Monday, April 2, 2012

Chicago Politics 101: by any means necessary

Posted By on 04.02.12 at 07:00 AM

Lozano branch library on South Loomis is named in honor of Rudy Lozano Sr.
  • chipublib.org
  • Lozano branch library on South Loomis is named in honor of Rudy Lozano Sr.
A day or two after last week’s election, I got a call from a guy I know who works for UNO, talking a little trash 'cause his candidate won the big election.

How did I know this call was coming?

So, gulp, I have to do it. OK, UNO—you won. Pick up all the marbles.

Now, an explanation for the uninitiated . . .

UNO stands for United Neighborhood Organization. A bunch of former Alinsky-styled rabble-rousers who went mainstream, they've used their connections to mayors Daley and Emanuel to build an empire of charter schools that will one day control the entire school universe.

Or at least the city’s Hispanic portion of it.

As you may or may not recall, UNO’s executive director Juan Rangel recently gave Mick Dumke and me a tour of one of their schools, which led to our version of the Khrushchev/Nixon kitchen debate (here you go, kiddies, read about it on Wikipedia). In this case, Rangel and I stood in the cafeteria and argued about white liberals.

A subject I happen to know a lot about, having lived among white people all of my life.

In the March 20 Democratic primary, UNO (or at least, Rangel) supported Silvana Tabares over Rudy Lozano Jr. in the race for state representative of the 21st District.

Something else you need to know . . .

UNO schools are nonunion. And Rangel's made it clear they’re not about to go union any time soon.

In contrast, Lozano's the son of Rudy Lozano, a union organizer who was murdered in 1983.

Naturally, he’s pro-union and proud of it.

So, in effect, the election could be seen as a referendum between pro- and anti-teacher union forces on the southwest side.

Which explains why UNO, Stand for Children, and other antiunion forces have been doing much end-zone celebrating since the election.

For her part, Tabares was a relatively unknown journalist, who (small world) once took a journalism class taught by the above-mentioned Mr.Dumke.

A fact I urge you to remember as it may come in handy in some future barroom trivia contest.

Since Tabares won, her supporters are free to crow that the outcome far transcends local politics and has become a statement about where “the people” stand on things like teacher salaries, pensions, job protection, etc.

In other word, the people have spoken—so fuck the teachers and their union!

As Mayor Emanuel might put it.

Well, let’s break it down.

First of all, if the people spoke it was more like a whisper than a shout. The turnout in that race being pathetically small, less than 20 percent.

Second of all the race was decided not in the city–where the great charter school debate rages–but in the suburbs, which have unionized public schools.

Irony of ironies.

Lozano won the city vote by 2,182 to 2,002.

Tabares won the suburban vote 1,777 to 1,270.

Put it all together and she won enough votes in the suburbs to overcome his strength in the city.

And as far as I can tell one of the key issue in the suburbs had nothing to do with teachers unions, charters or public education.

Instead, it had to do with the absurd suggestion that Lozano was somehow or other affiliated with gangbangers.

In the closing weeks of the campaign, the Tabares camp sent out a mailing with a picture, lifted from Lozano’s Facebook page, that ominously suggested he was throwing down gang symbols.

In fact, he was giving the peace sign while posing with one brother at his other brother’s wedding. Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown wrote a good column on the subject.

The point of the flyer was to suggest that somehow a vote for Lozano was a vote for gangs and lawlessness.

As I said—an absurd, utterly bullshit insinuation. But, apparently, an effective one.

Actually, Lozano’s goose might have been cooked months ago when the political leaders of the southwest side—Alderman Ed Burke and house speaker Michael Madigan–-drew up a new legislative map.

Boil it down to this: The redrawn map put some of Lozano's most supportive precincts into other districts.

In exchange he got precincts from Lyons, Stickney, Summitt, Cicero, and other suburbs whose mayors or village presidents supported Tabares.

As for the ordinary suburban voters, not being familiar with Lozano, they were susceptible to falling for a flyer featuring a doctored-up picture from his Facebook page.

In other words, he was an empty slate on which Tabares successfully painted the image of a gangbanger. A trick I doubt she learned in Professor Dumke’s journalism class.

Oh, well, all is fair in love, war, and Chicago politics.

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