A recent Chicago magazine article http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/January-2012/Gangs-and-Politicians-An-Unholy-Alliance/ speaks of an alleged meeting between several City of Chicago Alderman, Aldermandic candidates and other politicians with alleged gang leaders. Here is an excerpt of the article
At some of the meetings, the politicians arrived with campaign materials and occasionally with aides. The sessions were organized much like corporate-style job fairs. The gang representatives conducted hourlong interviews, one after the other, talking to as many as five candidates in a single evening. Like supplicants, the politicians came into the room alone and sat before the gang representatives, who sat behind a long table. “One candidate said, ‘I feel like I’m in the hot seat,’” recalls Baskin. “And they were.”
The former chieftains, several of them ex-convicts, represented some of the most notorious gangs on the South and West Sides, including the Vice Lords, Gangster Disciples, Black Disciples, Cobras, Black P Stones, and Black Gangsters. Before the election, the gangs agreed to set aside decades-old rivalries and bloody vendettas to operate as a unified political force, which they called Black United Voters of Chicago. “They realized that if they came together, they could get the politicians to come to them,” explains Baskin.
The gang representatives were interested in electing aldermen sympathetic to their interests and those of their impoverished wards. As for the politicians, says Baskin, their interests essentially boiled down to getting elected or reelected. “All of [the political hopefuls] were aware of who they were meeting with,” he says. “They didn’t care. All they wanted to do was get the support.”
Baskin declined to name names, but Chicago has learned, through other sources at the meetings, the identities of some of the participants. They include: Aldermen Howard Brookins Jr. (21st Ward), Walter Burnett Jr. (27th), Willie Cochran (20th), and Freddrenna Lyle (6th). Alderman Pat Dowell (3rd) attended a meeting; upon realizing that the participants had close gang ties, she objected but stayed. Also attending were candidates who would go on to win their races, including Michael Chandler (24th) and Roderick Sawyer (6th). Darcel Beavers, the former 7th Ward alderman who would wind up losing her race, and Patricia Horton, a commissioner with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District who lost her bid for city clerk, also met with the group.
Chandler, Brookins, and Burnett told Chicago they did not attend such a meeting. Sawyer and Horton did not return several calls seeking comment. A spokesman for Dowell confirmed that she attended the meeting after she objected. Beavers, Cochran, and Lyle, who was recently appointed as a Cook County judge, said they attended but were not told beforehand that former gang chiefs would be there, nor that the purpose involved gang-backed political support. “It, basically, was no different than sitting in front of any other panel that asks you questions relative to constituent issues,” said Cochran.
Is this new news? Is there anything wrong with these meetings? Can any good come out of these meet