by Don Washington on 2012/10/30
Another election is upon us and Tutorial staffers have been arguing with each other for weeks to bring you our considered guidance. You will notice that we’re not recommending you vote for any particular candidate but have a lot to say about the referenda and judges. As the Front Man I am going to “pull rank” and say a few things about candidates… Sorry staff but I promise I will not endorse anyone. That said if you feel the need to vote for a guy on Team Elephant the resulting karma is likely to kill you. I will also let you in on a disturbing possibility in the General Election.
Even though President Obama has never trailed in the Electoral College vote there is an interesting possibility developing that he could lose the popular vote. If you have been paying attention to how our conservative/GOP/Tea Party friends have been acting imagine he loses the popular vote and everything comes down to a recount in say Florida or Ohio? I voted for Jill Stien and then research brought to light the possibility that this popular vote scenario is not exactly impossible. That said, I say vote accordingly but not for Mittens. So look there, an anti-endorsement.
Let’s start with judges. Look, evaluating judges demands that all you do is spend a lot of time evaluating judges all the time. The Tutorial and most other humans cannot do that but still society TRUSTS us to vote on their retention and if we get it wrong a lot of terrible things can happen. So what to do? The Tutorial has a three part judicial retention matrix.
Part one, you don’t have to vote on every judge and there is a sample ballot of sorts that exists on line. Go to the sample ballot and identify the judges you have to decide on. Part two, the one hour dirty research check. You have a name and for elected state judges run that name against organizations that have a definite bias. I suggest the Judicial Watch or Judicial Confirmation Network if you want to confirm your judge is a conservative (Which you may like but I do not.) and if they have a website… and they might visit it. Three, armed with some scanty background knowledge proceed to Vote for Judges and pour over their questionnaires. This is an invaluable source for being Dangerously Informed. You are now as ready to vote on judges as anyone can be… good luck.
"Shall each member of the Board of School District 299, known as the Chicago Board of Education, be elected by voters of the City of Chicago, State of Illinois?" - YES
This is going to be at the very end of a great many ballots thanks to CODE and the CTU and host of other organizations and dedicated volunteers. So if you have to flip to the end of VOTE ON THIS.If it passes it will indicate to your State Representatives and State Senators that you believe that the school board should answer to the public not be appointed by the Mayor. It is not a silver bullet but presently the school board’s job is to hand out and privatize as much of their $5.3 billion dollar budget as they can to people who see children an school buildings a profit centers. After this referendum passes the next steps will be making it part of a platform of actual education reform ideas and then strong arming our elected officials into making it law… or to put it another way getting into a fist-fight with greedy banksters, private equity privateers and real estate vulture capitalists over the future of children and the very fabric of education in a democratic society. Hilariously that paragon of stenography Greg Hinz blogged about this proving once again that he knows very little about quality public policy, but he works for Crain's so he might be doing the best he can. God, but I do love a good fight though.
Upon approval by the voters, the proposed amendment, which takes effect on January 9, 2013, adds a new section to the General Provisions Article of the Illinois Constitution. The new section would require a three-fifths majority vote of each chamber of the General Assembly, or the governing body of a unit of local government, school district, or pension or retirement system, in order to increase a benefit under any public pension or retirement system. At the general election to be held on November 6, 2012, you will be called upon to decide whether the proposed amendment should become part of the Illinois Constitution.
If you believe the Illinois Constitution should be amended to require a three fifths majority vote in order to increase a benefit under any public pension or retirement system, you should vote “YES” on the question. If you believe the Illinois Constitution should not be amended to require a three-fifths majority vote in order to increase a benefit under any public pension or retirement system, you should vote “NO” on the question. Three-fifths of those voting on the question or a majority of those voting in the election must vote ÝES” in order for the amendment to become effective on January 9, 2013. - NO
This will be the first thing on your ballot and is a terrible idea. Super majorities are inherently anti-democratic, pensions are a promise to forego wages in return for future benefits and it demands a change in the Constitution because to do so via legislation would violate the damn Constitution. Even our hell for leather and frakly unstable conservative friends like the Illinois Policy Institute hate it because it doesn't do any real and immediate damage to the lives of public servants. Responsible people and public servants don't like it because it makes damage, once done really hard to undo and really easy to do. Who likes it? Well, Mayor Emanuel and a number of other corporatist officials who will be able to create harm and hide behind the Constitution. Think of it as another way to have the people who BUY public policy and politicians deprive working people of their rights to something sacred... like the strike. Just say no.
"Shall the City of Chicago have the authority to arrange for the supply of electricity for its residential and small commercial retail customers who have not opted out of such program?" – YES?
Ordinarily and out of instinct we would say absolutely not, because what you need to understand here is that we would be trusting Mayor Emanuel to decide who we will be buying energy from. BUT there a number of reputable organizations and in theory a process that may allow us, the public to “hijack” the process and compel Rahm and his campaign investors to invest in actual clean energy and that is promising but it could all get very complicated in regards to if it will be a good thing or a bad thing. So if you vote yes you are also signing up to make certain that Rahm and his campaign investors don’t cut a deal that really does harm to all of us. I have faith in us. Let's show up after this vote ready to kick ass and chew bubble gum... and guess what I'm all out of?
"Should the State of Illinois provide funding for the normal cost of pensions for Chicago teachers in the same manner as the State pays for the normal cost of teacher pensions in every other school district in the state which will free up local funding that can be invested in the classroom?" – YES
This has no impact on anything. It does not commit the state to anything and in a cynical way it could be Mayor Emanuel saying that look, he really is for teachers… he just fought for them to get a theoretical payment into a pension fund he’s angling to destroy by supporting the Constitutional Amendment that COULD become law. Clever and cynical... at least the Mayor is consistent and the phrase too clever by half comes winging to mind when I see things like this.
“Shall the U.S. Congress pass a bill, to be duly ratified by three-fourths of the states, adopting an amendment to the U.S. Constitution, empowering the federal government and the states to regulate and limit political contributions from corporations?”- YES
Simply put… death to Citizen’s United and cynically put this is more Rahm at work, saying he is for a system that works against the interests of the reason why he is our Mayor in first place. A system by the way that he is hoping will propel him to higher heights someday before he fully metastasizes into a man who wanders around Davos at will and/or has the power to hurl the earth into the sun. So vote yes but remember this is a fig leaf for our Mayor to hide behind not an expression of whatever it is that passes as his moral center.
“Shall there be established, pursuant to the Community Expanded Mental Health Services Act (405 ILCS 22), to serve the territory commonly described on this ballot or notice of this question, a North River Expanded Mental Health Services Program, to provide direct free mental health services for any resident of the territory who needs assistance in overcoming or coping with mental or emotional disorders, where such program will be funded through an increase of not more than .004 of the real estate property tax bill of all parcels within the boundaries of the territory (for example, $4 for every $1,000 of taxes you currently pay)?” – YES
It would be nice if somewhere in the City of Chicago someone was looking out for the welfare of people who cannot afford to live a world of healthcare as if it is cable television. This will not be on every ballot but if the Mayor had suggested this the other things he suggested would be a sea change in his values set and would indicate he was having a change of heart... or maybe even has a heart.
Now go out and vote and may light prevail.