Voice in the Democratic Process
In a city notorious for corrupt politicians, the constituents of Chicago’s South Side and southern suburbs have endured more than their share. The latest evidence comes tomorrow when they head to the polls to pick party nominees in a special election for the seat of disgraced former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.
Those voters haven’t had representation since Jackson went on medical leave in June. Constituents of his wife and co- defendant, former Alderman Sandi Jackson, have been doubly short-changed: Election rules gave Mayor Rahm Emanuel, not voters, the power to select her replacement.
With the fall of the Jacksons, who pleaded guilty last week to fraud, 10 percent of Chicago aldermen taking office since 1981 have been indicted for corruption and replaced by mayoral appointment. That has undercut democracy in the third-most- populous U.S. city, said Dick Simpson, a former alderman teaching political science at University of Illinois at Chicago.
“Appointments create a rubber-stamped city council without a legitimate legislative process to conduct checks and balances,” said Simpson, who has done studies measuring political corruption’s financial costs. “There’s an ongoing struggle to create a more democratic process in Chicago.”
The federal judicial district that includes the city is the most crooked in the U.S., judging by the 1,531 public-corruption convictions since 1976, according to a February 2012 report by Simpson. Per capita by state, only Louisiana has more such convictions.
Chicago is struggling with pension costs projected to reach $1.2 billion a year by 2016, which would eat up 22 percent of its budget. Perceptions of corruption and mistrust could further deter investors, said Richard Ciccarone, managing director at McDonnell Investment Management LLC.
“Chicago risks getting that emblem of corruption, which could come with a price in the marketplace,” said Ciccarone, of the Oak Brook, Illinois-based firm. “The more you have an unsecured debt situation, you risk placing the trust factor in jeopardy when you have repeated influences of corruption.”
The vote to replace Congressman Jackson, 47, scion of the iconic civil-rights family led by the Reverend Jesse Jackson, recalls the 1995 special election in which the younger Jackson filled a vacancy left by Mel Reynolds, who was convicted of bank fraud and sexual assault. Out of prison since Bill Clinton pardoned him in 2001, Reynolds is now one of 16 Democratic candidates on the ballot in tomorrow’s election.
Chicago’s city council has an even bigger gallery of rogues than its congressional delegation. Since Emanuel’s predecessor, Richard M. Daley, was first elected in 1989, about 40 percent of Chicago’s aldermen have been appointed, not elected, according to city data. Daley named 36 of the 91 aldermen who took positions under his tenure from 1989 to 2011, filling vacancies after resignations, health concerns or corruption charges.
Almost 20 percent of aldermen have been found guilty of crimes since one of their colleagues, Fred D. Hubbard, was convicted in 1973 of embezzlement, according to Simpson and city records. Sandi Jackson’s replacement, Natashia Holmes, is the first aldermanic appointment by Emanuel.
READ FULL SOURCE ARTICLE: 02/24/2013
Editor's Note: With corrupt and greedy Democrats doing the bidding for totalitarian Progressives, there no longer is a need to "vote early, and vote often," the old Chicago election day mantra...and let's remember our current POTUS was elevated by those who engage in this process...
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