Alderman Harris Did it Again!: A Basic Show of Disrespect for 8th Ward Residents

Alderman Harris Blowing Smoke in the 8th WardBy Dr. Juanita Bratcher

Author, Editor & Publisher, CopyLine Magazine

Alderman Michelle Harris rubbed 8th Ward residents the wrong way yesterday at a Zoning Board hearing, and her actions could cost her in the next Aldermanic Election. Many 8th Ward residents at the hearing complained that she is not a “good caretaker” for the ward and vowed to defeat her in the next election.

Harris got the wrath of 8th Ward residents at a Zoning Board hearing at City Hall yesterday when she told Zoning Board members to put 8th Ward residents last on the agenda to speak and air their grievances about a 134 Unit, 7 Story building coming into the community which most of the residents are totally against. Yet, Harris said she has a lot of support from people who live in the ward to bring in the housing project. That is not likely and not an accurate assessment.

In case you don’t know or have not attended a Zoning Board meeting, people from all across the city in various wards bring their grievances to the Zoning Board. There are plenty of people there at these hearings. So with 8th Ward residents being at the end of the agenda, they had to wait a long period of time before they could be heard. Many felt the alderman was deliberately inconveniencing them because they were at the hearing to state their opposition to the housing project.

It reminded many of them who have been very active in trying to keep the housing project out of Pill Hill and Calumet Heights of her having six SUV police squad cars out on the street in front of her ward office to try and intimidate them with police presence during a press conference in front of her ward office at 8539 S. Cottage Grove Ave. But even that didn’t work, no one had come to the press conference to cause violence. And her actions were seen as an abuse of power and a waste of taxpayers’ money.

Harris and her staff told residents that they had a survey poll taken of 8th Ward residents about the housing project but it is yet to be seen. At the Zoning Board hearing yesterday she told Marcel Bright that he could get the survey (he had tried many times before), that they would gladly give it to him. When requesting it after the hearing, he was told that he would have to file a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) to get it. There is no need for him to do that. That is to inconvenience him to get it.

Many 8th Ward residents say enough is enough. They were instrumental in keeping a medical marijuana facility and pawnshop out of the ward that the alderman supported.

Additionally, they point to statistics from the last Aldermanic Election in 2015 where Harris only won by 9, 167 votes. Her two opponents, Faheem Shabazz received 2, 113 votes and Tara Baldridge received 2,096. The total of votes for all three candidates was 13, 376. Also at the time of that election, Harris had been alderman for about 9 years. She was the incumbent. There were 38,412 voters in the 8th Ward in 2015, and as the incumbent alderman she did not receive that many votes.

Presently, there are less registered voters in the ward than in 2015. As of today, according to the Board of Elections Commission, there are only 35,726 registered voters in the 8th Ward. However, Harris will have a tough row to hoe in the next Aldermanic Election. The word circulating through the 8th Ward is “we want her out.”