Mitchell: Group works to bring attention to Ald. Jackson’s alleged neglect of ward
BY MARY MITCHELL firstname.lastname@example.org December 12, 2012 6:52PM
Alderman Sandi Jackson at City Council meeting, Wednesday, October 3, 2012. l John H. White~Sun-Times
Updated: January 14, 2013 7:32AM
Ald. Sandi Jackson (7th) has got to go.
That’s the goal of a group that is fed up with crime and mayhem in the ward.
On Wednesday, Jackson squashed reports that she is contemplating resigning even though she spends much of her time in Washington, D.C.
“I am not resigning. I am here. I am working,” Jackson told reporters. I intend to finish my term unless something catastrophic happens.”
But some constituents are no longer willing to settle for a commuter alderman.
A group of South Shore residents have launched the #SackSandi campaign to focus attention on Jackson’s alleged neglect of the ward.
“If we are quiet, Jackson will think she can do anything,” said Mia Henry, an eight-year ward resident who is leading the effort. “This shouldn’t even be allowable. We have to put her on notice. A lot of people would like to see change.”
Henry said she doesn’t want to run for office. What she wants is “responsible and accountable” leadership in South Shore.
Keiana Barrett, Jackson’s chief of staff, pointed out that she has dual residency, maintaining a home on Dupont Circle in D.C., and another home in South Shore.
“That has always been the case,” Barrett said. “She has a commuter situation. She is here during the week and travels to D.C. on weekends in most cases.”
Under current law it would take wild horses to drag an alderman out of office.
There is no recall in Illinois.
“The only way an alderman can be removed is if they were to resign or the alderman were to be convicted and sentenced for a serious offense. It just couldn’t be for something like shoplifting,” said Jim Allen, a spokesman for the Chicago Election Board.
Under the election code, an aldermanic office is declared vacant if any of the following occurs: death; resignation; personal legal liability; if the person ceases to be an inhabitant of the state or if the office is local, ceases to be an inhabitant of the district; conviction of or pleading guilty to an infamous crime; or any crime that has to do with the office.
Paul Green, a longtime political analyst said recall would establish a “bad precedent” for other Chicago City Council members.
“If she is charged with an offense, the City Council can evict her like the [General Assembly] did Blagojevich,” Green said.
“But I don’t think any alderman has ever been thrown out.”
Still, Henry is among those homeowners in South Shore who feel something has to give.
One of the things that got her going was when Mayor Rahm Emanuel insisted Jackson’s vote wasn’t “essential” when she skipped a crucial City Council meeting where his $6.5 million budget was approved.
“The people are her boss. Rahm Emanuel isn’t her boss,” Henry pointed out.
“We are the ones who should be holding her accountable. Her record, her lack of vision and lack of responsiveness to . . . community members are the reasons we want her gone.”
Jackson has the highest absentee rate in the Chicago City Council.
Three of the alderman’s five absences were before her husband’s illness became public, according to a report on WTTW.
By contrast, her husband, before his medical leave, had one of the highest voting records in Congress.
It has always been unclear how much time Sandi Jackson spends in D.C., and how much time she spends tending her aldermanic duties. After all, she missed 90 percent of the City Council’s committee meetings.
“It’s a constant balancing act,” Barrett said. “She has tried to put a priority on meeting with constituents. The majority of her time is spent meeting with constituents.”
But to hear Henry tell it, she obviously missed a few of those.
Henry, who organized neighbors to combat crime in South Shore, claims Jackson is MIA.
“She was hired to do a job and she is not doing it,” Henry argues.
“We should be able to fire her.”
Unfortunately, the 7th Ward missed its opportunity for new leadership in the last election.
Now, they’ll have to wait for Providence to step in.