Chuy for Mayor

This morning brought the news that Chicago’s bond ratings have been downgraded again, primarily because of the pension crisis. The only city in the country with a lower rating is Detroit.

Mayor 1% and his City Council allies (the infamous rubber-stampers) have failed us again. Unfortunately, too many of them have been re-elected, including our own clueless leader. They cling to pie-in-the-sky solutions rather than face the hard work of cutting budget fat and making the tough decisions that will keep the city out of bankruptcy.

I’m for Chuy. We need an experienced administrator who is willing and able to put the City of Chicago back on track.

He’s the guy without the $30 million war chest. He won’t be buying your support, he’ll be working for it.

Check out his platform and sign up to help Chuy here.

Readings on Multiculturalism

One recurring theme on this blog is the danger to community that I see in the emphasis on multiculturalism and identity politics in this ward. If one is in the country legally, then one is–or should be–an American first. It bothers me that the 50th Ward holds parades to celebrate the independence days of other countries, but has no parade on the 4th of July, a day that should be celebrated by everyone who lives here.

I am particularly irritated by behaviors that are destructive to community yet excused on the grounds that such behaviors are rooted in longstanding cultural traditions and are therefore off-limits when it comes to criticism. I don’t buy it for a second.

The current issue of Foreign Affairs examines in detail the European experience with multiculturalism, and provides an interesting account of its origins and history. I found it fascinating. Read it here.

I spent some time reading on these subjects over the summer. I found Arthur M. Schlesinger’s The Disuniting of America and Bill Bishop’s The Big Sort particularly good on the fracturing of the American community.

Among the books I’ve read and recommend are:

  1. The Disuniting of America: Reflections on a Multicultural Society by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.
  2. The Big Sort by Bill Bishop
  3. Our Divided Political Heart by E. J. Dionne
  4. A House for All Peoples: Ethnic Politics in Chicago 1890-1936 by John M. Alswang
  5. Habits of the Heart by Robert N. Bellah, et al.
  6. Individualism and Commitment in American Life: Readings on the Themes of Habits of the Heart (edited by Robert N. Bellah, et al.)

All are available at the Chicago Public library, some digitally.

Reflections on the Election

The alderman won with 64% of the vote.

I don’t know anybody who’s happy about the job she did in her first term. The ward continues to go downhill, except where she lives.

The streetscape is a disaster. The street is now so narrow that emergency vehicles can’t get through, drivers exiting their cars can barely get their doors open if there’s traffic (and when isn’t there?), and bus riders are in peril because they all too often must exit in the traffic lane, the bus stops being blocked by vehicles.  The completed portion looks good although it doesn’t live up to the hype.

Storefronts continue to empty, only to be replaced by the same kind of business that’s just failed. She’s happy to fill storefronts rather than do the work involved in creating business districts.

She’s frightened people with all her talk about crime and crime prevention. She hosts seminars on public safety that are sparsely attended or else are social outings for seniors, and then takes credit for reducing crime.

She ignored the residents during the campaign, refusing to attend the two forums that included all the challengers, and lied shamelessly during the Chamber of Commerce forum. In DebLand, all is well. She carefully avoided all venues in which her sunny view would be challenged.

She acted throughout as though she were far above it all.  The vote totals are too lopsided to be true. There are too many stories and videos that paint a different picture. The fact that none of the four challengers had much money means that nobody has the money to challenge the results. She’s home free.

But something has changed. You can feel it. People feel cheated. Their votes didn’t count, or weren’t counted correctly. The Silversteins overreached with the landslide numbers. People resent it.

DNA Chicago reported that “dozens” of her supporters cheered her victory. Dozens?  For such an historic landslide?

There is growing opposition to the Silversteins’ power and the way they use it. Nobody really believes the election numbers.

She’ll be watched more closely this tern. Illinois law is silent on recalling aldermen. As is Chicago’s.

That doesn’t mean it can’t be done.




Election Facts

Only 44% of the 50th Ward’s approximately 55,000 residents are registered voters (24,000).

Only 7,640 residents voted. That’s 13.5% of all residents, and 31% of registered voters.

Nearly 70% of the ward’s voters didn’t vote on Tuesday.

Silverstein’s re-election total of 4,909 votes means she was elected by 8.9% of the ward’s residents.

Silverstein was re-elected by 20% of registered voters.

Unofficial precinct totals from the Board of Elections show that she lost only 3 of 40 precincts (19, 29, and 31). View those totals  here.

Claiming her 64% win as a landslide of approval is meaningless.

The residents who didn’t vote had more of an influence than the ones who did.

This is the sorry state of the democratic process in the 50th Ward.

Silverstein Victory a Defeat for 50th Ward

Only two votes counted in yesterday’s aldermanic election.

They weren’t yours and mine.

Voting irregularities, electioneering, and intimidation were reported in virtually every precinct in the ward. The election results are so lopsided that the numbers themselves are proof of chicanery.  Not content with mere victory, the Silversteins had to have a landslide.

In their arrogance, they overreached. 

The election is over. The fight is just beginning.


Bread & Circuses and the Mall of India

Fuji Shioura is plainspoken. He isn’t offensive in the least, and he tells the truth as he sees it. In both recent candidate forums, Fuji said, quite directly, that a return to resident shopping on Devon is a must, and not only because the community is demanding it. Fuji said, quite simply and eloquently, that Devon’s real competition for customers will come from the new Mall of India, scheduled to open in Schaumburg in the Spring.

An entire mall devoted to traditional Indian clothing, food, arts and crafts, and cultural events, the Mall of India is expected to attract Indo-Americans from Chicago’s suburbs as well as the entire Midwest. It is expected to be a major tourist attraction, a symbol of the growing wealth and influence of Indo-Americans.

And it will lure away those customers who now come to Devon for dal and saris and a taste of home. Shabby little Devon will all but collapse once the beautiful new Mall of India opens.

That’s why the merchants are spending like mad to get Shajan Kuriakose elected. They need economic control of the ward, although even they couldn’t tell you why.  Once the mall opens Devon is toast.  Shajan told an Indian newspaper in a recent interview that his business plan for the ward includes parades, festivals, and events designed to lure tourists.  That’s not what he tells non-Indian residents, but never mind.

The merchants think business will boom if the street becomes a three-ring circus. But the tourists and the rest of their customers will be in Schaumburg.

The party’s over on Devon.



Dirty Tricks

Thank goodness this election is nearly over. The two candidates with money have also turned out to be the two candidates who told the biggest lies, repeated them often, and spent thousands to make those lies seem like truths.

That’s bad enough.

But let me tell you how power and money influenced the electoral process in this ward.

Take Pete Sifnotis. Nice guy. No money. No lawyer. Two challenges. Both scheduled at the same time. Two different places. This was no accident. This was the big guys jerking the new kid around. He’s now a write-in candidate.

Take Fuji Shioura. Nice guy. So determined not to be corrupted by money that he won’t take donations. No lawyer. Two challenges. One Board of Elections examiner behaved so badly she had to be removed. He’s now a write-in candidate.

Take Zehra Quadri. Challenged a carpetbagger with clear and convincing evidence of his duplicity. The Board of Elections waived its own rules and kept the guy on the ballot. She appealed to Circuit Court. The judge ruled that the guy had good intentions, so never mind the law. The case is now in the Appellate Court, which will not rule until after the election.

Quadri’s campaign office is located in a building which has been without water for the past week. The owner has twice called the city, and twice his requests have been cancelled by another caller. Sixteen other offices are located in this building. The city will not fix the water until after the election.

Quadri lives in one of the buildings at Winston Towers. The morning before the election, copies of Jewish News, which has endorsed another candidate, were left for every resident of the building, including nonsubscribers. But Quadri’s supporters have been told that they may not distribute her campaign literature, and residents who support her have been told that they will be fined $300 if they do–and every time they do. Building management denies knowing who delivered and distributed the papers. Building management did not order the papers removed.

Powerful interests do not want positive change in this ward. The usual suspects have endorsed and contributed thousands of dollars to the incumbent. Wealthy interests from outside the ward have contributed enormous sums of money to buy this aldermanic seat for another.

The three candidates without money have shown the highest ethical standards. The two candidates with the big bucks have demonstrated the lowest character.

Remember that when you vote.

Shajan Never Voted in City Elections

Shajan Kuriakose, the carpetbagger who wants to be alderman, has never voted in an aldermanic election in the City of Chicago. NEVER. Not even ONCE.

This information came to light thanks to Zehra Quadri’s challenge to his residency. Voting records show that the man who has been busily registering residents to vote for HIM has never bothered to vote for anybody else who ran for alderman.

The man is shameless:

First, he established residency in February 2014, which is different from actually living in the ward.

Next,  he files a notice of intent to run for alderman.

Then he begins a charm offensive designed to overcome the hard evidence that he lives downtown and not in the 50th Ward. The Chicago Board of Election Commissioners, ignoring its own rules, allowed him to remain on the ballot. Zehra Quadri appealed that decision to the Circuit Court, which accepted Shajan’s attorney’s statement that Shajan had voted in another ward last March just because he wanted to do his duty and vote. The judge ruled in his favor based on his alleged intent, not his provable actions.

He never voted in a City election before, he never voted for alderman before, but last March his right to vote became so compelling that he just HAD to do it. In another ward.

Zehra Quadri now has appealed that decision to the Appellate Court. There will be no decision before Election Day. The stench of political influence is everywhere in this election challenge.

The court appeals made the records submitted in the Board challenge publicly available. They were obtained using a FOIA request.

Read the records carefully.

They reveal a man who is willing to lie–and lie brazenly–just to get elected.

His claims of having grown up in the 50th Ward are lies. His family left the neighborhood when he was four. Visiting relatives is not the same as living here.

His claim to have volunteered for Harold  Washington is a lie–Shajan was 4 years old when Washington ran the first time, and 8 years old when Washington ran for his second term.

His claim that he is a successful businessman is dubious. He’s also the man who forgot to get a lease for the apartment he allegedly lives in on North Albany Avenue.

His claim that he lives full-time in the neighborhood is a lie. His electric bill shows a total of $1.61 for six days of service. At that rate, his monthly bill is less than $10.

His claim that he moved into the ward in February 2014 is a lie. Records from the Board of Elections clearly show that he swore he lived in the 3rd Ward in March 2014. Was he lying then? Or is he lying now?

The proof can be found here.

Do we really want a hypocrite for alderman?

Poaching Campaign Workers

It’s easy to tell that the campaign is in the final stretch. Shameless behavior rules the day.

A couple of days ago Shajan’s fiancée, a Latina, approached one of Zehra Quadri’s top Latina campaign volunteers and offered her money to switch sides.

How much does Zehra pay you?  What? You volunteer? No pay?  Work for us. We’ll pay you $15 per hour.

The offer was turned down. Zehra’s people are passionate about their support for her. Zehra’s people want to put an end to pay-to-play politics. You can’t buy Zehra’s people. They aren’t in it for the money.

Even if the money exceeds the minimum wage.


Silverstein Dirty Tricks

As she heads downhill toward certain defeat, the Silverstein dirty tricks machine–commonly known as Ira–is in full swing.

Residents at Winston Towers who support Zehra Quadri have been informed that they will be fined if they distribute any literature on her behalf. Yep. Exercising your constitutional rights will cost you $300. Per incident.

Silverstein’s literature is all over the place. So is literature for Shajan. But not for Quadri.

The Silversteins cannot do enough to undermine Zehra Quadri and her work. They  tried and failed to put Zehra’s community resource center, ZAM’s Hope, out of service. One of Debra’s first acts as alderman was to cancel Zehra’s contract with the city to distribute free food boxes to hungry families in the 50th Ward. Ira has cancelled state funding for her after-school programs and other community service initiatives. The reason her commercial kitchen hasn’t opened is because Ira stopped her bank loan. Imagine. A local bank accepted her application, cashed her check, then told her it couldn’t help her. Guess where the evidence trail led.

Debra’s reputation for high-handedness is exceeded only by Ira’s. He’s called Quadri supporters and told them to back off on any public support. And private as well. The powerful politician delights in terrorizing potential contributors to Quadri’s campaign. He stops just short of overt threats but the message is clear. .

The stories about Ira are legion. Debra’s vindictiveness is known throughout the ward.

It’s just about over. She’ll be voted out on Tuesday.

Then it’s his turn.