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The [Monday] Papers

Stay-at-home memes featuring the mayor sure gave Lori Lightfoot an image boost, but since what may have been a peak in her popularity she's been on a bit of a substantive losing streak. And now her credibility is crumbling - at least with me.

To wit:

* Disparate Dispersal Orders.

"Nearly half of the more than 8,700 verbal orders issued by Chicago police to enforce stay-at-home orders designed to slow the spread of COVID-19 took place on the West Side, according to data provided to WTTW News by the Chicago Police Department," the station reports.

That's counter to what Lightfoot told us at the time.

Lightfoot said she ordered Chicago police officials to equitably enforce the stay-at-home order, which she issued March 21 to stop the spread of the coronavirus and allowed to lapse on May 29 after the apparent peak of the pandemic.

However, the mayor has faced repeated complaints that White Chicagoans were allowed to gather in defiance of the order on the North Side, while Black and Latino Chicagoans were forced to disperse by police on the South and West sides of the city.

"The reality is the Chicago Police Department is active and engaged all over the city and doing it with an eye toward equity, and I would have it no other way as mayor of this city," Lightfoot said May 26. "I can tell you, based upon the statistics we've been keeping for weeks, those dispersal orders are happening all over the city - and yes, in White areas, in Latinx areas, in moneyed areas of the city."

There's wiggle room there - dispersals were happening all over the city - but the impression she gave of equity in those orders ran counter to the facts, and whatever data she says she was getting.

Now, is it possible that there was a need for more dispersal orders on the West Side? Maybe, but compared to the entirety of the much-larger North Side?

I would venture to say it's likely the dispersal orders were used to break up "loitering" and disrupt open-air drug markets, but if that's the case, the mayor should 'fess up.

That also wouldn't seem to account for the size of the imbalance in those numbers.

But then, the mayor chose not to answer WTTW's questions about the data that they got themselves from the Chicago Police Department, which isn't exactly a trusted supplier of such information.

Lightfoot did not respond to questions from WTTW News about the data and the disparity between the number of dispersal orders issued on the West Side in comparison to the North Side and Far South Side.

Not good, Mayor Meme.

* Protestors vs. Looters.

I noted this one last week:

"New data released by the Chicago Police Department from the weekend following the death of George Floyd shows that just 20% of arrests during the first few days of unrest were for looting-related crimes, contradicting earlier claims by CPD that looting made up the majority of arrests that weekend," the Chicago Reporter has found.

"Most of the 1,052 arrests were actually for protest-related charges. CPD provided the updated figures after the Reporter shared an analysis of arrest records that called CPD's numbers into question."

In other words, the Reporter did a better job analyzing the data than the cops did.

"In the days following the unrest, the Chicago Police Department maintained that the majority of the arrests that weekend were for 'criminal conduct tied to looting.' A report issued by CPD at the end of the week following the initial protests stated "1,258 individuals were arrested" during that weekend and, of those, '699 arrests were related to criminal conduct tied to looting and destruction of property."

"But according to updated numbers provided by the department Tuesday to the Reporter, only 213 of the 1,052 arrests were for looting-related incidents, about 70% less than the CPD's initial figures."

You could hang that one on the CPD, but . . .

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and top brass have claimed that CPD appropriately addressed the violence that weekend.

"Following this discrepancy, which appears to be the result of the Department relying on empirical data during the days of protests and civil unrest as well as an unintended category error, the Mayor's Office is working with the Chicago Police Department to ensure they re-run all data during this period of time to ensure a more accurate representation of arrests throughout the city," the mayor's office said in a statement provided to The Chicago Reporter.

Sure, the department could have made a category error. But Lightfoot bought it, sold it and owns it. Also, Lightfoot should have picked up the phone and answered the Reporter's questions instead of issuing a statement.

* Curfew Violations.

"As protesters took to the city's streets to highlight racial discrepancies in police enforcement, city data shows Chicago Police charged significantly more African Americans with violating a curfew imposed by Mayor Lori Lightfoot. Of more than 400 people charged, a Chicago Sun-Times review of the violations found, 75% were African American," the paper reports.

Again, the Lightfoot administration issues a statement instead of picking up the phone (and I'm not presuming they were asked to, but they should make the call anyway):

In a statement, CPD spokesman Thomas Ahern said the department's enforcement of the curfew "was universal, regardless of race or neighborhood."

So is Ahern saying that significantly more Blacks violated curfew, and therefore were charged at a higher rate? If that's so, just say it. Maybe more Blacks took to the streets after-hours.

But . . .

In the week following the May 30 protest, police records show enforcement of the curfew largely moved away from mass arrests in areas where protests were held to almost entirely focus on the city's West and South Sides, with black Chicagoans almost exclusively charged with curfew violations . . . In the days after the protest, city records show enforcement of the curfew moved almost entirely to the West and South Sides of the city. From June 1-4, 93% of people charged with curfew violations were black, city records show.

The mayor needs to explain this.

* Consent Decree Fail.

This is the mayor's wheelhouse. She thrust herself into the mayor's race in the first place on the strength of her Police Accountability Task Force, which led to the federal consent decree governing reform of the CPD. Police accountability is supposed to be her jam. And yet . . .

"More than a year into court-ordered reforms at the Chicago Police Department, the city has missed more than 70 percent of the deadlines set by the consent decree," CBS2 Chicago reports.

"A federal court ordered the city to comply with a consent decree, or reform efforts to make changes in several areas including use of force, community policing, accountability, recruitment and training. One year into monitoring whether or not these changes are being made, the department has, essentially, a failing grade, missing more deadlines than it made."

* Police in Schools.

"Mayor Lori Lightfoot will not pull police officers from Chicago Public School buildings, despite calls from students, teachers and activists who say that having officers in schools makes kids feel less safe and can negatively impact their learning," WTTW reports.

"Yeah we're not gonna do that," Mayor Lori Lightfoot said during a Friday morning press conference when asked if she would consider canceling CPS' existing contract with the Chicago Police Department.

Okay, that's just a bad method - imperiously cutting off all discussion of an issue because she's already made a decision in her own head instead of agreeing to listen to what folks have to say and seeking out a solution that addresses the concerns at hand. Perhaps, for example, cutting the number of schools with police officers and raising the bar for inserting them into those buildings.

Now, it's true that later Lightfoot, as she often does, seemed to back into a conversation, including the notion of leaving the decision of cops in schools up to Local School Councils, but that in itself presents its own problems. If there ever was a time to be open-minded about rethinking everything, now is the time.

* Defunding Police.

Here's what she just told the New York Times:

When I hear this issue around defunding, I hear, "We don't have enough resources in communities of color, and you spend way too much on the police." I agree with that piece. But let's break down the practicalities of what defunding means. In our Police Department, about 90 percent of the budget is personnel. When you talk about defunding, you're talking about getting rid of officers. Most of our diversity lies in the junior officers. So when you're talking about defunding the police, you're talking about doing it in a context of a collective-bargaining agreement that requires you to go in reverse seniority, which means you're getting rid of the younger officers. Which means you're getting rid of black and brown people. Which means you are eliminating one of the few tools that the city has to create middle-class incomes for black and brown folks. Nobody talks about that in the discussion to defund the police.

Fair enough, but defunding the police isn't just about personnel, and there may be ways around the reverse seniority issue, like offering early retirement to older white officers.

Nonetheless, she also told the Times:

You have to have an honest discussion about what the job description for the police should be. We have been happy for too long to let the police be the social-service worker, the domestic-violence intervener. I'm not saying that there isn't a reason to be angry at the police. There is. But when we force them to reckon with problems that are beyond their training, we're setting the police up for failure. So going back to the narrative of "defund the police," what I know is that we must do a better job of answering a call of need in our communities - and the answer isn't the police. It's something different. It's a Marshall Plan, if you will, for infusing our urban cores with the resources that we need to connect people to hopes of a better life. If we don't give people the ability to connect with the legitimate economy, with legitimate institutions, and help them think of themselves as having value and meaning, we will, every single time, lose them to the streets.

That, in part, is what defunders are saying.

But again, Lightfoot is quick to shoot down the discussion instead of looking for ways to engage for solutions.

* The Columbus Statue.

This one should've been a slam dunk. Of course the Columbus statue should come down! Instead, she gave the same answer that racist Republicans are giving about keeping statues of other racists standing: Teach the controversy!

And on top of her opposition to Juneteenth as a city holiday.

Here's what I wrote to a friend the other day:

So more consternation from Lightfoot this week . . . one thing I've learned is to ignore her first remarks and then see what she says/does later. Like cops in schools and shifting funding priorities vis a vis the cops budget, she says no right away and then later basically enters the discussion. Anyway . . .

* Juneteenth holiday. Well, it looks like the state may do it. She says it would cost $100 million. Why not just say, hey, it's too late for his year but we should take a look going forward because we'd want to replace a current holiday, not just add one?

* Columbus statue. Does she have a pal/donor who is, like, head of the Italian-American league or something? Her answer was the same as Trumpers' answer about this. WTF? Just say, YES, GET RID OF IT, or, let's take a look at all of our statues and street names and building names and maybe even appoint a task force or ask the Chicago Historical Museum or something to help?

I just don't get her defensive, knee-jerk responses . . . though partly it's probably Fran [Spielman] baiting her.

Look, she's not Rahm 2.0. That's just ridiculous. And she's not Daley 3.0. She's a fundamentally different person than either of them. And she's better on policy than both of them. But I'm not sure she's quite got a handle on the job yet, or understands the impact of her words. It's not so much a "messaging" problem, and I'm not in the business of advising pols and their handlers how to better manipulate the media to convey their framing and narratives, but a communication problem in speaking with clarity to the public, not getting ahead of the facts, and expressing (and actually keeping) an open mind to further an inclusive discourse.

* In Her Favor: Shitty Opponents.

When a hack like Ald. Ray Lopez gets elevated by the media (as in fellow hack Spielman) as the chief of the opposition simply because he's willing to attack on the record, Lightfoot comes out looking far better than the alternatives. Same for police union president and suspended officer John Catanzara (who can also easily get Spielman's attention).

And then there's the Chicago Teachers Union, which is taking the last campaign right into the next one without any respite - or good faith.

I mean, this is just laughable:

As far as the Scoopy-Doo meme goes, I will confess that I had no idea every episode ended with the reveal of a tied-up suspect. I'm sure I'm not alone, which is a big part of the problem. But even if I did know that, I would find the image of a black mayor tied up in ropes (by a bunch of white teenagers) disturbing (the CTU, after a day defending it, deleted the offensive tweet without explanation). I liken it to the Reader cover that got Mark Konkol fired: I'm not sure either image is racist per se, but each image uses disturbing racial imagery that made me blanche (my stomach tightens just thinking about them both) and triggered trauma in some Black folks well beyond that.

Yet, CTU vice president Stacy Davis Gates tried to deflect from the problematic imagery by saying it was nothing compared to real-world violence against Blacks instead of acknowleding that some people found the image painful.

(Similarly, though:

)

Also, Lori is not a cop, but that just goes to show how there's no turning back when you so deeply propagandize a membership (and their adjacents); you can't turn around and bargain in good faith or bring a spirit of collaboration to the table when you've called your opponent the Devil.

(While Lori is not a cop, she was a federal prosecutor and spent much of her pre-mayoral public life in the police accountability realm. I bet she admires cops - and is personally offended when they lie, cheat, steal and needlessly kill. That's not a bad thing, and positions her somewhat uniquely to preside over reform or even transformation if she gets her act together.)

By the way, Lightfoot also spent time on the boards of the ACLU, the Center for Wrongful Convictions and the Better Government Association.

She did not spend time ascending to the chair of the Cook County Democratic Party like the CTU's endorsed candidate.

That's why she got elected. Now she's a year into the job and has a reported 70% approval rating, so the public likes what they see so far. And maybe they like her style and positions; after all, they elected Daley and Rahm all those times. But I think she can do better.

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New on the Beachwood . . .

What's Wrong With White Teachers?
"Extolling the need for more black teachers is not the same as demanding white teachers be less racist. Naming what's wrong with white people's teaching skills must begin with calling out racism. We certainly need more black teachers, but recruitment isn't a solution for the racism students and teachers of color face everyday. The research is overwhelming."

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Black Lives, Golden Arches
"In her recently released book, Franchise: The Golden Arches in Black America, Marcia Chatelain traces how McDonald's tested and perfected its marketing strategy on black American communities."

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Cook County's Death Cruise Ship
We're not supposed to punish people by giving them diseases, yet the five largest clusters of the coronavirus are correctional institutes.

But let's face it: the lack of outrage is because the public generally doesn't give a shit about prisoners - even if those in jails, not prisons, are largely awaiting trial and presumably innocent.

If you still can't muster any anger about the conditions in our prisons and jails, though, consider how many people work in them and bring the virus back to their homes and communities.

In The John Oliver Coronavirus Chronicles VIII: Prisons & Jails.

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Free Comic Book Summer!
Replacing the COVID-canceled Free Comic Book Day.

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Chicago Rescues 22 Kittens From Alabama
They'll move straight into new homes without ever having to reside at a shelter.

See also: Sweet Home Chicago vs. Sweet Home Alabama.

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New from the Beachwood Sports Desk . . .

The Mystery Of Mitch's Missing Motivation
"Trubisky requires what the equally unsolvable predecessor Jay Cutler also could have used - a rewired network of mental operational connections," our very own David Rutter writes.

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TrackNotes: Betting The Baby Belmont
Tiz the Law is beatable by a bomber.

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TrackNotes: Single Crown
The operating BS of the majority is that if one horse wins all three of the races this year, it will be a Triple Crown. No. And. NO!

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The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #309: Life In The Fast Lane
Walls are falling. Plus: Rob Manfred Is A Cop; Wet Hot American Long Gone Summer; Bubble Life; Better At It Than Baseball; and Belmont Betting.

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ChicagoReddit

Where is the Reddit Chicago office? from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

Mega Tsunami Destroys Chicago.

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BeachBook

Something For Everyone At Jarrett Publications.

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Revisiting The Devil With Sarah Shook.

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Hummingbirds See Colors We Can't Even Imagine.

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Changing The Direction Of Your Ceiling Fan Can Change Your Life.

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TweetWood
A sampling of the delight and disgust you can find @BeachwoodReport.

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The Beachwood Flip Line: Flip it good.



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Posted on June 22, 2020


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