The [Tuesday] Papers
Chicago Ald. Leslie Hairston says her latest proposals to provide intervention programs to fight violence have received no support - and squarely blamed Mayor Rahm Emanuel Friday with some pointed words.
Hairston is essentially right in the sense that the city would be throwing everything it had into the best anti-violence programs there are - neighborhood investment, affordable housing, desegregation, unclosing schools - with a budget that was exactly upside down of the mayor's priorities if he was as urgent (and thoughtful) about the issue as he claims to be.
I'm not convinced, though, of short-term intervention efforts such as CeaseFire, if that's what she's talking about. Let's read on.
"Hairston was referring to the $12 million dollar gift from Emanuel's billionaire friend Ken Griffin. The money is funding two bike paths along the lakefront trail."
Well, you can't control where a private citizen wants to spend their money. At the same time, maybe Emanuel could have convinced Griffin to put his money elsewhere, or made a deal that included some sort of trade-off for funding Griffin's bike paths. Emanuel could have even turned down the money - crazy as it seems - as a distortion of public policy and a bold stand on priorities.
"Put the same amount of resources in that you do when people bump up against each other on the north side," Hairston said.
This needs some context. See, Griffin thought the path situation along the lake was too crowded, so he offered up $12 million to fix it. Sort of for his own personal convenience. That's what kind of person Ken Griffin is. Too bad poor black kids dying isn't inconvenient enough for him to give a shit. (Disclaimer: If Griffin has donated to anti-violence efforts, I retract this. I did a quick search to see and came up blank, but it was by no means exhaustive, so I will acknowledge up front this could be a cheap shot. Nonetheless, $12 million for bike paths.)
But there's another problem
Emanuel did not take questions when he responded to the South Side bloodshed Thursday evening that left seven people dead in three different shootings.
The problem I'm talking about isn't that Emanuel didn't take questions, though that is a problem. It's his quite familiar comment that once again illuminates, though subtly in this case, his belief that the perpetrators of violence are simply men (and they are almost all men, or boys) of ill character, lacking in values that you and I have, unfit for society who belong behind bars with all the other demented creatures our society seems to produce in bushelfuls far beyond that of any of the world's other pseudo-democracies.
I know it's hard to hear this, but the perpetrators of violence are victims too. They've almost certainly suffered violence and death from the streets in their own families. They almost certainly are filled with rage and hopelessness. Their empathy was sapped long ago. Research shows most victims - not the kids getting hit by stray bullets, but targeted victims - are among a relatively small circle of people in the city who are also shooters. It's like a circular firing squad out there. But these young men (and they are mostly young men, or boys) were not born that way. Emanuel seems to think they are, or simply can't wrap his head around how even the most angelic young child can grow up to be a stone-cold killer.
A fellow officer took his own life.
The first lead I wrote for the godforsaken Waterloo, Iowa Courier when I was a police reporter there many, many years ago was this, addressed to cops: "Get a life."
It sprang from a conference I attended or an expert who visited the department, I can't quite remember, and this was long before the Internet and I'm not going to dig through my print clips right now, and the point was that police officers need - like the rest of us - to work hard to balance their lives in order to protect their mental states.
Now, I have no idea what was involved in this particular suicide; perhaps it had nothing to do with the job. But Second City Cop is right (!), no one should feel shame reaching out for help. Sadly, the DOJ is apparently right, too - the CPD Employee Assistance Program is underfunded, and I bet similar programs in many workplaces are either underfunded or far less helpful than they ought to be.
As a related aside, I've never sought out such help in the workplace, but I once sought help from the human resources department in one workplace to try to sort out an odd, sudden and unempathetic turn in my relationship with an editor I had theretofore worked hard to get along with and build a productive relationship with for years. I was warned by a colleague that "human resources is not your friend," but I plunged ahead anyway, with the best of intentions with, truthfully, reason on my side, as well as a willingness to work things out that my editor didn't seem to have. My colleague was right: human resources was not my friend. I often wondered then, and now looking back, if there was some backchannel communications they had, or if the natural tendency of human resources is to side with "management" regardless of the scenario (of course it is!). There's a profession that needs to take a hard look at itself. (I just remembered, I once produced a newsletter for a large human resources association.)
Anyway, the connection between these first two items is empathy and compassion. We need much more of both.
(I guess this is why the late Paul Green, whom I enjoyed a great deal despite his apologetics for the Machine, and everything that came with it, joked that he called my website Preachwood. That was a good one, and I chuckled at it, but who was the real cynic between us? To his credit, he did adapt my The Case Against Daley for use as a chapter in his book The Mayors: The Chicago Political Tradition, though; that's something I will always be grateful for.)
This article requires a full read; I can't do it justice here except to point out the secret players in the game. Read it and weep:
* Dick Devine, a former Cook County state's attorney and the board's first chair.
The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Did Obama Blow It On The Russia Hacking? (Hint: Of course he did; same old gutless self.)
Chicago Lawyer's Suicide Trial Highlights Anxiety In Big Law Mergers. (Yeah, probably a lot of other things going on, too, and I wouldn't blame antidepressants.)
The Beachwood Tronc Line: Don't go missing.
Posted on April 4, 2017
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