Biden will visit a troubled Chicago on Wednesday

Blogger in front of an abandoned Chicago building

By John Ruberry

On Wednesday Joe Biden is expected to visit Chicago, a city where he won over eighty-percent of the vote and he prevailed in all of the city’s 50 wards.

Which makes today a good time to ask, “How are things going in Chicago?”

Not well. 

Chicago is on pace to suffer from more murders than any year since 1996, when 796 people were slain. Last year 774 people were murdered–but just 509 in 2019.

Rioting (excuse me liberals, I meant to say “civil unrest”) and looting hit Chicago in two waves in 2020. North Michigan Avenue, Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, a significant cash cow for the city, was hit especially hard. The new year got off to a bad start when the flagship store of the ritzy Water Tower mall on the Mag Mile, Macy’s, announced it was leaving. The Gap pulled out in late 2020. This summer Disney announced it was leaving North Michigan Avenue as well as shuttering its other Illinois stores

Last week in her budget address the city’s embattled mayor, Lori Lightfoot, proposed aggressive spending fueled by a one-time injection of federal COVID-19 funds. Gimmick spending is a recent and unfortunate Chicago tradition. In 2008 Mayor Richard M. Daley, who inherited none of the financial smarts of his father, Mayor Richard J. Daley, sold the rights for all of the city parking meters for 75-years for $1.15 billion. Nearly all of the cash from that deal was spent in just two years. Thirteen years earlier the younger Daley sold the rights to the Chicago Skyway for $1.7 billion–that money was similarly squandered. Ten years later the Skyway rights were re-sold for $2.8 billion–and taxpayers collected none of that windfall.

Also part of the Lightfoot’s budget proposal is the monumentally stupid idea to send $500 to 5,000 random families, likely a starter plan for Chicago guaranteeing a universal income. Who would be paying for that? Since the cash comes from COVID-19 relief funds it will be American taxpayers. Don’t blame me because I voted for Donald Trump.

Meanwhile Chicago’s public worker pension plans remain the worst funded in America. Because of that alone Chicago is bankrupt-in-name-only. 

Redistricting of Chicago’s 50 wards is coming soon and that will ignite a firestorm. African-American leaders expect to keep their majority in 18 of those wards even though the black population decreased by nearly 10 percent between 2010 and 2020 according to the US Census. The white population increased slightly and the Hispanic and Asian populations went up by a bit more. Surprising everyone is that overall Chicago’s population increased by almost two percent between the most recent Census counts.

Meanwhile Chicago’s streets are in terrible shape and drivers have to struggle with seemingly omnipresent red-light cameras. Lightfoot has added a new twist to Chicago motorists’ misery. Drivers captured by cameras going just six miles over the speed limit are being fined. Of course that’s not as horrible as being carjacked. In 2019, according to Hey Jackass, there were 603 carjackings in the city, last year that number soared to 1,396. So far in 2021 there have been 1,070 carjackings in Chicago. As with shootings, the arrest rate for Chicago carjackings is abysmally low.

Don’t expect the largely compliant mainstream media, even if Biden takes questions during his Chicago visit, to query the president on Chicago’s myriad of problems. 

UPDATE September 28: Yesterday former alderman Ricardo Muñoz of the 22nd Ward pleaded guilty to corruption charges. According to the Chicago Sun-Times he admitted to “wire fraud and money laundering, admitting he took nearly $38,000 from the Chicago Progressive Reform Caucus to pay for personal expenses like skydiving and a relative’s college tuition.”

Since 1973 over thirty current or former Chicago aldermen have served time in federal prison. Don’t forget there are just 50 members of the Chicago City Council. Three current members, Ed Burke, Carrie Austin, and Patrick Daley Thompson are under indictment. That last one is a nephew of Richard M. Daley.

2nd UPDATE: He’s not coming to Chicago after all. Biden will stay in DC to peddle his infrastructure boondoggle.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Electronic monitoring for violent criminals in Chicago and Cook County is a failure

By John Ruberry

The far-left has taken over many elected prosecutor’s offices, including Chesa Boudin in San Francisco, George Gascon in Los Angeles County, Marilyn Mosby in Baltimore, and Kim Foxx in Cook County, where Chicago is the county seat.

As I sadly live in Crook County I’m going focus on Foxx, Cook County’s state’s attorney and Jussie Smollett’s protector, who among other things, refuses to prosecute shoplifters with a felony unless they are accused of stealing merchandise worth more than $1,000.

Foxx is also a huge supporter of electronic monitoring of criminal suspects.

Small-time crooks often move on to bigger crimes. The “broken-windows” practice of policing that Rudy Giuliani put into place during his eight years as mayor of New York–his cops aggressively cracked down on petty criminals–led to a major decrease in violent crime. In the years before Rudy’s election NYC averaged over 2,000 murders annually. His successor, Michael Bloomberg, largely kept Guiliani’s policies in place. When Bloomberg left office in 2013 there were just 333 murders in America’s largest city. The murder rate has gone up with Bill de Blasio as mayor of New York but that’s a post for another time. 

The soft-on-crime approach of Foxx has been a disaster for Cook County residents, particular minorities who Foxx claims to champion. According to Hey Jackass there have been 467 homicides after the first seven months of 2021. Of the victims 83 percent of them were black and 13 percent were Hispanic

Bail is often light under Foxx and her prosecutors. Bad people who yes, have not yet been convicted of the crimes they are accused of, are being released with low bail or under electronic monitoring. 

Even Cook County’s sheriff, Democrat Tom Dart, doesn’t think electronic monitoring should be utilized the way Foxx is using it. “We were handed this thing—we didn’t ask for it,” Dart told NBC Chicago last week. “This is not what it was designed for The program was never designed for violent people.” And yet that is what is being done. 

More from NBC Chicago:

Nevertheless, numbers provided by the sheriff’s office show that on a recent day this month,100 murder suspects were free on electronic monitoring. Another 106 suspects were out in the community charged with criminal sexual assault, 547 charged as felons in possession of a weapon, and 263 as armed habitual criminals.

Let me repeat the first two: There are 100 people accused of murder who are free on electronic surveillance in Cook County. And what happened to the #MeToo movement? There are 106 people charged with criminal sexual assault on home arrest right in the county where I live.

Some of those on electronic monitoring in Cook County have eluded surveillance, including a man who escaped from electronic monitoring a few days after agreeing to it; he has since been charged with shooting a man in the face. Then there is the man accused of attempting to murder a cop who escaped from house arrest who was later found with an auto-fire gun. It gets worse. A man on electronic monitoring for a gun charge was charged with a murder during a home invasion.

Then there is this bizarre twist on electronic monitoring. Last month just a few minutes after being fitted with an electronic surveillance device rapper KTS Dre was shot–Sonny Corleone-style–64 times outside Cook County Jail. Clearly the rapper was better off being locked up. But Dre wasn’t the only person shot, two women were wounded in that attack. 

Can crimes be committed by people who stay home during their electronic home confinement? Of course! A woman selling cars on Facebook was lured to the home of a man on electronic monitoring. “Give me everything. You don’t f*cking move,” the accused allegedly warned. He also told the man who accompanied the salesperson, “Tell your b*tch not to move or I’ll shoot her too.”

As bad as Kim Foxx is–and she is indeed horrible–the ultimate responsibility for this public safety debacle belongs to Cook County voters–not me of course–who blindly voted Democrat party-line and returned Foxx to office last autumn. 

The warning signs on Foxx were there.

Chicago mayor’s Lori Lightfoot weak-on-crime policies deserve condemnation too. The man she chose to run the Chicago Police, David Brown, who for the most part has done a rotten job, did express some wisdom last week when he asked, “How many people think it’s OK to have over 90 people on electronic monitoring that we’ve charged with murder released back into our communities?”

The local mainstream media, NBC Chicago being an exception, is either ignoring or minimizing the crimes in Cook County being committed by accused criminals under house arrest. Many thanks to CWB Chicago for regularly reporting on this issue. After all, “Democracy dies in darkness.”

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Chicago has most of the tools already to fight violent crime without additional federal help

By John Ruberry

Another federal crackdown on guns in Chicago is coming. Just like in 2017 when the Chicago Crime Gun Strike Force was created by the federal government. Obviously it didn’t work well–because here we are in 2021 coping with out of control violent crime in America’s third-largest city.

According to Hey Jackass here are Chicago’s recent homicide and shooting totals:

Year       Homicides  Wounded
2021 
(to date)   443        2,023
2020	    456	       1,902
2019	    303	       1,307
2018	    338	       1,433
2017	    425	       1,813
2016	    414	       2,050
2015	    283	       1,358
2014	    243	       1,227

Already as you can see more people have been wounded so far this year than in any year since 2014, with the exception of 2016. And there have been more homicides–the totals comprised by Hey Jackass include other deaths, such as self-defense shootings–than any year except 2020, when there were 456 homicides. We’re already at 443 with a little more than five months left in 2021.

“2020 did have a lot of shootings in it,” Saniie said. “But it’s also important to put this into perspective.”

Here’s your perspective, Saniie: As I wrote earlier in this entry, violence is out of control in Chicago. A few weeks ago I wrote, correctly of course, “Chicago has a street gang problem not a gun problem.” There are ten gang members for every cop in the city. But let’s talk about guns. Chicago has among the strictest gun laws in America. Oh, don’t believe the long-time apologists’ line that guns from out of state are responsibile for this, or previous, violent crime waves. David Harsanyi ripped that pathetic argument to shreds last year in the National Review. And of course those out of state guns don’t fire themselves.

Chicago has plenty of other laws on the books to fight crime. But Kim Foxx is not a forceful prosecutor. The essential website CWB Chicago, unlike the city’s mainstream media outlets, honestly reports on Chicago crime and holds no punches. Since New Year’s Day it has been documenting the people in Chicago “accused of killing, trying to kill, or shooting someone in Chicago this year while awaiting trial for another felony.” Many of those earlier crimes involve guns. So far CWB Chicago has found 30 such individuals.

According to the same site, 32 people “were charged with committing murder, attempted murder, or aggravated battery with a firearm while free on bail for serious felonies in 2020.”

I don’t have any firm numbers on people in Chicago charged with new felonies while on electronic surveillance because I can’t find any. Perhaps the Chicago Sun-Times, which deems itself “the Hardest Working Paper in America,” or the Chicago Tribune, both of which have greater resources than internet stand-alones, can find out how many ankle-bracelet offenders there are if they put forth the effort. Perhaps such work can reverse their long decline in revenue and subscribers. But alas, both newspapers have a narrative to advance. A false one when it comes to crime.

Even though she is a leftist ideologue like Foxx, Chicago’s mayor, Lori Lightfoot, is not politically close with the Cook County state’s attorney. They may even hate each other. But on the issue of crime they are in lockstep. Last week Lightfoot said Chicago “can’t arrest its way” of of its violence crisis.

Perhaps she is right. But Chicago–and Cook County–can jail and imprison its way, at least for now, out of its violent crime outbreak. But that probably won’t happen. Last month Foxx said that she might drop many low-level charges–her office hasn’t said which alleged crimes would be covered–because of a backlog of cases dating to the 2020 lockdown. Crime very well may pay in Chicago. Foxx is a supporter of “affordable bail.” Meanwhile Illinois’ no cash bail law goes into effect in 2023, two months after Gov. JB Pritzker, who signed that bill into law, faces voters. Al Capone and his henchmen picked the wrong ’20s decade to commit crimes, for sure.

Presumably Cook County judges and Foxx’s attorneys are well-rested from an easy 2020. They need to work harder and fulfil their duty to protect the public. Foxx can put on her lawyer hat and pitch in and help out in the courtroom, although if I was a criminal and she was the lead attorney against me I’d be confident of my chances for an acquittal.

While I’m sure federal assistance will help in fighting violent crime in Chicago, many of the tools are already in place for Lightfoot and Foxx to clean up Chicago now.

Only the Chicago Police Department needs to bring back stop-and-frisk searches, allow foot chases again, and reinstate its gang crimes unit, for starters.

John Ruberry regularly blogs from suburban Cook County at Marathon Pundit. And no, I did not vote for Kim Foxx.

Chicago has a street gang problem not a gun problem

Gang temple in 2016 on Chicago’s South Side

By John Ruberry

Last week President Joe Biden and attorney general Merrick Garland announced the latest get-tough on illegal gun sales effort.

Unless I missed it, there was no mention from either men of the major underlying reason for most murders in big cities such as Chicago: out of control street gangs.

While it’s America’s third-largest city Chicago, with about 2.7 residents, has more gang members than any other–about 100,000

I’m having a heck of a time finding recent statistics on the percentage of shootings in Chicago that are gang-related–so my guess is that they are no longer being tabulated. Perhaps that has something to do with the monumentally stupid deciscion by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to eliminate Chicago’s gang crimes unit in 2012. His successor, leftist ideologue Lori Lightfoot, is unlikely to bring it back. Fortunately for decent Chicagoans there are less than two years left in her term.

However, while speaking of Chicago’s gang culture in 2015, then-Chicago Police superintendant Garry McCarthy said, “It’s very frustrating to know that it’s like seven percent of the population causes 80% of the violent crime.”

What about the shootings?

“Eighty-three percent of the shooting victims in Chicago are black,” Fox Chicago’s Mike Flannery said on his Flannery Fired Up show this weekend, “and about 96 percent are black and brown.” Of course not all shooting victims are gang members. Some are small children.

With such a small population committing so many violent crimes, it’s pretty easy to determine the most-direct way to attack violent crime in Chicago and other big cities. But big city mayors, all of whom are Democrats, don’t seem to be spoiling for this necessary fight against street gangs.

In Chicago it’s worse. Chicago magazine, in a 2011 article that has been sadly overlooked, “Gangs and Politicians in Chicago: An Unholy Alliance,” exposed several job-fair type meetings between aldermanic candidates and people representing street gangs. The messsage the organizer of those meetings, Hal Baskin, a candidate for the City Council that year and a former gang leader who died in 2018, received was clear to him. “Who do I need to be talking to so I can get the gangs on board?”

Gangs not only are part of the criminal culture of Chicago, but they are part of the political one as well. Which partly explains why politicians in Chicago regulary decry “gun violence” but not gang violence. Gangs and politics go back decades, including the time when Chicago was overwhelmingly white. While not a gang in the modern sense, the Hamburg Athletic Club, which did not peddle drugs, was involved in politics. The “Hamburgers” were blamed for some of the violence of the bloody 1919 Race Riot in Chicago, part of the tragic “Red Summer” that year. Three years after the riot future Chicago mayor Richard J. Daley was the president of the Hamburg Athletic Club. 

In 1984 while running for president, Jesse Jackson publicly thanked the infamous El Rukn gang for their help in a voter registration drive. The gang’s founder, Jeff Fort, is now an inmate at the supermax prison in Florence, Colorado. Jackson’s half-brother, Noah Robinson, is serving a life sentence for murder and racketeering schemes that involved the El Rukns. 

In the 1990s the Gangster Disciples gang, which was started by Larry Hoover, now a lifer at the supermax, founded a political organization, 21st Century V.O.T.E. They were organizing a national gang summit at the Congress Hotel in Chicago, where I was working at the time. Man oh man, that was a wretched experience. Oh, Al Sharpton was there. Isn’t that special!

Back to 2011:

According to that Chicago magazine article there were similar gang-pol gatherings before 2011. 

I have no proof but I suspect such meetings still occur. After all we are discussing Chicago, one of the most corrupt cities in America. 

Chicago’s aldermen are notoriously crooked, since 1973 over thirty members have been sentenced to federal prison. Do the math, that’s one “public official” locked away every 18 months.

So, how many Chicago public figures have ties, however casual, with gangs? We’ll probably never know. 

One current Chicago alderman who sees the truth on gangs is Raymond Lopez of the Southwest Side’s 15th Ward. “If you really want to get to what is at the heart of a lot of this [the violence], it is gangs, and it is the borderline collapse of the family unit in many of our neighborhoods,” Lopez told the Washington Examiner in a recent interview. “Lightfoot] has avoided calling out gangs in our community as a source of violence in our city.”

In a Tweet, Lopez offered indirect support to the “broken windows” theory of policing. Big time criminals also commit petty crimes. “In less than 24 hours, a new gang ‘family’ moved onto a block, they immediately opened a fire hydrant after settling in, and just moments ago took to shooting at a passing vehicle.” Lopez Tweeted two weeks ago. “The property owner can expect a call from me tomorrow. I want them gone. Now!”

Instead of “defunding the police” the far-left is now parsing their words, calling their approach “reimagining the police.” I’m calling for reimagining law enforcement. Federal authorities, to crush the gangs that have destroyed American cities, they need to aggressively utilize wiretaps, informants, and offering those who testify against gangs participation in the witness protection program.

Street gangs nation wide need to be neutered by the feds. Just like they did to the mafia.

It would take many years for such a crackdown to succeed but that should take care of the urban gun violence problem.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Crime pays as NYC DAs drop most post-death-of-George Floyd looting and rioting charges

North Michigan Avenue in Chicago last summer after rioting

By John Ruberry

A bit more than a year ago most large American cities were struck by widespread rioting and looting after the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. 

Of course for the most part the rioting was termed “unrest” by the mainstream media. In case you think reporters forgot what the word “riot” means, the “R” word was front in center in January news coverage after a pro-Donald Trump mob stormed the US Capitol. 

Local television reporters across the country–who are generally more credible than their dead-tree media counterparts–brought viewers many scenes of unmasked people emptying out stores. Some of the looters even posted their crimes on social media.

Were these outrages open-and-shut case for prosecutors? Yes, but not in the way you think. 

From NBC New York:

NYPD data reviewed by the NBC New York I-Team shows 118 arrests were made in the Bronx during the worst of the looting in early June. 

Since then, the NYPD says the Bronx DA and the courts have dismissed most of those cases – 73 in all. Eighteen cases remain open and there have been 19 convictions for mostly lesser counts like trespassing, counts which carry no jail time. 

Jessica Betancourt owns an eyeglass shop that was looted and destroyed along Burnside Avenue in the Bronx last June.

Those numbers, to be honest with you, is [sic] disgusting,” Betancourt said when told of the few cases being prosecuted.

According to the NBC New York, prosecutors are claiming that there is a backlog of cases because of the COVID-19 epidemic. “If they are so overworked that they can’t handle the mission that they’re hired for, then maybe they should find another line of work,” says former NYPD Chief of Patrol Wilbur Chapman.  True, that.

There is a similar pattern of prosecutorial malpractice in Manhattan too. The DA in Manhattan is Cyrus Vance Jr, the leftist zealot who is on a Captain Ahab-like quest to charge Donald Trump with crimes.

The primary focus of any prosecutor should be to protect the public. But are prosecutors subject to the “CSI Effect” that plagues trials? That is, short of videotaped confessions of criminals, there is always room for a scintilla of doubt–because cases laid out perfectly when presented in a television drama.

Maybe. But instead I suspect there is an even worse possibility.

During the rioting last summer in Chicago I watched live coverage on WGN-TV of a couple of women calmly loading their car with what must have been looted goods. The license plate of their car was readable. Locating the criminals should have been quite easy. I wonder if Cook County’s state’s attorney, the woke Kim Foxx who of course dropped the hoax charges against Jussie Smollett–since reinstated with a special prosecutor in charge–botherered to investigate those two looters?

Yes, I had to bring up Smollett. As a black man and a gay man–that’s a two-fer–the former Empire actor is automatically a double-victim. And since many of the looters were minorities, they are victims too. Not of course the owners of stores that were looted last year even though many of those shop owners were minorities too. The criminals are the victims here, it’s not the other way around. If this quasi-reasoning makes sense to you then I recommend that you watch less CNN and MSNBC–and cancel your subscription to The Atlantic.

Some in the dead-tree media have called these riots and outbreaks of looting an uprising. Here and here, for instance. Meanwhile, the investigation of the attack on the US Capitol by Trump supporters, which The Media Elect is calling either a riot or an insurrection–is being aggressively pursued by federal prosecutors, and the allegd perpetatrors are being charged with low-level crimes such as tresspassing. Yes, they should be prosecuted. But to call the Capitol Riot, in the words some federal prosecutors, an “existential threat” to the republic is a gross exaggeration. And some of those alleged rioters are being held in solitary confinement in Gitmo-like conditions, including the moron who put his on Nancy Pelosi’s desk and the so-called QAnon Shaman. Yeah, I get it, the feds have jurisdiction over the Capitol attack, not New York or Chicago prosecutors. But the message to the public should be clear here.

Then there is Antifa, which for weeks was violently attacking nearly every night the federal courthouse in Portland, Oregon. Where is the dogged federal investigation of those riots? 

But I fear some in prosecutorial circles sympathize with Antifa, as I strongly suspect they do in regards to the George Floyd “uprising.”

It seems that prosecutors are taking sides. And that in the right circumstances crime pays well for the criminals. 

But civil society cannot survive such a mindset. 

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Two lawsuits filed over Democrats’ gerrymandered legislative districts in Illinois

Minding the Illinois political maze for decades.

By John Ruberry

Since posting my Illinois gerrymandering entry here last week there is an update.

First some background: Despite multiple promises to veto a partisan remap of Illinois state legislative districts, Democratic governor JB Pritzker signed into law new hyper-partisan new state House and Senate districts, claiming that these new maps preserve diversity.

Not so fast, JB.

Late Thursday the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, on behalf of five Hispanic voters, filed suit in federal court claiming that the new maps are “malapportioned.” AP sums up the controversey beautifully. “But the challenge from MALDEF,” the wire service says, “expands the source of objections to the very groups whose voting rights Democrats say they are protecting.”

Earlier last week the Illinois Republican Party also filed a federal lawsuit that claims that the new maps violate the 14th Amendment to the US Contsitution’s Equal Protection Clause.

Indeed it may. Illinois’ constitution states that new General Assembly district maps must be drawn by legislators by the end of June after each decennial census. If not, the process moves to an eight-person committee evenly split between Republicans and Democrats. If that panel can’t come to a decision then two names are placed in a hat, one Republican and one Democrat. Lovers of political theater will be thrilled to learn that the four times the remapping committee was formed, three times times no decision was reached and the tiebreaker clause was invoked. In 2000 a stovepipe hat said to have been worn by Abraham Lincoln was used for the tiebreaking ceremony.

The complete Census figures won’t be available until August. But it’s clear that the Democrats didn’t want the redistricting process to be left by chance, or worse, given to Republicans. So the Dems, rather than work with hard numbers, instead used population estimates from the American Community Survey.

This weekend on Fox Chicago’s Flannery Fired Up, host Mike Flannery ventured into what-aboutism expressed by the left regarding gerrymandering in Republican states. During an interview with state Rep. Tim Butler (R-Springfield).  Flannery phrased their argument this way, “That the Democrats here stopped short of annihilating as many Republicans as they could in the General Assembly–do you buy that?” Butler responded that he does not and he explained to Flannery, “We have 14 members–Republican members of the House–that were drawn in districts together and we have zero Democrats that were drawn into districts together.” That’s an observation the Wall Street Journal made earlier this month. Because of Democratic gerrymandering after the 2010 census, there are currenly only 45 Republicans among the 118 members in the Illinois House. 

While of course there are no state or federal legal protections to protect GOP state legislators, as I mentioned earlier in this post and last week, Pritzker promised he would veto a partisan remap.

There is a better way. Twice in the 2010s enough signatures were collected to put an amendment to the Illinois Constitution on the general election ballot that would take redistricting out of the hands of legislators and placing a non-partisan committee in control. Twice a lawyer closely tied to Boss Michael Madigan (D-Chicago), the longtime Illinois House speaker who was forced out of power early this year, sued to block having Illinois voters decide the issue. In a party-line vote, the Illinois Supreme Court sided with the Democrats both times.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

A much different type of diversity in journalism is needed than what Lori Lightfoot is looking for

By John Ruberry

Last week, Chicago’s mayor, Lori Lightfoot, to mark the second anniversary of her inauguration, said that on that day she would only grant one-on-one interviews to black or brown journalists to protest the “overwhelmingly white” City Hall press corps. 

She was immediately attacked by journalists of all colors for this boneheaded move. And rather than backing down Lightfoot doubled down on her stupidity. A frog sitting in a polluted pond has more common sense she does.

Lightfoot wants more diversity among the members of the media who cover her. But the kind of diversity I have in mind is much different than what she envisions–but it is sorely needed. We need journalists who are regular people.

That’s a bold proposal, I know. But there are too many out-of-touch elitists telling us how they think the world is.

A leftist Democrat, Lightfoot is a special kind of awful for her to face such hostility from the local media, which, with the notable exception of John Kass of the Chicago Tribune, is overwhelmingly liberal. In the past two years Chicago’s murder rate has soared, it has been hit with two rounds of widespread looting and rioting, which that media has deemed instead “civil unrest,” and she hasn’t confronted Chicago’s millstone, the billions of unfunded public-worker pension obligations created largely by the indifference of longtime mayor Richard M. Daley. Her predecessor, Rahm Emanuel, at least made baby-step efforts to tackle the pension problem.

Of course Lightfoot will blame the COVID-19 pandemic for most of these problems. Her overbearing and pedantic press conferences on COVID probably lead most people to tune her out, which is a sound idea. And as I noted last year at Da Tech Guy, Lightfoot ordered the closing of Montrose Beach on a toasty August morning because the day before a large group of people gathered there despite her lockdown orders.

Wow! That will show ’em who is boss! The beach is closed! Go to your and stay there without your dinner! Grrr!! Grrr!

Later that night and into the following morning that second round of looting and rioting, which Chicago police officers, probably following orders from above, mostly just contained, not confronted. 

Let’s get back to that diversity crisis.

On this weekend’s Flannery Fired Up on Fox Chicago the host, Mike Flannery, a fair journalist by the way and a white fella like me, twice asked a panel gathered on Zoom consisting of a black journalism professor, an Hispanic alderman, and an African-American state legislator if a lack of newsroom diversity has prevented the acurrate reporting of a story. 

Here’s how Flannery phrased his query the second time, “Give me an example of a story that was poorly covered because white journalists were covering it instead black or Hispanic journalists.” 

The trio responded only with vagueness–although the professor did mention crime in a general sense. But none of them could cite a specific example of bias, or even poor coverage, to answer Flannery’s question.

Crisis?

The host said there needs to be more minorities in newsrooms. I agree. But let’s make the local media even more diverse. How about some conservative voices? Or perhaps some individuals who can bring what diversity advocates call “real life experience” into the conversation?

Let’s talk about those riots. I have a client, an Indian-American man, whose parents own a convenience store on the city’s West Side. He still helps out there once in a while. Twice last summer during the riots the store was emptied of all but debris. What about them? Oh, sure, the helicopter media will do an interview here and there with a merchant after rioting, oops, “civil unrest,” but reporters primarily focus mainly on the issues they see a more important, such as why the riots started in the first place. Yes, root causes shouldn’t be overlooked.

People are creatures of habit in many ways of course, including shopping. When my client’s family store re-opened, not all of their customers returned. Their pattern was disrupted. Restaurants in that area are facing the same problem. Grand re-openings cause a big splash–but will the journalism school alums who as adults have only worked jobs in the field have the instinct to follow up six months or a year later to see if normalcy really returned? The Tribune’s Kass, whose father was a grocer, knows better.

Let’s talk about the real life experiences within my family. After many years as a limousine driver Mrs. Marathon Pundit was laid off when the COVID lockdown began. How many journalists have a spouse who drives a limo? Too many journalists are married to other journalists–they’re an inbred lot. Real life experience anyone? We quickly ascertained the chances of a call back to her old job were bleak. So Mrs. Marathon Pundit decided to work as an Uber driver again. But this time there was a problem. There was an outstanding $200 parking ticket from 2005 that hadn’t been paid on a car that I usually drove that was registered to both of us. Now to become an Uber operator in Chicago a driver, among other things, must have a clean driving record and no outstanding parking tickets. 

The two prior times Mrs. Marathon Pundit was approved as an Uber driver that parking violation, which let me remind you was 16-years old, didn’t come up. Why is that? Also, in Chicago, there is–wait for it–no statute of limitations on parking tickets, which places that attack on society on the same level as murder and arson. 

Among the issues that Lori Lightfoot successfully ran on was a promise that she would do away with “draconian ‘anti-scofflaw’ laws” that prevent people from driving a cab or working as a rideshare driver, or even being employed by the city.

Of course if I was a City Hall reporter I’d ask Lightfoot, without bringing up my ancient parking ticket of course, “What about your vow in regards to what you called the ‘draconian anti-scofflaw laws’ on parking tickets as well as banning the used of the ‘boot” for parking violators?”

Followed up with, “Why is there no statute of limititions on parking fines in Chicago?” 

We paid that $200 ticket, even though I don’t recall parking my car where the City said I did all those years ago. A keypunch error–someone could have transposed a licence place digit–could be why we were cited. In Chicago, like many other places, the law is upside down in regards to parking violations. It’s up to the accused to prove themselves innocent.

Chicago–and every place–needs journalists who hammer public figures on issues such as parking tickets. And omnipresent red light cameras. Do you know that minorities in Chicago are hit harder by parking and traffic fines? Who says? Lori Lightfoot said so two years ago. “We can longer ignore the documented existence of racial disparities in Chicago’s fines, fees and collection practices,” then-candidate Lightfoot told voters. Instead, Lightfoot has doubled down on the fines. Since March Chicago drivers captured by traffic cameras going as little as six-miles-per hour over the posted speed limit face fines.

Of course such issues aren’t as meaty as the Holy Grail that all journalists strive for, breaking the next Watergate Scandal. But I can assure you that most Chicagoans care a heck of a lot more about being burdened by oppessive traffic and parking fines–as opposed to Lightfoot’s opinion that the City Hall’s media corps isn’t diverse enough for her.

Do I really have to go into detail about how most Chicagoans are abhored by rioting and looting?

Diversity isn’t a color. It’s a mindset.

John Ruberry, who has been working in sales for years, regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Chicago aldermen making a wrong turn on proposal to rename Lake Shore Drive

Lake Shore Drive is between the skyscrapers and the lake

By John Ruberry

“And it starts up north from Hollywood, water on the driving side
Concrete mountains rearing up, throwing shadows just about five
Sometimes you can smell the green if your mind is feeling fine
There ain’t no finer place to be, than running Lake Shore Drive
And there’s no peace of mind, or place you see, than riding on Lake Shore Drive.”
Aliotta-Haynes-Jeremiah, “Lake Shore Drive.”

As I’ve stated many times before Chicago is a city in decline. Decades of rampant corruption and fiscal malfeasance, particularly with woefully unfunded public worker pension plans in regards to the latter, have placed Chicago in a bankrupty-in-name only status. The bleak future is now. Chicago can’t keep kicking the can down the road, whether that road is Michigan Avenue or Lake Shore Drive. 

Chicago’s woke mayor, Lori Lightfoot, who is halfway into her first term, has made Chicago’s situation worse with her overreaching lockdown response to COVID-19 and her feeble response to two rounds of summer rioting in 2020. The city’s murder rate is high. The quality of education provided by Chicago Public Schools is low and has gotten worse because the Chicago Teachers Union keeps pushing more convenient, for the teachers of course, remote learning lessons.

Politicians, particularly liberals, are adept at adopting symbols, as author Tom Clancy pointed out to Bill O’Reilly in an interview shortly after the 9/11 attacks. “The general difference between conservatives and liberals is that liberals like pretty pictures and conservatives like to build bridges that people can drive across,” Clancy said to O’Reilly. “And conservatives are indeed conservative because if the bridge falls down then people die, whereas the liberals figure, we can always build a nice memorial and make people forget it ever happened and was our fault. They’re very good at making people forget it was their fault.”

Okay, no bridges have collapsed in decline-and-fall Chicago. But some City Council members are lining up behind a proposal to rename Lake Shore Drive for Chicago’s first non-indigenous resident, Jean Baptiste Point du Sable. He opened a trading post at the mouth of the Chicago River at Lake Michigan around 1790.

About the Chicago City Council: Since 1973 over thirty-five of its members have been sentenced to federal prison.

Little is known about DuSable although it’s believed he was born in Haiti around 1750. In 1800 he sold his home and the land around it; the property ended up in the hands of John Kinzie, the first recorded European-American to live in what is now America’s third-largest city. One of Chicago’s first streets was named for him, but DuSable was forgotten, wrongly in my opinion, for many years. But his legacy caught up and surpassed Kinzie’s. There is the DuSable Museum of African American History on the city’s South Side, DuSable High School, a DuSable Park near the site of his former home, and a bust of DuSable on Michigan Avenue, even though because there are no known contemporary renderings of DuSable–no one knows what he looked like. Oh yeah, we were talking about bridges. The Michigan Avenue Bridge downtown was renamed for DuSable in 2010.

There are some urban streets that are iconic. Santa Monica Boulevard in Los Angeles, Fifth Avenue in New York, and Bourbon Street in New Orleans. And Lake Shore Drive in Chicago. 

Lake Shore Drive–it has had that name since 1946–is a fantastic driving road. Fifth Avenue, for instance, is a better walking street. Chicago’s early leaders, post-Kinzie, made the wise decision to keep the Lake Michigan waterfront open, and most of it is park land–with Lake Shore Drive. When I have out-of-town guests I always make a point of taking them on a trip up and down Lake Shore Drive. The response I usually receive is from them, “I had no idea Chicago was so beautiful!”

Of course if the road is renamed for DuSable, the views will be just as pretty and Lake Michigan will be equally blue. But Lake Shore Drive is in essence a brand name. An iconic one. Why mess with that?

The Chicago Tribune editorial board has suggested a sound alternative–renaming Millennium Park, which abuts Lake Shore Drive, for DuSable and merging it with DuSable Park. Mayor Lightfoot has a good idea too, renaming the Chicago Riverwalk, which arguably has no name, for DuSable. But Lightfoot has gained, many say earned, a lot of enemies in her short time as mayor. They oppose the Lightfoot’s proposal because of their dislike for her. Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass, the only reason in my opinion to subscribe to that paper, offers a superb knockdown of the Lake Shore Drive renaming proposal, which brings up many of the same points I have mentioned. Also, Kass, as I have done, has excoriated Lightfoot’s woke Chicago Monuments Project, which has placed, among other items, five Abraham Lincoln statues “under review.” Yep, right here in the Land of Lincoln.

Destroying symbols is important to liberals too.

Those against the renaming Lake Shore Drive find themselves in a trap. In this cancel culture environment opponents of DuSable Drive will be called racist by the virtue signalers–even though they are not. Sears Tower, when it opened four decades ago, was the tallest building in the world. The naming rights of it were purchased by a British firm and it’s official name is now the Willis Tower

No one I know–and I have a large circle of relatives, friends, and acquaintances–calls this iconic structure anything but the Sears Tower. No one. A DuSable Drive faces the same fate. Except nobody has ever called a Willis Tower-denier a racist. 

I’m with the Tribune and Lightfoot on this controversy. Rename Millennium Park, which has only been open since 2004–because of delays and cost overruns it opened well after the millennium began–for DuSable. And rename the Riverwalk too for DuSable. It’s another relatively new city attraction, it opened in stages beginning in 2001.

And I have my own idea. The former Meigs Field, a small lakefront airport abruptly closed by the midwife of Chicago’s pension crisis, Richard M. Daley, is now known as Northerly Island Park. I suspect that Daley wanted that space named for him. If Millenium Park keeps its moniker–then rename Northerly Island Park for DuSable. Call it DuSable South–a twin of the other park.

Don’t mess with success Chicago. But the city, like the state of Illinois, has a habit of making bad decisions. Call it tradition.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Obama and Pritzker exposed as frauds on gerrymandering in Illinois

By John Ruberry

Last year former president Barack Obama called partisan gerrymandering “a sneaky way for politicians to consolidate as much power as they can. In the end, gerrymandering means that citizens’ voices are being diminished.” 

A year earlier the governor of Obama’s home state of Illinois, J.B. Pritzker, had this to say after the US Supreme Court decided not to get involved in partistan remaps. “As I’ve said since I was a candidate, I will veto any map that is unfair,” Pritzker said. “It’s the right thing to do. We’re going to have to make sure that here in Illinois we’re not gerrymandering, that we’re drawing maps that are fair and competitive. That’s what’s best for the voters of the state, that they have choices when they go to the ballot.” 

Obama and Pritzker are of course both Democrats. In a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed, state Senate minority leader Dan McConchie (R-Hawthorn Woods), pointed out that Obama, while at Illinois’ state capital late in his presidential term, denounced gerrymandering and called for reform. “And this needs to be done across the nation,” the 44th president said, “not just in a select few states. It should be done everywhere.”

Apparently not in Illinois becauses Obama has been silent about stacking the decks in favor of Democrats. The 2010 remap of Illinois congressional and state legislative districts was a travesty of democracy, as was the one after the 2000 Census, both of which were the work of longtime Illinois House speaker and Democratic party chairman Boss Michael Madigan, who was forced into retirement this year as scandals engulfed his inner circle. The state legislature, as mandated by the Illinois constitution, draws new General Assembly and US congressional district maps.

Late last month Pritzker appeared to be backtracking from his stance against gerrymandering.

The most blatant gerrymandering from the most recent remap is Illinois’ 4th congressional district, nicknamed “the earmuffs,” which is pictured above. 

But a quick look at maps won’t tell the whole story. Illinois three largest cities outside of Chicago, Rockford, Peoria, and Springfield, the aforementioned state capital, are each split between two congressional districts. This is not a case of these cities being too large for one district, the average size of a US congressional district is over 700,000, the largest of these municipalities is Rockford, with just under 150,000 residents. 

The current Illinois congressional delegation consists of thirteen Democrats and five Republicans. Mission accomplished, Democrats. That number will change because Illinois, again, will lose a congressional seat. As I’ve remarked before, Illinoisans are voting with their feet by moving out. They are fed up with rampant corruption, high taxes, and an unfunded public worker pension debt crisis that can be solved only by default or hyperinflation. Between the 2010 and 2020 Census counts Illinois lost population–the first time that has ever happened to the Prairie State.

The electoral results are predictable when politicians choose their constituents. Last year 52 of the 118 races for seats in the Illinois House had only one candidate. In the state Senate it was worse–10 of the 20 races had only one person running. The Democrats have veto-proof majorities in both chambers of the General Assembly. 

Twice in the prior decade Republicans led efforts to allow voters to decide to amend the state constitution by having a non-partisan committee draw maps instead of the legislature. Both times what was called the Fair Map Amendment was ruled unconstitutional in a party-line state Supreme Court decision. The lead attorney in the lawsuit to block the amendment had ties to Boss Madigan.

Back to the US Congress. Illinois’ Democratic delegation is lockstep behind House Bill 1, which if made into law, in the process of nationalizing local elections, will mandate independent committees, not state legislators, to take charge of the decennial remaps in all 50 states. But why aren’t Illinois 13 Democratic members of Congress decrying the current remap process here? Because they are phonies, that’s why. Just like Pritzker and Obama. 

The current remapping in Illinois is being performed behind closed doors by Democratic members of the General Assembly using preliminary Census data. Hey Pritzker! Are you aware of this news?

Yeah, I know, in 1990 Republicans drew gerrymandered districts. It was wrong then too.

On Fox Chicago’s Flannery Fired Up this weekend, state Rep. Tom Demmer (R-Dixon) told the host, “We should draw fair, straightforward maps that use official [Census] data and give the people of Illinois a real choice in their elections so people are picking their elected officials and not the other way around.”

Tellingly, because Flannery strives to be fair, he had two Republicans on the gerrymandering segment of his program, but no Dems. I’m very confident that Flannery invited a Democrat to appear but they are either too ashamed to defend their non-transparent remapping–or they know it’s indefensible.

One more time for emphasis.

Six days before his election as governor a St. Louis NPR reporter, Jason Rosenbaum, asked Pritzker, “If you’re governor and they send you a map that is obvioulsy gerrymandered against Republicans would you veto it and why?”

Candidate Pritzker’s response? “I will not sign a bill that is gerrymandered,” adding, “I have been for independent maps for a long time.”

John Ruberry regularly blogs from Illinois at Marathon Pundit.

Information on the Adam Toledo killing that the mainstream media is overlooking

By John Ruberry

If you receive your news only from mainstream media outlets then you probably don’t know that Adam Toledo, a thirteen-year-old Chicago seventh-grader, was likely a member of the Latin Kings gang, a criminial organization whose reach is worldwide.

Toledo was killed in a police shooting at 2:30am on March 29, It was a Monday, which is what my parents called “a school night.” That night the young teen was with a 21-year-old, Ruben Roman, who was on probation for gun crimes

Chicago’s former police superintendant, Garry McCarthy, places the blame on Toledo’s death on street gangs, not the cop shot who shot him. “They have the ‘shorties’ who they give the gun to,” McCarthy told WBBM-AM. Toledo apparently was one of those “shorties.” Youngsters such as Toledo, if caught, usually end up in the more lenient juvenile court system, although with Kim Foxx as Cook County’s prosector, the adult courts are quite lenient too.

Police officers were responding to a reports of gunfire in the Southwest Side Little Village neighborhood when they found Roman, who was quickly taken into custody, and Toledo, who ran. In a just-released police bodycam video, which is difficult to watch and contains profanity, it appears that about a second before he was fatally wounded, Toledo dropped his gun. 

There have been scattered local media reports about Toledo’s reputed membership in the Latin Kings. A British newspaper, News Corp’s The Sun, has been quite direct. Of the national media that has spoken up, left-leaning “fact-checking” site Snopes classifies such speculation as “Research in progress.”  But for the most part the big-time national media hasn’t reported about Toledo and his apparent Latin Kings ties.

To be fair the Chicago Sun-Times reported a few days after the shooting, “Chicago police leaders warned their cops that factions of the Latin Kings planned to retaliate following the fatal police shooting of a 13-year-old. Gang members were instructed to ‘shoot at unmarked Chicago police vehicles,’ CPD warned.”

The national mainstream media clearly has another of their narratives to protect, in regards to this one, it’s that racist police officers are indiscrimanetly shooting members of the minority community, particularly young ones. Meanwhile, the Hey Jackass! site says as of today, 165 people have been shot to death in Chicago so far this year–and 759 others have been wounded. Of those killed in 2021, again according to Hey Jackass, over 90 percent of the victims were minorites. And finally, yet again according to the same source, there have been only eight police shootings in Chicago so far this year–three of them fatal. 

Some people are unfairly blaming Toledo’s parents for his death. Good people sometimes raise kids who end up bad. Toledo was reporting missing by his mother on March 26, three days before his death, but he returned home the next day.

At 13 there was plenty of time for Toledo to turn his life around. 

The Chicago Teachers Union, which for months has stubbornyl blocked school re-openings despite the fact that children are the least harmed age group by COVID-19, said in a statement, “Adam Toledo was loved. He was one of ours.” While students have been truant since the first schools took in kids, remote learning leads to even more of it. Chicago’s elementary schools only opened, part time, for in-class learning a few weeks before Toledo’s killing. The high schools re-open in a similar fashion only tomorrow.  In February, the Centers for Disease Control, declared with safeguards, it was safe to re-open schools, even without vaccination.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.