vi and michele have turned this into a two dog race. Unfortunately the other three candidates are making some clear points regarding bringing the community somewhat together. We already know what we have with vi, and we have no idea what we would get with michele...that's the problem. We know that michele is in the pocket of Marty Oberman who is also a zoning attorney...cha ching cha ching...good old marty is looking to make a quick buck. And her ward wide zoning strategic planning committee???? who is going to sit on that lovely group...her cronies and the one's that are going to vote for her. So instead of one group running everything with vi...then it's another group running everything with michele. Personally if the run off is between vi and michele...I would go head first and back vi, because we know that michele would set this ward on fire, be unable to communicate effectively with the OTHER 49 ALDERMAN ON THE CITY COUNCIL, and essentially be a one termer so her cronies can get the jump and whatever services they want to bleed from the city council.

Enoch Root said...

Is a crony the same as a henchman? Or is it more like a minion? Or maybe that's a plural, like wait, that's singular...I'm so confused by these technical political terms.

Anonymous said...

Lol...Just get your butt out and vote on Tuesday. Vi has mine, but just do your homework and make a stand- unless you are raising kids, moving, too busy making money, blah- blah. Those seem to be legitimate excuses to some here.

Anonymous said...

Here is the link to Rachel Goodstein's youtube

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link. Best campaign video so far from this ward. Not as funny as Tim's effort, just all-round higher quality & more informative. May be too little, too late, however. According to neighbors, the mayor's robocalls for Vi have started.