Tag Archives: Chicago

Chicago Politicians Quiet After Burke Raid

The Corruption Party has had one party rule in Chicago for decades. Nothing is changing.

No one represents Chicago’s old-school machine politics — or what’s left of it — more than City Hall’s longest-serving and most powerful alderman, Ed Burke.

But in the wake of federal agents raiding Burke’s City Hall and 14th Ward offices Thursday, the 21 candidates running for Chicago mayor — most of them on a proclaimed platform of reform — had very little to say about one of the most astonishing political developments in the city’s recent memory.

There were no news releases, few tweets and little professed outrage.

That’s because many of the race’s front-runners have some form of exposure, serving alongside Burke in the city’s political hierarchy, or counting him as a friend or mentor. And as the Burke investigation plays out in the final months of the Feb. 26 mayor’s race, the political fallout will leave some grasping for how to reconcile their self-professed desire to change City Hall with their ties to an iconic Chicago politician in the crosshairs of federal investigators.

On Friday, at least, few of them were talking.

Chicago’s Politicians Run with the Gangs

This story is amazing and perhaps explains why Chicago is as crime-ridden and violent as it is. One the one hand, it’s shocking. On the other hand, it doesn’t appear that much has changed in Chicago in 100 years. Only the names have changed.

A few months before last February’s citywide elections, Hal Baskin’s phone started ringing. And ringing. Most of the callers were candidates for Chicago City Council, seeking the kind of help Baskin was uniquely qualified to provide.

Baskin isn’t a slick campaign strategist. He’s a former gang leader and, for several decades, a community activist who now operates a neighborhood center that aims to keep kids off the streets. Baskin has deep contacts inside the South Side’s complex network of politicians, community organizations, and street gangs. as he recalls, the inquiring candidates wanted to know: “Who do I need to be talking to so I can get the gangs on board?”

Baskin—who was himself a candidate in the 16th Ward aldermanic race, which he would lose—was happy to oblige. In all, he says, he helped broker meetings between roughly 30 politicians (ten sitting aldermen and 20 candidates for City Council) and at least six gang representatives. That claim is backed up by two other community activists, Harold Davis Jr. and Kublai K. M. Toure, who worked with Baskin to arrange the meetings, and a third participant, also a community activist, who requested anonymity. The gang representatives were former chiefs who had walked away from day-to-day thug life, but they were still respected on the streets and wielded enough influence to mobilize active gang members.

[…]

The former chieftains, several of them ex-convicts, represented some of the most notorious gangs on the South and West Sides, including the Vice Lords, Gangster Disciples, Black Disciples, Cobras, Black P Stones, and Black Gangsters. Before the election, the gangs agreed to set aside decades-old rivalries and bloody vendettas to operate as a unified political force, which they called Black United Voters of Chicago. “They realized that if they came together, they could get the politicians to come to them,” explains Baskin.

The gang representatives were interested in electing aldermen sympathetic to their interests and those of their impoverished wards. As for the politicians, says Baskin, their interests essentially boiled down to getting elected or reelected. “All of [the political hopefuls] were aware of who they were meeting with,” he says. “They didn’t care. All they wanted to do was get the support.”

[…]

Many forms of political corruption—taking bribes, rigging elections, engaging in pay-to-play deals—are plainly unethical, if not illegal. But forming political alliances with gangs isn’t a clear matter of right or wrong, some say. In many Chicago neighborhoods, it’s virtually impossible for elected officials and candidates for public office not to have at least some connection, even family ties, to gang members. “People try to paint this picture of bad versus good—it’s not like that,” says a veteran political organizer based in Chicago who specializes in getting out the vote in minority areas. “Everybody lives with each other, grew up with each other. Just because somebody goes this way or that way, it doesn’t mean you’re just gonna write them off automatically.”

Murder Rate on the Way Down in Chicago

I’m pretty sure I saw this on Blue Bloods.

The Chicago police department’s monthly crime summary released today features a headline that may change the gun violence narrative that’s focused so much attention on this city.

For the eighth month in a row, gun violence has declined here. October saw a 30-percent drop in murders compared to the same month last year and a 34 percent reduction in shootings, according to the report. For the year so far, there have been 57 fewer murders than in 2016, a decline of almost 10 percent. The drop in shootings is even more dramatic: 545 less than in 2016, a reduction of over 18 percent.

Police attribute the progress mainly to enhanced technology and more focused intelligence gathering on the gangs that have generated most of the gun violence. Anthony Riccio, chief of the Chicago police Organized Crime Bureau, tells ABC News that “strategic support centers” set up in some of the city’s most violent districts have played a major role.

These centers combine computerized information about people in those areas likely to commit crimes — data such as police records and incident reports — with intelligence gathered by officers on the street. The result is what the CPD calls “predictive policing” that tells the cops where and when to deploy officers, preventing gun violence before it occurs.

“It’s been pretty accurate,” said Riccio. “All this information and analysis tells us where we believe we’re going to see violence. It’s much more laser-focused than we’ve had in the past.”

Chicago’s Killing Fields

Ouch. The tragic consequences of bad public policy combined with a toxic culture.

Chicago, effectively the capital of America’s Midwest, is hurtling toward the end of its deadliest year in nearly two decades, with more than 750 murders and 3,500 shootings.

By comparison, America’s two biggest cities, Los Angeles and New York, had about 600 murders combined.

The shootings in Chicago, which spiked nearly 50 percent in 2016, were concentrated mostly in historically segregated, economically struggling and predominantly African-American and Latino neighborhoods.

[…]

The department is facing a federal civil rights probe, the outcome of which could change how officers operate, adding a measure of uncertainty in the new year.

The force already has difficulties dealing with a wary African-American population. Some do not cooperate in murder investigations out of fear of retribution or distrust of police.

The department solved only about a third of the murders committed in 2016.

Black Lives Matter

They do.

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Chicago Moving to Require E15

Be sure to fill up before entering Chicago.

Supporters say the 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline blend reduces smog and helps the environment. But not everyone agrees that city gas stations should be forced to sell the fuel.

If the full city council passes the ordinance, Chicago will be the first city in the country to require the sale of E15 at all gas stations.