We’re being held captive by Machines

I cannot express in words how disappointed I am to live in the city of Chicago. Yesterday, I was about to delete all my friends from Facebook if they couldn’t show me proof that they had voted in the municipal election. Oh! The horror! Because there were only three or four positions to actually vote for, the voting process took all of about two minutes, so what does that tell you? I probably would have been left with 10 friends.

According to the Chicago Board of Elections 41.73 percent of voters came out to voice their opinion yesterday on who should be the new mayor of Chicago. For those of you who don’t know, Chicago has had the same mayor for the past 21 years, starting his run in 1989. Richard M. Daley decided to step down leaving the door wide open for any person who felt they were good enough, strong enough, knowledgeable enough, to take over the position. Interestingly, you had a variety of people step up to the plate. From congressman, to preacher men, to lawyers and small business owners, a good two handfuls of possible candidates raised their hand and crossed the line into Chicago’s most powerful position, King of Chicago.

Face it, we’re known for our politics. The sketchy, ugly, under-the-table politics that have been around since Antonin Cermak in the 1930s. At that time it was better known as “I’ll scratch your back, if you scratch mine” mentality. He united all the different ethnic groups- Poles, Czechs, Ukranians, Italians and Blacks- and organized against the Irish who wouldn’t dream of having a Czech in office, which is what Cermak was. Oh how times have changed! That led to the Chicago Machine that we know of today, especially when he claimed the mayoral throne. And it all started in the 12th ward.

It’s still there. Yesterday, Jesse Iniguez lost his bout to becoming the next alderman of the 12th ward with hopes of killing off the last bits of the Hispanic Democratic Organization that clearly has done nothing for Latinos in this city, besides building its own mini machine. All of those people were backing Daley, keeping him in office, while they would get nice pay offs with “all the trimmings” as Carlos Hernandez Gomez states.

There are a few main players we should mention in this story. You have George Cardenas who is the incumbent and (not surprisingly?) will be starting his third term in the 12th ward this year. Then there’s Jose Guereca, whose job is a Streets and Sanitation truck driver. He was also a precinct captain for Cardenas. Then we have Tony Munoz, the state senator for the first district, and king of the area.

So the story goes like this. Cardenas was a Daley brown-noser, which was no surprise to anyone. He was fully backed by Munoz, until at some point, was found to not be able to take orders anymore and hence Munoz decided to back Guereca. By the way, Guereca was a fumbling idiot when he first started this run for alderman. By the time the community forum came around, he LOOKED like a Chicago politician; nice gray suit, jet black hair slicked back, bushy mustache. The guy looked like he was already in office. Not to mention that he had taken public speaking classes displayed by his Rahm-ish qualities like counting to three or four on his hand while pointing out how many ways he was going to make assessments and work with the community once he was in office. The guy had no political platform. If anything he was a little monkey placed on the stand to distract people from Cardenas. It didn’t work. Cardenas pulled off a win with 55 percent of the vote. Mind you, a little under 5,000 voters came out.

In a ward that is shaped like a Tommy gun, to say the least, the HDO candidate wins again. Why? We’re still trying to figure that out. Maybe because over 3,000 voters were over the age of 50 and could be swayed by free turkeys and street salt in the winter. Or, was it that they just didn’t know about Jesse and his platform to bring about a cleaner, safer, more educated ward? Or were all those people we contacted and polled before the election lying to us about who they were voting for?

What we do know was that inspectors and different voting posts were being sketchy. On February 21 there was a special election held at a nursing home. One of Jesse’s poll watchers who was supposed to be in there watching over everything was denied entrance, even though he had the proper credentials. The Board of Elections was called. Last night, as the ballots were being counted, one precinct was ready to deny tapes (or tallies) to the poll watchers and another had poll watchers stand outside while the tapes were being prepared. Who do these people report to? Tony Munoz.

For sure, we had believed that Jesse would be in a run off with Cardenas’ lying, cheating ass, but alas he wasn’t. As of yesterday, I have a plan to look into the numbers and find out just what happened. How could pre-voting day polls be so far off?

While I was sitting at the cigar-soaked VFW drinking a beer, I discussed looking into this a little more. The investigative journalist came out in me, as well as the freedom fighter, that my friend Teresa used to call me in college. “We’re going to make all of those people who voted for Jesse, hold Cardenas to his word and role as an alderman!” I said. I wanted to make all those people call him for any little thing they need or want. Revoke the permit parking! Fix the potholes! Bring more cops into the area! Give back the neighborhoods to the families! Cardenas doesn’t even live in the ward, just so you know.

We all cried last night. After putting in your hope and energy into something that’s going to save a community from itself, you can’t help but want to do something to change it. And to have found someone willing to change it, gaining such momentum, being recognized by so many other organizations while trucking forward, we all just thought that it would be a win in our favor. He was endorsed by both major newspapers, the Sierra Club, SEIU, “Chuy” Garcia, Rudy Lozano Jr. and Ricardo Munoz. Did anyone see that? Did anyone care?

But this only builds more momentum and more desire for things to change. You want to be my mayor? You want to be my alderman? Fine. I just hope you can keep up with what I want. I love this city, but I hate its politics. As a person who is optimistic and hopeful for better things ahead, I hope that Cardenas makes changes and Rahm makes moves like he says he will. I can only hope. But this is the beginning. The gears are already rolling in my head. Can I count on you to get yours rolling, too?


  1. Jesus Garcia was not a member of the HDO. The HDO was formed around 1990 or 1991, and they did not meddle with the Southwest side until Jesus Garcia became too outspoken about development issues in Pilsen in 1997, so he faced HDO when he ran for re-election in 1998. That’s another story, though.

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