Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Cook County Democratic Party declares 6th Subcircuit slating "void"

Multiple sources have confirmed that the Cook County Democratic Party has declared the "actions taken and endorsements made" by the 6th Subcircuit slating committee on August 19 to be "void."

The party has asked 6th Subcircuit committeemen to set a new endorsement session, but none has yet been set. Thirty-third Ward Committeeman Aaron Goldstein, who wrote one of the letters obtained by FWIW complaining about irregularities in the procedure used by the slating committee, told FWIW in an email, "I would certainly like to have another vote as I think this is an important part of our function.... I think we should continue with the process."

The controversy arises from a dispute about the weighted vote used by the committeemen at the August 19 slating session.

Documents obtained by FWIW, as well as records of the Chicago Board of Elections, confirm that the slating committee used weighted votes apportioned according to those cast in the November 2016 general election for the de Leon vacancy (which was won by Eulalia "Evie" De La Rosa---who had no opponent---with 85,600 votes).

However, §7-8(g-1) of the Illinois Election Code, 10 ILCS 5/7-8(g-1), provides, in pertinent part:
[E]ach ward committeeman shall have one vote for each ballot voted in his ward or part of a ward, as the case may be, in the judicial subcircuit by the primary electors of his party at the primary election immediately preceding the meeting of the judicial subcircuit committee.
Note that the statute specifies the preceeding primary election, not the preceding general election.

What difference does it make?

Well, when the weighted votes were tallied using the November De La Rosa numbers, Judge Kent Delgado, Judge Stephanie Miller and Ed Underhill were declared endorsed.

However, if the votes were weighted according to the figures provided by the Cook County Democratic Party, using the overall primary turnout, Delgado, Miller, and newly-appointed Judge Charlie Beach would have been endorsed.

The 6th Subcircuit slating committee was chaired by 1st Ward Ald. and Committeeman Proco Joe Moreno III. FWIW has obtained a copy of Chairman Moreno's September 8 letter to Thomas A. Jaconetty, an election lawyer representing Judge Beach, in which Moreno mistakenly relies on §7-10(f) of the Illinois Election Code, 10 ILCS 5/7-10(f), for support (I'm no election lawyer, but I would guess Chairman Moreno was probably thinking of §7-10(h) of the Illinois Election Code). FWIW did reach out to attorney Pericles Abbasi, who served as counsel for Moreno at the August 19 meeting, for his explanation as to why the De La Rosa figures were used instead of those supplied by the Cook County Democratic Party, but no response has yet been received.

The Cook County Democratic Party appointed Norwood Park Township Committeeman Robert F. Martwick and Oak Park Township Committeeman Don Harmon to review the outcome of 6th Subcircuit meeting. FWIW has obtained a copy of the September 13 email sent to Moreno, the other 6th Subcircuit Committeemen, and the affected candidates and their attorneys. This is the document that declares the results of the slating to be "void." "However," Harmon wrote, "we do not believe it would be appropriate for the Party or its executive committee to substitute its judgment for that of the Committee's judgment, beyond legal questions such as the use of the correct weighted vote distribution or legal sufficiency of notice, for example. Accordingly, we do not advise the Party to simply reverse the incorrect endorsements and declare other candidates to be endorsed. Instead, we recommend that the Party direct the Committee to reconvene for further action using the correct weighted vote distribution."

The bottom line---for now---is that the Democratic Party has not endorsed anyone for any 6th Subcircuit vacancy. Individual ward organizations have made endorsements. The 33rd Ward, for example, has endorsed Delgado, Miller, and Beach; 32nd Ward Ald. and Committeeman Alderman Scott Waguespack has endorsed Delgado. Other endorsements will be forthcoming.

Now before someone reminds me that, in my August 24 post about the meeting, I reported that the committee's decision was "unanimous" -- which I did -- this was essentially a parliamentary maneuver to paper over differences after a contentious discussion among strong-willed committeemen (or their proxies) before any public announcement was made. And the formal unanimity was not seen as a barrier to overturning the meeting results. FWIW has been cited to Rule 47 of Robert's Rules of Order which states, in pertinent part, "No motion is in order that conflicts with the laws of the nation, or state, or with the assembly's constitution or by-laws, and if such a motion is adopted, even by a unanimous vote, it is null and void."

Moreover, in my defense, I would point out that, despite the declaration of unanimity, it was my impression at the time that a "rival slate" was likely to emerge and likely to draw significant support from many of those who were allegedly "unanimous" in support of the meeting outcome.

At this juncture, I would amend my prediction just a bit: The eventual winners in each of these three races will probably have some overlapping support -- but the coalition supporting the winner in each race will likely differ in material respects from the coalitions supporting the winners in the other races. Which is a fancy way of saying it's going to get mighty interesting, and potentially quite crowded, in the 6th Subcircuit in 2018.


Anonymous said...

What an immense embarrassment and true view regarding why politicians shouldn't be involved with judges. Three qualified judges should be slated, period. They all had the support and numbers and Delgado and Miller had enough support under either calculation. Do the right thing committeemen of the 6th.

Anonymous said...

Hello, E.P. here,

Okay, the anonymous comment on September 20th @ 9:22 AM is just one big contradictory statement.

At first it says, "politicians shouldn't be involved with judges." Then it goes on to say, "do the right thing committeemen" and slate three of them.

So which is it? Because you can't have it both ways. Either you want these guys to support you, or you want them out of the process completely. One or the other.

But anyone who thinks you can separate politics from the judiciary is living in fantasy-land. And not just the local judiciary. Have you ever studied the U. S. Supreme Court political selection process? That our Illinois process on steroids!

Get real people. And if you don't want to play by the rules, you have no business in Chicago's playground.

As always, E.P.

Anonymous said...

People don't mind playing by the rules, EP, but it would be nice if people knew what they were, and they were uniformly enforced. It has been proven time and time again that it is perfectly ok to run against the party and then get slated the following cycle (unless those rules don't apply to you); committeemen all agree to back the slated candidates (unless they don't); the party won't back candidates with unqualified ratings (unless they want to); people who sit out elections at the request of the party get priority for slating in the next cycle (unless someone with more clout or money comes along); you must be black or hispanic to run in certain sub-circuits (but that does not apply so some white folk).

I could continue this list for several pages, but you get the point.

So while you are quick to point out the inconsistency in the previous post, don't give yourself a pass for making a similarly inconsistent statement. The only rules of the Chicago judicial playground are that there are no rules, unless someone wants to cite one as a reason not to back you or to challenge you or to bypass you.

Lastly, while I get your point about politics playing a role in the selection of judges at the U.S. Supreme Court level, you cannot compare vetted justices like Ruth Bader Ginsberg or John Roberts to the myriad of "winners" chosen by men in this county whose only experience in a court room is to get their ankle bracelet loosened.