I've said it before: I don't have a dog in the 46th Ward fight. My girlfriend lives up there, so I'm in that area quite a bit. I am minus an opinion on the whole thing.
Now, that doesn't mean I can't watch it just for the purposes of watching it. I've always wanted to see how Netroots would function in Chicago on a localized race in a diverse ward. We're a town where things like that can work, after all, what we call 'The Machine' was effecitvely one of the more powerfull grassroots movements of all time. I've observed What the Helen, I've done some nice back and forth with them, and I participated in my own form of combat journalism, braving Broadway after dark, dodging the pools of vomit and the homeless. I am a true people's hero.
Anyway, I was pretty sure that the 46th Ward race couldn't get any more odd. You've got a former anti-Daley 'independent' alderman (turned Daley toe liner) facing off against an openly gay social worker. There are rumors that Shiller's outfit pays homeless folks to do ward work for them - but even if those rumors aren't true - you've got the fact that she or her designees actively seek out the homeless to get them registered to vote. The homeless don't mind - a voter registration card is one step closer to getting a real ID.
Cappleman, who has been widly criticized for his debate skills, likened to being a 'republican' (whatever that means), and has generally failed to generate the kind of visible steam that I would expect to be easy given the sheer visibility of Uptown's problems.
It's been strange. But now it's just bizarre.
Jesus People USA (or JPUSA, pronounced 'Japoosa') is a 'church' which makes it's headquarters on Wilson Ave. I guess it's not a headquarters, so much as it's a commune where the more devout members make their home. It also provides a handfull of social services and about 2 floors of income based housing for the elderly.
For the good that they may do, they're still an oddball cloistered religious organization - and have the long tail of cult allegations to prove it. They were the subject of a 2001 Trib investigative report alledging psychological abuse and shifty financial dealings.
One of the group's more vocal members, a cat named Jon Trott, keeps a couple of blogs where he muses the usual defense of the indefensable that you would expect from this breed:
I will tell you here and now that doing so (calling JPUSA a cult) is essentially the same as calling a black person "n****."
What makes it weird is that he's apparently Shilling for Shiller.
Strange. Very strange. So we've got a left wing, anti-gay, communal living, Christian fundamentalist organization who's name couldn't be any more comical if it were "Hippys For Jesus", out on a limb making hay in a hot political race involving 2 left leaners trying to make their mark on what could only be described as ward with some mismanagement issues.
Maybe I'm becomming a little too cynical, but just what is the deal here? What interest could this kooky group have in picking Shiller? Heck, what interest could this group have in being involved in the political ongoings to begin with?
I mean sure, everybody has a voice. Everybody has a vote. But when somebody who's functioning as a 'spokesperson' for such a strange fusion of extreme Christianist thinking and at least 'cult like' behavior, is out there directly nodding a candidate, somebody has to ask the question.