Chicago moves to ease tensions with police using new civilian oversight panel

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Chicago moves to ease tensions with police using new civilian oversight panel

Happy Thursday, Illinois. Eater is out with its essential Chicago restaurants list, and of course Superdawg is at the top of the list.

The Chicago City Council gave its blessing to a new civilian commission Wednesday overseeing the Chicago Police Department, a move that, in principle, has been decades in the making while aimed at improving transparency and rebuilding a trust frayed by episodes of misconduct.

Creating the seven-member panel is a product of years of frustrations and heartache etched into the public’s mind with victims like Laquan McDonald and Anjanette Young, and cops such as Jon Burge and Ronald Watts, who abused their authority.

“If the communities do not trust [police] because they’re not legitimate to them, they will not be effective in their most core mission — which is serving and protecting every single resident of the city,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in an impassioned speech that wrapped up two hours of testimony on the proposal.

Passage of the police-oversight ordinance is a feather in the mayor’s cap, who for years has talked about civilian oversight — even if she pulled back on an earlier version of the proposal.

The ordinance passed the same day the council gave a nod to a massive redevelopment project on the old Michael Reese Hospital site, an area that was once seen as a site for the 2016 Olympics, which Chicago lost out on. Those council actions, plus the recent hike in the minimum wage in Chicago, will surely fuel Lightfoot’s expected re-election bid.

The police oversight ordinance is especially important. There’s never been a venue for regular Chicagoans to have a direct voice on police misconduct. Yes, there is the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, a city-run investigatory body that handles police complaints. And there is the Bureau of Internal Affairs, which also investigates police misconduct.

But Chicago has never had a body that allows regular folks who come in direct contact with police to also have a seat at the table.

The 36 to 13 vote (Ald. Gilbert Villegas was absent) comes after months of vitriol in the chamber. Activists protested in front of the mayor’s home. The relationship between the Lightfoot administration and activists was so contentious, it was hard to imagine how they were going to eventually come together in good faith and reach a compromise.

“It was a complicated negotiation, but all sides walked away feeling pleased about where we landed, which is rare in these situations,” acknowledged a source close to the mayor’s office.

Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th) alluded to that, too, describing a “long, long journey” that began when police killed Black Panther leader Fred Hampton during a pre-dawn raid on his home and then decades later shot and killed McDonald. “Sometimes, we were at odds. But we came together because we knew that our city had to get something right,” he said during testimony.

Unity was a recurring theme in floor speeches from supporters. Ald. Jason Ervin (28th), chairman of the City Council’s Black Caucus, encouraged council members not to think in “silos.” While residents in some wards have little interaction with police, Ervin said, residents in his ward and others on the South and West sides are well familiar with the experience of feeling their heads pressed to the hood of a police car.

“We have to think about it in a global sense because this is not just about your box,” said Ervin, the chair of the City Council’s Black Caucus. “This is not just about your community.”

Opponents to the ordinance were from mostly white wards, where many Chicago Police officers reside. They worry that adding another layer of bureaucracy only makes police officers’ jobs more difficult in fighting crime.

“We do not need police reform. We need family reform,” said Ald. Nick Sposato (38th).

Council members kept their remarks civil during debate, and during breaks and afterward they spoke about their optimism for reform. “I know law enforcement is afraid of change, particularly following the changes produced out of Springfield,” Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th) told Playbook. However, he added, “I think this has the potential to heal old wounds and move communities and police forward.”

FIRST IN POLITICO: Attorney General Merrick Garland is heading to his hometown of Chicago today “to signal the Biden administration’s commitment to reining in the surge of gun violence plaguing many of America’s biggest cities,” reports POLITICO’s Josh Gerstein.

“Garland is set to unveil a set of new gun ‘strike forces’ aimed at shutting down the pipelines of guns being illegally trafficked into urban centers, but his visit is sure to be received with some skepticism as just the latest policy pronouncement from Washington. Shootings in the Windy City have seemed out of control for years, particularly in the summer,” Gerstein continues.

The visit comes just 10 days after Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown met with President Joe Biden and Garland to discuss the president’s crime fighting strategies.

At the time, Garland said he’d make a “significant commitment” to help his hometown. The AG was born in Chicago’s South Shore neighborhood and moved with his family to suburban Lincolnwood as a youth. He graduated from Niles West high School in Skokie in 1970.

After landing today, Garland will visit a Chicago Police Department Strategic Decision Support Center, according to a statement from the Justice Department. In the evening, he’s scheduled to attend a listening session with participants in a program focused on reducing gun violence.

On Friday, the AG will meet with Illinois-based Department of Justice officials in U.S. Attorney’s offices.

Have a tip, suggestion, birthday, anniversary, new job, or any other nugget for Playbook? Get in touch: [email protected]

At UIC College of Pharmacy at 10 a.m. to sign legislation that removes barriers to care, making contraceptives more accessible and affordable across Illinois. Then at Mount Sinai Hospital at 11:30 a.m. to sign legislation that expands access to healthcare, making Illinois a national leader in telehealth services and coverage.

On Elm Street at 9:30 a.m. for the grand opening of Holsten Real Estate’s “Elm 551 at Parkside.”

In Matteson at 2 p.m. to mark the closure of the mass vaccination site there.

Cook County’s medical expert weighs in on masks for Lollapalooza, school and travel: “[D]espite rising case counts, it remains pretty safe for most fully vaccinated people in the Chicago area to continue to go maskless in the majority of settings, said Dr. Rachel Rubin, co-lead of the Cook County Department of Public Health,” by Tribune’s Angie Leventis Lourgos.

Illinois school boards debate masks as fall classes loom, by WBEZ’s Susie An

Should Lollapalooza go on as cases climb? Yes, mayor says — But fans should get vaccinated, Block Club Kelly Bauer reports.

Gamma variant accounts for 4 times more Illinois Covid cases than better known Delta variant, by CBS/2’s Chris Tye

U. of I. health system to require workers to get vaccinated, by Tribune’s Lisa Schencker

Sports betting at Chicago arenas, ballparks and planned casino could become legal under proposal: “The proposal, which is sure to be controversial, was submitted by Aldermen Walter Burnett Jr., 27th, and Brian Hopkins, 2nd. It covers Wrigley Field, Guaranteed Rate Field, Soldier Field, United Center and Wintrust Arena. The proposed measure was promptly shunted to the council Rules Committee by Far South Side Ald. Anthony Beale, 9th, meaning it will be a couple of months at least before it can get a proper hearing,” by Tribune’s John Byrne.

Aldermen keep cherished ward-level power over business signs in compromise after blocking Lightfoot attempt to strip it: “The mayor’s original plan to allow businesses to put up signs and apply for uses of public sidewalks without full City Council approval turned into a fight in June over aldermanic prerogative, the long council tradition of aldermen having a great deal of power over such decisions within their wards,” by Tribune’s John Byrne and Bill Ruthhart.

City Council approves ‘mega-development’ for the South Side: “The $97 million sale of the medical campus will allow a coalition of development companies to move forward on nearly 8 million square feet of commercial, institutional and residential spaces, according to the city’s Department of Planning and Development,” reports Tribune’s Maggie Prosser and Ryan Ori.

CPS schools remove dozens of cops, shifting $2M from school policing to other student supports: “This was the second consecutive year Local School Councils voted on whether to maintain school police programs — but this time they had other options,” by Sun-Times’ Nader Issa.

— Getting attention: University of Chicago law professor Daniel Hemel’s Twitter thread lays out a novel fix for the IRS’ Free File tax preparation system: “A lightning-fast path to free user-friendly tax filing–the only path that could realistically be up & running by the 2022 filing season–would be for the federal government to pay online tax prep providers on a per-return basis for each return e-filed through their site,” he writes.

Wildfires in the West creating a red sun and hazy skies in Chicago, by Tribune’s Jade Yan

Naperville sees spike in weapon, vehicle violations in first half of 2021: “Those crimes often stem from traffic stops, which have spiked due to increased activity by three specialized units: traffic, special operations and the new strategic response unit launched last summer, according to “interim Police Chief Jason Arres.

Evanston proposes changes to parkway planting rules to dismay of some residents: The plan is focused on fighting climate change, but that doesn’t mean everyone likes the idea, reports Tribune’s Zach Harris.

Cook County closes remaining mass vaccination sites: “Health officials there said the county’s vaccination efforts are now being focused on ‘hyperlocal outreach’ to targeted communities, mainly in the southern and western suburbs, to address hesitancy and access in those areas,” by Daily Herald’s Jake Griffin.

— New Exhibit: An exhibition at the Illinois Holocaust Museum in Skokie explores the stories of the 20,000 Jewish refugees who fled to Shanghai during the Holocaust, via Smithsonian magazine

Lawsuit against Chicago Park District seeks Columbus statue’s return to Arrigo Park: “The lawsuit filed by the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans alleges the Chicago Park District breached a nearly 50-year-old contract when it removed the statue last year,” by Sun-Times’ Manny Ramos.

Family files lawsuit after Chicago man dies in suburban police custody, by Fox/32’s Tia Ewing.

‘Voluminous’ evidence to be turned over in case against former Madigan chief of staff, feds say: “[Tim] Mapes has denied wrongdoing and has maintained that federal authorities are attempting to squeeze him to give up incriminating information, if there is any, on Madigan,” by Tribune’s Ray Long and Jason Meisner.

Discrimination lawsuit against Saint Anthony alleges pay-to-play schemes involving Sandoval, Madigan: “The allegations are found in an 18-page complaint filed last month by Stella Sosa Wolf, who it said served as Saint Anthony Hospital’s chief human resource officer and vice president of human resources between June 2016 and June 2020,” Jon Seidel.

Arson, bomb threats among crimes that have kept state unemployment offices closed, governor says: “Individuals have also shown up at IDES employees’ private residences threatening physical violence. This is in addition to countless threats made over phone, via email, and mail throughout the pandemic,” according to the governor’s office. “Due to the pending investigations IDES is not able to share specific information.” CBS/2 reports

Out-of-state weed firm makes a move on Illinois: “With a brand-new law about to open 185 more retail licenses here, look for the trend to continue,” by Crain’s John Pletz.

BIG SKY HIRE: Ronja Abel is on board as communications director for Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s political campaign. Abel was comms director and senior aide to Montana Gov. Steve Bullock and most recently served as Montana Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney’s comms director during his gubernatorial bid against Greg Gianforte (who infamously body-slammed a reporter). Abel was wanting another campaign and signed on with Pritzker, who has come to know Bullock. The two developed a friendship as they battled Covid.

THE JUICE: With one year until the Illinois primary, candidates and cash mounting for top offices: The Secretary of State race is drawing the most attention — and plenty of juice, reports Aaron R. Davis for the Center for Illinois Politics.

Pelosi vetoes Banks, Jordan for Jan. 6 select committee; McCarthy threatens to pull Rep. Rodney Davis and two other Republicans in response, by POLITICO’s Olivia Beavers, Heather Caygle and Nicholas Wu

Bipartisan infrastructure talks leave Dems’ $3.5T bill in flux, by POLITICO’s Marianne LeVine, Sarah Ferris and Heather Caygle

The pandemic drove women out of the workforce. Will they come back? By POLITICO’s Megan Cassella

DOJ restricts contact with White House, a sharp pivot from Trump administration, via USA Today

ABC 7 cancels ‘Windy City Live’ after 10 years of ‘great television,’ by media reporter Robert Feder

WEDNESDAY’s ANSWER: Congrats to journalist Andy Shaw and attorney (and former Rahm Emanuel campaign manager) Michael Ruemmler for correctly answering that the late Bob Butler of Marion was the longest serving mayor in Illinois history — 55 years!

TODAY’s QUESTION: Six Chicago aldermen and 12 others were convicted of corruption in the Feds 1990’s Silver Shovel investigation. Who was the only alderman to be acquitted? Email to [email protected]

Former Gov. Jim Edgar — who turns 75 today — and former Ald. Joe Moore.

-30-

via POLITICO

July 22, 2021 at 07:48AM

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