Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Colleen Reardon Daly removed from Ald. Arena's palm card: a cautionary tale about coalition building

Last August I reported that the Democratic Party's 10th Subcircuit committeemen had unanimously endorsed Colleen Reardon Daly and Judge Stephanie Saltouros for the Suriano and O'Neill Burke vacancies respectively.

But a controversial Jefferson Park "affordable apartment development" has led, albeit indirectly, to 45th Ward Ald. and Committeeman John Arena removing Daly from his palm card for the primary, switching to Judge Gerald Cleary instead. We begin this cautionary tale with the new palm card, lifted this morning from the 45th Ward Independent Democrats website:

The development in question, slated for 5150 N. Northwest Highway, has been scaled back from 100 to 75 apartments, according to this February 8 article by Jay Kozlarz on Chicago.Curbed.com.

This artist's rendering of the project accompanied Kozlarz's article. According to that article, "The developer [Full Circle Communities] aims to have at least half of its 75 units occupied by former members of the US armed forces. As for its affordability component, 45 units will be made available to households earning at or below 60 percent of Area Median Income (AMI), 15 units will go to households with incomes at 30 percent AMI, and 15 units will be provided at market rate. Parking has also been reduced from 62 to 40 on-site spaces." In a Chicago Tribune article that appeared on February 11, John Byrne reported, "Up to 30 units would go to tenants with Chicago Housing Authority vouchers to subsidize the rent. Veterans and people with disabilities would get first shot at all the units in the building," citing Full Circle President and CEO Joshua Wilmoth as his source. The project will require state and city funding in order to move forward, Byrne reports. (The then 100-unit 5150 project was denied city funding last fall.)

Whether the 5150 project is good or bad is beyond the scope of this blog. But, even if scaled back to 75 apartments, the project will concentrate a lot of apartments in an area where single family homes are most common, with maybe a sprinkling of two-flats (not all of them legal) or the occasional six-flat. Ald. Arena is the enthusiastic sponsor of the project -- and some of his Jefferson Park constituents, many of them current or former Chicago police officers, are just as vehemently opposed.

So that's part of the background.

Here's some more.

Arena narrowly defeated a Chicago policeman (lawyer John Garrido, now also a Chicago Police lieutenant) to win his seat on the City Council in 2011 (the margin of victory was only 30 votes; see, Garrido v. Arena, 2013 IL App (1st) 120466, ¶3). Arena bested Garrido again to win reelection in 2015 (by a more comfortable margin on this occasion). Garrido enjoyed considerable support in both campaigns from his neighbors and fellow laborers in the CPD vineyard. It wold be remarkable if Mr. Arena did not see his CPD constituents as something of an opposition bloc on this basis alone.

Then, in mid-January, according to that same February 11 Tribune article referenced above, Ald. Arena asked Chicago's Civilian Office of Police Accountability to investigate whether "Chicago police officers may have violated the department's code of conduct by making racially charged online comments about a controversial Jefferson Park apartment development plan that includes affordable housing." Quoting from Byrne's article:
The 45th Ward alderman said his office had presented the City Hall inspector general's office with numerous examples of people identifying themselves as police officers in their online profiles or appearing in profile photos in police uniforms while using "racially charged language" to oppose the building on social media. The inspector general's office told Arena to take the complaints to COPA because it potentially involved police officers.

Arena said he didn't do any kind of investigation of whether the 31 are, in fact, police officers, saying "that will be up to COPA." His office declined to provide examples of comments it forwarded to COPA, citing the ongoing investigation.
Again, whether all or only some of the comments referred to COPA for investigation were "racially charged" is beyond the scope of this blog. Since all of the statements forwarded to COPA have not been made public, we can't form an opinion in this regard. However, assuming the Tribune article is accurate, some online comments were unquestionably "racially charged." And that's being polite. But we can't even say that the persons tendered to COPA for investigation are police officers. We can't say that because Ald. Arena hasn't said so specifically and there's no information about these complaints -- at least not that I could find today -- on the COPA website. So let's move on.

The point is that Arena, through a staff person, according to this post on Second City Cop, has sought disciplinary action against city employees who oppose him on the 5150 project. (According to this SCC post, Arena's office is pursuing complaints against 18 firefighters as well.)

And then SCC discovered that Daly -- who is married to a CPD sergeant, is a former FOP attorney, and who has been endorsed by the FOP -- also noted on her campaign Facebook page that she was honored to have Ald. Arena's endorsement as well. SCC was not amused: "'...honored to be endorsed' by an [deleted] like Arena who stalks and files complaints against cops and firefighters for merely opposing the destruction of their neighborhood? Get the [deleted] out of here with your 'honored' crap." (SCC routinely uses more colorful language than that ordinarily permitted here.)

Arena's endorsement was scrubbed from Daly's Facebook page by the time SCC put up this post yesterday morning. But, by Monday at least, the endorsement had to be scrubbed because it had been pulled (that palm card was posted on Arena's website last Friday). Who knows who dumped who, or when; I'm certainly in no position to venture a guess. But SCC was willing to take its share of credit:
And for the twenty or thirty comments telling us about how Daly is married to a copper, has cop relatives, worked for FOP, defended more coppers than anyone knows, good for her. It gives her insight into the trials and [deleted] we all face on a daily (pun intended) basis. We need our own in the system.

So why throw it away claiming (and later deleting) the endorsement of an [deleted] who caused complaints to be filed against almost two dozen firefighters and thirty-one cops - some of whom might have worked with her husband, family, or might even be her neighbors - that may potentially cost them suspension time, merely for expressing their opinions? Is the bench that important that you have to associate, however slightly, with someone who despises everything your husband and family stand for?
Look, SCC, any successful political campaign requires the building of a winning coalition. In the law, coalitions might be considered analogous to joint ventures, not partnerships: temporary alliances for a limited, specific purpose. The components of the judicial candidate's coalition need agree only that Smith or Jones would make a fine judge; they need never again agree on anything else. Coalitions may become permanent alliances, but the judicial candidate can not worry about that: If the coalition coalesces, just once, on Primary Day, it will have served the judicial candidate's purpose.

Building a successful coalition is harder for a judicial candidate than for other types of political candidates: A judicial candidate can not promise to do anything for anyone. Supreme Court Rule 67A.(3)(d)(i) expressly prohibits a judicial candidate from making "statements that commit or appear to commit the candidate with respect to cases, controversies or issues within cases that are likely to come before the court." What a judicial candidate can do is to cultivate a reputation for fairness and integrity so as to earn the trust and support of persons who would not otherwise agree on the color of the sky.

Daly might not have gotten elected, even with Ald. Arena's backing. She may yet be elected, despite Arena's endorsement switch. I have no prediction and no rooting interest. But her case presents a real-world illustration of the perils faced by a judicial candidate trying to build a winning coalition.

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