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The [Tuesday] Papers

I think I can best sum up the police chief fiasco this way:

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A lot of folks, including me, reminisced over the weekend about other hiring foul-ups. In fact:

Many of us remembered firstly the Bears' botched hiring of Dave McGinnis.

But I also thought of a previous police chief hired outside the proscribed process: Jody Weis.

"A career FBI agent stepped gingerly into his new role as Chicago's top cop Thursday, pledging to rebuild public trust in a department tainted by brutality and corruption while assuring street cops that he has their back," the Tribune reported on November 30, 2007.

(If every new police chief's job is to rebuild trust, did trust ever exist? And why is it never rebuilt?

(Consider, too, how familiar this sounds: "Mayor Richard Daley on Thursday tapped J.P. 'Jody' Weis, the first outside superintendent in almost five decades, as he acknowledged that his police force has suffered from diminished public confidence.

("Weis, 49, who climbed the ranks of the FBI, will face the delicate balancing act of having his officers fight violent street crime aggressively while demonstrating sensitivity to minority communities that view some officers as overly forceful and abusive . . .

("At the same time, he said he does not want officers 'to shy away from assertive, quality, good policing, and assertive policing oftentimes will lead to complaints.'")

Weis, like new interim-ish Supt. Eddie Wilson, was chosen in what seemed to me at the time - and still does - as an extra-legal maneuver.

Maddeningly, the media largely didn't care. One had to read to the 35th paragraph of the Tribune's article (out of 42) to get to this:

"By city ordinance, the Chicago Police Board is responsible for vetting applicants for the police superintendent's job and submitting the names of three finalists. The mayor then selects one or rejects all three and asks for more candidates.

"But Daley acknowledged Thursday that as the board did its work this time, he conducted a search of his own.

"'I interviewed many people,' he said. 'I went out and reached [out] and talked to people all over this country . . . I looked at every resume that was submitted to the Police Board and even submitted to me.'"

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And Daley's personal search was extensive.

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Also of note from the link: "Weis wasn't Daley's first choice and probably not his second, third or fourth either, according to sources familiar with the talent hunt here in Washington."

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See also: Police Chief Blues.

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Weis's predecessor, Phil Cline, was hired properly.

"The hunt for a police superintendent to lead Chicago's struggle against a high homicide rate was narrowed Friday to three men - the department's acting superintendent, the police chief in Winnetka and a police commissioner from New York," the Tribune reported in 2003.

"The Chicago Police Board voted unanimously Thursday night to send Mayor Richard Daley the final choices to succeed Terry Hillard, who retired Aug. 15. Daley is expected to make a choice in two to three weeks after he interviews the finalists.

"The field is surprising to some because it includes two candidates from outside the department and none of the finalists is black. Many insiders had said it would be difficult for the mayor to appoint a white superintendent in a city that has significantly more minorities than whites.

"The finalists include Acting Supt. Phil Cline, who has been running the 13,500-officer department since Hillard's retirement; Joseph DeLopez, who became chief in Winnetka in 2002 after rising to deputy superintendent with the Chicago Police Department; and Garry McCarthy, a New York Police Department deputy commissioner."

Yes, that Garry McCarthy.

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A few days later:

"Mayor Daley said Tuesday he will not tinker with the established process for selecting a new police superintendent despite harsh criticism from some black leaders because no African-American candidate is among the three finalists.

"Daley said he will not consider any additional names submitted by a panel of black leaders being formed by Rev. Jesse Jackson.

"'They could have done it two months ago' when the search for a successor to Terry Hillard began, the mayor said. 'Where were they two months ago? This is a process. If you want to start changing the process because you don't like the outcome, it's very unfair.'"

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What I hadn't remembered is that when Garry McCarthy did get the job, in 2011, it was also handled personally by Rahm, outside of the process set up by city ordinance.

"[A]rriving at a choice for police superintendent is a more complicated process because of the formal role played by the Chicago Police Board, which must interview candidates and recommend three superintendent finalists," the Tribune reported then.

"Emanuel has been running a separate but parallel selection process while the police board goes about its work. He has been outspoken about picking his own top cop, sending a message that he expects the board's list of finalists to contain his own picks. The police board, which is appointed by the mayor, does not have a record of opposing the mayor on the top cop selection."

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Of course, Rahm has claimed to have reformed the police board in the last year as he changed up its membership, but notice that in his nomination of Lori Lightfoot to be board president, the duties described omit any role in hiring police chiefs.

Lightfoot has proclaimed her independence, but at the very least she takes her talking points from City Hall.

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On Sunday, the police board issued this statement:

"The Police Board has not received formal communication from the Mayor regarding the three nominees it submitted for the position of Superintendent of Police. The Board will be taking no action until it receives such notification. Until then, we will have no further comment."

In other words, the city body responsible with researching, vetting and nominating to the mayor finalists for police chief vacancies was the last to know that the mayor acted as if it didn't exist.

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On Monday, the police board issued this statement:

"Today, the Chicago Police Board received formal notification of the Mayor's decision to not appoint any of the three finalists for Superintendent previously provided by the Board and to appoint Eddie Johnson as the Interim Superintendent. We will convene as a Board as soon as we are able and decide appropriate next steps. While we appreciate that this is a topic of great importance and interest, the Board needs to take the time necessary to make the best decision possible given the importance of this issue for our City. Until that time, we will have no further comment."

*

Today, it posted this notice:

"The Police Board has scheduled an executive session for March 31. This executive session is closed to the public pursuant to Sections 2(c)(1), (3), (4), and (11) of the Illinois Open Meetings Act. The agenda for this special closed meeting is as follows:

1. Formulate actions in the appointment and selection process for the Superintendent of Police in order to nominate three candidates and submit those nominations to the Mayor as required by Section 2-84-030(1) of the Municipal Code of the City of Chicago."

*

Remember, the point of the police board's role in selecting the city's police chief isn't just to add some sort of oversight to the process - though that helps. It's to involve citizens (who always get lip service about community involvement except when it comes to community involvement) in the decision-making.

To wit:

Chicago Police Board President Lori E. Lightfoot announced today that the focus of the upcoming Police Board meeting will be on receiving additional community input on the search for a new Superintendent of Police.

When: Thursday, January 21, 7:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

Where: Chicago Public Safety Headquarters, 3510 South Michigan Avenue

Format: Community members will be given the opportunity to directly address members of the Police Board as it moves to hire a new Chicago Police Department Superintendent. Members of the public who sign up in advance to speak will be called first. Members of the public who sign up as they enter the meeting will then be called, time permitting. To ensure that as many people as possible can participate, individuals will be given an opportunity to speak for up to two minutes per person.

"A large number of people asked questions and offered comments on a wide range of important issues at our January 12 community input session," said President Lightfoot. "We welcome additional public comment and will give it our full consideration as we move forward in interviewing candidates and selecting three nominees for the Superintendent's position," she continued.

Members of the public wishing to sign up in advance to speak at the meeting must contact the Board's office at 312-742-4194 by 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, January 20.

As required by city ordinance, when there is a vacancy in the Superintendent's position, the Police Board is responsible for nominating three candidates for consideration by the Mayor.

The application for the Superintendent position was made available on December 10; candidates were given five weeks to complete and return the application to meet the January 15 deadline. The Board is now reviewing applications and will be interviewing a select group of candidates.

The Police Board is an independent body of citizens appointed by the Mayor with the advice and consent of the City Council.

So all of that was just theater - and a waste of everybody's time.

What say you, Ms. Lightfoot?

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Technically, Eddie Johnson is just the interim - replacing the previous interim, John Escalante. But LOL: "The Mayor is asking the Police Board to conduct another search and make its recommendations at a later date."

This time, Johnson will actually apply for the job - and he'll have a pretty good shot at getting it!

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Suggestion to Chicago mayors: Attempt to change the police board ordinance or comply with it, but don't just ignore it.

Suggestion to media: Press the point.

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The Political Odds
Updated to reflect recent developments.

Exclusive! Joe Maddon's 2016 Entrances
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Chicago Hustle & Flow
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Hill Street Blu-Ooh-Oohs
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BeachBook

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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Cat got your tongue, Escalante?

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Unclear on the concept.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Free processing.



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Posted on March 29, 2016


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