Miguel del Valle: ‘People Have Reached Their Boiling Point’

By: Ashmar Mandou

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - EducationFormer Chicago City Clerk Miguel del Valle, 60, vehemently believes in the idea of a progressive era in politics. So much so, he along with longtime political consultant Delmarie Cobb have formulated a series of discussions titled ‘Will the Real Progressives Please Stand Up,’ to bolster new and innovative ideas to current, challenging times and to ‘chart a course forward for the progressive movement.’ “The political landscape in Chicago has shifted beneath our feet in the pasty year,” said del Valle. “Progressives, those who believe in and work for progress for all Chicagoans, must now look around at our new circumstances and re-evaluate.”

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - EducationIn light of the recent protests across the country and Chicago’s new budget, del Valle, along with diverse community panelists, took to the stage last Saturday, which was the first of many to come, at the Center for Inner City Studies at Northeastern Illinois University to discuss ways in which communities can work together to create ‘progressive’ ideas and ensure that their voices be heard. “Right now, residents are feeling frustrated,” said del Valle. “They have reached their boiling point. Residents are frustrated with government and elected officials. They are frustrated with government failing to do the work that needs to be done to address real concerns.”

Del Valle also called out President Barack Obama for not following through on his promise for immigration reform and the need to lift minority children, especially Latinos, out of poverty. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, six million Hispanic children live in poverty, surpassing the African-American and White communities. “People want real change. We want what Barack promised. He promised real change and that is why people are frustrated because people are not seeing real change. The kind of change they can see and feel at the neighborhood level,” said del Valle. Through these series of forums to be held across the city, del Valle hopes to shift the dialogue to the concerns felt by residents and to educate them on the process of policy making and how to create change in the grassroots level. “If you want people to have an opportunity to really have an impact they need information,” said del Valle.

Del Valle shared his ideas on what a ‘progressive’ leader means to him and his thoughts on Occupy Chicago.

Defining a Progressive Leader
I consider myself a progressive leader. I have been around for a long time. These days we have a president who considers himself a progressive in many respects, we have a governor who calls himself a progressive and a mayor in the city of Chicago, who indicated at least a couple of times, that he is progressive. So if everyone is progressive, what does it mean? To me, being a progressive means you not only believe that there should be progress for all, but you work hard to advance issues that affect the kind of change that is going to ensure that there are opportunities and progress for all. Unless you are doing that, you are not being a strong progressive.

Occupy Chicago
Since we put this forum together we have had these mobilizations nationwide and worldwide, particularly by young people, who of course, feel that they are not seeing progress for all. Ninety-nine percent is being left out in the cold by the one percent. I am very pleased, personally, to see what has developed here and what is still developing…a grassroots kind of movement to advocate for economic justice and fight for the kind of policies that is going to relieve the pain that many are feeling these days. Whether it is by way of foreclosures, or student loan debts that they cannot pay, or unemployment or underemployment, cuts in human services, and the lack of progress in terms of ensuring quality of education regardless of where you live; these issues that are important to people. This is democracy at its best.

Political Takeover
I hope the organizers do not allow politicians to come in and take over or greatly influence what is going on. Because I think that movement, whether we are talking about politicians or union leaders, that effort needs to be kept pure. I do not want to see it tainted. The best thing Occupy Wall Street has going for it, is that it is perceived in actuality. My perception is that is it truly a grassroots movement and that is what we desperately needed in the country.

Direct Involvement
Direct involvement is a key element to change. That is what we talk about when we talk about strategy. We have to be fully aware of what is going on and voice concerns. Recently, Mayor Rahm Emanuel made announcement that he is going to use cameras to catch speeders around school zones and parks. They used four-year accident figures to make their case for more cameras, but the fact of the matter is those cameras are going to be used to raise revenue for the city of Chicago. If you look at the Belmont Cragin area, a young man, 23-years old, was shot at his own birthday party and killed. If you look at gun violence and gang activity around schools, to me, that should get more attention. We should be putting dollars into community organizing. People need to chime in on these kinds of things. We cannot let these issues go unchallenged. And part of that is voicing your opinion, attending every school meeting, being on your school council, going to town hall meetings, talking with community organizers, and learning all that you can about issues that matter to you. In a democracy people have an opportunity to vent and hold elected officials accountable.

To learn more about, ‘Will the Real Progressives Please Stand Up,’ visit Miguel del Valle’s Facebook page to view when the next meeting will take place.

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