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Elected school board question crowded off city ballot—again

Chicagoans who go to the polls on Nov. 4 will be asked to weigh in on O’Hare noise, medical marijuana and education funding, under referendum questions approved Wednesday.

The ballot questions received City Council signoff in yet another attempt to crowd out more controversial questions—like whether Chicagoans favor a switch from a mayoral-appointed to an elected school board.

Since the ballot has a limit of three referendum questions per election, the dance card is now filled.

Instead of being asked about the elected school board, which is opposed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and favored by the Chicago Teachers Union, Chicago voters will be asked to answer yes or no to the following questions:

  • Should Congress pass a law that requires the Federal Aviation Administration to revisit the criteria it uses to create the “noise contours” that determine which residences near airports across the country are eligible for noise mitigation?
  • Should the Illinois General Assembly amend the Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act to give municipalities a role in the siting of medical cannabis dispensing organizations and cultivation centers in its neighborhoods?
  • Should the State of Illinois account for concentrations of at-risk students living in poverty or who speak English as a second language when determining how state resources for education are allocated?

The medical marijuana question was introduced by Finance Committee Chairman Edward Burke (14th), who has accused the Illinois General Assembly of doing an end-run around the City Council.

The O’Hare question was championed by Aldermen Marge Laurino (39th) and Mary O’Connor (41st), whose residents have been flooding the city with noise complaints since a new runway opened at O’Hare Airport last year, dramatically altering flight patterns.

The same political trick — of filling the three slots earmarked for referendum questions — was used to crowd the elected school board question off the primary ballot in Chicago.