The [Monday] Papers
"Call it death by a thousand tiny wounds, just about all of which were self-inflicted," our very own Jim Coffman writes in Bear Monday. "The Giants did a few things right down the stretch of Sunday's showdown at Soldier Field, but mostly the Bears chipped and chipped and chipped away at themselves until they crumbled."
Neither of Daley's last two chiefs - Terry Hillard and Phil Cline - were on the job for long, and Cline and Daley's first police chief, Matt Rodriguez, had to step down because of scandal. The mayor's track record isn't good.
Was Daley trying to say that this time he's gotten it right - that this guy will last, unlike the others?
I was puzzling over this just as a faithful reader sent me a note with a take I wish I would have thought of myself: It's about the Olympics. Daley is signaling to the Olympic committee, the theory goes, that this is the guy who will be in charge come 2016. And that would explain such an odd choice: bringing in an FBI agent with counterterrorism experience at a time when the department needs institutional reform. Throw in the fact that Weis will also take over the second job of emergency response director (that's why he'll make $300,000) and it makes a fair amount of sense.
Whatever the mayor's thinking is, Weis is a strange choice and it still isn't clear what he has that the other candidates didn't. One thing is for sure, though: There is no good reason to think that Weis has been brought in to clean up and transform the department, even if he is an outsider. There simply isn't any evidence to support that notion.
"Weis should have ample street cred: He has deep experience with hate crimes, gang violence, use-of-force complaints and other core components of urban law enforcement in cities as ethnically diverse as Los Angeles and Philadelphia," the Tribune crowed in an editorial on Sunday.
That sounds like a stretch. He'd have more street cred if he had actually ever been a street cop (Weis is coming to us from the FBI office in Philadelphia). Experience with hate crimes? Since when did that become a pressing qualification? Experience with use-of-force complaints? Do elaborate, because I've seen nothing to indicate he'll bring a fresh approach to perhaps the department's number one issue.
Beyond that, are you telling me that the nation's best police departments didn't have any rising stars to offer? That reformers were nowhere to be found? That there is not a single person-of-color in the entire land who is the equal of Weis and who would be more equipped to mend the perpetually and justifiably damaged relations between Chicago cops and minorities?
We'll never know because the process was conducted in secret by Daley, who made a mockery of the police board that is supposed to screen candidates and recommend finalists but instead was batted around like a cat's plaything by our Mayor for Life.
And where has the media been? Uninterested in the dysfunctional process and predictably approving in the mayor's actions. A certain amount of this is instinctual: The media would have loved Daley's pick no matter who it was. It's not personal, Jody. The Tribune went so far in its editorial to praise the mayor for getting it right every time with his police chief picks, spotty record to the contrary.
The Sun-Times editorial page was even worse on Sunday, using its vast warehouse of wisdom to declare that "Weis has the experience to restore Police Dept. luster."
Really? How does the Sun-Times know?
And how can you restore luster to a department that never had it?
The Sun-Times cites the U.S. attorney in Philadelphia saying "Jody had an appreciation for getting a handle on street violence" as evidence.
Case closed. I'm sure the other candidates didn't have a similar appreciation.
The truth is that no matter who the mayor picked for the job, outside of Drew Peterson, the editorial boards would have written the exact same approving pieces. They always do.
The Sun-Times gets particularly knotted up in its own favorable comparison of Weis to outsider U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald. "Unlike Fitzgerald, though, he won't be a detached third party working to change the system, but basically one of the guys."
So . . . not an outside reformer then?
It's doubtful Weis will be one of the guys, either, seeing as how he has never been a street cop (many of whom are not pleased with that fact). But if he was, that would run counter to the paper's vision of Weis as a man unencumbered by personal relationships - a notion that also conveniently leaves out the mayor who hand-picked him.
"His devotion to beat cops, encapsulated by his promise that 'I will have their back 100 percent,' raises the possibility he will continue the sorry tradition of slapping police who abuse their authority on the back when they need a kick in the rear."
So . . . not an outside reformer then?
"But when outsiders prove themselves winners here, whether in the football arena like Mike Ditka or the political arena like Barack Obama, Chicagoans embrace those individuals like one of their own."
What is this, high school? What a bunch of nonsense. On at least five different levels.
(Including the fact that the Sun-Times's owner, editor-in-chief and, I believe, its editorial page editor are outsiders - and not even proven winners.)
Meanwhile, we still have very little idea why the mayor picked Weis and what Weis plans to do.
Where to start?
A) We've never elected a black president - in part because so many white people think they won't be fairly served.
B) Steinberg's comfort with Barack Obama only illustrates his preference for people of color who don't discuss race.
C) Nobody said a white police chief couldn't serve all races. But we do have a sorry racial history here which includes the finding that the city had a de facto policy of torturing black suspects. The benefit of the doubt has been lost.
D) Like the editorial pages, Steinberg is asking the wrong question. The questions right now start with: Why Jody Weis? What is his plan?
The Beachwood Tip Line: The one and only.
Posted on December 3, 2007
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