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The [Monday] Papers

From Governor Bruce Rauner's amendatory veto of a bill passed by the General Assembly designed to institute a 72-hour waiting period before purchase of an assault weapon could be completed:

[A]nyone who deliberately kills a law enforcement officer or is a mass murderer deserves the death penalty. There are legitimate reasons for concern about the death penalty, reasons that I take seriously. Chief among those concerns is the alarming number of people who have been convicted by juries "beyond a reasonable doubt" and sentenced to death, but were later exonerated based on DNA or other evidence demonstrating that the jury convicted the wrong person. Consequently, the only morally justifiable standard of proof in a death penalty case is "beyond all doubt." This standard would apply not only at trial but also on appeal. There is ample evidence that juries and judges are more likely to sentence black men to death than others, resulting in obvious bias based on race and gender. If a person is justly convicted beyond all doubt of a crime for which death is deserved by a carefully crafted definition, then the only sentence objectively consistent with the demands of justice is death. For these reasons and in the interest of justice in cases of mass murder or murder of a police officer, I am exercising my amendatory veto authority to submit to the General Assembly a statute creating the offense of "death penalty murder," which would: 1) apply only to persons whose crime is so heinous as to clearly deserve to be executed; 2) require that any doubt regarding identification and guilt be resolved in favor of the accused both at trial and on appeal; and 3) provide that the only authorized sentence for death penalty murder is death, with a safety valve for those for whom the death penalty would be manifestly unjust, such as those with intellectual disability.

Yikes.

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"Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn abolished the death penalty Wednesday, more than a decade after the state imposed a moratorium on executions out of concern that innocent people could be put to death by a justice system that had wrongly condemned 13 men. Quinn also commuted the sentences of all 15 inmates remaining on Illinois' death row. They will now serve life in prison," NPR reported in 2011.

"Illinois' moratorium [went] back to 2000, when then-Republican Gov. George Ryan made international headlines by suspending executions. He acted after years of growing doubts about the justices system and after courts threw out the death sentences of 13 condemned men. Shortly before leaving office in 2003, Ryan also cleared death row, commuting the sentences of 167 inmates to life in prison. Illinois' last execution was in 1999."

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For someone who repeatedly insists he's not a politician, I've never seen as political a person in public office this side of Rahm Emanuel as Bruce Rauner. This is clearly a campaign document and not a serious public policy proposal.

First, the form of the proposal. In an amendatory veto? If Rauner were serious, he would have actually put forth a real piece of legislation that would undergo the proper vetting and debate such a momentous change - with lives literally on the line - deserves.

Second, the timing. Rauner suddenly got the death penalty religion between the time the GA passed an assault weapon waiting period bill and the time it reached his desk?

It's not as if the death penalty, exclusively for mass murderers or those who have killed police officers or not, has been a big agenda item for him. (It certainly was never part of the Turnaround Agenda, heh-heh. And he famously insisted during his 2014 campaign that he had "no social agenda," which presumably would include the death penalty, even if it was essentially a dog whistle about abortion.)

In fact, according to the Chicago Tribune archives, Rauner has never publicly uttered a word about the death penalty. Ever.

The closest I could find was a March 5, 2014 article in which the Trib noted in the 17th paragraph of a 19-paragraph story, that "All four [GOP primary] contenders said they want to see the death penalty restored in Illinois for the most serious crimes - if wrongful convictions can be avoided."

Now, the Trib isn't the end-all, be-all; I didn't check the rest of Illinois' media archives. But for all the Trib's blind spots, I doubt they would have missed a death penalty pronouncement from a sitting governor - or even a candidate for governor. After all, it was the Trib's work on the death penalty that went a long way toward its banishment in Illinois.

As Rich Miller writes on his Capitol Fax blog, "Rauner has very real problems with his GOP base."

That's what this is about. And it's despicable because, as so many pols are wont to do, Rauner is pimping dead police officers to score political points.

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Because it's not a serious proposal, I'm hesitant to take up the actual issue at hand, as it were, but a few quick points:

+ While attacks on police officers are said (by law enforcement) to be attacks on our very institutions of justice, police officers' lives are actually not any more valuable than anyone else's. That doesn't dishonor or disrespect police officers in any way; it honors and respects all lives (heh-heh).

+ We shouldn't blindly value an entire profession over other professions. A cop who is killed may be a horrible, crooked person while a teacher who is killed may be an angel who has changed the lives of untold numbers of people. (It should go without saying but I know it doesn't: Nobody deserves to murdered. So let's not make it a test of character at all by assigning halos to a select few.)

+ What about the death penalty for police officers convicted of murder? Few do more damage to our institutions of justice than the Jason Van Dykes of the world.

+ Despite the ever-present political rhetoric and media hype to the contrary, it's exceedingly rare for police officers to be killed in the line of duty - and the trend downward is pronounced. "The number of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty dropped sharply in 2017, marking the second-lowest toll in more than 50 years," USA Today reported last December.

+ I'm not a constitutional scholar, but I'm guessing Rauner's proposed new "beyond all doubt" standard in cases previously decided by the longstanding "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard is, um, constitutionally suspect.

Rauner's "proposal" is a political wonder. By citing successful death penalty prosecutions overturned later through, say, DNA evidence, as well as the institutionally racist application of the death penalty, Rauner covers his bases against the most immediate objections. And by also including in his amendatory veto an extension of the proposed 72-hour waiting period for assault weapon buyers to buyers of all guns, he even throws a cookie to gun control advocates. There are also provisions in his AV for bump stocks, trigger cranks, FOID cards, school security, and sentencing and plea bargain transparency. It's a one-man, comprehensive grand bargain by a desperate governor likely to lose his job unless something dramatic happens. This is not that thing. But it is, arguably, the Greatest Amendatory Veto ever, in all its clever, opportunistic gall. Bravo, Governor.

Six more months.

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New on the Beachwood . . .

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #200: Is Chicago A Great Sports Town? Was Val Kilmer The Greatest Doc Holliday Of All Time? Is Tom Ricketts The Best Chicago Owner Ever? An All-Star Special Edition.
Plus: The Greatest Chicago Baseball Moment Ever & Illinois' (Cross Our Fingers) Pot-Filled Sportsbooks

Featuring: Veeck As In Wreck; Ricketts As In Wrecketts; One Last Thing About The Cubs; A Very Special Schweinsteiger! And Much, Much More.

BRPodcastLogo.jpg

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The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Behavior, Bruised, No Age, Grendel, Ghostfeeder, Smoking Popes, Amazing Heeby Jeebies, Blood Red Shoes, Ghost Ship Octavius, Glen Phillips, Half the Animal, Jukebox the Ghost, Maluma, Haim, Dweezil Zappa, Andrew Bird, and Russo.

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Why Mad Magazine's Ethos Is Better Than The Washington Post's
"The editorial mission statement has always been the same: 'Everyone is lying to you, including magazines. Think for yourself. Question authority,'" according to longtime editor John Ficarra.

Sure beats "Democracy dies in darkness."

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WOAT
"We hear how Ricky's Boys Don't Quit, but even quitters might have been able to eke a few more wins than these guys have at this juncture," our very own Roger Wallenstein writes.

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ChicagoGram

Guy with a #snake #chicago #streetphotography #street

A post shared by @ gboozell on

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ChicagoTube

1213 Art Center.

"Support the development of our Hip Hop arts youth community center!"

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tronc Line: Brains for shit.



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Posted on May 14, 2018


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SPORTS - NHL: CTE Not Our Fault.

BOOKS - Gov. Ed Coles.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Exclusive! Why Chicago Lost HQ2.


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