The [Friday] Papers
"With his burglary case stuck in the court system for the past two years, Reginald Brown has plenty of time to consider his future," Steve Schmadeke reports for the Tribune.
"Sitting in a mental health unit at Cook County Jail, he gazes at a piece of paper with a cross colored on it that he taped to the bottom of the bunk over his own bed.
"It's where I pray to God that something good will happen for me, that maybe this time I don't have to go to prison," he said in a recent interview.
"Brown, who says he has schizophrenia, is one of the mentally ill inmates swelling the jail's population."
So, just to review so far, Reginald Brown has been sitting in the Cook County Jail awaiting resolution of his burglary case for two years. Remember: the vast majority of county inmates are awaiting trial - they have not yet been convicted of anything.
And: Brown suffers from mental illness.
Therefore, it is not melodramatic to ask: What kind of a society are we?
"After dipping to 8,900 in 2011, the average annual jail population - primarily inmates awaiting trial - has been on the rise, with the daily count now frequently more than 10,000, the highest totals since 2007. About 5 percent of detainees at the jail have been awaiting trial for more than two years, according to the sheriff's office.
"With that rise in population, Chicago has regained its spot, once held by Houston, as home of the most populous single-site jail in the country - and also effectively Illinois' largest mental health facility."
Our mayor will not read this story and spin into one of his infamous rages; he won't call the police chief and the sheriff and the policy makers and scream fuck-yous into the phone and demand that something be done - now! He reserves that kind of urgency for critical issues like creating a do-nothing Infrastructure Trust (now!) and screaming at press aides for letting critical stories reach the public without his permission.
Oh, there's the Beachwood getting preachy again!
It's funny who gets accused of getting preachy and why. Usually the accusers are people who know the "preachers" are right and therefore feel uncomfortable in their souls. And it's funny how "preaching" gets defined. Rahm Emanuel preaches every day - to parents, teachers, citizens. He preaches bullshit about codes of silence and accountability and personal responsibility.
Yet there are certain issues on which Rahm - and his political cohort - are almost wholly silent; issues on which they take no responsibility and are never held to account.
Reginald Brown is a schizophrenic rotting in jail. No big deal. We can always pretend to apologize later.
Classic: Ignore an issue in its time, then later beseech everyone to move on. "We're sorry we weren't paying attention and we implore you to join us in continuing to not pay attention!"
Yes, let's just move on from the thing we never considered in the first place. That way it will be as if it never happened.
"Four members of the Walton family, heirs to Sam Walton's Wal-Mart fortune, are collectively worth more than $100 billion - more wealth than the entire bottom 40% of Americans."
Income inequality in action: Cutting social service budgets for the poor and ill while delivering wheelbarrows of cash to the Waltons. They probably made us pay for the ribbon and scissors too.
It's not clear that he means it - and it's very clear that Rahm Emanuel disagrees.
Reginald Brown sits in jail. The Waltons get richer. These aren't accidents; they are policy decisions.
These days the role of local government no longer appears to be providing services like schools, hospitals, roads and police officers but as a transfer agency that provides funding to businesses by allocating taxpayer money in a way that maximizes the favor gained from corporations and other wealthy interests. In return, elected officials are allowed to keep their jobs by getting funded from those same interests. To maintain appearances, these interests throw a few crumbs back to the community by making strategic charitable donations and by employing people at less than livable wages because it's better than no wage at all. And, of course, taxpayers pick up the rest of that tab, too.
"The board tacked on six cents a share - equal to $85 million - that the Chicago-based power company never made, augmenting earnings solely for the purpose of calculating bonuses."
"And that's with a five-year extension to CHA's original ten-year Plan For Transformation.
"The numbers are striking: In each of the last four years under Mayor Daley, CHA produced between 760 and 880 replacement units.
"In 2011, under Emanuel, CHA produced 424 units; the next year, 112 units; and in 2013, just 88.
"And in its proposed plan for 2014, which was the subject of a public hearing Wednesday, CHA is proposing a grand total of 40 new public housing units."
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Posted on September 13, 2013
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