Thursday, July 16, 2009

Springfield Illinois: Politics as Usual

I am not a native of Springfield. I came to Springfield to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Political Studies. I do on occasion attend city council meetings because I too am concerned about what goes on at city hall.
When I was an intern during the spring semester of 2007 with the Springfield Black Chamber of Commerce, I experienced some of the horrors of politics that occurs in Springfield. During my internship, I was given the task (actually I suggested it) to host a forum for those who would be running for the spring municipal elections that year. I knew that the Republicans and Democrats had their “endorsed” candidates, so inviting their candidates to the forum would be easy right? The volunteer at the Democratic headquarters was very cordial and gave me the information I needed to invite these candidates. However, when I approached the Republicans, I got a rather chilly reception. After weeks of trying of getting information from the Republicans, I finally found out what the nature of politics in Springfield was all about. The volunteer at Republican HQ a week before the forum was to be held explicitly told me that “there’s no reason why our “endorsed” candidates would attend your forum because our candidates are running in wards in which there aren’t many minority constituents.”
This totally threw me off. I was shocked and appalled! The man might as well say that “the Sangamon County Republicans do not want to hear the concerns of all constituents especially those who are non-white.” From that point, I realized what politics in Springfield was all about. The forum turned out to be a success! By word of mouth, four of those “endorsed” Republican candidates wound up showing up for the forum.
Let’s fast forward this to 2009! Everyone knows about this “stimulus” package that was passed earlier this year. I was against it. Springfield and Central Illinois got a good chunk of money. What disturbs me is that all the money Springfield got from the “stimulus”, 2% of the money went to a project on the east side. For an area that really needs help how comes more money was not shuffled to the east side. Who allocated the funds? Did Gale Simpson and Frank Kunz have a say of where this money was allocated or was this one of Tim Davlin’s free money giveaways to political comrades? The eastside needs major infrastructure improvement but the YMCA does not taxpayer’s funds to fix their parking lot. Obviously our elected officials have their priorities wrong, as usual.
I have three ideas on what the residents on the Eastside can do to fix their neighborhoods. Spend more money within your own neighborhoods. Don’t wait until Davlin’s dominions to fix the potholes in the streets, form a company to fix them yourselves. Don’t wait until Davlin’s dominions to get rid of bad landlords, create a co-op with fellow neighbors and kick them out. Learn how to do things yourself because government isn’t always going to help you. How has the City of Springfield improved your life lately? Lastly, the most drastic measure is to de-annex the Eastside from the City. Start a petition to secede neighborhoods from Springfield. Maybe the threat of secession will bring some attention to the needs of the Eastside. If they don’t heed to those threats then you know these politicians do not care about the needs of those on the Eastside.