Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Chicago: Three election contests--three atrocious results

Chicago skyline from Roosevelt Road.
While coverage of the presidential race understandably dominated the news, particularly in Chicago--President Obama's hometown--there is understandably a temptation to overlook the disturbing results in three local contests. I'm not going to shunt these contests aside.

Judges are elected in Illinois--which is a big mistake. Few voters spend time researching the judges and most don't even bother bringing in a copy of a local newspaper or bar association list of judicial endorsements. Once elected, county judges appear on the ballot with the option to retain or remove them. Only twice in the last two decades has a Cook County judge failed to win retention.

One judge who should have been sentenced to the unemployment office is Cynthia Brim. The Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Bar Association recommended a "No" on retention for her. In the spring Brim allegedly assaulted a sheriff's deputy the day after she launched into a 45 minute tirade in her courtroom--leading to a suspension from her duties.

Her lawyer says the judge was "legally insane" at the time.

But Cook County voters chose to retain Brim. She keeps her $182,000 annual salary. But that's not the end of this story. Last night Brim was arrested on a battery charge.

Folks, you can't make this stuff up.

Oh, I almost forgot: The Cook County Democratic Party endorsed Brim and the other judges up for retention.

Brim, Smith, and Jackson: Do you need a lawyer?
Derrick Smith of Chicago's West Side was a member of the Illinois House only for a year before he moved to the head of his class after being indicted on federal bribery charges in March. He won his primary the following week, but resisted pressure from party regulars to withdraw from the race. In August the House voted to expel him from the General Assembly. But Smith remained on the general election ballot and overwhelmingly defeated an independent candidate backed by the Machine. Voters in Smith's district saw "Democrat" next to his name--and that's all they needed to know. The Republicans had no candidate.

Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr, whose Gerrymandered district stretches from Chicago's South Side into Kankakee County, has been undergoing treatment for depression for five months. He hasn't appeared in public since then--Junior's office has been secretive and elusive in regards to his condition and even his whereabouts. Jackson easily won his race over a Republican and an independent--he declared victory in a statement from the Mayo Clinic. In addition to his health problems, Junior is under federal investigation for alleged campaign finance improprieties. He's also being investigated by the House Ethics committee for his alleged role in Rod Blagojevich's attempt to sell Obama's old US Senate seat.

Tonight there is talk that Junior is negotiating a plea deal with the feds.

There are too many--way too many--voters in the Chicago area who don't know and who don't care to know.

It's easy to see why Chicago and Illinois are national punchlines for political jokes.

I don't live in Junior's district or in Smith's--so I couldn't vote against them. But I did vote "No" on Brim. I did my homework. Why can't everyone else?

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