Friday, April 3, 2015

To Endorse or not?

To Endore of Not to Endorse was the Question for Delegates
By Jim Vail

CTU endorsed candidate Mike Zalewski who used racist mailings to win exposed the flawed process of endorsments.

The Chicago Teachers Union delegates meeting Wednesday, April 1, began with a recommendation from its executive board to endorse a candidate running for alderman in the 18th ward.

One delegate passionately stated that challenger Derrick Curtis is a former cop, and a union supporter who has lived in the community for over 20 years.

However, more was said about his opponent Ald. Lona Lane, namely that she is a loyal supporter of Mayor Rahm Emanuel and has the most red light cameras of all the city wards.

After the delegates voted to endorse the challenger (the CTU endorsed candidate in this ward did not make the runoff), a number of other challengers in the runoff were then asked to be endorsed by various delegates.

In the 29th ward challenger Chris Taliaferro was endorsed by the delegates over incumbent Ald. Deborah Graham in a similar fashion.

At this point, I made a point of order and asked if we could hear from the CTU's Political Action Committee about what they thought about these endorsements.

I do remember when we endorsed a few alderman candidates in the House of Delegates who were not originally recommended in Feb., some PAC committee members were upset and stated reasons why they did not endorse those candidates. 

However, now there was no opposition or even comments from anyone on the political committee.

CTU Political Director Stacy Gates was seated in the front but did not speak.

The delegate from Morgan Park High School then recommended that the CTU endorse challenger Marvin McNeil against incumbent Ald. Howard Brookins.

"The enemy of our enemy is our friend," the delegate stated.

Here CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey stated that the union should be careful before endorsing candidates against current alderman without more research. He again asked the PAC committee to state why certain candidates were not first endorsed in the beginning.

It was stated that the union should not endorse a candidate against Brookins because he serves on the black caucus of the city council.

So McNeil was not endorsed.

Then another recommendation was made by a delegate to endorse challenger Kevin Baily against Ald. Willie Cochran in the 20th ward.  It was stated Cochran did not nothing to oppose the massive school closings on the southside, and that he is a rubber stamp.

However, several delegates took the mic to oppose the endorsement, including delegate Michelle Gunderson who stated that Baily never sought out the CTU endorsement in the first place. Delegate Ed Hershey, who also ran for alderman, told Second City Teachers that the challenger was not on the side of working people, and he merely challenged candidates signatures to catapult himself into the runoff.

A perfect example of how the CTU can get burned with throwing out endorsements without thinking it through was the endorsement of Ald. Mike Zalewski.

A Sun-Times columnist pointed out that Zalewski was sending out mailers before his election using racist tactics, stating his opponent "supports Section 8 Housing that would allow criminals to move in next door."

While Ald. Zalewski won his race handily to keep his job, I'm not sure if the CTU is proud of this fact.

Certainly, the frustration of a union playing politics showed in the latest House of Delegates meeting. The incumbents who are rubber stamps for our neoliberal mayor who hates unions are horrible. 

But are their challengers any better?

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