State Rep and soon-to-be Alderman Deb Mell is, by all accounts, qualified for the job she is about to assume. She seems to have done good work in Springfield and, to her credit, convened hearings of the House Mass Transit Committee into the Metra severance mess.
We live in a democracy, not a monarchy. The long, unfair and corrupt practice of handing jobs out to relatives like they are some owned and treasured family heirloom must stop.
Emanuel said today that Deb Mell brings a "unique level of experience to the role." That may be, but he's fooling no one. We all know she brings a unique political power pedigree as well.
Did he actually keep a straight face when he uttered this: "The job of the next 33rd Ward alderman begins today. It means helping usher in a new era of reform and change that's necessary to represent the taxpayers of the city of Chicago."
Surely, there were other candidates who also were qualified and deserved a chance.
Of course, the best, fairest and most democratic thing for the senior Democrat Mell to have done would have been to retire at a point on the calendar that would have triggered an actual election in which the constituents in the 33rd Ward could have participated.
But Mell did it the old-school way that serves his self-interest and that of his family's alone. He resigned when it suited his purposes and he could have a say in two jobs. He resigned from his aldermanic job, but not his party boss job, thereby retaining some influence over his successor while he keeps the power through weighted votes to also control who will replace his daughter in Springfield.
So, constituents in both the 33rd Ward and the broader 40th House District had it confirmed that they have no say in determining who will represent them. But, yes, they're paying the salaries of both of those "representatives."
Emanuel campaigned like a candidate for mayor who was going to do the right thing. He talked a good game of being a reformer who would bring an end to the political gamesmanship. Today, he confirmed that he is a power-consolidating boss like so many who came before him.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported that mayoral aides describe Deb Mell as highly qualified. She's "cut from a different cloth" than her old school father is, they said. She's committed to the community, they said.
But neither she, nor her father, nor Emanuel are so committed to the community that they will allow its members to have a say in who represents them.
The rigging of representation has to stop. The gaming of the system has to end.
It's clear now it won't until the people whose rights are being trampled rise up and demand a change for themselves. The people must demand fairness.
Are you ready to demand fairness? Join us in working with the Yes for Independent Maps coalition to improve the way state legislative districts are drawn. Sign up here and we'll forward your information to the maps group.
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