By John Ruberry

Last week via Twitter President Donald Trump issued a warning: “If Chicago doesn’t fix the horrible ‘carnage’ going on, 228 shootings in 2017 with 42 killings (up 24% from 2016), I will send in the Feds!”

Local media was puzzled and irked as to what Trump meant by “the feds.” Does that mean the US Army? Short of widespread rioting breaking out in Chicago, that’s not likely to happen. Perhaps Trump means to dispatch FBI and DEA agents, or officers from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms. But the federal government already has staff from those crime fighting agencies assisting the Chicago Police in fighting its murder epidemic.

Unless there is an ongoing investigation, I don’t believe the feds are looking for the evil pony at the bottom of the manure pile–Chicago politicians and their connections to street gangs.

Street gang temple,
Chicago’s South Side

Elected officials in Chicago constantly decry gun violence. But while firearms are the symptom, the disease is gang warfare. By all accounts the great majority of murders in Chicago are gang-related. Members of the Progressive Caucus on Chicago’s City Council regularly condemn “gun violence,” as do the other aldermen on the council. As for the former, like all leftists, they conspire like a chess player to advance their causes, in this instance, this means a ban on all handguns in Chicago, if not all firearms. As for the rest of the aldermen, perhaps they are cautious in condemning gang violence because some of them have ties to these criminal enterprises that are hollowing out Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods.

Six years ago Chicago Magazine, in a story about those street gang-pol connections, interviewed Hal Baskin, a former gang member who was defeated in his effort to join the City Council, about a meeting between aldermanic candidates and gang-bangers, or perhaps, according to the magazine, ex-gang bangers.

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.”

Baskin declined to name names, but Chicago has learned, through other sources at the meetings, the identities of some of the participants. They include: Aldermen Howard Brookins Jr. (21st Ward), Walter Burnett Jr. (27th), Willie Cochran (20th), and Freddrenna Lyle (6th). Alderman Pat Dowell (3rd) attended a meeting; upon realizing that the participants had close gang ties, she objected but stayed. Also attending were candidates who would go on to win their races, including Michael Chandler (24th) and Roderick Sawyer (6th). Darcel Beavers, the former 7th Ward alderman who would wind up losing her race, and Patricia Horton, a commissioner with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District who lost her bid for city clerk, also met with the group.

Cochran campaign sign in Englewood

Late last year one of those underhanded aldermen, Willie Cochran, was indicted for a series of alleged financial crimes, including stealing from his ward’s charity. Part of Cochran’s ward covers the notorious Englewood neighborhood on the South Side, one of the most violent parts of “Chiraq.” And by violence of course I mean street gang violence.

Okay, I’m not an attorney, but Chicago Magazine provided us a list of names that at the very least makes them, in my opinion, persons of interest.

Jesse Jackson in Chicago in 2012

Roughly once every 18 months a member of Chicago’s City Council is sentenced to prison, the most recent of which was Ald. Sandi Jackson (7th). Her father-in-law is the Rev. Jesse Jackson, whose half-brother, Noah Robinson, enjoyed long time connections to the El Rukn gang, which, under a different name, remains one of Chicago’s largest and most vicious street gangs. Robinson is serving a life sentence for narcotics crimes, racketeering, and murder-for-hire.

As for Jesse Jackson, in 1984, during his first campaign for the presidency, he publicly lauded the El Rukns for their efforts in voter registration. The year prior the Cook County Regular Democratic Organization paid the gang over $10,000 to work as poll watchers for the failed campaign of incumbent Chicago mayor Jane Bryne. At that time the party was led by Edward “Fast Eddie” Vrdolyak, then the 10th Ward alderman, who–this will sound familiar–was indicted late last year. Now a Republican, Vrdolyak is already an ex-con.

Shameful.

What can the Chicago Police do about gangs and their politician pals?

According to that Chicago Magazine article, not a heck of a lot.

Two police sources—a former gang investigator and a veteran detective—bluntly acknowledge that even if the police know of dubious dealings between an alderman and a gang leader or drug dealer, there is little, if anything, they can do, thanks to what they say is the department’s unofficial rule: Stay away from public officials. “We can’t arrest aldermen,” says the gang investigator, “unless they’re doing something obvious to endanger someone. We’re told to stand down.” The detective concurs: “It’s the unwritten rule. There’s a two-tier justice system here.”

That paragraph alone explains why Trump’s “feds,” or perhaps different feds, are needed in America’s third-largest city.

And the criminality apparently goes past shootings, as Chicago Magazine again tells us.

Beyond providing protection from police—the gangs’ number one request—public officials can help in other ways. Gang leaders, particularly the most powerful, are usually looking to build on the riches they already have. Knowing an alderman or a state legislator—or even a congressman—can help. Traditionally, aldermen have almost total say over what gets built and what sorts of businesses open in their wards. They also have considerable sway over city contracts, which can mean tens of thousands to millions of dollars for gang-owned businesses.

Chicago needs Trump’s feds.

John “Lee” Ruberry of the Magnificent Seven

Or maybe the president only needs to send an accountant. It was a member of that profession, Frank J. Wilson of the US Treasury Department, who put together the evidence to convict Al Capone of tax evasion.

John Ruberry, a fifth-generation Chicago area resident, regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Black Lives MatterBy John Ruberry

Even though the protest took place just three days ago, the blocking of the Dan Ryan Expressway near Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood by Black Lives Matter radicals is already largely forgotten. The rally was organized after the deaths of two black men last week by two police officers in Minnesota and Louisiana. The Chicago protest was of course overshadowed by the shooting deaths of five Dallas cops during a Black Lives Matter protest in the Texas city that night–seven other police officers were wounded. The assassin, Micah Xavier Johnson, sympathized with black nationalist groups and can fairly be called a racist.

The Chicago expressway blocking occurred three days after another bloody holiday weekend in America’s third-largest city. Four people were murdered in Chicago and an astounding 62 others were wounded during the 4th of July weekend. The thugs didn’t lock up their guns on July 5. In fact, on the day before the expressway protest a four-year-old Englewood boy was shot several times a mile away from that rally.

I wasn’t there but I will wager a sizable sum of cash that none of the leftists decried the shooting of that boy.  The people who live in the home where the 4-year-old lives believe their home is being targeted–they claim they don’t know by whom. In May a 53-year-old woman who lives in that house was wounded in a shooting there.

pierre-loury
Pierre Loury

One house–two shootings–three months. Does anyone seriously believe that the Chicago Police is targeting this home?

Since New Year’s Day there have been 2,054 shootings in Chicago–312 of those shootings were fatal. The great majority of the victims were African-American as were likely the perpetrators, although no one can say for sure because most “Chiraq” murders are street-gang related and go unsolved.

This year there has been just one shooting death by Chicago Police of a criminal suspect, 16-year-old Pierre Loury, a known gang member. Cops say Loury, who posted a picture of himself holding a gun on his Facebook page, pointed a weapon at them.

Madison and Pulaski in Chicago
Madison and Pulaski in Chicago

Loury was a West Sider, and as bad as Englewood is, most of Chicago’s West Side is worse. The West Side, unless you are Mayor Rahm Emanuel or part of the CPD brass, is well known among Chicagoans for its open-air drug markets. The corner of Madison and Pulaski is a popular spot to purchase narcotics. Yes, Black Lives Matter leftists protested the Loury death–and they briefly blocked the Eisenhower expressway on the West Side, but they didn’t march on Madison and Pulaski. Turf wars over drugs often turn fatal, there is nothing new about that.

Only some black lives matter to Black Lives Matter. Crime doesn’t seem to matter at all to them.

But as with all leftist causes, protesting police shootings is only a means to their end. “The issue is never the issue,” they say, “the issue is always the revolution.”

Meanwhile black people keep shooting each other in Chicago and other big cities in America. Only the police are there to provide protection.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

By John RuberryChiraq

Chicago is five days removed from its bloodiest May in twenty-one years. Two decades Chicago had more residents, so on a per capita basis May 2016 is even worse than it seems. The Tuesday tally for Memorial Day weekend carnage was six dead and 69 wounded. You might as well add a seventh death to the the total; yesterday a man who chased a woman onto a busy street last Sunday where she was killed by car as she escaped his alleged robbery attempt was charged with murder.

What is Chicago’s mayor, Rahm Emanuel, doing about the mayhem?

Not a whole lot.

Which is surprising because this is the man who shortly before he became Barack Obama’s first White House chief-of-staff said, “You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.”

Sabina guns
Pfleger’s church

Rahm–you have your crisis. Even though it has a much smaller population, Chicago, which a rapper, since shot, coined the “Chiraq” nickname for, suffers from more murders year after year than New York and Los Angeles.

Why is that? Well, Emanuel and loudmouths such as onetime Obama faith advisor Father Michael Pfleger blame guns. But Chicago isn’t a setting for a Stephen King novel, the firearms don’t fire themselves.

The real problem is street gangs. With the possible exception of Los Angeles, Chiraq has more gang members than any city in the country, 68,000 of them in 2012. That’s more than the population of a Chicago ward.

If Rahm really believes that a crisis shouldn’t go to waste, he can declare war on gangs. Sure, the arrest of 100 gangbangers last month was a good start, but that turned out to be a very bittersweet minor victory because one hour after the press conference at Chicago Police headquarters announcing the busts, a city of Chicago employee was shot to death one block away, the intended target was a gang member who obviously wasn’t one of the 100.

As with most Chicago murders–this killing remains unsolved.

A war on gangs will be a tough one, Rahm will learn if he takes my advice and wages one. Gang members have their wiggled their tentacles throughout Chicago society and government, even within the City Council.

And I have to suspect that there are some John Connolly types, not the onetime Texas governor, but gangster Whitey Bulger’s mole in the FBI, within the Chicago Police Department.

Last month an alleged hitman for the Chicago-based Gangster Disciples gang, who was also a suburban Atlanta cop, was one of 48 gangbangers charged in a sweeping federal indictment.

Rahm, you now have the “opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.”

John "Lee" Ruberry
John “Lee” Ruberry

Yet my guess is that Emanuel will make only half-hearted attempts to fight Chicago violence. Because he’s a liberal he fears being attacked from the left–from groups as Black Lives Matters, for instance. And progressives, because they are obsessed with the rights of thugs, aren’t predispositioned to be effective crime fighters.

Meanwhile Chicagoans are slaughtering each other while Rahm is checking his latest poll numbers.

Special thanks go out to the Facebook commentor who reminded me of Emanuel’s famous quote.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Chicago's lakefront
Chicago’s lakefront

By John Ruberry

Yes, three years is a long time in politics but even before the uproar over the Laquan McDonald shooting–the troubled black teen was shot 16 times by a white Chicago police officer in 2014–Mayor Rahm Emanuel already faced tough reelection prospects in 2019. President Obama’s former chief of staff was forced into a runoff in last year’s election with leftist Jesus “Chuy” Garcia. Emanuel won, but it was not an overwhelming victory.

It will likely be Rahm’s last win.

If only because of habit, Chicago mayors need the air of permanence in order to run the city. Richard J. Daley, the legendary boss of the Chicago Machine, was mayor for twenty-one years until his death in 1976. The city’s first black mayor, Harold Washington, gained the unofficial mayor-for-life title when he was reelected in 1987–but he died in office seven months later. The son of the Boss topped his father by serving twenty-two years as mayor; he retired in 2011 and Rahm succeeded him.

Chicago has 50 alderman–which is at least double the number it needs, especially since the City Council is traditionally a rubber-stamp body. The aldermen typically use their office to enrich themselves, both legally and illegally, and set up their relatives and cronies with government sinecures. If these alley despots play ball with the mayor, they typically stay in office. If not, usually covertly, the mayor sends his political army to topple the disobedient pol, which makes for many unhappy family gatherings for that former alderman.

But Rahm Emanuel is unpopular–his clout is diminished. And besides the McDonald scandal, Chicagoans are angry over last year’s property tax hike hike–the largest in city history. That tax increase is being used to pump cash into Chicago’s woefully underfunded public pension system. Pensions are a mess that Emanuel inherited from Daley, which could explain his decision to retire.

ChiraqChicago bonds, as well as those of Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Park District are rated as junk.

Bankruptcy seems the only way out of Chicago’s path into insolvency, but state law currently prohibits municipal bankruptcies.

There were fifty more murders in “Chiraq” in 2015 than there were in the prior year.

Chicago’s next mayor will probably be a leftist, possibly “Chuy.” But conservative-minded Chicagoans–yes, there are some–have three years to find a candidate. A fool’s hope? Probably. But Chicago needs a savior.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Chicago's skyline
Chicago’s skyline

By John Ruberry

On Monday Rahm Emanuel will be sworn in for his second term as mayor of Chicago. He faces enormous challenges including a high murder rate–with it comes the new nickname for the city, “Chiraq,” a crumbling infrastructure that includes pothole-strewn streets, and multiple financial crises. Just last week Moody’s Investors Services double-downgraded the credit rating not only for the city of Chicago, but also for the Chicago Park District and Chicago Public Schools–any bonds they issue will have junk status according to Moody’s. While not placing Chicago in junk status, two other financial firms downgraded the city’s credit last week too.

How the mighty have fallen. Forty years ago, when the New York Daily News’ used the now legendary headline, “Ford to City–Drop Dead” during New York’s financial crisis, Boss Richard J. Daley’s Chicago enjoyed the top credit rating from Wall Street firms.

Now what? Illinois is even worse off than Chicago, the governor of New York bailed NYC out in the 1970s, the Land of Lincoln’s new governor, Republican Bruce Rauner, believes Chicago Public Schools should declare bankruptcy. Chicago’s credit downgrades were generated by a unanimous Illinois Supreme Court decision tossing out the state’s 2013 baby-steps pension reform.

But CPS can’t declare bankruptcy–nor can any Illinois governmental body–state law prohibits it, although a Republican state legislator, Ron Sandack, wants to change that. But the status quo is the way the public-sector unions want it, because during a bankruptcy, all contracts are thrown out the window. The Democratic enablers of the government unions like the status quo too. Michigan is different–and when Detroit’s bankruptcy was concluded, retirees received modest cuts in their pensions.

A massive tax increase for Chicagoans to pay for pensions doesn’t seem to be likely, not even the politicians have the stomach for that.

There is no easy way out.

John "Lee" Ruberry
John “Lee” Ruberry

Ironically, the junk credit announcement came on the same day Chicagoans Barack and Michelle Obama, chose their hometown for the Obama presidential library. Arne Duncan, Obama’s secretary of education, was the CEO of Chicago Public Schools prior to moving to Washington. Rahm Emanuel was the president’s first chief-of-staff. Valerie Jarrett, Obama’s senior advisor, was once deputy chief-of-staff under Mayor Richard M. Daley.

America–and Chicago–face a daunting future.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Chicago Police camerat
Chicago police camera

By John Ruberry

Much like his obnoxious character Mars Blackmon, director Spike Lee is an annoying presence on the political scene. Now he’s in the middle of a political dispute because his next film will be titled “Chiraq,” which is the nickname the hip-hoppers and yes, some conservative bloggers such as myself use to describe the mayhem on Chicago’s streets, which consists mostly of black-on-black crime–“Chi” for Chicago and “Raq” from Iraq. Mayor Rahm Emanuel has made it clear that he doesn’t like the title.

All the same, a casting call was held for “Chiraq” yesterday.

As for Lee, his a fervent supporter of Barack Obama, who has made it no secret that he wants to redistribute wealth from the better off to the have-nots, such as the type of people who’ll likely be characters in “Chiraq.”

Lee is quite wealthy–and he used his celebrity muscle to host a $38,500 per person fundraiser at his New York City home for Obama’s reelection campaign.

But like many liberals, Lee has shown himself to be a hypocrite when it comes to his own taxes. Obscured by the naming controversy is that the director’s production company, Forty Acres and a Mule Filmworks, has requested a $3 million tax break to from the state film office so he can make “Chiraq” in Chiraq, I mean in Chicago. I’m an Illinois taxpayer and state taxes are too high, which is why the Prairie State has negative population growth, despite a recent cut in the state income tax.

Here’s a better idea, one that Lee should trumpet to his Hollywood pals. Eliminate the need to ask the state film office for tax breaks–just lower the rate for all TV and movie productions. Crony capitalism is one of the reasons Illinois has the lowest credit rating of the fifty states.

But if Lee believes in taxing the rich he can Do The Right Thing and forget about his $3 million tax break for “Chiraq.”

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

National Heritage Corridor tracksBy John Ruberry

While the protests and the riots were raging in Ferguson, Missouri after the shooting by a police officer of Michael Brown. a nine year-old South Side Chicago African-American boy, Antonio Smith, was shot to death near railroad tracks that mark the boundary between rival factions of the Gangster Disciples street gang.

No one has been arrested for the killing of Smith.

Yesterday the funeral for the boy was held in a modest storefront church.

Last week the funeral for Brown took place in suburban St. Louis. The Rev. Al Sharpton, a race-baiter for nearly 30 years, gave the eulogy. He was among the media figures, such as the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who has been in the racism business for nearly 50 years, who traveled to Ferguson to proclaim his outrage. President Obama’s attorney general, Eric Holder, the most reckless man to lead the Justice Department since Harry M. Daugherty in the Warren G. Harding Administration, also journeyed to St. Louis to appraise the situation.

Jesse Jackson at an Occupy Chicago rally
Jesse Jackson at an Occupy Chicago rally

To my knowledge none of them commented on the Smith murder. None of them were at the Smith funeral, not even Jackson, who lives on Chicago’s South Side. The only nationally-known civil rights figure who expressed outrage over the Smith killing was Father Michael Pfleger, a onetime spiritual advisor to President Obama who chipped in to a reward fund to find the boy’s murderer.

Locals on both sides of the political spectrum are calling Chicago “Chiraq,” in recognition that during some months when American forces were still fighting in Iraq, more Americans were murdered in Chicago some months than died in combat in that broken nation.

Now that’s a real outrage.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Chicago's Skyline
Chicago’s Skyline

By John Ruberry

Once the midterm elections are over another major political contest will begin–the Chicago mayoral race. Rahm Emanuel, President Obama’s former chief-of-staff, is expected to run for reelection. His three years in office have been at best a mixed bag. Violent crime is Chicago’s biggest issue, it was during his term that the city gained the unfortunate nickname “Chiraq.” Rahm has done little to address Chicago’s pension crisis, a problem he inherited from his predecessor, Richard M. Daley, who was mayor for 22 years. The city’s streets are in terrible shape.

But Emanuel, perhaps because of his star-power, has been able to convince some companies to move their corporate headquarters to Chicago, most notably Archer Daniels Midland. But unemployment remains high in the city.

Two possible opponents for Rahm next year are Ald. Robert Fioretti and Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis. Fioretti, a friendly gentleman who I know a little bit, in my opinion won’t be able to gain much traction as a candidate. I can’t ascertain what he stands for.

CTU member at Occupy protest in 2012
CTU member at Occupy protest in 2012

That’s not the case with Lewis. Even if she wasn’t morbidly obese, she would come across as bombastic. Lewis’ political philosophy is anchored by far-left positions. She favors imposing a transaction tax on each trade made by members of Chicago’s financial exchanges. That was a position championed by the defunct Occupy movement; Lewis’ CTU endorsed the extreme-left group. A race-baiter, Lewis blames “rich white people” for Chicago’s awful schools and utilizes that smear to justify a commuter tax on suburbanites. Yes, the implementation of Chicago’s charter school system has been flawed, but Lewis opposes the use of taxpayer money to fund them. On the other hand, charters are very popular with Chicago parents.

Lewis is black and she has great name recognition, which partly explains why she edged out Emanuel in a recent poll about the 2015 race. I imagine that once Lewis’ ultra-liberal stances become known, her support will drop. Even Chicagoans can tolerate only so much left-wing hooey.

The voters of America’s third-largest city should be wary of the anti-Rahm Lewis. The only other big-city mayor that I can think of who was a labor leader was Detroit’s Coleman Young, who misruled the onetime Motor City from 1974-1993.

You know the rest of Detroit’s story.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.