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The [Thursday] Papers

"Leading black lawmakers in Springfield say they will press to close a loophole in state law that allows suburban police to avoid administrative scrutiny after shooting people, an omission highlighted in a recent Better Government Association/WBEZ investigation," the BGA and WBEZ report.

"'It's outrageous,' said state Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago, responding to the probe's findings that not a single officer was disciplined, re-trained or fired after 113 suburban police shootings over 13 years. What's more, no reviews for policy violations or mistakes were conducted in the vast majority of those shootings."

I have to admit that I have not yet read this piece of what seems like stellar journalism. It's been in my read-later app alongside so much other work I haven't yet gotten to - because there's too much good, important stuff to keep track of. Is this, weirdly, a golden age for Chicago journalism? I say weirdly because, well, tronc.

Also, there are notable large holes in the local media fabric, particularly when it comes to beat coverage. Real digital innovation that connects with sustainable business models is still lacking. But on the investigative front, the work we're seeing here is awfully compelling and impactful. (I happen to believe the Tribune and ProPublica Illinois should have won that Pulitzer hands down, but that's a different post.)

Anyway, back to the BGA/WBEZ today:

The four-part BGA/WBEZ investigation identified dozens of questionable police shootings - most in predominantly black suburbs. They included 20 police shootings in which officers fired at moving cars, 30 in which suspects were unarmed and another half-dozen in which police shot each other or innocent bystanders.

National experts told the BGA and WBEZ that police often violated their own policies and best practices by ramping up confrontations instead of de-escalating them, endangered innocent bystanders and even tampered with evidence after a shooting.

Still, the investigation found that in 113 shootings, not a single suburban officer was disciplined, retrained or fired after pulling the trigger. That's because of an omission in the 2015 police reform bill - sponsored by Raoul and pushed by the black caucus - that mandated police shootings throughout the state undergo an independent investigation.

Many suburban police chiefs and municipal officials interviewed said they assumed the investigations, which are performed by the Illinois State Police Public Integrity Task Force, also included reviews of whether officers violated policies, procedures and best practices. But the state police only look for criminal violations, a much higher standard than reviewing for mistakes, errant police tactics or violations of policy, all of which are far more common problems found in some police shootings, according to experts.

Raoul and other lawmakers interviewed for this report said they were surprised to learn such a fundamental police function as policy reviews after shootings was routinely ignored throughout suburban Cook County.

Now they know, thanks to the BGA and WBEZ.

Graybangers
"During January 1984, the Chicago Police Department labeled more than 700 people as suspected gang members following arrests for various crimes," Mick Dumke writes for ProPublica Illinois.

One was in his early 30s and identified as a member of the Black P Stones.

By last fall, nearly 34 years later, that individual was 77 - and still in what police commonly refer to as the department's "gang database."

In fact, the 77-year-old was one of 163 people in their 70s or 80s in the database, which now includes information about 128,000 people and counting, according to records I obtained through a series of requests under the state Freedom of Information Act.

It's hard to fathom that there are so many elderly, active gang members in Chicago who need to be tracked by police. But those aren't the only curious entries in the database. As of this March, it also included 13 people who are supposedly 118 years old - and two others listed as 132.

Over the last year, all kinds of questions have been raised about the way the police department collects and uses its gang data). But it's become clear to me the database is riddled with dubious entries, discrepancies and outright errors.

Those errors aren't just amusing aberrations conjuring images of gray gangbangers, though - they have serious consequences for real people. Go read the rest to find out how and why.

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Comment from Michael Clarke, via Facebook:

So the math here:

"During January 1984, the Chicago Police Department labeled more than 700 people as suspected gang members following arrests for various crimes," Mick Dumke writes for ProPublica Illinois.

"One was in his early 30s and identified as a member of the Black P Stones. By last fall, nearly 34 years later, that individual was 77 - and still in what police commonly refer to as the department's 'gang database.'"

This person was "in his early 30s" 34 years ago and was 77 last year? Am I missing something?

Me: You're right, that doesn't add up.

Amazon HQ2-Fer
"Later this year, Amazon will begin accepting grocery orders from customers using the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the federal anti-poverty program formerly known as food stamps. As the nation's largest e-commerce grocer, Amazon stands to profit more than any other retailer when the $70 billion program goes online after an initial eight-state pilot," the Intercept reports.

"But this new revenue will effectively function as a double subsidy for the company: In Arizona, new data suggests that one in three of the company's own employees depend on SNAP to put food on the table. In Pennsylvania and Ohio, the figure appears to be around one in 10. Overall, of five states that responded to a public records request for a list of their top employers of SNAP recipients, Amazon cracked the top 20 in four."

This is a long, in-depth report that demands particular attention here as Chicago vies for Amazon's "second headquarters" through a combination of begging, pleading, and massive tax subsidies contained in a secret offer we may never see.

Also, let's ask the mayor about this.

Sister Faculty
"Loyola's non-tenure track faculty union reached a tentative agreement with the university Monday night, but the graduate student union - which includes teaching and research assistants from the College of Arts and Sciences - hasn't received the same opportunity to negotiate with the university," the Loyola Phoenix reports.

"Formed in February 2017, the graduate student union hasn't been recognized as a union by Loyola, despite its recognition by the National Labor Relations Board. In October, Loyola officials said they wouldn't proceed with negotiations with the union, and The Phoenix has reported graduate students are prohibited from holding other jobs while working for the university."

Um, what?

Go read the rest for the whys and wherefores.

Garden Party
"Mayoral challengers Willie Wilson, Garry McCarthy and Paul Vallas have forged a mutual nonaggression pact. They've agreed to lay off each other, attack Rahm Emanuel and unite behind whoever forces the mayor into a runoff," Fran Spielman reports for the Sun-Times.

"If Emanuel is feeling ganged up on, he's not about to say. He's too busy executing his Rose Garden strategy of ignoring his opponents to avoid putting them on equal footing with the two-term incumbent mayor of Chicago."

That's not what a Rose Garden strategy is. A Rose Garden strategy is about holing up in your office and basically avoiding campaigning, or at least largely avoiding the media. Its name derives from presidents seeking re-election who essentially campaign from inside the White House, projecting power, grandeur and above-it-allness. Emanuel is hardly hiding in City Hall these days.

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"The man who served as former President Barack Obama's first White House chief of staff has veered from that Rose Garden script just once since the field started to fill with mayoral challengers."

So enamored of the theme she uses it twice in the same article!

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This statement by Emanuel about challenger and former CPS CEO Paul Vallas is notable, though; not because it veers from a Rose Garden script but because he might as well be talking about former mayor and patron Richard M. Daley, who was Vallas's boss.

"This is a person who is the architect of kicking the can down the road - from skipping pension payments, eliminating direct-line revenue support for teachers pensions to Chicago's corporate account . . . It took the city seven long, hard years to fix what he broke," Emanuel said.

"We're not going back. It's not gonna be back to the future . . . Since this is the day, we're not gonna have Groundhog Day again here in Chicago. It's not gonna happen."

Of course, Emanuel has frequently spoken of the dark old days - without mentioning who was in charge back then and how much Emanuel supported him. Maybe in this campaign he'll finally be forced to say the name of his old friend.

The Dorothy Brown Show
She's in - again.

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I just don't understand what the point is of seeking a comment - any comment - from a spokesperson, getting this, and actually publishing it.

Now, a question one might ask - and of the mayor, not a flak - is if the incumbent acknowledges that the large field indicates unhappiness with his job, especially given that it's reflective of his low approval rating. And how that might change the way he campaigns - even governs!

But really, I don't see the need to seek comment every time someone new enters the race. So many better questions to ask. Like: Who was mayor when Paul Vallas was supposedly bankrupting the city?

The Aristocrats
"Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democrat J.B. Pritzker spent a combined $105.2 million to win their respective party nominations - the equivalent of more than $100 per vote cast in last month's primaries, new campaign finance records show," the Tribune reports.

"Pritzker, a billionaire Hyatt Hotels heir and philanthropist, led the way by spending a record $68.3 million to win the crowded Democratic primary at a cost of $119.04 per vote. Pritzker collected more than 573,000 votes, or 45.2 percent of ballots cast, and won by nearly 20 percentage points based on unofficial vote totals. Pritzker is self-financing his campaign.

"Rauner, a wealthy private equity investor seeking a second term, spent nearly $37 million in eking out a narrow 2.8 percentage-point win over state Rep. Jeanne Ives of Wheaton. Rauner got around 361,300 votes - 51.4 percent - at a cost of $102.33 per vote. In contrast, Ives spent nearly $4.3 million in getting more than 341,000 votes at a cost of $12.55 per vote."

The interesting (though unanswerable) question to me is, what would the results have been if every candidate had the same amount of money to spend. Let's experiment next time!

Toni Time
"Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle on Wednesday is expected to become the first African American and woman chosen to lead the county Democratic Party, a sign of a changing political landscape and her ability to weather a storm," the Tribune reports.

How is that a sign of a changing political landscape? African-American women hold several (elected!) county positions, and while outgoing party chief Joe Berrios is male, he is a Latino (and one steadfastly supported by Preckwinkle for years).

It just seems like more of an inevitability to me than a changing landscape. Preckwinkle has been the vice chair for years and the heir apparent. Now Berrios is gone and she moves up. (I mean, I know some local reporters tried to make a competitive race out of this, just like they tried with the county board president's race, but in neither case was it ever close.)

*

"Just a few months ago, Preckwinkle was viewed as politically vulnerable, given her headlining support of the much-loathed and now-repealed pop tax, but then she easily won the Democratic primary and the commissioner candidates she backed also prevailed."

Was viewed by politically vulnerable by who?

If she was thought by the political professionals to be vulnerable, she would have drawn a stronger challenge than the tainted, discredited Bob Fioretti, whose most recent campaign before this one was badly losing a state legislative race.

*

Was the pop tax "much-loathed?" I mean, it wasn't exactly liked (and didn't poll well, sure), but it seems to me the media loathed it more than any other group of voters. After all, pop-tax repealers were the ones thrown off the board, not pop-tax supporters.

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"Preckwinkle has pledged to work toward 'lasting change,' but she is viewed as a transitional leader."

First, someone can enact lasting change in just one term. Second, viewed as a transitional leader by who? I hate these passive constructions so common in journalism. What reporters really mean when they write this way is that this is how they and other reporters, and perhaps a half-dozen political consultants and insiders at best "view" things. That's how the "consensus" of "conventional wisdom" comes to be. Believe me, I've been there.

*

"Preckwinkle also is viewed as comfortable with two sometimes-divergent camps within the county Democratic Party: old-school politicians who have seen their strength slip as the power of patronage politics wanes, and self-styled progressives who rely more on issues than political troops to win elections."

Boy, is there a lot of passive viewing in this piece. Just say it! Preckwinkle is generally reform-minded but has also always been steadfastly loyal to the party and loathe to challenge the Machine or the behavior of anyone in it. She stays in her own, goody-goody lane.

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And why are progressives "self-styled?"

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"The progressives' growing strength - and the split with regulars - played out last month, when a slate of three candidates backed by County Commissioner Jesus 'Chuy' Garcia defeated candidates backed by establishment Democrats."

Sure, progressives are ascendant in the party right now. But this split has played itself out for decades.

*

"Changes could include Michael Rodriguez, who represents Garcia's 22nd Ward as committeeman, taking Preckwinkle's current spot as city executive vice chairman; Thornton Township Committeeman Frank Zuccarelli, whose south suburban township led Democratic voter turnout, filling the first vice chairman seat left vacant after the death of Tim Bradford; and state Sen. Laura Murphy, the Maine Township committeewoman, taking the place now held by Robert Martwick Sr., who did not run for committeeman in March. The rest of the executive committee would not change."

When Frank Zuccarelli gets bumped up and everything else mostly remains the same, the landscape has changed much at all. But Preckwinkle will run a cleaner, tighter ship than Berrios.

*

"I certainly had my differences with Joe Berrios as assessor, but honestly, compared to his predecessors, I thought he did a pretty good job as the party chair: very inclusive, very fair, you know beginning to shift the party into a more grass-roots-oriented direction," said Ald. Joe Moore, 49th Ward committeeman. "If he were running for re-election as party chair, I wouldn't have any problem supporting him."

Joe Moore, you are Today's Worst Person In Chicago.

Soul Sucker
"Detective April Hope stomped into the Chicago police station feeling as gloomy as the springtime sky, as low as a dirty sidewalk, as tired as a cliche."

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P.S.: Clean sidewalks are just as low as dirty sidewalks.

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New on the Beachwood . . .

Chicagoetry: Happy
For 10 minutes.

The Creative Life Of Martysaurus Rex
More important than football.

Harry The Hat
He came from Ambassador East; A liar, a cheat, a braggart, a thief.

The Chicago Authority
A 9-piece band dedicated to celebrating the music of one of the most popular and prolific (and still touring!) bands of all time: Chicago!

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

Grupo Super T Desde.

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BeachBook

America Pays A Steep Price For Ignoring The Crimes Of George W. Bush.

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The New York Times Hasn't Opposed A War In The Last 30 years.

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'It Smells Like Death' - Alabama Endures New York Poop Train.

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Rahm Thinks Small On North Branch.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tronc Line: Too spicy for the pepper.



Permalink

Posted on April 19, 2018


MUSIC - Spring Awakening Wake-Up Call!
TV - Exclusive! Rahm's New TV Gig.
POLITICS - The Political Odds UPDATED.
SPORTS - NHL: CTE Not Our Fault.

BOOKS - Stan Lee, Flawed Hero.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Chicagoetry: I Am Iron Man.


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