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The [Tuesday] Papers

By Steve Rhodes / Posted on March 26, 2019

I haven't gotten to my notes from last night's mayoral debate, and there's another debate tonight (already taped), and I've got notes from two previous debates I haven't written up, so while I figure out if/when/how to get those together, I thought I'd post a long reply I dashed off (so it's rough) today in reply to a Facebook comment about concerns over Lori Lightfoot's criminal justice record and and where some of her endorsements are coming from.

Let me just add a caveat, which I also flick at in the post: I don't want to be seen as cheerleading for Lightfoot. I'm calling it like I see it, and as I see it, Toni Preckwinkle has behaved despicably, and engaged in a pattern of lies. I haven't seen the same in Lightfoot. That's half the battle with me.

That's not to say I will vote (again) for Lightfoot unreservedly. I have concerns. There are some things about her we will not know unless or until she gets elected and she is confronted with reality.

But as I've written before, Toni Preckwinkle has lost my vote several times, and the deeper we've gone into this campaign, the more disgusted I am with her.

I've added some interjections in brackets, but otherwise, here goes:

The FOP has NOT endorsed Lightfoot [as Bobby Rush has said repeatedly. And I can't emphasize enough that Rush supported both Richard M. Daley and Rahm, and previously endorsed Bill Daley]. I don't know that there are particular police endorsements out there - that's a line being drawn from the Preckwinkle campaign from the general makeup of Ald. O'Shea's ward. Fun fact: Preckwinkle wanted that endorsement too, and she also tried to get Sposato on board.

As far as Lightfoot's work in police accountability. a lot of activists in this area are speaking out of ignorance and not doing their homework. I've been familiar with her work for years, and I know plenty of people in the accountability community who have been too. If you think the police board is illegitimate, then yes, you will also think Lightfoot is illegitimate. If you look at what she did there, especially in combination with her police reform task force, the Albert Cleveland case and the whole of the record, one's view might be different.

[Let me interject here: When Tracy Siska of the Chicago Justice Project, who may know more about police accountability than anyone in the city, and has had several conservations (and arguments) with Lightfoot, and Curtis Black, who has closely reported on police accountability, independently come to a similar view of my own, it increase my confidence in how I'm seeing things.]

This idea that the consent decree will be hollow with her aboard is absurd. The consent decree might not exist if not for her, and she's the one who pushed for the most stringent aspects of it.

I have concerns about Lightfoot, but they pale in comparison with Preckwinkle - who has lost my vote several times during the course of this campaign. I believe Preckwinkle has been progressive on criminal justice, but you can't back Joe Berrios and also pretend to be holistic on the issue.

A good example of how Lightfoot operates is her view on Supt. Johnson. I'd like to see him go. Preckwinkle says she'll fire him. Lightfoot says, hey, the new mayor takes office in April, and making the supe a lame duck while the department is planning for summer is a bad idea - it takes a year to stand up a search committee, and there aren't a lot of great candidates out there anyway. So she'll back him through the summer then sit down and see where they're at - including most importantly, vis a vis the consent decree and reform.

That to me is super smart, and helps to get buy-in from the cops, which, despite what many would like to believe, is needed, especially going into contract talks with the FOP. That kind of 360 view and strategy to me is an example of how she was able to be a successful closer of "complex litigation" that so often ended up with the other side praising her - and even supporting her mayoral campaign. [See George McReynolds, among others.]

Now, she could be a disaster. Totally. And I don't excuse her miscues.

[Something she said last night really rankled me; I'll get to it later this week.]

But she gives us a chance to have a truly independent person with no ugly ties on the fifth floor to run things differently, like having Scott Waguespack as council finance chair, where he will expose the lot of it. She doesn't say it, but *that's* how she'll "build the case for revenue." Which, again, is super smart.

[I don't know for a fact that she'll organize the council and do it in a way that places Waguespack in that position, but I sense that even if she "lets" the council organize itself, he'll end up there. By then exposing financial shenanigans and building an honest report of the city's finances, the mayor will then be able to go the taxpayers will honest needs that will likely include some tax increases. That's my theory, anyway.]

Preckwinkle would've kept Burke at finance [just think about that], and all the rest, and just assumed the Daley/Rahm floor leaders/chairs, and additionally install her own mopes (while Lightfoot is likely to bring non-Machine smart people into her admin).

To me, someone who can get the support of NW/SW Side aldies *and* Chuy, Wags, Our Revolution, Ja'Mal Green, WIlliam Calloway is someone who can get shit done.

Also the depths Preckwinkle has been willing to go to are alarming, as are the cascade of lies. Her policies are progressive, but her method of operations is ultra-Machine. (Also, it's *good* that Lightfoot can speak the cops' language in a way Preckwinkle can't and Rahm only does in the phoniest way. LL understands policing at the core; she's been immersed in it short of being an actual cop. I don't view this as a bad thing as long as she is pursuing progressive/reform ends. The difficult part of the equation has always been, how do you reform a police department when the bulk of the cops doing the policing aren't on board? I think LL gives us a shot. But I could be wrong! I'm open to hearing otherwise, though not from the "Lori Lightfoot is a cop" crow. (And if Lori wins and is a total failure/sellout/phony, I'll be there every step of the way to say so. I just already know Preckwinkle is lying Machine hack who never took on Daley/Rahm and is surrounded by very bad people.)

By the way, this is just the case I present. I'm totally open to being persuaded. I'm not a full-throated, Hail Lori! person. I do plan to vote for her for the reasons I've described here and elsewhere, but she is a flawed candidate and I do have my concerns. So I'm totally open to hearing about what concerns you and others. So far, I have not been persuaded by what I've heard/read to switch over to TP - whom I would've voted for in a heartbeat four years ago if she had had the guts to challenge Rahm.

But I find it hard to get past Berrios, Burke Jr., the sex assault case of her chief of staff, the absolutely weird security car situation (and even moreso, her lying to the media about both - and Burke Jr., which she continues to lie about), and now, her despicable campaign including Bobby Rush.


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