CITY HALL — They tried — but failed — to keep a referendum on an elected school board off the ballot.
Although the City Council approved three citywide advisory referendums in October to fill up the permitted ballot slots in what Ald. John Arena (45th) called a bit of "political shenanigans," the School Board referendum still wound up in play in 37 wards when voters go to the polls Tuesday.
Although Arena had pushed for a citywide referendum on an elected school board, in October the council's Rules Committee approved three others to fill up the ballot: a proposal by 49th Ward Ald. Joe Moore on mandatory paid sick leave, another on public campaign financing backed by the grassroots group Common Cause and another on whether city employees should be forced to seek counseling if convicted of domestic abuse, sponsored by Ald. Deborah Graham (29th).
Graham, an abuse survivor herself, defended that referendum as more important than a debate on an elected school board, an issue that has galvanized critics of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's Chicago Public Schools policies.
Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd) charged that the move was illegal, but those referendums held their spots as the three set for the citywide election.
Yet Grassroots Illinois Action led efforts to put the School Board referendum on the ballot ward by ward, and in the end it held in 37 wards: 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, 19, 20, 21, 22, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 40, 45, 46, 47, 49, 50.
In addition, another ward and a single precinct will take up two other advisory issues. The 10th Ward will vote on whether to ban petcoke storage and transportation, and the 30th precinct of the 16th Ward will vote on whether to form a tax increment finance district advisory council.
Of course, city voters will also be electing a mayor, clerk and treasurer, as well as aldermen in all 50 wards.
Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Problems with voting can be reported to the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners online at chicagoelections.com or by calling 312-269-7870.
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