What's up this week: Democrat leaders to pick 3rd-party candidate to face indicted state Rep. Smith; NATO protesters eye Boeing Monday

Nine Chicago Democratic committeeman will meet downtown Tuesday morning to interview and pick a third-party candidate to run in the 10th District state race in November.

The handpicked candidate will represent the newly formed 10th District Unity Party. He or she will run against indicted 10th District state Rep. Derrick Smith, who is facing a federal bribery charge and is being investigated by a House special committee.

Smith handily won the Democratic nomination back in March--a week after he was arrested and accused of taking a $7,000 bribe.

The 10th District Unity Party was formed by several of Chicago's Democratic committeeman after Smith refused to take their advice and resign.

Fearing they would lose a seat to a former Republican, most of the Democratic committeeman and other top Dems conveniently waited until after the March primary to offer any comment about Smith's arrest.

The gloves have been off since March 21, though.

In a press release last week, Secretary of State Jesse White, who is chair of the slating panel, said a third-party candidate is necessary because Smith's candidacy is an "unacceptable alternative." White is also the 27th Ward committeeman.

The current dynamic between Smith and White is a twist of fate, because Smith used to work for White in the secretary of state's office, and White was considered his political mentor. White was also instrumental in appointing Smith to current 5th District state Sen. Annazette Collins' vacated state House seat, last year.

Collins took Rickey Hendon's spot after he abruptly retired. She lost the Democratic nomination to Patricia Van Pelt-Watkins. But Collins' daughter, Angelique Momon-Collins, has submitted an application to the committee, in the hopes that she can compete for her mom's old seat.

Her mother's connections likely won't help her any. White and Collins had a public feud during the primary, after White--who backed Van-Pelt Watkins--called Collins "the most unethical person in government". Collins threatened to sue for slander, but never did.

In addition to being committee chair, White shares most of the say in who's slated with Alderman Jason Ervin. White's 27th Ward and Ervin's 28th Ward make up the largest chunk of the district, and, thus, they bring the most votes to the table.

The other committeeman, all of whom double as aldermen, include: Proco "Joe" Moreno, of the 1st Ward; Bob Fioretti, of the 2nd Ward; Michael Chandler, of the 24th Ward; Roberto Maldonado, of the 26th Ward; Scott Waguespack, of the 32nd Ward; Emma Mitts, of the 37th Ward; and Michele Smith, of the 43rd Ward.

The Chicago Reporter reached Ervin on Sunday, but he would only say that the group is focused on finding a consensus candidate.

"If we can't, then I don't know what's next," he said.

Other hopefuls include Lance Tyson, who was a top aide to ex-Cook County Board President Todd Stroger, and Melissa Conyears, a member of the 28th Ward Democratic Organization, of which Ervin is a member. Stacy Haskins, Robert Teinowitz and Beverly Perteet will also be interviewed.

The deadline to submit applications to the group has been extended to Monday.

NATO wraps up

The final day of NATO meetings is Monday, and member countries will be discussing one of the central themes surrounding the summit: How to leave behind the war in Afghanistan.

Protesters will be likely be out in large numbers, again. A demonstration to protest what dissidents feel is Boeing's involvement in warfare, as a manufacturer of war planes, is scheduled for Monday morning.

Boeing is headquartered in Chicago.

The gathering will start in Union Park, at Lake Street and Ashland Avenue, at 10 a.m. Protestors will march to Boeing's offices, at 100 N. Riverside Plaza.

On Sunday, after a largely peaceful gathering in Grant Park, a group of protesters clashed with police, at Cermak Road and Michigan Avenue.  The officers would not allow them any closer to McCormick Place, where the NATO talks are being held.

Sunday's rally in Grant Park featured speakers and demonstrators sounding off about a variety of issues, both global and local.

They included: Palestinian independence, calls to end drone attacks in Pakistan, immigration reform, a halt to the city's plan to consolidate mental health clinics, a campaign to free Bradley Manning, the Army solider jailed for passing classified information on to the architects of Wiki Leaks, and plenty of general, anti-war, anti-NATO protesting.

© Community Renewal Society 2012

In a previous post, Melissa Conyears' last name was incorrectly spelled Conyars

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