By Tony Fitzpatrick
A Chicago Tribune report noted that nearly sixty percent of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s top circle of 103 elite donors had benefited “from his city government, receiving contracts, zoning changes, business permits, pension work, board appointments, regulatory help or some other tangible benefit.” Included on that list of firms that benefited was Paul Finnegan’s Madison Dearborn, which holds a significant stake in the CDW Government Inc. firm that has received “two Emanuel administration contracts worth more than thirty-nine million dollars.”
Memorial Day weekend closes with sixty-nine shot in Chicago, many of them on the West Side.
While the number of shootings was up from last year, the number of deaths was down. Last year, twelve people were killed and forty-four wounded over the holiday weekend. This weekend, thirteen more people were shot, but six fewer people were killed.—Chicago Tribune, June 1, 2016
In Chicago, so far this year 1,500 people have been shot. Over 250 of them killed. This is nearly fifty percent higher than last year’s stats.
It makes one wonder just what Mayor Rahm Emanuel plans to do as a corrective. The number of shootings are close to double what they were last year and the fatalities also damn near lap the previous year’s stats. We are Murder City. Last year at this time he was busy pounding his little fists and stamping his little feet over the title of a movie,”Chi-Raq.” Never mind the actual violence itself; in Rahm’s world “optics” are everything. If you raise hell about the title of a movie with someone from New York, it might look to the locals like you are addressing the problem itself. I suppose there are some gullible souls who believe this bullshit. At least a year ago they may have.
This was B.L. Before Laquan.
Before a seventeen-year-old was executed in the street by a Chicago police officer on October 20, 2014. Before the videotape of this crime was quashed for 400 days in order that both Rahm and Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez could be safely re-elected.
Before Laquan McDonald became a household word in Chicago, and proved to be the undoing of both Police Commissioner Garry McCarthy and Alvarez, Rahm still had some shred of moral authority. After Laquan? the human sacrifices began—McCarthy, thrown under the bus, quick and in a hurry. Alvarez, summarily stomped by Kim Foxx, in the last election.
Somewhere in there Rahm delivered his weepy mea culpa in the clumsiest bit of oratory since Al Pacino in “Devil’s Advocate.” He pledged change and reform of the Chicago Police Department. Sound familiar?
He then appointed Eddie Johnson, a rank-and-file veteran with a record so distinguished he’d been passed over in favor of Jody Weis and McCarthy in the past. I thought at least they appointed an officer representative of the community; but then Commissioner Johnson began making “get along, go along” noises. For instance he relates that in twenty-seven years of a career in the CPD, he’s never witnessed any wrongdoing by his fellow cops.
Really? A department that has paid out more than $500 million settling police cases in the last ten years—and he has never once witnessed any wrongdoing? Johnson needs to get out more.
And what of Rahm? After a solid year of trying to control the message and narrative of this city, he has been proven tone-deaf and incompetent.The statement at the top of this piece says it all. It lets you, the citizen, know right where you figure in: Nowhere.
Unless you are a developer or real estate big shot, or a movie director who wants to put a museum of his stuff on the lakefront—and only the lakefront, the bait and switch usually works something like this: The big jobs go to contractors who do business with the city, i.e. campaign contributors. The shitty service-industry jobs, which mostly pay minimum wage, these go to everyone else, i.e. the citizens—meaning the rest of us can park their cars, hang up their coats and sell the big pretzels.
Get it? You don’t figure in at all.
I had to laugh at the big batch of boo-hoo pitched in the wake of the Lucas Museum plan shitting the bed. Here they are demonizing the Friends of the Parks, who protect the lakefront as PUBLIC property to be shared and enjoyed by ALL Chicagoans, because a pissed-off billionaire wanted FREE lakefront property to put his shiny hood ornament on. Just tell Mr. Lucas to build himself some more closets.
I was in New Orleans over the weekend. While I was there a Lyft driver and I were on our way to Meyer the Hatter, my favorite hat store in New Orleans. He mentioned to me that he felt bad that Chicago was so undone and plagued by violence. I was shocked. For years New Orleans suffered from the kind of endemic violence shows like “The Wire” are good at fleshing out. Now, the people of that fine city feel sorry for us.
Perhaps they’ve also heard about the thirteen-percent property tax hike being kicked up between the cheeks of every homeowner in Chicago. This means that if your home is worth $225,000 you will pay an additional $420 in property taxes this year. Welcome to Chicago! Where we pay more to be a moving target!
I always tell people that when I first took this job, I never had any intention of writing about politics. I wanted to write a light, funny look at life in Chicago. It seems we’re running a bit low on the light and funny lately and there are mornings that I wake up and am not sure whether I love this city or whether I hate it. Sometimes it’s both. When you get used to the shrines of foil balloons, flowers and stuffed animals, not for birthday parties, but to mark the spots where the bodies fall, it coarsens one’s heart and cheapens the gift that every life is.
Education. Jobs. Those are the only medicines. The only balm for what ails this city.
In the meantime, we keep burying children, we keep wringing our hands, we keep looking for something like leadership and accountability and it is nowhere in sight.