Green Party slate challenges lack of climate change readiness; points finger at “culture of cronyism and nepotism.”
CHICAGO — Candidates for the Board of Commissioners of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago came out swinging at a meeting in Pilsen this Saturday. Chris Anthony, Karen Roothaan, and Tammie Vinson, announcing their candidacies for the Green Party ticket, blasted the current Board of Commissioners for its political climate and lack of vision.
“The nominally-partisan Board of Commissioners has been an all-Democrat body for decades,” said Ms. Roothaan. “You don’t get good governance with one-party rule. Putting Greens on the Board will open the MWRD up to true citizen oversight.”
The candidates’ presentation highlighted the absence of any reference to climate change in the MWRD’s five-year Strategic Business Plan or mission and value statements, as well as leveling harsh criticism at a political culture where “everyone’s here on a phone call,” as a former MWRD police officer described the District in leaked audio from 2014. All three candidates called for an independent Inspector General for the MWRD.
Presenting their own vision for a MWRD with Green Party representatives on the board, the candidates emphasized a need for green infrastructure to help with flood abatement. “Deep Tunnel was an amazing piece of forward thinking for its time,” said Mr. Anthony, referring to the Tunnel And Reservoir Plan begun in the 1970s to combat combined sewer outflows. “But we now know that ‘grey infrastructure’ of tunnels and canals alone can’t prevent catastrophic flooding. The MWRD needs to get serious about land use and permitting that will put an end to serious flooding in Cook County.”
The candidates called for an immediate shift towards using MWRD-owned land for green infrastructure projects, rather than the District’s current practice of leasing land to private industry. “Some of the tenants on MWRD land are waterway polluters,” said Ms. Vinson. “This is the agency that’s supposed to be keeping our water clean, so why are they renting their land — taxpayer land — to industrial polluters?”
Mr. Anthony, Ms. Roothaan, and Ms. Vinson will be running together on a unified platform. All three candidates for the MWRD are currently involved in the ballot access petition drive, which will run through late November.
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