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I'm looking through the sample ballot and wondering about the qualifications of the judges. I'm using the Chicago Council of Lawyers recommendations in most cases, but also wondered if there were any judges up for election that have been less than fair to cyclists in the past. 

Anyone have any names that should be voted out? 

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along with this, people on my facebook feed who normally don't care about road infrastructure are reacting to this:

Safe Roads Amendment. Does anyone know anything about it? Asking because I know absolutely nothing about it.

I've not come across any judges (in the civil divisions of the court) that have been notably unfair to bicyclists.  I suggest reviewing the Chicago Bar Association's judicial evaluation guide.  I have very familiar with their vetting process.  It is quite thorough.

I prefer the Chicago Council of Lawyers' report, because the CBA is too deferential to sitting judges.  For example, the CBA suggests that you vote to retain Judge Ford, even though he routinely gets reversed by the appellate court and is not impartial, as the Council's report explains:

"In People v. Jackson, the Appellate Court reversed..., holding he 'abandoned [his] role as a neutral and impartial arbiter....' And in People v. Pace...the Appellate Court vacated an aggregate 100 year sentence imposed by Judge Ford upon a 16-year-old defendant, finding that Ford considered and 'placed significant emphasis' on impermissible factors.... In both Jackson and Pace, the Appellate Court remanded the matters...with instructions to reassign the cases to a different judge."

It's hard for me to take seriously a report that suggests a judge should be retained even after his fellow judges have publicly concluded that he is not impartial. 

Full council report (.pdf):

Sample ballot (.pdf):

All these vetting groups and lawyer evaluation reports are well-meaning, but meaningless. Regardless of what anyone says or does, all the judges up for retention are retained every single year.  I can think of perhaps two or three exceptions to this in the last thirty years.   As was noted by InjusticeWatch, "In 2010, County Clerk David Orr complained of the flaws that made pointless the retention elections, which require judges to win approval from 60 percent of the voters. Though Circuit Court judges stand for retention every six years, Orr noted, none of the more than 250 Cook County circuit judges had lost a retention race since 1990. In the years since, that remains true; voters returned Cynthia Brim to the bench in 2012 despite her arrest on assault charges following a well-publicized incident in which she shoved a deputy sheriff outside of the Daley Center."

It just doesn't matter what any civic or bar association recommends, period.  Merit plays little, if even any, role in the appointment, election, or retention of judges in Cook County. It's all purely political and dependent on connections.  All of these bar associations and groups know that.  Their recommendations are purely for show.  If they were actually serious about improving the quality of judges in Cook County, they'd be campaigning for a complete overhaul of judicial selection procedures, one which would result in merit selection, not political job placement.  All of these organizations and bar associations put on their little dog-and-pony shows and try to make themselves look diligent and concerned, all the while knowing full well that they are doing nothing to change the status quo.  It would be funny if it weren't so sad.        

Unfortunately, you're right that Cook County has become a joke regarding retention.  As an attorney, I spend some time developing an opinion on who I'll vote for, and I always encourage others to do the same since it's the only way things will ever change, but IMHO the issue is bad enough that getting rid of retention votes is the only viable way to stop it.  

My favorite example is the fact that the last circuit judge voted out on retention in Cook County was Judge Tully.  Coincidentally, the same year he was elected by voters to an open seat on the Illinois Appellate Court.  Truth is often stranger than fiction.     

That's a pretty illustrative story.  Don't get me started on the appellate courts, either!

Ride Illinois weighed in on this

I disagree with Ride Illinois about this, as I've indicated on other forums.  What people think doesn't matter when interpreting legislation.  The language of this amendment clearly leaves open an argument that cycling is excluded from funding.  In fact, my reading is that that was the back-door purpose of the legislation.  When you change a constitution, it's awfully hard to change it back.  This amendment is clearly designed to protect and line the pockets of construction contractors.  It should be voted down.  However, based on what I see of the voters of Illinois, my prediction is that it will pass.  We are Devo.  Illinois might be the last state in the country in terms of budgeting and debt, but it's certainly in the top five of politicians guaranteeing government money for their friends.  When it comes to completely unnecessary amendments like this, beware wolves in sheep's clothing.  

No amendment like this should be passed, because it would paralyze the legislature in times of crisis just like the ill-fated pension amendment has.  But if one is, it should clearly and unambiguously specify that bicycles are vehicles that are included in the general purview of transportation funding.  Again, I think this is going to be a moot point, because of the naivete of well-meaning organizations that actually trust politicians.  Ride Illinois recognizes that the language of the amendment is deficient, but they trust in the anecdotal statements of politicians.  Ha!  What a mistake!  Ride Illinois should be advocating that if any such amendment is to be passed, it will be reworded to EXPLICITLY include bicycle-related expenditures. 


I agree with all of your points. I am ambivalent in general about constitutional amendments because of the stickiness of it.

And why should this one bucket be protected in times of crisis? Why not mental health spending or education? I'm guessing those lobbies are not paying the politicians enough to make that happen. 

Yes. This. 

I have written numerous articles against the lockbox amendment, for exactly these reasons. The constitution is to protect peoples' rights, not a specific funding priority. 

I think that Active Transportation Alliance is wrong that it will (1) increase the funding pie for transportation and (2) possibly increase the funding walking or cycling gets. 

Adding this forum post here about a judge:


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