Sunday, December 19, 2010

When Families Gather, Politics Should Be On The Table

Over the next few weeks as we celebrate Christmas, Kwanzaa, and the New Year, we will be getting together with family and friends. We will see people whom we see all the time. We will see others whom we don't see as often. A lot of the conversation when people get together will be discussing their lives, the lives of their children and life in general. One subject that people don't bring up but should be at the forefront of any conversation is politics. Now, I know a lot of people like to proclaim that they don't deal in politics. Unfortunately, if you're "living and breathing," then politics is affecting you. In truth, it affects 100 percent of what we do.

Now, there is one subject that I would like everyone to discuss over Christmas dinner, while lighting the Kinara at Kwanzaa or during the commercials on all the football games on New Year's Day. That subject? Why it's one which should be on the mouths of anyone living or even visiting this city. Who will be the next mayor of Chicago?

The major media and many pundits have already anointed Rahm Emanuel as our next mayor even before the voting has begun. Heck ... truthfully, it's been even before we know who will officially be on the ballot and who will be kicked off. But I am not one to give Rahm that much credit. In truth, the very strategy of his campaign to overload the media with his face has backfired. It has done little more than draw attention to the fact that he is quickly becoming "the candidate whom we see but never hear." Rahm is becoming like Jackie Kennedy Onassis. A face we all recognize but a voice that we don't.

A lot of talk has been going on because Rahm has decided that he doesn't want to do many of the political forums. He wants to win the mayoral ship without addressing issues directly to the voters. He wants to win based on hearsay and not speech that is directed at us, the everyday man and woman walking the streets of the West Side.

If you're like me, any candidate wishing to become the next mayor of this city has a lot of questions to answer. This city is currently near bankrupt, directly related to having had a mayor who didn't feel he needed to talk to his populace. He did what he wanted to do and look at the fine mess we are now in.

So, as you gather together this holiday season, talk about the upcoming municipal election and whom you would like to see win. Encourage your family members if they aren't registered to vote, to get registered. If any member of your family will turn 18 on or before Feb. 22, they can register and vote. And, most importantly, on Election Day get out and vote.

Voting and for whom will be the subject of my columns for the next few weeks. I am a believer that politicians spend their entire time figuring out how to lord over us with politics. Therefore it is imperative that we do back to them what they have been doing to us for decades. And the easiest way to do it is to vote into office those who will serve our needs, and vote out of office those who don't.

XCan Rahm Pick and Choose When He Wants To Be A Resident?

Anyone who reads this column on a consistent basis, or knows me, knows that the period between June 30, of any year and July 15, is one of both joy and dread. Joy because for 15 days, I can take the city sticker off of my car and not risk a ticket. That's because the prior year's sticker expires on June 30 and a new one doesn't have to be displayed until July 15. Now, buying a city sticker is one of those mandatory purchases that a resident of the city of Chicago has to make if they own a car. Unlike the state of Illinois' emission test-which can be postponed or pended because the car wasn't in the area-a city sticker ain't optional.

And paying that $75 dollar pisses me off every year because buying it doesn't guarantee me anything. Not a parking space or a street free of potholes. Not even the ability to be given priority parking privileges at any city-owned venue.

I searched this paper's website to see how many times I wrote about the city stickers. As expected, I found quite a few as far back as 2005. I seemed to always have something to say about that city sticker whenever I wrote about the budget hearings. I've written about the cost of the sticker being so high that for many of Chicago's poor living on minimum wages, the sticker's cost is literally a day's pay.

So imagine my delight in learning that the city sticker is playing a major role in the Chicago Board of Election's hearings concerning whether or not Rahm Emanuel can stay on the ballot to run for mayor.

At first I thought he might take a stance against the city sticker because it causes a major financial burden on a struggling populace. Or that he was going to declare his intentions to slash the cost for the sticker once he became mayor. But instead, a very interesting scenario is playing out. The man who claims to be a Chicago resident after leasing his house to go work in Washington has been exposed for not purchasing a June 2009-10 city sticker. Come again???

After repeatedly telling us how he kept his car registered here he, in fact, didn't pay the $75 bucks-a measly sum for him-for that piece of plastic that sometimes doesn't like to even stick. What gives?

His car is registered here and not in Washington, where the insurance rates are much higher. Nah...somebody who wanted to be mayor wouldn't be trying to pull a fast one over on his car insurance company. Now we are learning that even though the car is registered here at the address he leased out to his tenant, he can't buy a city sticker for it because the car is parked in Washington D.C. Wait a second. Does Rahm Emanuel really think that we are that stupid? Cause right about now, we know that he is a cheapskate.

Rahm is said to be a millionaire several times over. Yet, rather than leave his house empty or allow someone to room in it in exchange for house sitting, Rahm leases the house out while still professing to be a Chicago resident. According to the city clerk's website, this Q&A is the closest I could come to seeing how the issue of the sticker would be addressed:

"My vehicle is registered to another state and I live in the city only a portion of the year. Do I need a vehicle sticker from Chicago also?"

"Yes, you do need to purchase a vehicle sticker. Regardless of where your vehicle is registered, as long as you reside, or your vehicle is principally garaged, within the city limits, you are required to have a vehicle sticker."

Hmmm. The "as long as you reside" portion stuck out to me. The city clerk says that a resident must buy a city sticker. Rahm claims that he is a resident but, yet, didn't buy the sticker. It is quite clear that our mayoral wannabe is already skilled at asking everyone else to do what he feels he doesn't have to do. Is there a question in anyone's mind that he shouldn't have had to buy that city sticker? I mean this is the same city that will boot, tow and demolish your car for unpaid parking tickets and still have you owing for those tickets. I know there has to be people who have been forced to pay for prior years' city stickers when found guilty of having not purchased them.

The rules at the Board of Election are quite clear. A candidate cannot "owe" the city any money when they file to run for office. If we are to take Rahm at his word that he is a resident of the city, then he should have bought the city sticker regardless of the car being in Washington or not. I'm sure that the application for the sticker was sent to him. Seeing that Rahm didn't buy a sticker, he owes the city money, and, therefore, is in violation of the rules and should not be allowed to get on the ballot. At least, that's how I see it.

Let's see what the Board of Election does because there are a number of candidates who are being challenged for owing the city money.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Shop Locally This Christmas

Recently I heard one of the mayoral candidates speak on his campaign platform. One of the things he mentioned was questioning how he could get manufacturers to return to Chicago.

Over the past 30 years, we have lost a number of jobs that were in the manufacturing arena. Jobs like Brach candy, Ecko, Stuart-Warner and a host of others. Many of those jobs went to China as business model after business model joined in the rush to manufacture in China to sell in America. This has led to the phenomena of ships coming into this country loaded with containers full of goods and returning to China empty. We as Americans have embraced those goods and have contributed to our own economic demise by purchasing those items without impunity. Our unwillingness to boycott items made in China has led to job losses and an American economy no longer based on manufacturing.

The current American economy of consuming without producing has already been the reality in the black community for the past 50 years. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that a people who don't produce are doomed. Many of the social problems plaguing the black community will soon be the problems facing the majority community as what goes on in the black community eventually becomes the reality for mainstream America.

What amazed me in listening to the politician speak was that he and his ilk are all responsible for the current state of the economy in this country. Rather than focus on saving jobs, creating new ones and being innovative, they have spent their time on frivolous measures that haven't brought about jobs or a growing economy.

But my column today isn't about critiquing those politicians. Rather as we focus on Christmas and purchasing gifts for that day, where we spend our money is as important as on what we spend our money. There are two types of gifts given for Christmas. One is purchasing items that an individual needs. The other is buying things that the person wants. But no matter the two, as we spend what truly is hard-earned money this Christmas season, trying to buy a Made in America product will be hard but not necessarily impossible.

Thanks to the advances in the internet, finding products that are still made in this country is just a few clicks away. I am grateful for companies like JC Penney catalog and Menards for always highlighting products made in this country. One of the things I am most leery of is food products made in China. Somehow a country with a population of a billion people isn't on my radar as one that can afford to over produce food to send abroad. Manufacturers have gotten wise to people like myself who look to see where items are produced. So they stamp their product with an innocuous label of Made in PRC. That's the People Republic of China for those that don't know.

Lastly, don't overlook doing your Christmas shopping by supporting local business owners and entrepreneurs. There is a new group in Austin that has been promoting that very idea. I attended their event last month and really like the concept. Basically they want to empower women by having us meet, get to know one another, share information, and in my case they supported me by purchasing my book. The name of the group is SOUL SISTA SOUL and they will meet this Saturday Dec. 4 at 4:30 pm at 1732 N. Meade, 2nd Floor. For more information, call Tammie at 773-981-8813.

Poets Wanted

• CALL FOR POETRY: The American Dream: A Juxtaposition
Sunday, February 20, 2011 / 2-4 p.m.
A beautiful country with a history damning and redeeming in turns. A nation where all have opportunity but one percent of the population controls over a third of the wealth. A crucible of Enlightenment democracy that accepted slavery. We ask writers to consider any and all sides of the American dream, e.g. odes, persona pieces, rants, etc. and submit the results.

Selected poets have to be available to read in person. Please send five poems on the theme ALONG WITH a 50 to 75 word bio, IN THE BODY OF AN E-MAIL to by January 10. We will make every effort to inform those chosen of our decision by January 17 , 2011 .

Read more about poetry events at Woman Made Gallery here:

Beate C. Minkovski

Executive Director

Woman Made Gallery

685 N. Milwaukee Ave.

Chicago , IL 60642

Group Exhibitions:
Nov. 5 - Dec. 23, 2010
Reception: Nov. 5 / 6-9pm
Mothers and Girl: Please!
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