Jim McNeill

Jim McNeill is a former managing editor of In These Times whose writing has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, Newsday and The Baffler.

Recent Articles

Goo-Goo Goes Down

At the end of a gloomy hallway, in the nearly empty Cincinnati office of Reform Ohio Now (RON), David Little waited grimly for someone, anyone, to show up on the Saturday before last week's election. Little, RON's Hamilton County field director, was slouched next to a pile of leaflets that urged voters to approve Issues 2, 3, 4, and 5, the laundry list of amendments to the state constitution that RON promised would cleanse Ohio's “culture of corruption.” Eventually, a despondent volunteer filed into the office. She told Little she'd been making calls to voters from her home. “Every single person I've reached says they don't understand the issues,” she moaned. “Once I talk to them, everyone says they'll vote yes, but they seem really, really confused.” Their confusion was understandable. The full text of the four amendments -- which aimed to limit campaign donations, improve election procedures and create more competitive districts -- ran seven pages. None of the four was easy to...

Out, But Not Down

Not long before Tuesday's special election for Congress in southwest Ohio, a Republican spokesman in Washington promised that the GOP would “bury” Democratic candidate Paul Hackett, an Iraq War veteran and an uncompromising critic of President Bush. Apparently the GOP buried Hackett in a very shallow grave. Hackett came tantalizingly close to scoring a major upset, winning 48 percent of the vote in a district that went 64 percent for George W. Bush last November. His near-victory sent shock waves through Ohio, where long-dominant Republicans are being laid low by a series of scandals, and the tremors are being felt far beyond the state's borders. Hackett's strong showing in the scarlet-red 2nd District upends a number of fixed ideas about the nation's politics: that Democrats can't compete in districts like the 2nd, which stretches from Cincinnati's exploding suburbs out east through sleepy rural towns; that Republicans can't be touched on national-security issues; and that Democrats...

The Model Candidate

It's Independence Day in Anderson Township, Ohio, a staunchly middle-class suburb of Cincinnati that went more than 2 to 1 for George W. Bush last November. Anderson is the kind of town whose wide streets and sprawling strip malls have for decades seemed incapable of sustaining Democratic life. Watching Anderson's Fourth of July parade -- as floats roll by from one church after another -- it's easy to imagine that the millennium is at hand and Republicans will rule here for a thousand years. But then an unlikely band of believers makes its way up Beechmont Avenue. They're the local Democratic club, and they're out in force, marching behind a youthful man of military bearing. He's sprinting from one side of the street to the other, shaking as many hands as possible. “He's Paul Hackett,” the local Democrats tell the crowd. “He's just back from Iraq and he's running for Congress.” Hackett, a Marine reservist who returned from Iraq in March, is running in an August 2 special election to...

Books in Review:

Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago By Eric Klinenberg. The University of Chicago Press, 305 pages, $27.50 Garbage Wars: The Struggle for Environmental Justice in Chicago By David Naguib Pellow. The MIT Press, 234 pages, $24.95 B y many measures, Chicago, the "City That Works," has been working just fine in recent years. The Loop is bustling, the housing market is booming and -- after decades of decline -- Chicago's population is growing once again. Perhaps more than any other U.S. city, Chicago was transformed by the urban renaissance of the 1990s, that heady time when America's ungovernable cities awoke from their Great Society slumber and entered the modern age. Under centrist Mayor Richard M. Daley, Chicago has been the exemplar of the fiscally responsible, business-friendly new metropolis. Long before Bill Clinton declared big government dead, Daley was reinventing city government and outsourcing thousands of municipal jobs. Throughout the 1990s, Daley worked...

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