Towards the end of Friday’s live broadcast of Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers I asked 40th ward council member Andre Vasquez to tell us the story of the cutting down of trees in his ward.
The city’s forestry department cuts trees down if they are in the way of doing work on pipes and sewers. Some neighborhoods loose dozens and dozens of old beautiful trees.
You can hear the story on our podcast.
But the story reminded me of old Mayor Richard J. Daley and his famous mocking of peace protesters at the 1968 Democratic Convention when the whole world was watching.
“These people who come here from other places and cause trouble – Where are their programs? What trees do they plant?”
Coming to grips with what it means to be a socialist, an alderman, a Democratic ward committeeman (a position Andre is now pursuing), an organizer, a provider of city services to his constituents, a legislator trying to build Council majorities to get legislation passed, a person who tries work with other socialists AND Democratic Party progressives to set and win an agenda, is complicated stuff.
He even worked with the alderman from Lincoln Yards, Brian Hopkins, to deal with the tree issue.
Working with Brian Hopkins. Now that is complicated.
We discuss it all in a short hour.
He says he didn’t come to socialism by reading Marx.
It was more the mean streets of Chicago that led him to socialism.
Growing up, he says he was moved out of five Chicago gentrified neighborhoods.
He became a well-known rapper.
Ask Andre Vasquez what trees does he plant.
It turns out quite a few.