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Wednesday, April 19, 2006 09:24 am

The Hype

Springfield to vote on Iraq, Topinka and Bush, and James Meeks

DEMOCRACY IN ACTION MICHAEL ZIRI can now enjoy his summer. At last week’s meeting of the Capital Township — whose borders overlap those of the city of Springfield — township electors agreed to place an advisory referendum on the November general-election ballot giving residents the opportunity to take a stand on the occupation of Iraq. The language of the referendum reads: “Shall President GEORGE W. BUSH and Congress commence a humane, orderly, immediate and comprehensive withdrawal of all U.S. military personnel and bases from Iraq?” To get the measure on the city’s ballot, Ziri would have needed approximately 3,700 Springfield voters to sign a petition before August. Getting the township to act saved him the trouble of collecting the signatures. Voters in two Chicago-area townships also will be weighing in on the war: DeKalb Township recently agreed to put measure similar to Springfield’s on the November ballot, and Sycamore Township will ask whether Gov. ROD BLAGOJEVICH should “veto further mobilization of [Illinois] National Guard units” and personnel.

TIT-FOR-TAT Illinois Treasurer JUDY BAAR TOPINKA has stated that she has the support of both the Republican National Committee and the administration of President George W. Bush in her run for governor. She also expects the national party to help raise money for her campaign — but only under the cover of darkness, as a Topinka aide said when the treasurer was interviewed by syndicated columnist George Willtwo weeks ago. There are two schools of thought at work here. First, conservative voters who backed state Sen. Bill Bradyand businessman Jim Oberweissay their candidates’ receipt of half of the GOP vote in the March primary serves as a mandate for nominee Topinka to move to the right. Conversely, many others see Bush as a political liability for Topinka, whose moderate stances (supporting abortion rights and civil unions for gay couples) will be crucial to her chances for victory in Illinois. But at least in conservative pundit Will’s estimation, Bush’s presence on behalf of Topinka will inevitably repel middle-of-the road Democratic voters that the Republican nominee hopes to steal from Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Via e-mail, Will tells IT:  “It is my hunch (and a hunch I believe that is shared by Topinka’s campaign) that whatever Judy Topinka might gain by aligning herself with President Bush would be, at best, proportionally lost by the departure of her less conservative supporters.”

PLAYER HATER? Not all African-American Chicago Democrats are crazy about state Sen. James Meeks’ idea of running as an independent for governor. Mark Allen, president of the Black Leadership Development Institute and former aide to the Rev. Jesse Jackson, says he doesn’t believe that the state’s black leaders are “properly prepared to sustain a true third-party effort” and that blacks should instead concentrate on developing vehicles through established political parties. On the flip side, Allen says, “Truthfully, the black community does not have an active and systematic vehicle to access black political empowerment through the Democratic or Republican parties.” Tell me again why Meeks shouldn’t run?