Laura Washington: Real Chicago reform can come in March elections

SHARE Laura Washington: Real Chicago reform can come in March elections
SHARE Laura Washington: Real Chicago reform can come in March elections
Follow @MediaDervishAfter last week’s dismissal of Police Supt. Garry McCarthy, the pyrrhic smell of political blood is in the air.Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez is rolling in the deep. Even before the horrific LaQuan McDonald video was released, Alvarez was facing a serious reelection challenge, and the two-term incumbent has failed to win the endorsement of the Cook County Democratic Party.Critics have long accused Alvarez of multiple prosecutorial sins. She waited 13 months to file charges in the Laquan McDonald case. They say she has botched the prosecutions of police-involved shootings, mishandled the David Koschman case, and has been an obstacle to criminal justice reforms.After the McDonald video broke, they piled on.OPINION

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Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia are calling for her resignation. U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, the top politico in her Latino base, has dumped her.

Activist groups, from Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation to Black Lives Matter, and some unions are demanding her resignation.

After a week of attacks, Alvarez is hitting back hard, calling her critics political opportunists.


“No way,” Alvarez said Thursday at a County Building press conference.

“The people who are calling for my resignation aren’t the people of Cook County,” Alvarez declared with a bit of sarcasm. “The people who are calling for my resignation are politicians, seasoned politicians, all with political agendas, and all with some of kind of connection to the person who’s running an opponent against me.”That same day, some sage advice came via Twitter:“Dear Chicago, Stop ASKING Rahm Emanuel & Anita Alvarez to resign,” tweeted UrbanBizPartnership.“They are NOT going to resign. It is up to you to force them out!”That would be “the people of Cook County.”

Two highly qualified women, Kimberly Foxx and Donna More, are running for Alvarez’s job. Whoever wins the March 15, 2016 Democratic Primary is shoo-in for the November election.

You can’t demand accountability. Real change is forged by the power of the ballot.

On Black Friday, the marchers took the Magnificent Mile down with their resignation demands. How many of them are registered to vote?

How many of the activists who are marching, sitting in, and making demands at City Hall and the County Building are working overtime to register and organizing the vote?

A lot, I hope.

Demand away, but remember that we own our government. If the people want real change, they should get organized, get educated and vote.

Alvarez isn’t the only politician who may be hiding behind a veil of see-no-evils. Mayor Rahm Emanuel is accused of pushing through the McDonald settlement after he was safely reelected. The Chicago City Council voted blindly, en masse, to approve $5 million in blood money for McDonald’s family.

Note that most of those 50 aldermen are running for Democratic Party committeeman on the March 15 ballot.

Note that in April’s hotly contested mayoral race, only 41 percent of Chicago’s registered voters showed up at the polls.

In the new light of City Hall’s handling of the McDonald case, some must be suffering a bad case of voter’s remorse.

Before, elected officials could afford to see no evil.

In this new light, political nerves are badly frayed.

The people can grab this historic moment to elect officials who will be accountable to them, in ways never imagined.


Follow Laura Washington on Twitter: Follow @MediaDervish

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