Our Pledge To You

Letters to the Editor

Honor Dr. King with voting rights reforms

Polling place at White Eagle Club House in Naperville early Tuesday, November 6, 2018. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

A polling place early on Election Day, Nov. 6, 2018. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

As we honor Martin Luther King’s 90th birthday and celebrate his legacy fighting for equality, let’s remember that his dream has not yet been realized.

There’s still discrimination. There remain laws that discourage the act of voting.

In several states, the 2018 election was reminiscent of the Jim Crow era. Citizens were purged from the voter rolls in Ohio and Georgia, and communities were left without polling machines in Atlanta. In Porter County, Indiana, there were no workers to open some polling locations.

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Thankfully, here in Illinois, we didn’t see nefarious attempts to obstruct voters or decrease turnout. In fact, we saw the highest midterm turnout since 1990. But that doesn’t mean our work here is done. To achieve Dr. King’s dream, we need to modernize how our elections work.

Let’s start with fully implementing automatic voter registration. Let’s ensure anyone can run for office, in part, by fixing the way our maps are drawn to make districts more competitive and more representative. Let’s mitigate how much sway big donors have in determining candidate viability, by passing small-donor financing to help everyday people afford to run for office.

Dare I say, let’s even move Chicago’s elections to a warmer season to encourage turnout?

Dr. King once said of voting, “The denial of this sacred right is a tragic betrayal of the highest mandates of our democratic tradition.” If we, as a state, are not doing everything to encourage the vote, we — in accepting the status quo — are aiding in the denial of it. Let’s make 2019 the year we end this denial and achieve more of Dr. King’s dream.

Jeff Raines, communications and engagement director, CHANGE Illinois

Keep your word on Lincoln Yards, Ald. Hopkins

Ald. Hopkins: At the last public meeting about Lincoln Yards on Nov. 29, you promised to continue the community planning process for as long as it takes — as long as there are lingering questions and important new questions, and until those questions have been sufficiently answered.

Our organizations participated in this process. We asked you and city planners to demand changes by developer Sterling Bay on many aspects of the plan: securing public park space, inclusive housing, the development’s scale and density and the impact on existing independent music venues. We are still waiting to see how Sterling Bay addressed these issues.

Now, as you announced, Sterling Bay is making major changes. But these changes have not been presented to the community, which also needs to assess how the changes have altered the overall plan. So we were stunned and dismayed to hear that the Lincoln Yards proposal is on the Jan. 24 agenda of the plan commission.

In several recent news accounts, you stated that you might allow the hearing to go ahead if Sterling Bay provides you with a revised, detailed master plan by Jan. 24. That is unacceptable. Allowing the commission to consider the plan now would violate, and render meaningless, the entire community planning process that you have led to date.

Even if Sterling Bay has already delivered a revised plan to you, there is no time, place or process for the community to see and hear about it, to ask questions and get answers, and to provide meaningful input that helps to inform your decisions and to shape the ultimate plan.

We implore you to honor your commitment to the planning process and to the citizens of Chicago by immediately removing the Lincoln Yards Planned Development ordinances from the Jan. 24 agenda.

AYSO Region 418 — Chicago Lakefront
Bucktown Community Organization
Chicago Independent Venue League
Chicago Sport & Social Club
CivicLab
Coalition for Affordability in Lincoln Park
Friends of North Branch Park and Nature Preserve
Friends of the Chicago River
Friends of The Parks
LakeView Lutheran Church
Logan Square Neighborhood Association
ONE Northside
Openlands
Oz Park Baseball Association
RANCH Triangle Community Conservation Association
Sheffield Neighborhood Association