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The Weekend Desk Report

Natasha Julius has been detained at the border of motherhood and insanity. The B Team is on the case.

The Mayor, The Lobbyist And The Dead 6-Year-Old Girl
"Mayor Rahm Emanuel has refused for months to release public records that could shed light on his controversial speed camera plan while he persuaded state lawmakers and Gov. Pat Quinn to turn it into law," the Tribune reports.

"Now that the mayor has released a small number of the requested documents, even that incomplete portrait raises new questions about how the plan was developed and sold.

"The records, many of them heavily censored, offer clues into City Hall's misstatements about a pedestrian safety crisis, the role of a well-connected speed camera lobbyist and how the mayor linked the death of a little girl to his campaign for cameras even though the devices wouldn't have saved her."

In other words, Rahm Emanuel has been exposed as a liar who pimped a six-year-old's death in order to fake the real reason why he pushed so hard for speed-camera legislation. Which, of course, was for the money, not the children.

"The mayor, in a spirited interview in his City Hall office last week, said his camera push was 'upfront and public' and will make the streets safer.

"'I think what people want to know and they will judge me on, as you said the taxpayers, am I getting the job done?' Emanuel said. 'They will hold me accountable, and their job is to see what I am doing on a day-to-day basis and to see if I am doing what I pledged to do . . . I am making government information available. I am making sure people have access to it. I am bringing back a level of trust.'"

I am making heavily redacted government information available after vigorously fighting off requests under the law to do just that! I am bringing back a level of trust by releasing against my will information that shows how duplicitous I am!

"During the 90-minute interview, Emanuel repeatedly accused the newspaper of downplaying the safety benefits of cameras by ignoring a city study that he said shows red light cameras have reduced nearby fatalities by 60 percent.

"'I've had people call you with it, and you refuse to publish it,' he said.

"'If the report is wrong you should go analyze that report,' Emanuel said.

"But his press secretary later said the report could not be provided to the newspaper because key portions were 'confidential.'"

Just like Rahm's requests that the Tribune publish it! Those requests must have been confidential because he refused to release them!

"The mayor equated some public records requests to asking for a seat at the table."

Um, yes. It's called democracy.

"He scoffed at the notion that anything would get done if he didn't have leeway to work outside the glare of public scrutiny."

In Russia, scrutiny glares you!

"'I have been in an executive position, and - I mean this insulting so get it right - you haven't,' said Emanuel, a former top aide to Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. 'You have not been in the White House. You have not been in the mayor's office.'"

Wow. Has a more arrogant statement ever come out of City Hall?

It's not a new sentiment, though.

"'They have never worked the legislative process," Emanuel said of critics like the Times columnist Paul Krugman, who argued that Obama's concessions to Senate Republicans - in particular, the tax cuts, which will do little to stimulate the economy - produced a package that wasn't large enough to respond to the magnitude of the recession. 'How many bills has he passed?'"

Only fellow legislators - and now mayors - can critique Rahm. Only they know what it's like. Everybody else, shut up and sit down!

"The Tribune also has long-outstanding requests for similar records on two other major administration revenue initiatives: increases in water rates and the fees paid to renew vehicle stickers. No substantive documents have been forthcoming concerning those matters.

"Near the end of the interview, Emanuel said he would reconsider releasing more records: 'Between what you want and what I've got to do to be able to govern, we will find where we can find a happy middle ground.'"

I wonder how long that will take. The Tribune last wrote about those requests in November. I bet they were already longstanding by then.

"'If it wasn't for the fact that both the police chief and the head of schools came to me and said that we have a problem that is distinct from other cities, I would not have pushed something forward just because I'm looking for another unpopular issue to tackle,' Emanuel said last week.

"That assertion runs against a bare-bones log of speed camera-related e-mail correspondence involving administration officials over the summer and fall. The log, shorn of all content but sender, receiver, subject and date, was also prepared in response to the paper's open records request.

"The log shows that Emanuel staffers swapped hundreds of emails on speed cameras over that time frame, but none of those was sent from or to McCarthy and Brizard - or for that matter Emanuel, himself. Aides to the police and school heads were copied only days before the administration went public with the plan in late October, the log shows.

"One top administration official who shows up repeatedly in the log, going back to the very first e-mail on speed cameras sent on May 31, is city Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein. He has publicly taken credit for generating the speed camera idea.

"Emanuel, in the interview, said the lack of e-mails doesn't mean the police and schools chiefs weren't responsible, only that he communicated with them by phone. The administration previously has declined a Tribune request to review Emanuel's phone records."

In fact, a cursory review of stories shows Klein as city's leading advocate on the issue - besides Emanuel - not McCarthy or Brizard. There's nothing necessarily wrong with that, but why would Rahm insist otherwise?

"The logs also show lobbyists weighing in on the shape of Emanuel's legislative plan, among them Michael Kasper, an attorney who helped Emanuel last year fend off a residency challenge to his campaign for mayor. In Springfield, Kasper represents the interests of Redflex, the Australian camera vendor that supplies the city's red light equipment and could greatly benefit from the addition of speed cameras."

Ding ding ding ding ding! We have a winner.

"Kasper did not return a telephone message."

That's because he represents Redflex, not us. So he gets a seat at the table.

"The records released to the Tribune raise questions about the accuracy of other administration claims. They included talking points used by Emanuel and surrogates to sell the camera program that highlighted this claim:

"'Chicago has a higher percentage of pedestrian fatalities than other major U.S. and global cities - Chicago's pedestrian fatality rate is 68 percent higher than New York City's.'

"McCarthy repeated that claim while testifying for the mayor's bill at a legislative hearing in Springfield in October.

"The claim is wrong, refuted by the city's own five-year study that shows Chicago with a lower pedestrian fatality rate than New York as well as most other large U.S. cities."

A) But I thought McCarthy - and Brizard - brought the idea to the mayor because they thought Chicago had a particularly unique problem with dangerous intersections.

B) Isn't that perjury?

"Also among the released material was a daylong e-mail string among Emanuel public relations aides concerning the death of 6-year-old Diamond Robinson. The youngster was hit by a car late on Saturday, Oct. 29, as she crossed a South Side street headed to a Halloween party.

"The Tribune reported on the accident on its website the next morning, and soon afterward, Emanuel's then-press secretary, Chris Mather, forwarded it to colleagues. As the e-mail chain grew for hours, Mather and others attached comments that were mostly scrubbed from the copies supplied to the paper."

Like, how can we use this child's death to our advantage?

"Days later at a news conference, Emanuel sought to link Diamond's death to his speed camera push.

"'While we're speaking, Diamond Robinson, who was hit by a car near a school . . . they're actually having her funeral,' Emanuel said. 'That is a reminder of what we're talking about today and the full price and consequences of what we're talking about today.'

"Emanuel's legislation, if it had been in effect, would not have protected Diamond. The accident occurred on a weekend, and the new law restricts use of cameras near schools to weekdays.

"Jeanette Tucker, the girl's great-grandmother, said she backs the idea of speed cameras but realizes they would have done no good for Diamond.

"'The speed cameras wouldn't have helped save Diamond's life,' she said. 'What you need is stop signs and lights.'

"Tucker said she was unaware that Emanuel had invoked her great-grandchild to promote speed cameras, adding that she was interested in learning why Emanuel's aides were so interested in the girl's death when it was so fresh."

The mayor's office didn't even contact the family before invoking their child's name.

"'Yes, I would like to see what they said,' Tucker said. 'Can you tell me how I might do that?'"

No, that's confidential.

See also:
* Emanuel Speed Camera Push Runs Into Facts

* Proof That It's Not About The Children

* Rahm's Fake Transparency

Home Front
Will Mortgage Settlement Avoid Repeating Obama's Foreclosure Failures?

Riverdale. Roseland.

A Super Bowl Housecleaning
Tales from the front.


The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Safety first!


The Sound Opinions Weekend Report: "Love is in the air! Tune in for our Valentine's Day celebration and go back to those thrilling, terrifying feelings of First Love. Plus, much-hyped pop singer Lana Del Rey has made it to #2. But what about the music?"

The CAN TV Weekend Report: CAN TV brings you local, relevant issues from Chicago's neighborhoods and communities. See what's happening around the city in education, the arts, government, cultural events, social services and community activities.

Windy City Queer


Author Emma Vosicky reads from the anthology Windy City Queer: LGBTQ Dispatches From the Third Coast, a celebration of queer life in Chicago.

Sunday, February 12 at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21
45 min


Aging with Pride: Health Issues Facing LGBT Older Adults


Dr. Magda Houldberg and Cecilia Hardacker from the Howard Brown Health Center explore the healthcare disparities and barriers to care faced by LGBT older adults.

Sunday, February 12 at 10 a.m. on CAN TV21
2 hr


The Midwest Green Economy: Past, Present, and Future


A panel of experts discusses the potential for green business and job growth in Chicago and the region.

Sunday, February 12 at 12 p.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 30 min


Posted on February 11, 2012

MUSIC - Chief Keef Changed The Industry.
TV - Vizio's Best Product Is You.
POLITICS - UIC: Soda Taxes Work.
SPORTS - More McCaskey Malpractice.

BOOKS - All About Poop.


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