By Stanley Campbell
Steve Stadelman won!? How did that newcomer beat two well-known Democrat candidates for State Senate? I heard a campaign manager chortle: “He will need a lot more signs to get any significant vote tally.” That pol’s probably out of a job. But Steve got more than his signs around town.
I’m referring to the mysterious phone call. It was a robocall the day before the election. Somebody endorsing Steve as “A Republican and long-time supporter of Ronald Reagan and Sarah Palin.” The phone call curiously sounded pro-Stadelman, but was definitely exposing him as a Republican. Next morning, a robocall from Stadelman deplored the campaign tactics and asked for support.
I wonder how many people voted for Stadelman because he was a Republican or because of the nasty robocall from one of his opponents (Danny?). I wonder if the initial message had been “Beware the Republican in sheep’s clothing” if more voters would’ve shifted their vote? As it was, Steve won with an astounding 46 percent in a three-person race. Steve, let’s talk about supporting the environment and opposing industrial-strength gambling.
“If this be global warming, bring it on,” says a friend. One of them threatened to leave his car running, so as to encourage the warmer weather, but I think we should thank all those big trucks that small men drive. Thank them for increasing gas prices. Fox News wants to blame Obama, but I think it’s the oil companies taking advantage of a heated economy, and the boys with the honkin’ four-by-fours.
A building here on Seventh Street cannot get a loan to fix themselves up. The owners used their hard-earned cash to purchase and rehab one of the commercial buildings. The second floor has six small apartments, which they’ve beautifully decorated, opening up the skylights. They’d like to replace windows with ones more attractive and energy efficient.
The bank denied them a loan. It seems that “commercial property on Seventh Street no longer has any value.” This reminds me of when the banks would draw a red line around a neighborhood and write it off, refusing to loan any inhabitants money. Homeowners who wanted to improve were faced with either living in dilapidated houses or selling cheap and moving.
The practice of “red lining” is illegal. Rockford Urban Ministries (RUM) was one of the organizations that fought against it back in the 1980s. (By the way, RUM is celebrating its 50th anniversary, having been founded in 1962 by a group of United Methodists who wanted to stay active in the community.) So, how can a bank deny a whole neighborhood loans that are really the lifeblood of any business community?
RUM has been blessed with a beautiful building at First Avenue and Seventh Street. The building houses JustGoods, the fair-trade store, which is a viable business. We would like some company, and think the area is affordable, and viable — especially for alternative businesses. But we will get nowhere if the banks draw a red line around the area, denying anyone capital to improve.
Stanley Campbell is executive director of Rockford Urban Ministries and spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice.
From the March 28-April 3, 2012, issue