(More) change you can believe in
Obama's a shoe-in here in his home state, but there's still a ballot full of other reasons to get your ass to the polls.
If you think Con-Con is a con (or the bomb)
The very first thing voters statewide will be asked is whether Illinois should hold a convention to rewrite the constitution ratified in 1970. The debate—including the Sun-Times’ “nay” and the Tribune’s “yea”—has been heated. Opponents say Con-Con’s too expensive in this bottomed-out economy (the reported price tag being $100 million) and Illinois’s ham-handed public officials (Blagojevich, Michael Madigan, et al) aren’t up to the task. “The problem isn’t with the Illinois constitution, it’s the people running the government,” says Paul Green, a political analyst for WGN radio and the director of the School of Policy Studies at Roosevelt University. Supporters say the convention is a golden opportunity, one that only comes around every 20 years, to reject more of the same. Besides, they say, Illinois voters would have the final vote on the changes in another referendum.
If you think the governor is a zero (or a hero)
As the approval rating of Rod “I think I’m a great governor” Blagojevich—whose administration has been plagued by investigations into the corruption he promised to stamp out—sinks to a new low (13 percent, according to a recent Tribune poll), the referendum concerning establishing a recall process for the governor and other elected state officials seems more relevant than ever.
If Law & Order is your fave
One of the most hotly contested races on the ticket is for Cook County state’s attorney. The candidates, Democrat and chief deputy state’s attorney Anita Alvarez and Republican and Cook County Commissioner Tony Peraica, bitterly clashed last Thursday in a debate that will air at 1:30pm Saturday 1 on ABC-7. On a local level, this race is as important as the presidential battle, says Loyola political-science professor and Cook County Commissioner Mike Quigley, given that the state’s attorney heads up an office of 600 attorneys who prosecute crimes ranging from the recently resurfaced issue of police torture to murder. “State’s attorneys are the enforcers of all the criminal statutes in Illinois,” Quigley says. “How effective the state’s attorney’s office is affects everyone.”
If you love to hate (or just love) TIFs
Critics of the Uptown mixed-use Wilson Yard development—which is using dollars generated from a tax-increment financing (TIF) district to bring in a Target store, retailers and senior- and affordable-housing structures—are fired up over the first of a pair of referenda that concern the use of TIFs in a sizeable chunk of the 46th Ward. The item asks if the city should put 40 percent of TIF funds toward affordable housing; the second inquires whether the city should demand that businesses such as Target that benefit from TIF subsidies give employees a living wage and residents first crack at jobs.
If you want the bad apples off the bench
Ever heard of Evelyn B. Clay? How about Casandra Lewis? These and 70 other retention-seeking Cook County Circuit Court judges—virtual unknowns unless you’ve somehow found yourself in front of their benches—make up a dizzying 75 percent of the ballot. Luckily, a dozen area law associations publish short reviews of these judges, suggesting whether they should be retained. Malcolm Rich, a local attorney and the director of the Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice, pulled together links to all the reviews on the non-partisan site voteforjudges.org. The Chicago Bar Association, for instance, branded both Lewis and Clay “not recommended,” laying down the smack with pithy blurbs like “concerns were raised about Judge Clay’s knowledge of the law and poor judgment in making insensitive comments from the bench.” Damn! Move over, Judge Judy.