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.

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.

Whenever a liberal complains to you about gerrymandering, your reply needs to be, “What about Illinois?”

By John Ruberry

A month ago I wrote about Illinois General Assembly Democrats, behind closed doors, redrawing legislative maps. The Dems, thanks to their gerrymandering after the 2010 Census, already enjoy supermajorities in both chambers of the General Assembly.

There was hope, a quite naive one to be sure, that because Illinois’ Democratic governor, J.B. Pritzker, firmly promised, many times, that he would veto any partisan remap proposal, that fair maps could eventually emerge.

Shortly before Election Day in 2018, again as I noted last month, Pritzker had this to say to an NRP reporter, “I will not sign a bill that is gerrymandered, I have been for independent maps for a long time now.”

Well Pritzker isn’t for independent maps anymore even though, as the Wall Street Journal (paid subscription required) reported just two weeks ago, the Chicago billionaire promised to veto “an unfair map.”

Pritzker lied. On Friday he signed into law a hyperpartisan gerrymandered map. And going a step further, for the first time in five decades Illinois’ Supreme Court districts were redrawn. Do I have to tell you which party the new court districts will favor?

From the Wall Street Journal editorial board:

Illinois Democrats hold a statehouse supermajority, every statewide office and a state Supreme Court majority. That sounds like a monopoly on power. But with voters starting to revolt against the state’s fiscal woes and political corruption, Democrats are now working to further entrench their power.

Late last week Democrats jammed through new state legislative maps that combine 14 Republicans in the Illinois House into seven districts. That means seven GOP incumbents are guaranteed to lose in party primaries. Republicans will also lose their incumbent advantage in seven districts. No Democrats were combined in the same House districts.

Illinois’s maps were already heavily gerrymandered to favor Democrats, who control 73 of the 118 seats in the House and 41 of 59 in the Senate. But Democrats are worried a GOP wave in the 2022 midterm elections could defeat Gov. J.B. Pritzker. They want to shore up their supermajority to ensure they can override a new Republican Governor.

Apologists for the Democrats explain that according to the state constitution the General Assembly needs to have new legislative districts approved by June 30. What they leave out is that if no map is passed, again according to the state constitution, an eight-person bipartisan committee is appointed to redraw maps. Republicans would likely end up in a stronger position in such a scenario because don’t believe it’s possible to create an even more unfair map.

What’s worse about these new legislative districts is because of the COVID-19 epidemic, not all of the US Census numbers have been released. Illinois Democrats based their new state House and Senate districts on projections from American Community Survey, not hard numbers. 

When confronted about gerrymandering by Fox Chicago’s Mike Flannery on this weekend’s Flannery Fired Up, Boss Michael Madigan’s slippery successor as state House Speaker, Chris Welch, explained to the host that Oklahoma, a red state, also based their remapping on ACS data. 

True–only that Welch neglected to mention that Oklahoma is committed to redraw its maps once the final Census numbers are in.

Illinois, because of population loss, will have one less congressional seat after the 2022 midterm elections. Federal guidelines on congressional districts are quite strict–so the new congressional maps have not been released as the Illinois Democrats await those hard numbers to crunch and torture. But speculation is that these maps will also punish the GOP. 

One-party Democratic rule has destroyed Illinois. I’ve noted these facts many times at Da Tech Guy. Illinois’ public-worker pension plans are among the worst-funded in the nation. The average percentage in state budgets dedicated to pensions is four percent. In Illinois, because its promises to these liberal public-sector unions were not properly funded, it is 25 percent. The state’s repupation for corruption is well known–in my lifetime four governors, three Democrats and one Republican, have served time in federal prison. Federal authorites have been investigating the inner circle of Boss Madigan for several years. And for the first time in history Illinois lost population between Censuses. 

Every state will be redrawing their maps. Former president Barack Obama and his first attorney general, Eric Holder founded a group, the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, that opposes Republican gerrymandering. Look for the two of them to holler and scream when they declare new red state remaps to be unfair. Of course Obama and Holder will be mum on gerrymandering in blue states, such as what occurs every ten years in Obama’s home state. 

What do you do if a liberal moans to you about those red state district maps that they say are gerrymandered? I have a three word reply for you. 

“What about Illinois?”

John Ruberry regularly blogs from Illinois at Marathon Pundit.

Update: (DTG) Welcome Liberty Daily readers. Take a peek around. See Jake Tapper’s Dilemma, read about Russia and the Arctic and find out what happens when people discover what everyone already knows.

Oh and don’t forget this month’s Indulgence Calendar or the latest podcast.

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.

Well-deserved pushback against Chicago Monuments Project underway

Abraham Lincoln: The Head of State, designed by Augustus Saint-Gaudens. It is one of Chicago monuments “under review.”

By John Ruberry 

Last week in my DTG post I wrote about the Chicago Monuments Project, Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s response to last summer’s riot surrounding the Christopher Columbus statue in Grant Park south of downtown.

The committee for the project earlier this month identified 41 monuments, mostly statues but also plaques, reliefs, and one painting. Five of the monuments are statues of Abraham Lincoln. Yes, that guy, the one who led the Union during the Civil War, which led to ending slavery in America. Illinois is the Land of Lincoln, that slogan has been emblazoned on every Illinois license plate for decades. His face is on all standard Illinois license plates. On every Illinois driver’s license and state ID card is Lincoln’s countenance–and automobile titles too.

Other monuments “under review” by the project include statues of Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Leif Erikson, Ulysses S. Grant, William McKinley, several pieces honoring Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet, and works featuring anonymous Native Americans. 

But don’t worry! Really! In a Chicago Sun-Times op-ed published last week–on Washington’s birthday–three of the project’s members assured us:

Various accounts, especially on social media, have inaccurately described this project as an effort to tear it all down. This could not be further from the truth. It is a discussion.

I don’t believe them. The “discussion,” in my opinion, is a first step to, yes, “tear it all down.” Liberals work by way of incrementalism. Many left-wing politicians, probably most, want to ban private ownership of guns. They can’t express that sentiment because of the predictable outrage–and it could mean that they’ll be voted out of office. So they start with the easier targets, such as bans on semi-automatic rifles. If they succeed they’ll move on to other firearms, ending with the banning the type of handgun Mrs. Marathon Pundit purchased this year.

So the Chicago Monuments Project is beginning with “a discussion.” Without pushback that discussion very well may devolve into moving statues in the wee hours, which is what happened to two Christopher Columbus statues, including the one at the center of the riot, into storage. Both of those statues of the Italian Navigator are on the project’s “under review” status. 

It’s not just social media users and conservative news sources that have objected to the Chicago Monuments Project. In a Chicago Tribune op-ed, Lincoln biographers Sidney Blumenthal and Harold Holzer wrote, “The Orwellian idea of removing Lincoln from Chicago would be as vain as an attempt to erase the history of Chicago itself.”

The editoral board of the Chicago Tribune–paid subscription required–favors keeping the Lincoln stautes.

Lori Lightfoot even weighed in, “But let’s be clear, we’re in the Land of Lincoln, and that’s not going to change.”

But I’d like to explain to you that the other monuments are also worth keeping. Benjamin Franklin owned two slaves but he freed them and he later became an abolititionist. Ulysses S. Grant, when he was under tremendous financial hardship, freed the only slave he owned. Grant of course was the commander of all Union armies in the Civil War. George Washington’s slaves were freed after the death of Martha Washington. Yes, Washington is the Father of our Nation.

Other than being white, I can’t astertain why Marquette and Jolliet, or Leif Erikson, are “under review” in Chicago.

The source of the rage against Lincoln likely comes from his approving the hanging of 38 Dakota warriors in 1862. But Abe commuted 264 Dakota War executions. There were atrocities in that conflict committed by both sides. Here’s what a Norwegian immigrant described in a letter at that time, courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society:

The Indians have begun attacking the farmers. They have already killed a great many people, and many are mutilated in the cruelest manner. Tomahawks and knives have already claimed many victims. Children, less able to defend themselves, are usually burned alive or hanged in the trees, and destruction moves from house to house.

If the Chicago Monuments Project is about education, then it probably means that Lightfoot sorely needs one. “In time, our team will determine there are no monuments to African Americans in this city,” Lightfoot said last summer while announcing what has become the Chicago Monuments Project. “There are no monuments to women. There are no monuments that reflect the contributions of people in the city of Chicago who contributed to the greatness of this city.”

But in her namesake park on the South Side stands a Gwendolyn Brooks statue. Brooks was the first African-American to serve as Illinois’ Poet Laureate. A couple miles north of that statue is the beautiful Victory Monument, which honors a World War I African American regiment, and a bit north of that one is the Monument to the Great Northern Migration. I believe each of these are on city of Chicago or Chicago Park District property.

Does Chicago need more monuments featuring women and minorities? Absolutely. It can also benefit with a Ronald Reagan statue. The Gipper is the only president who was born in Illinois and the first to live in Chicago, although the apartment where he lived as a child was razed by the University of Chicago in 2013.

Click here to view the monuments in question. To express your comments about the Chicago Monuments Project please click here. Please be courteous. And if you Tweet this blog post–please do!–use the #ChicagoMonuments hashtag.

Make your voice heard. They’ve begun to listen.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.


Lincoln statues under attack in the largest city in the Land of Lincoln

Lincoln: The Man in 2008

By John Ruberry

On Wednesday, in response to the summer riot in Chicago that nearly toppled a Christopher Columbus statue in Grant Park last month–it and another Columbus statue have been since placed in storage–Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s Chicago Monument Project revealed 41 monuments that “have been identified for public discussion.” 

The project’s web site cautions, in bold print no less, “No decisions have been made about the following monuments.”

Yeah, right. BS! Imagine that you work at a company where the annual reviews are conducted each December. But in June you are informed that you’ll soon have a mid-year review but then are told, “Don’t worry, nothing is wrong.” At that point a wise person will begin the process of résumé updating. 

The statues, reliefs, and plaques include monuments honoring four presidents, several memorials recalling the first Europeans to visit Chicago, Louis Jolliet and Father Jacques Marquette, as well as generals, a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and many public art pieces with Native American themes. And yes of course those two Columbus statues. Oh, if you are one of those people who believe Leif Ericsson was the real European discoverer of America don’t be smug. He’s on Lightfoot commission’s list too.

This not a list of shame. It’s a tragic shame that there is such a list.

Five of the 41 monuments are Abraham Lincoln statues–and there are five Lincoln statues in Chicago. Hmm. Widely considered by liberals and conservatives as the greatest American president, the Great Emancipator’s presence in Illinois is profound and inescapable. “Land of Lincoln” is emblazoned on every Illinois license plate as is Honest Abe’s visage. 

I live on Lincoln Avenue in a Chicago suburb–that street winds its way south into Chicago and Lincoln Park, where you’ll encounter what Andrew Ferguson in his book Land of Lincoln: Adventures in Abe’s America says is “what is generally thought to be the greatest Lincoln statue of the nineteenth century, a towering figure by Augustus Saint-Gaudens.” That makes this statue, generally referred to as Lincoln Standing although its formal name is Lincoln: The Man, a masterpiece. Yep, a masterpiece. So much so that it has been recast several times, and those Lincoln: The Man reproductions can be found in Parque Lincoln in Mexico City, Parliament Square in London, Forest Lawn Cemetery–Hollywood Hills, and the Lincoln Tomb in Springfield. Earlier this month Little Marathon Pundit and I visited the Detroit Institute of Arts, where we found one of the many miniatures of Lincoln: The Man

Of course back in Chicago the original artistic triumph is “under public discussion.” In Grant Park sits another targeted Saint-Gaudens work, Abraham Lincoln: Head of State.

Also troubling is the aforementioned Marquette and Jolliet memorials on this list. Jolliet, while crossing the Chicago Portage in what is now southwestern suburban Cook County, noted that it would be an excellent location for a canal, one that would connect the watersheds of the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River. Lincoln, while a member of the Illinois legislature, was a proponent of the Illinois-Michigan Canal, which opened 17 decades after the Marquette-Jolliet expedition. While that canal very well may have been built without either men, if it hadn’t, Chicago may have ended up like many other small cities on Lake Michigan, like Sheboygan, Wisconin. (Oh, I’ve been there–it’s a lovely place by the way.)

George Washington has two “nominations” from the Chicago Monuments Project, including his horseback statue in his namesake park. McKinley Park’s statue of William McKinley is in peril too. Does that mean their park names will be next? While Grant Park doesn’t have a Ulysses S. Grant statue–Lincoln Park does. He has a nomination too, as do his fellow union generals Phil Sheridan, on Sheridan Road no less, and John Logan, whose statue stands in Grant Park.  

Lori Lightfoot is a failed mayor in a city that is in clear decline. Failed mayor? She’s up for reelection in a little more than two years and already there is speculation as to who her opponents will be. Since I declared Chicago a city in decline last summer its retail cash cow, North Michigan Avenue, has been hit by the announment of two closings, a massive Gap store and Macy’s at Water Tower Place. Chicago’s streets are potholed disasters, there are omnipresent red-light cameras to contend with, the murder rate is soaring, as are the number of car jackings. Taxes are oppresive, and its financial millstone, the worst-funded municipal pension progam in the nation, has never been properly addressed. Oh, this appears to be a little thing but graffiti is no longer routinely cleaned up along Chicago’s expressways. The proliferation of kudzu-like graffiti foreshadowed New York City’s descent in the 1970s.

Instead Lightfoot zooms in on statues and monuments to pander to her leftist base. 

The ultimate responsibility for this real-life dystopia of course goes to Chicago’s misguided voters. What was it that H.L Mencken said of democracy? Ah yes, here it is, “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.”

Chicago voters are a special kind of common people it seems

That being said there has been surprisingly little anger here in the Chicago area about these possible monument removals, as coverage has been modest and a major snowstorm earlier last week, on top of another one, had people focused on more immediate needs. 

But that needs to change. Click here on the Chicago Monuments Project web site to offer your thoughts. As always, please be polite–but be firm too. The form asks for a ZIP code. A Chicago one will make you more acceptable to those reading the replies; choose any 606 ZIP code between 60601 and 60661. Just saying.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit. He has visited Lincoln’s birthplace, his Springfield home, Ford’s Theatre, and the Peterson House, where our 16th president passed away.

John Lausch needs to stay as US Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois

Blogger with Durbin in Chicago in 2020

By John Ruberry

Last Monday the Justice Department asked 56 U.S. attorneys to resign. There were two exceptions, John Durham, the U.S. Attorney for Connecticut, will stay on as the special counsel for the investigation of the Russian collusion hoax, and David Weiss, the prosecutor for Delaware, who is pursuing the probe into Hunter Biden’s taxes, and presumably, more.

Among the others are John R. Lausch Jr., the US Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, which of course includes that cesspool of corruption, Chicago and suburban Cook County. Appointed in 2017, Lausch has been methodically hacking away at the blighted forest that is Illinois government ever since. Among those indicted under Lausch’s term are a Chicago alderman, two suburban mayors (one of them was also Cook County commissioner), and two members of the Illinois General Assembly. They have one thing in common–all are Democrats. Lausch has chipped away at the political machine of state Representative Michael Madigan (D-Chicago), who until last month had been state House speaker for all but two years since 1983. Lausch uncovered an alleged scam involving Commonwealth Edison, Illinois’ largest electric utility, that has led to the indictment of four senior executives at that company, as well as a longtime lobbyist with decades-long ties to Boss Madigan. 

Madigan is the midwife of the Illinois pension debacle and he is the man who destroyed Illinois. Sadly, those aren’t crimes.

Lausch seems to be closing the ring on Madigan, who remains as chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party, a post he’s held since 1998. Madigan maintains his innocence and he has not been charged with any crimes. But he’s a tough one to investigate–Madigan doesn’t use email and he doesn’t own a cell phone. There’s a lot of smoke surrounding the 78-year-old legislator–but so far no fire has been discovered. 

It took a lot longer than it should have but Illinois’ insipid Republican Party, the Washington Generals to the Democrats’ Harlem Globetrotters, finally pursued tying other Democratic candidates to Madigan, which led to a pretty good, but not great, general election for conservatives last autumn. The best result was the resounding defeat of the so-called Fair Tax Amendent, which would have replaced Illinois’ flat rate income tax with one with graduated rates. As I’ve quipped a few times before, Illinoisans finally figured out that if the Democrats were given an unlimited budget they would exceed it. 

After the general election Illinois’ two Democratic US Senators, Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, called for Madigan’s resignation as party chairman. No, they didn’t suddenly realize that Madigan is toxic to Illinois; Durbin and Duckworth didn’t like the general election results here. 

The state House took care of the speakership problem, the Democrats ousted Madigan last month but replaced him with a longtime ally of the Boss. 

The day after the Justice Department announced those federal prosecutor resignations, in what the Chicago Tribune called “a lame news release,”  those two party-line hack senators called on Biden to keep Lausch on the job. I am very suspicious of their motives. Duckworth is up for reelection next year and if the federal investigation into Chicago area corruption stalls she might get the blunt of the blame for not convincing Biden to keep Lausch in place. 

Durbin is the new Senate Justice Committee chairman and prefers not to be accused of keeping corrupt Dems in power in his home state. Back to gerrymandering and Madigan: Aftet the 2010 census the state congressional map was redrawn to be much more favorable to Democrats. The 8th congressional district was transformed from a competitive one to a layout favoring Democrats. In 2012 Duckworth ousted the Republican incumbent, future never-Trumper Joe Walsh.

Remember, for many Democrats Madigan has been very good to them. His skills at gerrymandering have produced supermajorities in the General Assembly and have bolstered Democratic numbers among the Illinois US House delegation. There may have never been a Senator Duckworth had she not won that House race in 2012. Through government and compliant corporations like Commonwealth Edison, Madigan has been able to hand out contracts, favors, and jobs to those loyal to him–as well as their relatives.

Lausch needs to be kept on the job in Chicago. 

Biden’s nominee for Attorney General is Merrick Garland, a Chicago area native who was nominated by Barack Obama to the US Supreme Court seat that eventually went to Neil Gorsuch. But he hasn’t lived here in decades. Yet my guess is that Garland has kept his eyes on the fetid muck in Illinois. Perhaps he can put in a good word for Lausch to Biden or whoever is making the calls in the White House on federal prosecutors.

Sorry to be repetitive, but I have to keep mentioning this fact. Illinois has lost population every year since 2014. 

People have wised up. But not me. Not yet.

UPDATE February 23: Last night Michael Madigan resigned his post as chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party. Last week Madigan gave up his House seat after 50 years in the General Assembly. Term limits anyone?

This afternoon, according to multiple media reports, Lausch will keep his job as US attorney until a replacement is found and presumably confirmed.

John Ruberry regularly blogs from the Chicago area at Marathon Pundit.