is certainly not Bosnia or Cambodia, but in the
city's black community, there's a definite
perception that "ethnic cleansing" is
afoot and that Mayor Rich Daley is the cleanser.
development explodes in the areas south and west
of the Loop, as upscale whites replace poor
blacks, the "whitening of Chicago"
continues on a steady pace. The 2nd, 3rd, 24th and
27th wards, now represented by black aldermen,
have large and growing white populations.
as the city's Hispanic population grows, blacks
are being pushed out of areas on the West and
Southwest Sides. The 9th, 15th and 37th wards, now
represented by black aldermen, have large and
growing Hispanic populations.
present, there are 22 white aldermen and 19
white-majority wards, eight Hispanic aldermen and
11 Hispanic-majority wards, and 20 black aldermen
and 20 black-majority wards.
least 16 black incumbents face a serious challenge
on Feb. 27. There are a number of issues riling
the black community. First, there is the belief
that development means that blacks get pushed out
and whites move in. Condominiums in the South Loop
2nd Ward are selling for $400,000 and up, and
whites are buying them. Daley talks about
broadening the property tax base, but blacks
dissent: They view him as wanting to broaden the
white voter base, and they're angry at black
aldermen who support development.
there's chronic unemployment, high crime and gang
problems in black wards. They see Daley doling out
city jobs to the Hispanic Democratic Organization
in the Hired Truck Program and wonder why blacks
don't get their share.
the issue of police abuse resonates. Former police
commander Jon Burge, according to a special
prosecutors' report, allegedly oversaw the torture
of at least 75 black arrestees from 1970 to 1993.
He can't be prosecuted, as the statute of
limitation has expired. "It's police abuse as
usual," said Frank Avila, the attorney for
one of the victims, who is suing the city.
fourth, there's disappointment over U.S.
Representative Jesse Jackson Jr., who toyed for 2
years with challenging Daley and then wimped out.
an analysis of key black aldermanic races:
Ward (South Loop: Dearborn Park, North Bronzeville,
Taylor Street and South Lawndale along the
Eisenhower Expressway): McCormick Place and
Soldier Field are here. The mayor lives here.
Condos costing $1 million are being sold here. The
white population is nearing a majority here. And
black Alderman Madeline Haithcock will soon be
gone from here.
first elected in 1995, has been supportive of
Daley and developers, estranging her from her
black base. She also introduced an ordinance to
rename a ward street after slain Black Panther
Fred Hampton, irritating whites; then she refused
to call it to a vote, irritating blacks. She has
been feuding with U.S. Representative Bobby Rush,
the ward's Democratic committeeman, for years. And
she is criticized for her inept aldermanic staff.
Claypool beat Todd Stroger in the ward in the 2006
Democratic primary, and the ward's white
population is around 45 percent.
has six foes, the most formidable being attorney
Bob Fioretti, who is white, David Askew, a black
former assistant in the state Attorney General's
Office, and Kenny Johnson, a black marketing
executive and a former aide to Jackson, who has
endorsed him. Also running are Larry Doody, who is
white and who is the brother of Republican county
commissioner Liz Gorman, former alderman Wallace
Davis Jr. of the 27th Ward, who is black and who
was convicted of bribery in the "Operation
Incubator" probe, and Arne Kent, who is
prediction: Fioretti represented one of the Burge
victims, and he got a $9 million judgment. He has
the money to saturate the ward with mailings.
He'll get about 32 percent of the vote, to 27
percent for Haithcock, 18 percent for Askew, 15
percent for Johnson and 7 percent for Doody. In
the low-turnout April runoff, Fioretti will win,
marking the first instance of a ward which has had
a black alderman electing a white alderman.
Ward (Near South Side: Bronzeville): Alderman
Dorothy Tillman is best known for her fashionable
hats, preoccupation with slavery reparations and
erratic politics. Once a Harold Washington
booster, she now is a Daley supporter and an ally
of developers. Tillman won with just 52 percent of
the vote in 2003, and Pat Dowell, who finished
second with 35 percent of the vote, is running
again, as are Mell Monroe, Benjamin Harris and
Angelo James. All are black.
prediction: Poorer blacks want to stop the
gentrification of Bronzeville, fearing that a
flood of upscale whites will soon breach the
ramparts. They will abandon Tillman. Expect a
Tillman-Dowell runoff, with Dowell winning.
Ward (South Side: South Hyde Park): Longtime (1983
to 2006) alderman Bill Beavers, a solid Daley
backer, was elected a county commissioner in 2006.
The ward is more than 90 percent black. Daley
appointed Beavers' daughter and top aide, Darcel
Beavers, to the seat. Sandi Jackson, the wife of
the congressman, filed, as did Ron David, Jesse
Harley, Curtis Hinton, Eric Brown and Tennesha
an ally of John Stroger, Bill Beavers, who is the
Democratic committeeman, packed his ward with
county patronage jobs. He is a key supporter of
new Cook County Board President Todd Stroger, and
he has plenty of precinct workers.
Jackson leads a "movement," not a
"machine," and by declining to run for
mayor, his movement has deflated. He has harshly
criticized Daley, but rather than take a chance on
running and losing in 2007, he has astutely
concluded that he should wait until 2011 -- when 4
more years of investigations will, at best, cause
Daley's indictment or, at worst, force him to
retire amid a cloud of corruption.
prediction: Running his wife was a dumb idea. The
mayor, and everybody who wants to show Jackson's
political feebleness, will pour workers into the
ward for Beavers, who will win on Feb. 27.
Ward (South Side: 75th to 103rd Street, east of
Cottage Grove Avenue): Todd Stroger was elected
alderman in 2003, and he was a loyal Daley backer,
as was his father. Stroger resigned his aldermanic
seat after winning the county board presidency,
and Daley appointed Michele Harris, the county
board's secretary, as his replacement. This black,
middle-class ward is home to large numbers of
teachers, CTA workers, and city and county
employees. The "Stroger Machine"
controls more than 1,000 county jobs alone,
meaning it can put 2,000 people on the street. Had
Stroger not won the race for county board
president, the machine would have withered. But he
won. Harris faces 12 foes, the most prominent
being Joe McAfee, who got 2 percent of the vote in
a 2003 bid for mayor. My prediction: Harris wins
easily, without a runoff.
Ward (far South Side): Incumbent Alderman Anthony
Beale has estranged himself from Jackson and state
Senator James Meeks, the pastor of the Salem
Missionary Baptist Church in Roseland, which draws
20,000 worshippers every Sunday. Beale, first
elected in 1999, won with 66 percent of the vote
in 2003. He faces five foes, the most prominent
being Harold "Noonie" Ward, a former
"governor" in the Gangster Disciples
prediction: Churches and gangs are an enduring
presence in the black community. Beale must heal
his rift with Meeks to win re-election. He will
Ward (South Side: Englewood): Shirley Coleman,
first elected in 1991, is the target of a federal
investigation into her ties with a real estate
consultant who reportedly paid $50,000 to
Coleman's church and $20,000 to Coleman's interior
decorator. In exchange, Coleman sent a letter to a
home investment company vouching for the
consultant. The investors then advanced $515,000,
which has vanished. A federal racketeering lawsuit
seeks $6 million from Coleman and others.
prediction: Coleman won with 53 percent of the
vote in 2003. She faces 10 opponents, including
Hal Baskin, who lost to her in 2003 (with 21
percent of the vote) and 1999 (with 26 percent),
and Darryl Smith, who barely lost a primary for
state representative in 2006. Expect a
Coleman-Smith runoff and a Smith win.
Ward (South Side): The ward has had a black
majority since the 1970s, but a white alderman
forever until incumbent Tom Murphy, elected in
1991, won a judgeship in 2006 and resigned. Daley
appointed Lona Lane, a black Murphy aide, as
alderman. John Joiner, who is white and who is the
county's director of facilities' management, took
over as the Democratic committeeman. Murphy wanted
Daley to appoint Paul Stewart to the post, but
Stewart has a prior criminal conviction.
prediction: Stewart is running anyway, as are six
others. The old Murphy organization is split.
Expect a Lane-Stewart runoff.
Ward (West Side): This ward has a growing Hispanic
population, and they have no liking for black
incumbent Emma Mitts, first elected in 2001 and
re-elected in 2003 with 73 percent of the vote.
Mitts has six foes, including assistant state's
attorney Daryl Jones, who is black, former
alderman Percy Giles, convicted of bribery in the
"Silver Shovel" probe, and two Hispanic
candidates. Mitts' mentor is Alderman Ike
Carothers, from the neighboring 29th Ward. My
prediction: Carothers will send in precinct
troops, and Mitts will win -- just barely.