When Cook County Commissioners John Fritchey and Willie Cochran opposed then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan to build a presidentially–funded power plant in Chicago, they were immediately blacklisted by party leaders and so—after 29 years of service in government—they felt they had to leave. They sued, saying their political success and success in getting candidates elected hinged in part on getting people to vote for candidates who are in line with party leaders. The Illinois Supreme Court agreed, forcing Emanuel to negotiate with county commissioners on a different power plant site.
“The court said, ‘We know that in your career as commissioners you’ve relied on political patronage,’ ” Fritchey explained in an interview. “You can’t be both a public servant and a pol.”
While the policy took a dark turn for Illinois politics, it represents a small step toward the kind of less polarizing politics that many see in the student movement in California for the free movement of information. (You can learn more about the movement here.) The UC students are collecting data on how campus procedures affect how people behave. Their work is nonpartisan and locally focused, but the interest in the data and the means to organize around it demonstrate how the black mark of those prior years in Cook County still hampers officials from addressing their fellow citizens’ needs.
“Even In California: How Long Before Tech And Banks Will Be Bought By Billionaires?” is the latest installment in The Atlantic’s series “A Small Smell of Democracy,” looking at activists striving to protect the rights of their fellow citizens.
The series features Jan Robinson as she seeks to limit the influence of tech and financial elites, which she argues threaten democracy.
The PBS NewsHour’s Bernie Ornstein is reporting from Missouri on that state’s Democratic governor, Jay Nixon, a supporter of the national push for single-payer health care, who plans to back expanded Medicaid under the Obamacare law but opposes state-level measures such as the Missouri Democratic Party’s proposed “Medicare for All” initiative because he says that “increases our debt and … costs our state too much money.” NewsHour also interviewed Emily Pfalzer, the research director for the Movement to End Gun Violence, who helped to develop the Missouri single-payer initiative.
For long-term growth, she said, other states need to follow Missouri’s lead.