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The [Thursday] Papers

"The U.S. Justice Department said Wednesday that it has not reached an agreement with the city of Chicago on federal oversight of police reform as Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration has suggested," the Tribune reports.

"When Emanuel's office trickled out the news late Friday that the mayor was backing away from a written commitment to seek federal court oversight of police reform, the administration characterized a new arrangement with President Donald Trump's Justice Department as 'an agreement in principle.'

"But Justice Department spokesman Devin O'Malley said Emanuel's office had just sent the proposal to Washington that same day, and that the Trump administration had not agreed to anything, including using a memorandum of agreement as the approach for police reform."

So Rahm . . . lied?

*

Not only that, but Rahm defended the non-existent agreement against the quick backlash against what the police reform community sees as hugely inadequate - and a violation of Rahm's written commitment to a much tougher oversight process.

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"Emanuel spokesman Adam Collins issued a statement late Wednesday saying that 'the draft agreement submitted to DOJ by the city last week is exactly that, a draft. But it follows months of discussions with DOJ and an agreement on the approach.'"

Fine. But, even after months of discussion, a draft is not an agreement. Presumably, such a draft would have to be run up several flagpoles.

*

"The mayor and his office have described the new approach on police reform as including an independent monitor who would oversee police reforms, but that it would not include the mandatory court enforcement of a consent decree. Emanuel's office has declined to release a copy of the plan it sent to the Justice Department, and [Justice Department spokesman Devin] O'Malley declined to discuss any details of the city's proposal, citing ongoing discussions."

In other words, "We've come to an agreement but we can't show it to you because we haven't yet come to an agreement."

*

"O'Malley also would not say whether the possibility of a consent decree remained on the table."

Really? This is of vital importance. If a consent decree is indeed still possible, even in a Jeff Sessions administration, then Rahm is really misleading us.

*

"He also declined to say whether Emanuel proposed backing off from the federal court oversight or whether it came at the suggestion of the new Justice Department leadership."

Really? This is of vital importance. If a consent decree is indeed still possible, even in a Jeff Sessions administration, then Rahm is really misleading us.

*

"The mayor has ignored questions this week on who initiated the decision to move away from federal court oversight of the police reforms, a commitment the mayor made in January after then-President Barack Obama's Justice Department completed a civil rights investigation into the Chicago Police Department."

You would think there would be no reason to ignore such questions if the mayor was truly left with no other choice.

*

Also, I wish the TV and radio stations who host Rahm in regularly scheduled interviews, as well as the Op-Ed pages that publish his PR, would ban Rahm from their platforms as long as he continues to dodge reporters on an almost daily basis. He should not be allowed to pick and choose when he answers questions and in what forum. And it's offensive to reporters, whose jobs are made harder when the mayor they cover has safe harbors from which he can disseminate his unvetted political messaging.

*

"Criminal justice experts and reform advocates have stressed that even if the Justice Department no longer wants to pursue a consent decree under Sessions that Emanuel still could partner with community organizations to seek the oversight of a federal judge. The mayor has not answered questions this week asking whether he has considered such an approach."

Remember when police reform included greater transparency?

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"This proposal is a nonstarter for anyone committed to real reform of Chicago's broken system of policing," Karen Sheley, director of the ACLU of Illinois Police Practices Project, told the Tribune. "The city is proposing to sign a set of promises with a DOJ that is hostile to real police reform."

The ACLU also noted that Emanuel's statements that he is committed to reform echo similar past City Hall assurances that "have not yielded results."

Indeed. Like his predecessors, Rahm is doing the bare minimum that is politically necessary - and not one inch more. In fact, he's been dragged kicking and screaming at every step of the process. There should be no doubts left about his insincerity.

*

Now, again, to Fran Spielman's alternate reality over at the Sun-Times:

"An independent monitor overseeing Chicago Police reform can be 'as good' as court oversight, but only if the U.S. Department of Justice is party to the agreement and Mayor Rahm Emanuel remains committed to the five-year process, a policing expert said Tuesday."

How do you build an article around what a single person - friendly to the mayor's position - tells you? Especially when what he says runs counter to what every other expert has told us?

*

"'If you get a department that's resistant, doesn't think anything's wrong, they're fighting it, then you've got to go to court. But that's not the case here. That's why I think something like this can work,' said former Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., police chief Charles Ramsey, a former Chicago deputy police superintendent."

Ramsey has just undercut his case - apparently without Spielman's notice - because no honest observer can truly believe the CPD isn't resistant to reform generally and the reforms specifically called for in the wake of a blistering U.S. Justice Department review of the department's patterns and practices.

*

"I don't think consent decrees are always needed. I really like collaborative reform," Ramsey told the Sun-Times. "You can make the kinds of changes you need. It can be as transparent as you want it to be. And you can get the same result . . . Everything is there with the exception of reporting directly to a federal judge."

Everything about it is the same except the key provision that makes it different.

*

"Ramsey is in a unique position to pass judgment on Emanuel's plan. Not only was he paid $350 an hour and $36,490 over four months to help guide the Chicago Police Department through the federal civil rights investigation triggered by the police shooting of Laquan McDonald, but he also ran the Washington and Philadelphia police forces during DOJ investigations of those agencies."

Spielman takes it as a credential that Ramsey made $34,490 in just four months serving the mayor. I take it as Ramsey knowing which side is bread is buttered on. It's nearly disqualifying as a credential, not enhancing.

*

"In Washington, that culminated in a seven-year memorandum of agreement and the hiring of an independent monitor similar to the one that Emanuel has proposed in Chicago.

Spielman laps up Rahm's talking points about Washington instead of citing the numerous other cities that benefited from an actual consent decree in ways they would not have otherwise.

*

"Police reform in Philadelphia is '95 percent complete' after a process Ramsey described as 'collaborative reform with no independent monitor . . . Just us and the DOJ.'

"'I'm deputy monitor now in Cleveland, which is operating under a consent decree. And most of the interaction we have is between the monitor and the Department of Justice,' he said."

Sounds like Ramsey is applying for the Chicago job!

*

"We keep the judge apprised. But so far, the judge has not had to intervene in anything because the department, and Justice and the monitor - we get on the same page . . . without the court actually having to weigh in. They're always there in the event there's a problem that can't be resolved. But my experience has been that a good monitor can resolve most things."

Then why would you ever need a federal consent decree? For departments that are resistant to reform? Name one U.S. police department that isn't!

Also, do we really want to leave police reform in the hands of a collaboration between Rahm's City Hall and Sessions' Justice Department? I'll take the community and a federal judge, please.

*

"Earlier this week, Emanuel argued that he's not backing away from his January commitment to negotiate a court-enforced consent decree with the Justice Department.

"He's simply recognizing political reality; when U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions decided to retreat from police reform agreements nationwide, it left the Chicago Police Department on the dance floor without a partner."

That may be what Rahm wants us to believe, but as the Tribune reports, we don't know if that's true. And there's at least one other alternative Spielman refuses to recognize: partnering with community groups to seek the oversight of a federal judge.

*

"'The model that we're looking at - a memo of agreement - is just exactly what Chuck Ramsey did with Washington, D.C. You have an outside monitor, an independent set of eyes, that will help us implement the very principles that we negotiated with the Obama Justice Department,' the mayor said."

And I was about to say this was still a one-source story!

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Previously this week in police reform:
* Rahm failing at all three jobs. In The [Monday] Papers.

* Rahm's phony police reform. In The [Tuesday] Papers.

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Chicago's Guitar Goddess Shreds The Blues
Meet Joanna Connor.

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Trump's Not The Only Pol Blocking Constituents On Twitter
A Chicago alderman has been known to do the same, for example.

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BeachBook

A Taste Of West Africa On The South Side.

*

A Case For Reparations At The University Of Chicago.

*

Inside Trump's Secretive Immigration Court: Far From Scrutiny And Legal Aid.

See also: Immigrants In Detention Centers Are Often Hundreds Of Miles From Legal Help.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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If you're in the mafia.

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The Beachwood Tronc Line: Normal Chicago.



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Posted on June 8, 2017


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