Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

What Brady & Kirk Really Mean When They Say "Local Control"

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    NEWSLETTERS

    As the party of small government, Republicans proclaim they believe in “local control” -- allowing cities and states to make their own decisions in accordance with community values.

    You know, “state’s rights” and all that.

    But when a local government wants to protest the right of cops to frisk illegal aliens, or ban handguns, or stop Walmart from creating $9 an hour jobs, conservatives sing a different tune.

    Last week, Sarah Palin made headlines by berating Highland Park High School for refusing to allow its girls’ basketball team to play in Arizona.

    “We’re going to see about that,” scolded Palin, who then announced she was going to raise money to pay for the girls’ trip.

    Palin, an Alaska resident who holds no elective office, arrogated herself the right to overturn a decision made by local school officials in Illinois.

    But suppose Highland Park High School had made news for refusing to teach evolution. Palin may have praised it as a Heartland school standing up to secular bureaucrats.

    Mark Kirk and Bill Brady, who also say they favor local control, joined Palin’s pile on.

    “We should leave politics off the court and let the girls play,” said Kirk, bringing politics onto the court by making that statement in his capacity as a Senate candidate.

    As for Brady: “I certainly respect the school district’s right to make decisions," he said to Ward Room. "I believe in local control. I just hope they haven’t overstepped rationality in this case.”

    Brady is another politician who believes in local control only when he agrees with the locality. Last year, Brady introduced a bill in the state senate to prevent cities from blocking big box stores like Walmart or Target. In others words, Brady wanted the legislature to take over zoning -- the most local issue imaginable.

    Conservatives who normally favor local control are also backing the plaintiffs in McDonald v. Chicago, a lawsuit to overturn our city’s handgun ban. It is currently before the Supreme Court. The National Rifle Association, which had Palin as its keynote speaker at this year’s convention, has also filed complaints against gun laws in the localities of Evanston, Morton Grove and Oak Park.

    It turns out that “local control” is a code word for protecting small town, conservative values from Washington’s meddling. When a small town has liberal values, well, then it’s Sarah Palin’s turn to meddle.

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