THE BLOG

Chicago Deserves a Political Makeover

02/21/2012 01:37 pm ET | Updated Apr 22, 2012

Just last week, one of the most ethically colorful political officials in the state called me a coward for calling him out on his nepotistic ways. FYI: I just happen to be running against him for the seat of 31st Ward Democratic Committeeman. I blasted my opponent with a slightly mean, but totally true Valentine's Day ad in the Chicago Sun-Times. My method might have been a bit mean, but it was absolutely necessary. Nepotism and patronage might have been useful in old Chicago, but they have no place in today's society.

This isn't the way government is supposed to be. Our elected officials are supposed to work for us, but lately my family has to work harder just to pay the taxes that support conflict of interests like this. Just last week, we were voted the # 1 city in the country when it comes to corruption­! To top it off, the number of registered voters in the city is at its lowest level since at least 1942. Chicago residents can't just give up, curse politics and politician­s, and stay silent. If we do, then the Berrioses and Burkes of the city will just continue to play their games and mishandle our hard-earned taxes. Right now, I'm picturing all of them swimming around Scrooge McDuck-style in a vault in City Hall laughing at the predicted voter turnout for March 20.

Everyone has someone fighting for their interests, except for the residents of the city of Chicago. Our state legislature gave $100 million to Sears and CME but allowed social service agencies such as Hull House to close. Our mayor is cutting library services but can raise millions to hold the G8 summit downtown. Our City Council is wasting time discussing the positioning of cable satellite dishes, but isn't doing anything about the increasing gang violence that is affecting our city. We need leaders that can mobilize our community and create resident-led organizations that will fight for the interests of tax payers and hold other elected officials accountable. For a long time now, attorneys and corporation lobbyists have bought the attention of the people that we voted into office.

It doesn't have to be this way. Like Professor Dick Simpson said, we can change the culture of corruption in our city one politician at a time. We can and we should. With your help and your vote on March 20th, we can change the way the political system has not been working and make tax payer interests the voice that matter the most to our elected officials. Staying home this Election Day isn't an option. Chicago should be #1 in many things, but never in corruption.