Saturday, March 12, 2016

Is Dick Mell racist? Or does he see his path to re-election as getting the votes of racists?

Dick Mell is running for re-election as Democratic Committeeman of Chicago's Ward 33. In 1975 Mell was elected alderman of the ward; he has been the Democratic Committeeman since 1976.

In the 1980s Mell had a reputation as being... racist. He was part of the block of White aldermen who refused to accept the legitimacy of Harold Washington being elected Mayor of Chicago. This was known as "Council Wars".

After Council Wars, Mell made allies among Black politicians. Ald. Ed Smith was a fishing buddy. I first met Mell when Mell provided assistance to Karen Yarbrough in her bid to unseat a Madigan supported state rep, Eugene Moore.

Later, Mell made it safe for White politicians to support LGBT rights and gay marriage when he was an early supporter (as measured by the standard of "Conservative" Democrats) of his daughter Deb's activism on LGBT rights.

Mell further softened his image at a candidate forum at Horner Park on Thursday, March 3. That forum deserves a full blog entry. But Mell performed well and made the case that he continues to be a good fit for a ward that has gone from "Conservative" White Democrats to being a hotbed of Bernie Sanders activism.

Yesterday, a mailer arrived "Paid for by Citizens for Responsible Affordable Housing". This committee does not appear to be registered with Illinois State Board of Elections. A Google search did not reveal a website.

The mailer was racist & included the "sex offender" boogeyman for good measure.
Citizens for Responsible Affordable Housing mailer (front), received Friday, March 11, 2016

Citizens for Responsible Affordable Housing mailer (back), received Friday, March 11, 2016. Note section on "SEX OFFENDERS", linking them to "Grandma's".

In the 2014 Democratic primary there were five candidates on the ballot: Nancy Schiavone, Jaime M. Andrade, Jr., Aaron Goldstein, Wendy Jo Harmston and Mark Pasieka.

I'm gonna work from memory here, but I don't remember anyone attacking Goldstein on Section 8.

Nancy Schiavone's positive message was that she was the progressive endorsed by Jan Schakowsky, John Arena and some unions. Her negative message was that Andrade and Goldstein were political insiders.

Andrade's positive message was gun control. I don't remember him going negative, but then the best negative attacks are linked to the people being attacked, not the attackers.

Goldstein's positive message was that he was an attorney with a history of standing for social justice and that he could critique the legal shortcomings of cutting pensions.

Harmston's positive message was her base in the Old Irving Park community.

Pasieka's message was that he felt there was injustice being done and frequently criticized Schiavone for knocking Mel Ferrand off the ballot. Since Schiavone had become Dem Committeeman of Ward 35 by knocking Rey Colon off the ballot, it did seem like Schiavone was a lawyer with one political trick.

To the extent that Mel Ferrand was part of the conversation, she directed her criticism at Schiavone too.

The premise of Dick Mell's attack on Goldstein is wrong

No one was attacking Goldstein on Section 8. (I have emailed Andrade to see if he has any recollections of that kind of attack.)

Dick Mell's sex offender attack is creepy/weird

If reminds me of the Berrios organization attacking Will Guzzardi as supporting sex offenders because he wrote an opinion piece in college suggesting that ex offenders shouldn't be penalized when looking for employment.

Also, Eugene Moore wrote an anonymous attack piece on Paul Esparza (challenger Democratic Committeeman of Proviso Township in 2002) that implied Esparza was a child molester. Esparza sued in Illinois court and after one mistrial (mistake by judge), Moore's defense team concluded it was best to settle.

[UPDATE: Rep. Jaime Andrade confirmed my memory. He emailed to say his campaign didn't attack Goldstein in 2014 primary using direct mail.]

1 comment:

  1. It's an awful mailer. I hope lots of people were as offended by it as I was.