A message from the Chicago Board of Tourism.
It’s an ongoing feud. Pres. Donald Trump and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel keep pouring on gasoline because each one benefits.
When Da Mayor touts Sanctuary Cities, he is appealing to the Hispanic constituency essential to his reelection.
When he lashes out at Trump, he appeals to all Democrats in a city that is virtually all Democratic.
Trump, by contrast, uses Chicago to say that tough gun laws don’t prevent crime and that Deep Blue Cities are a Deep Mess. His base loves it.
That’s why Rahm went on the Stephen Colbert show to tout his new mock slogan for the city:
There is, of course, a huge Trump Tower in the city, with a mammoth sign, a Trump hotel, and so on. The city had given the honorific name of the owner to the nearby plaza but, naturally, removed it as a gesture of contempt.
Meanwhile, Trump uses the city to illustrate why stronger law enforcement is needed, gun control doesn’t work, and Democratic party control leads only to high taxes and more crime.
On the crime issue, one (anti-Trump) columnist writes in the Chicago Tribune: “Trump singles out Chicago violence again — but underestimates the problem”
The most devastating statistics in the article:
As of Thursday [Dec. 14, 2017], Chicago had 3,456 shooting victims this year, according to data tracked by the Tribune’s Breaking News Desk. That figure means there has been a shooting victim every 2 hours and 25 minutes.
And that, mind you, is an improvement:
Chicago’s violence in 2016 was worse — there were 4,369 shootings for the year, averaging one person shot every two hours.
Almost all of that crime occurs in poor, minority neighborhoods, as it does in Baltimore, St. Louis, Cleveland, Detroit, Memphis, etc. The better-off neighborhoods and downtown are still safe. Indeed, that’s why downtown areas are coming back with vibrance in these cities. If they were not safe, if they couldn’t attract young people and developers to cater to them, these cities would have no tax base at all.
When I returned to the Tribune website to get the link for the story above, I found there had already been another murder.
Whatever your politics, good kids like this teenager helping his stepdad deserve effective police protection.
True, the police cannot overcome the social breakdown of whole neighborhood, blocks filled with street gangs, young men who are not only unemployed but lack the skills to be employed at decent wages, and so on.
But the first duty of government is to protect its citizens. Chicago is failing, year after year.
Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed.
Linked articles in bold purple
◆ Trump in Asia: What Matters about the Trip (a comment)
The trip has three main goals, all important but in tension with each other
Trump is also likely to meet with Putin, with North Korea, Syria, and Iran as major topics
◆ Texas church shooting: A crazed, well-armed guy furious with his former in-laws, who worshipped at the church he attacked
That’s the report from local news outlets in the San Antonio area (KSAT in San Antonio)
Comment: Some commentators will stress his beliefs (“he was an atheist”). That is not what drove him. Anger and crazed impulsiveness, not ideology, are the drivers here.
Comment: Vassar, like so many small, elite colleges, is suffused with hard-left ideology.
They should call these schools “Illiberal Arts Colleges.”
◆ Chicago nearing 600 homicides, most since 2003 (Chicago Tribune)
How bad is it? The city has instituted a new program to show people how to stop bleeding from gunshot wounds (Chicago Tribune)
In U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Fusion GPS, the dossier’s financier via the Democratic Party and the Hillary Clinton campaign money, is fighting a House committee chairman’s bid to find out if the opposition research firm paid journalists.
In U.S. District Court in Florida, a self-described dossier victim wants a judge to order the news website BuzzFeed, which published the dossier in full, to disclose who gave it to them. –Washington Times
Comment: Fusion GPS is fighting so tenacious to prevent any disclosures of their receipts and expenditures, you can’t help but think they might have something to hide.
Pleading the 5th Amendment before Congress was also a hint.
Hat Tip to
◆ Tim Favero for the Vassar, William Jacobson story
A man who robbed a Far South Side hot dog stand accidentally shot himself in the leg and penis as he tried to escape early Tuesday, according to court documents.
Police were called . . . regarding a person shot and found Pouncy with two gunshot wounds, one to the right thigh and one to the penis, according to his arrest report. –Chicago Tribune
Comment: Oh, the other prisoners are gonna enjoy this story
The headline: “Chicago Alderman Who Told Businessman to ‘Come Back To Me On Your Knees’ Sued for Abuse of Power“ (Reason’s Hit and Run blog)
Chicago Alderman Proco Joe Moreno wanted to help a business [Double Door Music Hall] that had contributed to his campaign coffers. So he told Brian Strauss, a firefighter and property owner, to rent his building to the business or suffer the consequences. When Strauss refused to comply, Moreno made good on his threats, downzoning Strauss’s building and scuttling multiple attempts to sell the property.
Strauss is now suing, arguing that Moreno’s abuses of his aldermanic powers violate Strauss’ rights under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. –Reason blog
The story Reason reports is grotesque.
The key for outsiders to understand: Chicago alderman hold tremendous power to zone buildings within their ward. That power to zone translates, naturally, into campaign donations from people with zoning needs.
Strauss’ family has owned the building housing Double Door since the 1960s. It’s in a now-popular area. According to Strauss, Double Door had violated their lease and he wanted to evict them.
That’s when Alderman Moreno, the recipient of campaign donations from Double Door, stepped in–with rage and power:
“I’m tired of hearing about the sympathy of you and your family,” the alderman reportedly told Strauss and his attorney at one meeting. “Double Door is going to be in that building, there will never be another tenant in there, there will never be another sign on that building.”
Over the coming months, Moreno—in meetings brokered and attended by staffers for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel—tried to get Strauss to sell his building to Double Door for $7 million, despite its market value of nearly $10 million.
When that failed, the alderman started introducing downzoning proposals for Strauss’s property that would have made it off limits for most business uses. In June 2017, Moreno even tried to reclassify the building as a residential unit, which would prohibit practically all commercial uses.
That failed, but in September the city council did pass a downzoning ordinance, which prevents Strauss from converting his property to a general restaurant, a bar, or even, ironically, its previous use as concert venue.
In a very public, and very disturbing, encounter with Strauss, Moreno made clear his zoning changes were all about extracting concessions.
“You can come back to me on your knees, which is going to happen,” he raged. “It’s gonna be an empty building with no income for you or your family.” –Reason blog
In fact, Strauss has tried to sell but he says three sales have fallen through because of the zoning changes.
Now, he’s suing, saying that Moreno’s “extreme and outrageous” conduct amounts to a taking of his property without due process.
CBS2 Chicago investigated. Their findings confirm Moreno’s bullying behavior, some of it caught on cell phone video.
In the video, Moreno says he’s upset over the “tragedy” of the club’s closing.
“It’s a part of life,” Strauss says.
“Right,” Moreno says. “And part of life is also that you’re not going to have a tenant in here for three years.”
The fight reportedly stems from Moreno wanting to keep the Double Door, a campaign donor, in the building. –CBS2 Chicago
Comment: If the story reported by Reason and CBS2 is true, then the alderman’s conduct was “extreme and outrageous”–and utterly true to form for Chicago city government.
Alderman have extensive control over zoning in their wards. Fellow aldermen defer to each other, enjoying the benefits of reciprocity and fearing anything that would undermine it.
Their power to zone translates into the power to raise donations from anybody with real estate interests.
It’s the circle of life in politics.
My question: Why is this only a civil case? The actions alleged ought to be investigated as possible felonies by federal attorneys. (Expecting state attorneys to do such investigations of fellow pols is crazy talk.)
Thanks to Tom Elia for this story.
Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed.
Linked articles in bold purple
◆ Pres. Trump’s speech to the UN was blunt and aimed squarely at North Korea, Iran, and Venezuela
It combined two main elements:
The blunt language attracted a lot of attention. Conservatives (including many who don’t support Trump) were positive. Liberals cringed, longing for Obama’s soft tone, soft policies, and strategic patient.
He called the nuclear deal with Iran “an embarrassment” and “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the US has ever entered into.” He spoke of Iran’s aggressive support of terror and expansion in the Middle East. He specifically spoke about the threat from “Radical Islamic Terror,” words his predecessor never used (and that Trump himself has used less often in recent months).
He said nothing about “democracy promotion,” a centerpiece of George W. Bush’s foreign policy.
His comment on Venezuela was equally blunt, saying they had turned a rich country into an impoverished failure and done so not because it misapplied socialist policies but because it applied them exactly as they were intended.
Without using the term “axis of evil,” his speech clearly echoed those themes from Pres. Bush’s War on Terror.
As CNN put it, “No American President has ever spoken to the world like this,” calling terrorists and some nations “evil.”
The best comment about the speech came from
As someone said on Twitter, never before has been there so much murmuring of “holy sh**” in so many different languages.
◆ Two natural disasters:
Numerous casualties and fatalities from both, unfortunately.
Comment: The best way to keep up with news about each is with your favorite breaking-news site online. The cable channels will show you the gritty aftermath but take hours to give you the hard news you can get in a few minutes reading.
Senate Republicans, abandoning a key fiscal doctrine, agreed on Tuesday to move forward on a budget that would add to the federal deficit in order to pave the way for a $1.5 trillion tax cut over the next 10 years.
The Republican lawmakers, under mounting pressure to score a legislative win on taxes, say a tax cut of this magnitude will stimulate economic growth enough to offset any deficit impact.
Yet critics say a deficit-financed tax cut is at odds with longstanding Republican calls for fiscal discipline, including that tax cuts not add to the ballooning federal deficit.
Comment: Tax bills must originate in the House, which is dribbling out some information but not the key details. Those should come in the next week or so.
He and his gang of corrupt officers were tripped up in 2001 when they tried one ripoff while the dealer happened to be on the phone with his girlfriend. She mistakenly thought another drug dealer was the robber and called the cops. Honest cops showed up, saw what was happening, and that was the beginning of the end.
◆ Turkey increasingly uses its thuggish, dictatorial tactics in Western democracies. It did it again this week
They did it in May, 2017, when Turkish security officers assaulted peaceful demonstrators in Washington, DC. (New York Times report here.)
This week, they tried to stop a speaker at a conference in Philadelphia. The event was hosted by the Middle East Forum (MEF) for the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, known as NATO-PA.
NATO PA organizers asked that MEF remove a speaker, Emre Çelik, from the program in response to a demand issued by the office of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. MEF removed the speaker from the program, but invited him to address the gathering anyway.
When Çelik rose to speak, the Turkish delegation grew visibly agitated and acted quickly to shut down the event. –Middle East Forum
Daniel Pipes, who heads the Middle East Forum, spoke plainly about the incident, which was captured on video:
President Erdoğan’s attempt to stifle free speech at a Middle East Forum event today was despicable. We did not accept it. –Daniel Pipes
◆ Paul Manafort wants investigations of leaks, which may have come from Special Counsel Mueller’s office, which is trying to rachet up the pressure on Manafort (Reuters)
“If true, it is a felony to reveal the existence of a FISA warrant, regardless of the fact that no charges ever emerged,” [Manafort’s spokesman said].
“The U.S. Department of Justice’s Inspector General should immediately conduct an investigation into these leaks and to examine the motivations behind a previous administration’s effort to surveil a political opponent,” he said.
The special counsel’s office and the FBI both declined to comment on Maloni’s statement. They also did not comment on CNN’s original report about surveillance of Manafort. –Reuters
Comment: There are several disturbing aspects of this story, all requiring serious investigation. Manafort’s role is obviously one. So is the apparent release of secret information, the presence of a government wiretap on the manager of a political campaign, the possibility President Trump was picked up on the surveillance, and the statements by several Obama administration intelligence officials that they knew of no such surveillance. It is unclear if those officials made false statements under oath.
“The whole idea behind it was to keep kids safe.
And then it evolved into what it did,” said Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson. (Chicago Tribune story here.)
According to the Tribune:
Police finally canceled the event after fighting broke out. At least one video circulating on social media showed two girls brawling with each other as some people in the crowd jumped in, striking the women. –Chicago Tribune
Normally, the prosecutor gives a big “thumbs up” when a judge keeps a suspect in jail.
Not this time.
The second-ranking prosecutor in Cook County (Chicago) not only gave a thumbs down, he risked contempt of court by arguing so vociferously against the judge.
A longtime Cook County judge and a top prosecutor repeatedly shouted at each other Monday at a tense hearing over whether a pregnant woman should have been jailed without bail for more than a month this summer.
“I have every right to hold her,” said Judge Nicholas Ford, a former prosecutor known for imposing tough sentences.
“You do not!” countered First Assistant State’s Attorney Eric Sussman, his voice raised.
At times, the argument grew so heated that the two talked over each other, making their comments nearly unintelligible, as Karen Padilla stood nearby with her 3-week-old daughter strapped on her chest in a carrier. –Chicago Tribune
The defendant, Padilla, had several significant charges pending, none violent. Her current problems began when she was pulled over for a traffic violation, admitted that she had no driving license, and, when her records were checked, was found to have an outstanding arrest warrant (she was charged with pocketing customers’ payments at a restaurant where she worked).
So, she was taken to jail and was scheduled for a hearing, where she might be released, pending a trial date.
Because her hearing was delayed (no judge was available, apparently), the 25-year-old mother stayed in jail and gave birth there.
“Mr. Sussman, this is simple,” [Judge] Ford said.
“No, it’s not,” Sussman interjected, his voice raised, and the two again began to shout over each other.
“She had to give birth to her daughter in jail!” said Sussman, noting that Padilla couldn’t afford to pay restitution or fees as she was ordered. “This is not a debtor’s prison you’re running, your honor … and you illegally sentenced her to jail.”
“I didn’t sentence her to anything,” Ford shot back. –Chicago Tribune
Padilla was ultimately released on her on own recognizance.
Comment: I couldn’t be prouder of Eric Sussman for his conduct in this case.
I know his family shares that pride.
I only wish his father, Art (himself a very distinguished attorney), were here with mom Rita to smile at the work Eric is doing and the values he is fighting for.
This is carnage on a massive scale, even by Chicago’s dismal standards.
More police would help. So would a cooperative relationship between these crime-ridden areas and the police (right now, they don’t cooperate and see police as the enemy).
But changes in policing would not be enough.