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The [Wednesday] Papers

Rahm Emanuel's political instincts may have served him well through most of his career, but they've proven no match for his deeply ingrained need to try to outsmart everyone around him, even as he fights for survival, as we saw once again yesterday. It's killing him.

"Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Tuesday it's 'not possible' that City Hall's Law Department is part of the cover-up culture he's acknowledged exists at the Chicago Police Department - a day after a federal judge ruled that a city lawyer intentionally concealed evidence in a trial over a fatal Chicago police shooting," the Tribune reports.

"Emanuel also said it's not necessary for the U.S. Department of Justice to add the Law Department to its investigation into the Police Department's use of excessive force. And the mayor gave a vote of confidence to his top attorney, saying Stephen Patton would ensure the city's legal team is operating "at the highest level that the public should expect."

Let's break that down.

1. It's "not possible" that the city's law department is part of the "cover-up" culture that exists within the police department.

I'm not sure how someone makes a declaration like that - especially now. A reasonable person would acknowledge that it might be possible and order a review of policies and practices. Maybe Rahm thinks that would be showing weakness.

Another possibility is that such an acknowledgement - and/or finding - might lead to the conclusion that his whole administration is bathed in cover-up culture. The administration of his predecessor, Richard M. Daley, certainly was. A lot of us thought no mayoral administration could be more disingenuous than Daley's, but along came Rahm, who (like every pol these days) pledged to run the most transparent operation ever but instead has run the most secretive (and, as the New Year's Eve release of McDonald e-mails showed, the most media- and message-obsessed).

A cover-up culture isn't necessarily one in which folks are carrying out an active conspiracy, by the way. It's more often one in which putting the interests of the boss ahead of everything else - including justice - is business as usual. Think of any workplace you've experienced; it isn't hard to intuit the culture and what behavior is rewarded and what is punished.

Cover-up culture can also be non-intentional in the way that institutional racism is - a well-intended policy with consequences that haven't been properly anticipated. In the case of the city's law department, maybe the zeal to settle cases early out of the conviction that it saves money in the long run also prevents citizens from a full accounting of what the city has done wrong.

2. Rahm said it's not necessary for the U.S. Department of Justice to add the Law Department to its investigation into the Police Department's use of excessive force.

But I thought Rahm welcomed the DOJ investigation?! Look, the DOJ is gonna go where the DOJ wants to go. (In other words, the DOJ's gonna DOJ.) If their investigation takes them into the city's law department, there's nothing Rahm can do to stop it. In fact, nothing Rahm says has any impact of what the DOJ will do, so why say it's not necessary? That just makes Rahm look like he's scared that the DOJ will look at the law department.

A better person than Rahm would have said, "It's not a case of what I think is 'necessary,' it's what the DOJ thinks is necessary. The DOJ should go where their investigation takes them. We welcome their help - this is a historic opportunity, borne of horrible tragedy, to make real and dramatic changes to the way things are done in Chicago, and in the end we can come out the other side a far, far better city."

Instead, Rahm's response just invites comparisons, as the Trib notes, to his initial defiance of a DOJ investigation, just one in a series of defiances that he's been forced to reverse himself on throughout the Laquan McDonald saga.

3. Rahm not only expressed his confidence in Stephen Patton, but said that the city's legal team is operating "at the highest level that the public should expect."

Clearly, that's not true. The public should expect a higher level of operation than a federal judge issuing a scathing opinion about a lying city lawyer engaged in cover-up culture in a police-shooting case resulting in that lawyer's resignation. Patton may or may not have responsibility, but it happened on his watch. Doesn't that mean he owns it? And we all should have learned by now not to presume that this is just a case of "one bad apple." The benefit of the doubt swings the other way; we should at first assume a systemic problem until proven otherwise.

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Back to the article:

"The mayor's defense of Patton, a confidant, comes as a federal judge has cited and rebuked five city attorneys within the last year for withholding evidence in two separate police misconduct cases. In the most recent of those rulings Monday, U.S. District Judge Edmond Chang faulted lax training and oversight at Patton's department for hampering the production of Police Department records when officers are accused of misconduct."

1. I wonder if the term "confidant" could be replaced by "consigliere" and still be accurate. In any case, the Trib is signalling to us that Patton and Rahm are close enough to exchange frank advice of the most sensitive nature - and that Patton acts under Rahm's direction.

2. Five attorneys? And there's a second case? We knew about the case involving the one attorney that resulted in Chang's screed on Monday, but what's the other case about? The article doesn't mention it again.

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"On Tuesday, the mayor was asked whether the Law Department's handling of lethal force cases should be part of a federal civil rights investigation of the Police Department. He laughed and did not directly answer the question. Pressed again, Emanuel said that step is not needed to give Chicagoans confidence that necessary changes are being made."

1. Laugh when you're nervous much?

2. How in the world was Rahm not prepped for this question?

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"Chang's new ruling found that veteran city attorney Jordan Marsh, who has handled many of the city's high-profile police misconduct cases, intentionally concealed evidence by not informing the court about a relevant emergency radio dispatch in a police shooting case. The judge also found Marsh misled the court about his thought process for withholding the evidence and ruled that the co-counsel on the case, city attorney Thomas Aumann, failed to make a reasonable effort to find the radio recording."

1. Marsh, the attorney who has now resigned/been fired, "has handled many of the city's high-profile police misconduct cases." Does this give anyone heartache?

2. So Aumann also failed in that case. But there's no way the problem is systemic.

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"Despite the judge's finding, Emanuel said he does not believe the Law Department is part of a culture of cover-ups on police shootings.

"That's not possible when you're in front of a court and getting a judge's ruling," the mayor said while speaking to reporters at an unrelated event on the West Side.

What we just saw is not possible.

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"A spokesman for the city's law department said in a statement that the conduct outlined in the court ruling was 'unacceptable' and officials have taken steps, including updated training, to prevent such problems in the future," the Wall Street Journal reports.

Somehow I don't think "training" is the issue. Marsh was a senior lawyer - promoted by Patton - who had been in the department for nearly two decades.

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Fran Spielman portrayed Rahm's day quite differently for the Sun-Times: As a take-charge mayor.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday gave his corporation counsel a tenuous vote of confidence, but he put Stephen Patton on the clock to make certain that city attorneys never again conceal evidence.

One day after a senior city attorney resigned in disgrace after getting caught concealing evidence in a police shooting case, Emanuel said he has Patton's back, just as he once had former Police Supt. Garry McCarthy's.

But that confidence came with a caveat: Fix it. Tighten the ship.

Oh, nevermind. It's just a matter of tightening the ship.

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Cab #1555
"I kept pushing on that sound icon on the TV screen and nothing."

Women Sculptors Of Chicago
A new lecture series showcases their large scale works in stainless steel, bronze, welded steel, aluminum, carved wood, found and recycled objects, water-works, 3-D mosaics, indoor installations and gallery-sized artworks. With video!

SEC Not Required To Make Firms Disclose Political Contributions: Judge
Plaintiff argued shareholders deserve the right to assess whether corporate contributions are in companies' best interests.

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Posted on January 6, 2016


MUSIC - The Weekend In Chicago Rock Including Riot Fest Highlights.
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BOOKS - Dots & Dashes.

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