Monday, February 05, 2007

43rd Ward Aldermanic Race Heats Up: Robo Calls & Vi's Real Challenge

I got my first 43rd ward election campaign Robo-call tonight. I almost hung up.

But, then, dear readers, what kind of post would that make?

So I hung in there instead. (Despite my being in the middle of coaxing frozen food and canned goods into an approximation of dinner.)

The recorded robo-caller was a woman who blasted Vi Daley for being in Mayor Daley's pocket. I spent most of the call trying to figure out if the voice belonged to one of Vi's two female opponents. It didn't.

The caller (eventually) made two points loud and clear: She did not like Vi and she was endorsing Anyone but Vi.

Robo lady then concluded, "Paid for by SEIU PAC." That would be the Service Employees International Union.

I think this is some payback for Vi from the unions who were apoplectic about her failure (and the mayor's) to support an ordinance that would require big box stores to pay their employees liveable wages (ie, more than minimum wage). The unions believed that was a fair and just thing to do. Mayor Daley basically said you can't legislate against some businesses and not others.

Now, a couple of points about this.

The robo-call was probably completely ineffective and a total waste of money. 98% of the people who got the call hung up right after receiving it just like I wanted to do.

And, what did they hear right before they hung up? The first two words out of the caller's mouth:

"Vi Daley."

So, for 98% of the recipients that was a pro-Vi Daley call.

Second, note I didn't say anything about why Vi Daley voted against the big box ordinance.


Because I have no idea why.

Vi seldom if ever directly informs her entire electorate about her votes and the rationale behind them. I suspect that if you see her often or know her personally, you might have an idea about her motivations. But, that does little for the rest of us. She has a respectable website for her ward and an e-mail newsletter, but she doesn't take advantage of them to explain what legislation and official business she's been working on.

The newsletters I get from her office are filled with breezy items about street cleaning schedules and businesses opening up. That's all fine, but rarely have I seen an explanation of her day-to-day activities as our alderman. What committee meetings has she attended? What resolutions/ordinances has she introduced? Whom has she been meeting with? How has she voted and why? Has she cut any ribbons lately?

She may have fantastic reasons for voting against the big box issue, but how are we supposed to know what they are? How are we to trust she's acting honestly when she does so little to promote transparency in her office? I recently read that she has an almost flawless attendance record at City Hall meetings. Wouldn't it benefit her, too, to disseminate this information?

Almost every ad piece that I've received from Vi's campaign shows photos of her talking face-to-face with constituents. That's a wonderful attribute, but it should only be one tool in her box. Vi Daley's strategy for communicating with her constituency and promoting a democratic ward is woefully inadequate.

That's one reason she's feeling the re-election heat.


Kuz said...

That robocall technique sounds familiar. Republicans used it great effect against Tammy Duckworth, because it started out with "this is a call about Tammy Duckworth" and if you hung up, it would call you right back over and over until you listened to the whole call, which was full of negative claims about her. Just like you experienced, the result was a great negative attachment to the name of the candidate in the ad.

Craig Gernhardt said...

Still, who paid for the call? Inquiring minds want to know. I know Peter couldn't have afforded it, his book didn't sell that many copies.

And just to let you know, you're on my blog list also. Touche, Jennifer.

Jennifer said...

What an honor to have the Broken Heart of Rogers Park stop by. Thanks so much.

As readers know I've been a long time admirer of the intense citizen activism happening at your blog. You go, Craig!

Anyway, it was the Union's PAC that paid for it. Or, at least that's what the robolady said.

Peter Zelchenko said...

Vi Daley reported to me the night before the vote that she was voting against the Big Box ordinance because her friend Carrie Austin had asked her to. Succinct but senseless.