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The [Monday] Papers

"Mayor Rahm Emanuel has backed off his commitment to enter a court-enforced agreement with the federal government to reform the Chicago Police Department, his administration confirmed late Friday," the Tribune reports.

"Instead, Emanuel's administration is seeking a solution outside of court, one that drew criticism from criminal justice experts, reform advocates and the former federal official who oversaw the yearlong civil rights investigation into the police force that led to a damning report on the department's problems."

Any questions about Rahm's sincerity on the matter have now been answered: His heart was never in it. Instead, he was doing and continues to do the bare minimum dictated by political necessity. Most people don't change, no matter how many fuzzy sweaters they put on for heartwarming campaign commercials or how many tears they cry giving speeches before the city council. Rahm remains ruthless.


"The mayor and (police) Superintendent (Eddie Johnson) have been clear that the city is on the road to reform and there are no U-turns," mayoral spokesperson Adam Collins told the Tribune in statement e-mailed to the paper after City Hall's latest U-turn.

"Collins declined to answer questions about the details of the tentative agreement, including who would select the independent monitor, what specific reforms would be included and the time frame for enacting any changes."

Adam Collins, if it wasn't for your boss and the editors at the Trib who find e-mailed statements acceptable for publication, you'd be Today's Worst Person In Chicago.


"The Obama administration official who led the federal investigation, Vanita Gupta, former head of the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department, said Friday that the new arrangement was 'woefully inadequate.'

The problems outlined by Justice officials in the report are far too serious for the department to be reformed without the guidance and force of a judge, she said.

"The issues we found were deep and longstanding," Gupta said. "In a police department of that size, with the problems we found, it's exactly the kind of (department) where the consent decree process can make the most difference," she continued.

" . . . A memorandum of agreement is going to become yet another set of recommendations for the Chicago Police Department that are (not) going to have any teeth," she said.

That's just the way Rahm likes it: Toothless and ruthless.


"Experts and reform advocates noted that - even in the absence of federal pressure - the Emanuel administration could have partnered with community groups and sought judicial oversight of an agreement seeking reform."



As far as the timing of this development, it actually wasn't announced on a late Friday as part of an effort to bury it in a weekend news dump as some of us presumed - which doesn't mean it wasn't the result of a cynical media strategy.

"The mayor's office did not plan to announce its pursuit of a federal agreement for an independent monitor on Friday. But when Emanuel administration officials learned new Chicago Fraternal Order of Police President Kevin Graham had scheduled a radio interview on WVON-AM 1690 to discuss police reforms, the administration rushed to get ahead of Graham's appearance.

"Officials in the mayor's office anticipated that Graham, head of the police union that represents rank-and-file officers, might divulge the decision to seek an independent monitor. Instead, Graham talked about the need for more psychology clinicians in the department and discussed the importance of more cooperation from the community, among other issues."

For godsakes, don't let someone get ahead of your carefully massaged message, which includes e-mailed statements at the ready!


"Jonathan Smith, a Washington, D.C., attorney who once led Justice Department efforts to reform local police departments, criticized the tentative deal as 'a handshake, essentially, between the parties.'

"What they have said is they are going to rely on the city of Chicago's good faith to comply with the agreement . . . and that is a disaster in this circumstance," he said.

Don't forget: This all came about in the first place because of the murder of Laquan McDonald. Clearly, all Rahm has cared about in the aftermath of the teenager's death is his own politics, as evidenced by his office's own e-mails, his choice of Johnson as superintendent, his limp response to his blue-ribbon panel's recommendations on police department reform, and now this. What other evidence do you need?


School Board Daze
"As the clock neared midnight on the last day of the spring legislative session, the Illinois Senate revived a plan that could someday strip Mayor Rahm Emanuel and future mayors of the ability to handpick members of the Chicago Board of Education," the Sun-Times reports.

"And though Illinois politics is most certainly an unpredictable endeavor, the odds of the measure becoming reality look increasingly likely."

If that's true, this story has been hugely underplayed.


"Yes, it's still unclear whether Gov. Bruce Rauner will support the legislation to create an elected school board in Chicago. His approval would mean a big defeat for Emanuel - Rauner's onetime friend turned political enemy - but it also would amount to a huge win for the Chicago Teachers Union, and, by extension, organized labor groups that Rauner has battled since taking office.

"However, both Democrats and Republicans overwhelmingly back the idea of making Chicago's school board elected like every other one in the state: The House approved the legislation 105-9, while the Senate vote was 53-2. That means that even if Rauner vetoes the legislation, lawmakers in both chambers would have the ability to override him and make the measure law."

Whoa, look at those numbers!


"Under the Senate-approved version of the legislation, the first election of school board members in Chicago would take place at the same time as the 2023 mayoral race. The original language put the school board election on the 2019 ballot, in which Emanuel is expected to seek a third term."

Hmmm, a lot can happen in six years.



"Senators late Wednesday also cleared an amendment that would lower the number of proposed Chicago school board members in the bill from 21 to 15. That's still a huge increase from the seven city school board members in place now."



"Top CPS officials have lobbied state legislators hard to treat Illinois' largest school district just like all the others - except when it comes to how school board members are chosen. Their efforts in the Capitol have focused on funding and pension parity while testifying in committees against an elected board."


"Rauner said Friday he doubted the bill would make it to his desk: 'My sense is it's more for political spin. I don't think it's coming to my desk. I know the mayor is strongly opposed,' the governor said on WBEZ, Chicago's public radio station."

I wish the article would have explained the mechanism by which both houses of the General Assembly pass a bill and it still doesn't get sent to the governor's desk. That's a real thing, as far as I understand it, but I'd like to know more about how and why that actually occurs and may play out.

Nonetheless, there is also news here in that neither Michael Madigan, John Cullerton nor Kwame Raoul did the mayor's bidding here. Unless the plan all along has been to never send the bill to Rauner.


Raoul says the bill isn't about Rahm, but Raoul is wrong. If Rahm's school board hadn't been such a disaster, the idea of an elected school board - right as it is - would never have gotten enough momentum to pass (especially so heartily).


Rahm Hits The Trifecta
I've often said that Rahm has three jobs: mayor, police chief and superintendent of schools. He's failing at all three, isn't he?


Springfield Shuffle
"When Richard M. Daley was Chicago's mayor, legislators in Springfield were assured of one thing: At least one day every year, they'd get a good meal," Mark Guarino reports for Crain's in a piece called "Where Is Emanuel In The Budget Fight?"

Daley would direct some of the city's most prominent vendors to the state capital to feed legislators he wished to influence. During the "Taste of Chicago in Springfield," lawmakers would be using one hand to pick up grub like cheesecake, rib sandwiches and deep-dish pizza while their other hand was pressed into Daley's for votes.

"'Mayor Daley, he didn't just glad-hand, he arm-twisted, too,' says Ralph Martire, executive director of the Center for Tax & Budget Accountability, a think tank in Chicago. 'It's incumbent on the mayor to lobby for the city.'

"That old-school style of lobbying has essentially vanished during the tenure of his successor. Mayor Rahm Emanuel spends little to no time downstate and leaves lobbying to a small city department. The state budget crisis has devolved into an ugly war of words between Emanuel and Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, which has many lawmakers scratching their heads because the two have a friendship that has thrived outside of politics. The bond between the two is now so frayed that they decline to share a stage. If both are booked for an event, oftentimes one will leave the building before the other is slotted to speak."

I'm not so sure about the premise. First, I don't see how sending food to legislators constitutes arm-twisting, and second, I seem to recall the exact same complaints about Daley not expending any political capital - much less actually making a personal appearance or two - on lobbying Springfield.

For example, here's Kristen McQueary reporting on the same issue in 2011 for the Chicago News Cooperative/New York Times:

As Mayor Rahm Emanuel spent his second week in office on City Hall's fifth floor, his influence was being felt 200 miles away in Springfield, where lawmakers were considering his legislative agenda, including casino, schools and pension proposals.

A prodigious BlackBerry networker, Mr. Emanuel has been connecting with legislators regularly and deploying lobbyists to advance his agenda as the legislative session draws near a close on Tuesday. He has been deeply involved in the details of several bills affecting the Chicago Public Schools and a potential casino, lawmakers said. He also met with Springfield's power brokers when they were in Chicago.

"He has the advantage of being kind of a famous guy," said the Senate president, John J. Cullerton, Democrat of Chicago. "He was White House chief of staff. He is close to the president. And as you know, the media covers the mayor more than the U.S. senators or the governor. As a result, he's a big shot. He can be very effective down here."

Mr. Emanuel's hands-on style contrasts with former Mayor Richard M. Daley's arms-length approach to the General Assembly. Mr. Daley rarely called lawmakers - even those from Chicago districts - to lobby for bills. He relied on a small circle of trusted middlemen to handle the details and often shared his views on legislative matters at news conferences downtown.

Daley's hands-off approach to Springfield was well-known - and the cause of much vexation.


P.S.: Did PR hack Dennis Culloton have something to do with McQueary's story?


P.S.S.: The Tribune, in its retrospective book about Daley, called a lobbying trip he made to Springfield "uncharacteristic."


Sun-Times Suitors
Suddenly we have some new contestants, including:

* Former Ald. Edwin Eisendrath.

Here's an interesting interview I did with him in 2010; unlike J.B. Pritzker and other leading Dems, Eisendrath actually challenged Rod Blagojevich's re-election when everyone knew there was a good chance he could land in the pokey.

* Neil Bluhm.

I profiled Bluhm in 2000 for Chicago magazine; sadly it's not online so I can't link to it but I'll dig out a hard copy and review it for relevance. Since then, Bluhm has become a casino magnate.


The White Sox Report: Hawking Hawk
You do the math. How can a 75-year-old man have been in baseball for 80 years?


Chicagoetry: Wreck On The Highway
You ponder the protocols of sirens.


The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Girlpool, The Dopamines, Sigur Ros, The Ponys, U2, Blue Dream, Com Truise, You, Carl Palmer, Ratt, Diamond Rexx, and Mr. Big.



Neighbors Upset At Equipment On Roof Of MCA.


U.S. Treasury Cash Supply Tight As Rich Americans Delay Paying Taxes.


Obama Handed Trump A Weapon To Kill His Signature Health Care Law.

Obamacare is better than the proposed AHCA, but it's still awful in the big picture and should have been declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court as it was going to be until John Roberts lost his nerve.


NBC Lives In Data-Free Zone With Claims Of Freedom From Eyeglasses.

Again: Journalism has a huge quality issue.


How To Call BS On Big Data.

Instruction I gave in my only memo as managing editor of The Minnesota Daily: "Whenever interviewing someone, ask to yourself 'Why is this bastard lying to me?'"


Chicago Park Drinking Fountains Have Been Running For Weeks To Flush Pipes.


A sampling.

Don't kid yourself, this is the ethos of Corporate America at-large (and that includes media companies).

The corporate mindset is the enemy.


Irony: Republicans are the complicit French surrender monkeys of the Trump presidency.


Not breaking news: The president is a dunce.


A PR process that would shield us from the president's true thoughts. I prefer it this way. Now deal with who our president is.




The Beachwood Tronc Line: Competitive.


Posted on June 5, 2017

MUSIC - Chief Keef Changed The Industry.
TV - Vizio's Best Product Is You.
POLITICS - UIC: Soda Taxes Work.
SPORTS - More McCaskey Malpractice.

BOOKS - All About Poop.


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