Tuesday, January 18, 2005

What local elections should not be about: patronage

This article in today's Sun-Times aptly demonstrates how some Democratic Party officials still see government the wrong way.

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"Depending on the community, it could mean control over a couple of hundred jobs," said Barrett Pedersen, vice chairman of the Cook County Democratic Party. "It could also mean control over millions of dollars in contracts.

"Also, it allows you to change the direction of the community."

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Yeah: government is about patronage and kick-back contracts. *Also* it's about public policy. As in: by the way, sort of on the side, when you have time after getting your campaign 'volunteers' jobs and your campaign donors a municipal contract, *then* you can figure out how to make life better for all citizens.

This poison infects Republicans as well as Dems, which is what ultimately caused the implosion of the Illinois GOP. The good-government forces are in both parties, and whichever party is more good-government tends to win statewide elections.

How about some civil service so we don't have opportunistic organizations converting municipal government into a jobs machine?

And ultimately, let's get some more candidates who don't see government as a business, but as a mission for justice (with apologies to Obama for using his line).

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

As someone who knows Barrett Pederson, I am appalled that he holds any position within the party. The man is a well-intentioned moron. That the Democrats may slate him for MWRD next time around shocks the conscience. Barrett is supposed to the the "suburban" aspect of the slate, just as there will be "minority" and an "white Chicago ethnic" candidate.

MWRD is a huge patronage monster that constantly flies under the radar. They have two good commissioners in Pat Young and Frank Avila. The rest are pure party hacks that contribute to the ongoing cynicism in our government.

Dan Johnson-Weinberger said...

I think the MWRD is a great opportunity for progressives to take ownership over our governments. I can't believe that we tolerate crap in Lake Michigan so the beaches are closed. I can't believe we're not disinfecting our sewage every day, every time. I understand Frank Avila's son is also running again. At least, that's what Russ Stewart wrote.