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Campaign on Avalon Regal Theater and Political Gamesmanship

Hello, Fellow Citizens and Residents of the 8th Ward!

It is interesting that the last message I sent out to you was regarding keeping pertinent issues in front of the voters, allowing them to recall the slight of hand and dishonest practices of their current elected officials for them to make an informed decision in the upcoming election. And, in a message that preceded that, you may recall a posting regarding the efforts of Jerald Gary to acquire, refurbish and re-open the Avalon Regal theater, as well as my discussions with him, a sharing of visions and conceptual ideas to bring back that iconic structure and reclaim the rich legacy of musical and performance talent right here in the 8th Ward.

You may also recall that current Alderman Harris appeared to try to upstage our conversation by posting on her website and through other social media outlets, her interest and the possibility that an agreement would be forged with controversial Chicago favorite son Kanye West. You will note that nothing that Alderman Harris stated initially addressed Jerald’s part in this “new” initiative, nor was there any mention as to exactly when the Alderman actually got involved. There was nothing about when she originally offered support and pledged to help bring back our beloved Regal theater.

There is a reason for that. Alderman Michelle Harris never – until just within the past couple of weeks – decided to throw her support behind Jerald in his long-fought singular effort to bring back the venue. In fact, you would be interested to know that – using the colloquialism –Alderman Harris “kicked Jerald to the curb” by refusing to offer support, encouragement or any other aid in his quest. The truth is, she disparaged him verbally, used her power to thwart his effort by discrediting him and leaving him totally out of the process. She even went so far as to notify the City Law Department and order the City Inspectors to investigate his newly acquired property and the status of the building to ensure it met “Code”. She then refused to allow him to host groups and organizations of interest who could have helped in the refurbishing even though he had done so in the past.

If you have doubts about the veracity of those crucial and accusatory statements, look at the public record:                                                                 
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-met-avalon-regal-theater-vacancy-order-20171025-story.html

Jerald had desperately but patiently fought to put the Avalon Regal in front of the community, hoping that he could at least secure support if not financial aid from the City of Chicago through his elected representative, Alderman Michelle Harris. But the reality is that Alderman Harris outright refused to help him…all while greenlighting similar or less promising projects located in White neighborhoods on the Northside, championed by Mayor Emmanuel and with TIF funds. Our TIF funds.

Jerald was forced to seek funding elsewhere, determining that all he needed was a sparse $150,000 to set the Avalon Regal back on solid footing so the theater could be utilized safely as other improvements were made over time. Since he was unable to secure support – even tacit verbal support for his efforts – from Alderman Harris, he put up a Go Fund Me page. That only garnered him a paltry $200.00. But still, he struggled to realize his dream and sought out support from any corner of society that was interested in restoring a beautiful and historic structure.

It was during this time that I learned of Jerald’s plight, reached out for him and learned first hand his vision which coincided with mine. That included making the Avalon Regal an important and vibrant showcase for the Southside of Chicago, bring back jobs, investment, popular interest, businesses, art, and cultural establishments – free-standing and in cooperation and conjunction with the Regal. This vision would help revitalize the community – and the Ward – with infusions of consumer and business funds, allow the establishment of an art and cultural zone, brighten a community that has fallen into disrepair and blight over the past couple of decades, and change the direction of our community. The Regal would be the “anchor” to a whole succession of business, residential and urban improvement opportunities. This in conjunction with the building of the Obama Presidential Library and its proximity to the Avalon Regal theater would go a long way toward putting a much-needed spark into our community.

Jerald and Linda 

Photographic credit: Clarence McMillan@CopyLine Magazine

But, it wasn’t until Kanye got involved and the related media hype that Alderman Harris decided to take an active role, while still avoiding an opportunity to discuss these matters with Jerald. She conveniently worked to engage Kanye, who had already made a verbal commitment to help fund the Avalon Regal project, all while leaving Jerald out of the loop. Then she turns around and makes a grand public announcement to claim credit for trying to jumpstart the project.

Kanye West and Jerald Gary 

The problem with that, well beyond the hypocrisy, lies, misinformation, twisting, and avoidance of fact, are the acts of moral turpitude she displayed in claiming credit when she had no hand in helping this situation at all. And this was done so that she could ingratiate herself with area residents and 8th Ward voters, pretending to be concerned about the community – especially those living near the Avalon Regal theater – and the 8th Ward overall.

And if anyone is concerned about just how Kayne fits into this equation, keep in mind that Kayne is a private citizen. He is controversial, especially in the Black community given his public statements, performances, and notoriety about his political preferences and support. But in this instance, it is not about Kanye’s political positions of beliefs. It about his real desire to help a beleaguered community that rightfully would like to retain this cultural and historical gift. So, it doesn’t matter what a politician tries to latch themselves to this effort and claim credit. Kanye, technically, would be apolitical in this instance because he has no dog in this fight. He is pledging support to something that would stand to benefit all of us. Not a greedy, unprincipled and dishonest politician who is simply trying to earn points with her constituents while trying to eek out another political victory.

Likewise, the position that Jerald finds himself in, especially when it comes to the dangerous specter of traditional Chicago Machine politics. Jerald, in this instance, is also apolitical. He has no dog in this political fight either. But he is caught between a rock and a hard place, being put on display by Alderman Harris as if they are in league together, she pretending to be his “champion” from the very beginning when all she did was disparage him, obstruct him and talk down to him. And, I’m certain Jerald realizes that speaking openly about how he was treated at this juncture may act to cause this dishonest and self-aggrandizing pol to undercut him and his dream going forward should he “step out of line”.

Well, to my mind, Jerald need say nothing more. I applaud his efforts and hope that Kanye keeps his promise. I hope and pray that all his hard-fought efforts and gains will culminate in a new opening of the Avalon Regal theater. I also believe that WE know the truth and the real lack of support and encouragement that Alderman Harris provided. Jerald should stay out of the politics. Just get your dream realized, young man. We, the community, support you no matter the underlying politics. WE will deal with that come to the election.

So, Stay Woke, folks. You need not be fooled by this political gamesmanship and “oneupsmanship” being perpetrated by Alderman Harris. As you can see, she would do virtually anything to retain her seat even though she has done nothing to listen to the needs and desires of her constituency. The voters can see that she is dishonest and reactionary.

Help us return to principled, responsive and truly representative governance in the 8th Ward of the City of Chicago and voice in the City Council.

Support and Vote for Linda Hudson, Candidate for Alderman for the 8th Ward!
Invest in the campaign today by making a donation here:
http://www.agreater8withlindahudson.com/

 



Paid for by Friends of Linda Hudson.  A copy of our report filed with the State Board of Elections is (or will be) available on the Board’s Official website (www.elections.il.gov) or for purchase from the

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