I seem to be the only one who cares about this issue. I'll admit that it's pretty far down on the list of Ways in Which Alderman Hairston Has Disappointed Me. (Her throwing away a 24-million-dollar repair of Promontory Point, which included the promise that it would become a sanctioned deep-water swimming site, holds spot #1 on that list.)
But I want the person who represents my ward to be squeaky clean: to rise above Chicago sloppiness-verging-on-cheating and do everything by the book. There happens to be something called Section 9-25.1 of the Illinois Election Code, which forbids using ward funds for campaign purposes. In 2005, Ms. Hairston was investigated for using her ward office as the 5th Ward Democratic Organization office. The evidence presented? Her title as D.O. Committeeman was on the awning; her staff admitted to undercover affiants that volunteers met and worked there, and that placards and yard signs were given out there; and finally, the website of the Cook County Democratic Organization listed both her ward address and phone number as the local Democratic Organization address. There was circumstantial evidence as well in the form of more than a thousand dollars of pizzas and food purchased by the Democratic Organization on the same block as her ward office (the bulk of it purchased in the three days leading up to Election Day) and labeled as "Election Expenses." In a hearing, Ms. Hairston testified that she did all of her political work from her home, and that no political activity occurred in her ward office. She made conflicting statements, and "gave testimony that the Hearing Officer described as argumentative, combative and, at times, evasive."
Flash forward to the current election, and Ms. Hairston appears to be conforming to the letter of the law, but not its spirit. Her ward office is at 2325 East 71st Street, and her campaign office is at 2325 East 71st Street, Suite 2B. How can I, as her constituent, be sure that the functions of the two offices aren't bleeding into each other — that is, both serving her campaign — especially as the election draws closer?
The answer is, I can't. She's cutting it too close.