by Don Washington on 2012/03/19
For the past three months the Tutorial staff has been running all over the Chicagoland area getting Dangerously Informed so that we could provide you with endorsements. Because you might be inclined to trust us we should tell you how we decided who we are endorsing and we suggest that as a Dangerously Informed citizen that you pick up some of the Tutorials bad habits and practice them on a legislator or judge of your choice.
Step 1: Read everything, starting with their websites and focus on their public policy area. Everyone wants to improve education, everyone wants to do something about taxes and God help me every incumbent will tell you to your face that they have ended or are working on ending some terrible injustice around crime or something. Don’t you believe it; you read their actual public policy positions and if they sound like they do not know what they are doing or it is thin to the point of being translucent… you know, no details do not vote for them. We are NOT giving you all these websites. Find them yourself. Bring a date, get some popcorn and make it a group night in. If you drink alcohol is advised. If you don’t, like me, this could start you to drinking to dull the pain.
Step 2: Read everything some more. There are a lot of organizations who endorse people. What you want to read are the questionnaires the candidate submitted or did NOT submit. Here are the ones I read and re-read to the point where I’m fairly sure I am beginning to have a substantive policy analysis of how a water-borne pathogen impacts a judicial selection for the bench… and I wish I were kidding. Here’s what we studied: Independent Voters of Illinois Independent Precinct Organization, Independent Voters of Illinois – Independent Precinct Organization, Chicago Council of Lawyers, ICPR Election Hub, and the Illinois Voter’s Guide.
Step 3: You have been reading a lot. You have formed something of an opinion. GO MEET the candidates! Go see them or send people you trust to see them. Interact with them. Get off the bench. Our intrepid volunteer staffers have attended coffees, press conferences, briefings, town halls, teach-ins, conference calls and the dreaded person contact. They’ve been feeding me this information for weeks and debating it with me and helping me know what the hell I’m talking about. There is no substitute for this. When you do this bring some unconscionably difficult question with you that will snap them out of handshake and smile mode and kick their fake smile up into their brains so that they have to talk to you for a bit. If they can’t don’t vote for them. If they dodge don’t vote them. If they are escorted away from you by advisors don’t vote for them and taunt them as they leave.
Step 4: Now that you know something read what other people who are supposed to be paying attention are saying… like the Tutorial. I didn’t just wake up in the morning and decide these people would be nice to endorse. Armed with actual information you can read things and know when you’re being lied to or WHY you disagree or maybe… just maybe how you’ve been wrong all along. Like the Godfather said: “I didn’t know until today that it was Barzini all this time.” Here’s what we read: Democracy for America, Chicago Tribune, Progressive Democrats for America and the Chicago Bar Association.
So now that you know what we did here are our picks with Tutorial front man commentary by me. The heavy analysis was done weeks ago. What follows is what came out of repeated conversations and debates.
1st Congressional District –
Ray Lodato, because he is a true progressive and because he has a progressive vision that is deeper than the incumbents and has clarity on labor and foreign policy issues that is sorely needed. We do not agree with him on education policy and that is a problem but he is far better than a great many other candidates in the race on a number of other issues of public policy.
2nd Congressional District –
Jesse Jackson Jr., because his opponent is exactly what Republicans SHOULD be in a sane world… unfortunately we live in an insane world that somehow has her thinking she’s a Democrat and she’s not.
3rd Congressional District –
This district needs an intervention. Cong. Lipinkski is proving to be as useless and entrenched as his father. We suggest an exorcism and if that doesn’t work you have 24 months to find someone to replace this man with. You can do it people. It won’t be that hard; honest.
6th Congressional District –
Geoffrey Petzel, because he understands that what we have is a REVENUE problem not a SPENDING problem and he is focused in the right direction first in regards to cleaning up our tax code and putting a hammerlock on an entire class of corporate criminals.
7th Congressional District –
Danny K. Davis, because year after year he remains tied to his constituency. He makes his public policy by listening to his people in his district. He stands for progressive values and he stands up for people who ordinarily would not have a voice. If all Democrats were like Danny we’d be living in a far better country.
8th Congressional District –
Raj Krishnamoorthi, because he is an actual progressive, which is not true of Tammy Duckworth; she is a DLC Democrat if ever one existed. She is endorsed by the sorts of people who are very excited about the status quo such as Rahm Emanuel and worse. Raj will be interested in exploring actual solutions to our country’s problems Tammy will be interested in exploring ways to free up business to reform education, while leaving all options on the table to deal with terrorist threats… please spare us that fate.
9th Congressional District –
Jan Shakowsky, because she was right on the Iraq War and the Bush Tax cuts and because she has been and continues to a strong voice on civil and labor rights and finally because she has been a principled legislator on most progressive issues.
10th Congressional District –
Ilya Sheyman, because he’s an actual, honest to God progressive activist who is demonstrating the difference between GOP lite and a real game changing challenge to power. If Dan Seals had been an actual progressive in the same committed way we would not have Sen. Kirk right now.
State Senate Picks:
1st District –
NO ENDORSEMENT –
The good people of the 1st Senatorial District are being asked to choose between an inept and barely sentient incumbent and a DINO whose stands on budgetary issues are so frightfully ill-informed we were not shocked that the Tribune endorsed him. If one were planning on destroying the state I can’t imagine a better pick. Austerity is idiotic in a Recession and guess what… we are in a recession people. People of the 1st District we really need you to find a candidate in possession of say a soul in the next four years.
5th District –
Patricia VanPelt Watkins, full, full disclosure. I have worked with and for Dr. VanPelt Watkins since the early part of the century. We’ve sat on strategy teams together and we’ve made major reforms in the criminal justice system together. I did some opposition research work for her in this race because my contact with Sen. Annazette Collins, over numerous issues, when she was a State Rep., has always been incredibly negative. The incumbent has never demonstrated any kind of interest in anything but her well-manicured nails and making Mike Madigan happy. She has to go.
12th District –
NO ENDORSEMENT –
Given a choice between a slightly confused Latino candidate and a slightly malevolent DINO candidate we decided that we just couldn’t gather enough information on how confused one guy was because his kind of confused could turn him into a useful idiot. Tutorial Staff got into a lot of debate over why to choose or not to choose the confused guy and decided it would irresponsible to choose a confused guy. If you are lost by this train of thought so were we… no endorsement… we mean it damn it.
15th District –
NO ENDORSEMENT –
A lot of people we respect have endorsed Donna Miller in this race. The Tutorial Staff had screaming matches over Ms. Miller’s INCREDIBLE flexibility, vast lack of understanding of education policy and some of her troubling answers on how to address state funding issues. Ironically she reminded a lot of us of President Obama, progressive, who’s not progressive, a reasonable person who never comes down on the progressive side of an argument and the kind of person who is so smart and likable you want to forgive them for it. So no, we’re not endorsing here and that’s why.
23rd District –
Greg Brownfield, because he is a public policy wonk who is open to ideological debate and knows process. He’s the kind of candidate where even if you disagree with him he can explain, in small words if need be, what you don’t know and will admit when he doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about. Engaging with him on public policy will be a pleasure for certain.
25th District –
Corinne M. Pierog, because she understands public policy and of all the candidates in this race she is the one most wiling to engage her constituents from what we can see from how she engaged the public on the campaign trail.
29th District –
NO ENDORSMENT –
Tutorial Staff could not decide if it mattered which of these candidates was in the seat. After an hour of deciding that it seemed like they were actually the same person undergoing some kind of weird shape-shifting exercise we couldn’t even agree if we liked one of them better than other one. Admittedly only four people had done any direct contact with them but it seems like they are going to vote and act precisely the same on issues of real import… Milton will be a little more hardcore on budget issues and Julie has a better understanding of pension issues but all in all we couldn’t agree on which way they would jump on anything else. So since we don’t know them well enough we got nothing.
State Representative Picks:
2nd District –
Cuahutemoc "Temoc" Morfin, because he is a long-time community activist who has a track record of being on the right side of tough issues and in doing so he has made the kinds of enemies that garner respect. For example, the Chicago Tribune hates him because they see his clear set of principles as part of some insider political struggle between say UNO/HDO/MLI and people in possession of a soul. At the Tutorial we think that clarity and his exposure to a wide range of issues means a lot.
5th District –
Kenneth Dunkin, because as bad as he is, he is not Dori Collins, and almost everything about her would be a turn to the worst aspects of the Democratic Party. We leaned toward not endorsing anyone in this race but cooler heads, who live in the district said vote for the Devil we know and throw his ass out next time around. Rep. Dunkin, that bell you hear is us coming for you.
7th District –
Rory Hoskins, because of all the candidates in this race he shows up best in person. You may not agree with him but reasonable, clear and willing to explain what he said/meant counts for a great deal in a world where unreasonable and unwilling to explain defines so many people IN office. Tutorial staff genuinely enjoyed meeting with him and think he’s going to be approachable and that means he can be held accountable when the hard part of being a citizen starts.
10th District –
Derek Smith, because he is not onboard with the apparent state plan to privatize education and take out budgetary problems the state faces on state workers and their pension funds. The fact that he appears to know the difference between the words “reform” and “destroy” make him “educatable” on long-term issues by a determined constituency and that is is a good thing.
14th District –
Kelly Cassidy, because she comes from the advocacy community and can be engaged on broader issues of progressive importance; making Kelly one of those people that one day soon could be helping transform the state in a post Mike Madigan world and that day is coming far sooner than the Speaker thinks…
19th District –
NO ENDORSEMENT – We at the Tutorial Staff want to send out our condolences to the good people of the 19th District and think that their choice, idiot son vs. GOP police officer, speaks volumes about the possibility that that they are under some sort of political curse. Throw off your chains people and start looking for a candidate who cares about schools, roads, criminal justice and economic development. If there were ever a place to get off the bench, into the streets and for a better reality it’s the 19th District.
21st District –
Rudy Lozano Jr., because if we are going to protect public education, hold corporations accountable and start building a progressive crop of actual activists and advocates to one day run the state we have to start with people who understand that corporations are not people. We also have to start with candidates capable of moving around independent of some malevolent puppet master. Rudy’s opponent has the check w/ former HDO & present HDO and MLI heavyweights for the color of tie she wants to wear in the morning. It’s embarrassing when a grown woman can’t pick out her own tie.
22nd District –
NO ENDORSEMENT – This is the land of Mike Madigan. Sometimes when you walk through this district you can faintly hear the cries of school children being deprived of resources and the CME spending those resources on bathroom fixtures. To call Mike Madigan evil is an overstatement. To say that he does unmitigated damage to the life chances of millions of people every day he wakes up in power in Springfield is a terrible truth that needs addressing. Get it together 22nd District, this man needs a hobby that doesn’t involve the well-being of his fellow human beings in the worst possible way.
24th District –
Robert Reyes, because he is an actual community organizer, meaning he understands words like power, self-interest, base and action in a fundamentally different way than the general public. He’ll be build power in a way that doesn’t violate his values and he understands that self-interest is self in relationship to others around shared values. See, self-interest didn’t mean what you thought it meant at… did it?
26th District –
Kenny Johnson, because if you lay down with dogs you pick up fleas, ticks and God knows what else. His opponent is up to his fluffy butt in suspect endorsements like Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce and the Illinois Retail Merchants Association. These people hate public education, can’t stand pension funds being funded and are not on the side of the angels in regards to say a social safety net. If you think the state is in fiscal trouble and you know how much damage the above entities have DONE to make that situation worse then you know better than to vote for Mr. Johnson’s opponent. Yes, SEIU has endorsed him but remember that when Wal-Mart needed political cover they got Barney to stand up with them at a press conference.
27th District –
Preston Brown, because honestly Monique Davis needs to be doing something less destructive in her spare time than voting with Mike Madigan and not knowing anything about public policy.
32nd District –
Andre Thapedi, because Tutorial staff thinks he can be pushed into being better on education and he has already been good on criminal justice and his challenger is that rare mix of embarrassing and perennial that merits actual head shaking and scratching.
34th District –
Elgie R. Sims Jr, because lobbyist or no he knows numbers and he will not sell out state employees to major corporations and if this seems like the bare minimum one should expect from the Democratic office holder you are correct but that’s where we are right now in the state.
38th District –
Al Riley, because he has been a consistent voice for his district on matters Tutorial Staff in the district thought important. That seems vague but I encourage you to read his questionnaires and understand that in the past he has followed through on what he’s said in the past and that counts for a lot.
39th District –
Will Guzzardi, full disclosure here is that I live in Toni Berrios’ district, which means I’ve been “served” by her since she was foisted on the district years ago. I can honestly say that she has delivered not one thing of any substance to the district, that she has not been a leader on any issue and that she does not interact with the district in any fashion. Will is her first real primary challenge and he is demonstrating that her lack of public policy knowledge, which is vast, is dwarfed by her lack of people skills. Dismissive, petty and not very bright are not character traits we need in government. She has to go.
Illinois Supreme Court
Joy Cunningham, because she has been very careful NOT to align herself with corporate interests; the same cannot be said of Judge Thesis, who could fall out of the pockets of any number of unpleasant political people, like our Mayor, at the drop of a hat.
1st District Appellate:
In making these picks the Tutorial went through a number of sites and relied very heavily upon people who spent personal time with the judges in places where they made themselves available to the public. A lot of people do not pay attention to judges at candidate events. The Tutorial did just the opposite.
Nathaniel Roosevelt Howse Jr.
P. Scott Neville Jr.
Jesse G. Reyes
Mathias William Delort
Cook County – County Wide
In making these picks the Tutorial talked to people who know the judges outside of the courtroom as much as it could and compared what we heard to all the sources that rated the judges on their qualifications. We are listing them by the sub circuit not the vacancy. You can figure that out in the voting booth.
Karen Lynn O’Malley
Cook County Judicial Sub Circuit Courts
In making these picks the Tutorial was very interested in what these candidates have done in the world outside of their legal lives. Had they been candidates for other offices? Who have they contributed to and who has contributed to them. We looked for people who had been progressive and for people who had contributors we’d not be embarrassed to have associated with us. We also compared their ratings across the various judicial rating organizations. We are listing them by the sub circuit not the vacancy. You can figure that out in the voting booth.
Gregory Ahern Jr.
Municipal/County Office Picks:
Clerk of the Cook County Court-
Ricardo Munoz, this will require some full disclosure. I have worked with and for both of these candidates in some capacity over the years. I know them both fairly well and will probably keep on knowing and running into them for years to come. So this was not easy to decide but here goes. Dorothy has not done a lot with this office and though she hasn’t been a horror show she’s not been an advocate. Rick has plans, he needs to do something with this office and there is a lot that could be done with it as an advocate for ordinary people. Rick’s bigger plans will make him into what this office needs, a hardcore advocate on real issues that impact real people. I expect a lot out of Rick and so should you.
Metropolitan Water Reclamation District –
The Tutorial Staff went with advocacy, knowledge and commitment to environmental policy. That led us to endorsing:
Debra Shore, because she is truly a progressive activist on this front and we hope that she will one day be heading to even bigger things someday.
Kari K. Steele, because she is a straight up scientist who really knows what she is talking about; I learned more about our water system from fifteen minutes of talking to her than I had from years of reading a half dozen public policy papers.
Patricia Young, because she continues to be a person who votes the right way and looks out for the public’s welfare in a clear and careful way
If we are going to have a better Democratic Part that is focused on a decent agenda we’re gonna need a Democratic Party apparatus that is in favor of say the Democratic Party. It speaks volumes that we felt we could only endorse in a very small number of districts. It also alarmed us that our picks aligned with our sources 100% across the board. That is very unusual.
Alonso Zaragoza, he is building a progressive organization. Let’s see what he does because he has some pretty great ideas in principle. Practice will be harder and he will need your help.
32nd Ward & 36th Ward –
Scott Waguespack & Nicholas Sposato, these are aldermen who take over their own ward are the norm and what they are building is their own political machines. Will they be better about this and really build an organization that builds a progressive base, for progressive issues or will it be same old, same old?
John Arena, when I think about who is doing this right and by this I mean building organization I think of Ald. Arena. If you want to know how to create a real way to make real change hook up to what he’s doing and help him get this done.
David Fagus, someday Joe Moore will no longer be Alderman. David Fagus will leave behind an organization that might actually be a force for good in more capable hands. Bravo David Fagus, bravo.