• It’s the Chicago “Safe Summer” sports league, so what could possibly go wrong?

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    “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

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  • Kudos to a Chicago DA fighting FOR a prisoner’s rights

    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.

    • The judge: Nicholas Ford, known for his tough sentences.
    • The prosecutor: Eric Sussman. (Full disclosure: I have known Eric all his life.)
    • The defendant: Karen Padilla, held on several charges and mother of a new baby, born in jail

    The Chicago Tribune reports (link here):

    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.

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    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.

  • Actual headline: City Of Chicago Offers Advice In Event Of Nuclear Attack

    Here’s the apocalyptic story (CBS2 Chicago)

    And here is the actual page on the City of Chicago website.

    Let me paraphrase:

    1. You still owe your real-estate taxes and parking tickets, even if your house and car are burnt toast
    2. If you live on the South Side or West Side, remember: you are still at risk of drive-by shootings
    3. If you live near a church with a “nuclear-free zone” sign, you may ignore all warnings. You are safe and smug.
      • Also, please note that even a nuclear blast cannot crack the shell of your moral superiority
    4. Please replace your old City of Chicago flag with the newly-redesigned one below

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  • How bad is Illinois credit? Worse than customers at an East St. Louis Pawn Shop

    Make no mistake: the splat will be painful–very painful.

    And it will be felt by everyday folks across the state.

    It is likely to start after the Independence Day break, when we enter the third fiscal year without a state budget–or the revenues to meet current expenses.

    The bond agencies that rate states, municipalities, and corporations are likely to respond by downgrading Illinois’ debt to junk-bond status, the first time that has happened to a state in modern US history.

    That low-credit-rating raises borrowing costs significantly.

    At the same time, the failure to pass a balanced budget means the state cannot meet current expenses.

    Taken together, the credit downgrade and failure to pass a budget mean Illinois cannot fully fund current outlays out of current income and it cannot borrow without paying through the nose. For sketchy borrowers like Illinois, lenders demand a risk-premium; otherwise, they would be better off lending to more creditworthy clients. That is the happy position Illinois and Wisconsin are in, thanks to prudent fiscal managewment.

    What happens, starting in July?

    Road repair and construction will stop immediately.

    Schools across the state, including Chicago’s massive system, won’t have the money to open in August since local districts depend on state contributions.

    Out-of-state vendors have already stopped doing business with the state for fear they won’t be paid. That includes the multi-state lottery, Powerball.

    In-state vendors, whose payments have been delayed for years, are thinking about stopping sales to the state.

    Social services for the poor, sick, and elderly, already cut to the bone, will be cut further.

    Day-to-day, there is already too little revenue to pay state bills so the comptroller has been prioritizing.

    But there are limits to what she can do, and those may be further constrained by federal court cases, demanding the state pay for certain required services. If the state paid for those requirements first, there would be no money left for anything else.

    Uncharted waters

    There are no federal provisions for states taking bankruptcy, where creditors take a haircut and there are orderly work-out procedures, so we are moving into uncharted waters.

    As some early-modern maps said: Cave! hic sunt dragones

    Warning, there are dragons here.

    There are, indeed, dragons lurking–and they are hungry.