Interview with Tim Meegan and the Independent Ward Organization
By Jim Vail
Roosevelt teacher Tim MeeganWhat is the Independent Ward Organization?The Working Families of the 33rd ward is an independent political organization that seeks to promote the social and economic justice issues we stood for during the campaign, ie $15 min wage, fully funded public schools, an end to privatizing the city's public assets. We are independent of any political party and will be the political arm of our movement, organizing at the precinct level to run candidates who stand for these issues.What are your goals?The goal of the IPO is to build political power separate and distinct from the democratic machine. We will engage in organizing and campaign work to run candidates who stand for social/economic justice issues, and to hold those we elect accountable.How did your first meeting go? What did you discuss?The first meeting was April 11th, it went very well, we had about 50 people in attendance. We reflected on the campaign, defined what "working class" means, and discussed structure of the organization and next steps. As an initial step we flyered ward schools promoting a parents' right to opt out from PARCC.What did you think about the election? What did you learn from it?Well, we missed the runoff by 17 votes. The election was stolen from us, frankly, and we remain confident that victory was very likely had we made the runoff. We were not prepared for the level of corruption we witnessed before, during, and after. Based on my race and the races of other aldermanic candidates, I learned that free and fair elections in Chicago are a sham, that Chicago's reputation for political corruption is well deserved, and that we need federal oversight of future elections in Chicago. We were disappointed that while our team collected signatures and promoted Chuy Garcia for mayor, Chuy's campaign did not endorse or work directly with us. Instead, he appeared at a seniors Valentine's day event for Deb Mell organized by her father.Do you plan to run again?Our organization will run a candidate for Alderman. I have not made a decision whether I will run or not.Do you think Deb Mell stole votes?Absolutely. Mell's people used polling places as campaign staging areas, Mell and her father were seen electioneering inside polling places, voting machines were unplugged before results were tallied, Mell's campaign workers had ballots spread out on a pool table (3 votes went missing in that pct), and one of our poll watchers was assaulted. At the Korean Senior center absentee ballots were collected and held for two weeks until after the election. They were submitted to the Board of Elections on, and they went 38-0 for Mell. We have signed affidavits for each of these examples.If so, why didn't you fight it?We were prepared to fight and retained two attorneys. Our goal was to remain in the runoff, but our attorney explained that essentially it would cost too much, take too long, with too little chance of success. So we suspended our campaign. There is a big difference between having proof of illegal activity and obtaining justice.What is necessary to do in the 33rd ward?We need to organize our neighbors around issues of social and economic justice. This is a means to both advance these causes and to build the political power necessary to implement solutions that favor the working class.Thanks!