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Month: December 2021

Lightfoot Blames Crime Victims

Image: U.S. Adult Literacy

Now that Jussie Smollett was found guilty in Chicago’s nothing burger trial of the century, can the hormonally charged teenagers in Chicago’s news media and editorial boards concentrate on the critical issues plaguing this city, like the rampant violent criminality in Chicago? We can read the tabloids if we want to know about celebrities’ trials, travails, and tribulations.

“We also got to push retailers. Some of the retailers downtown and [on] Michigan Avenue, I will tell you, I’m disappointed that they are not doing more to take safety and make it a priority. For example, we still have retailers that won’t institute plans like having security officers in their stores, making sure that they’ve got cameras that are actually operational, locking up their merchandise at night. Chaining high-end bags, these purses seem to be something that is attracting a lot of attention on these organized retail theft units,” Lightfoot said.” (Fox 32)

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot put her light foot in her mouth when she blamed Magnificent Mile businesses for the smash and grab thefts by hordes of people entering the stores,  walking out with thousands or tens of thousands of dollars worth of merchandise. “Smash and grab” is a politically appropriate term the news media and political spokes weasels use instead of looting.

Major merchants have security plans. Their insurance companies require proof of them. There are security officers in their stores. A few security officers cannot overwhelm or stop the numbers of thieves coming in at one time without jeopardizing themselves or causing a dangerous melee. Over the summer, a security officer in a Mag Mile store was critically injured trying to stop the thefts.

Oh, and cameras? Where does light foot in the mouth Lightfoot think the operational videos of the thefts come from? People who shop for high-end bags and other luxury items, the most frequent theft targets, do not want the bags chained. They want to examine them without the pressure of sales personnel. The overnight smash and grab looting cannot be avoided by locking up the merchandise. The looters will break into the stock rooms at night to get what they came for. 

Who does Mayor Lightfoot think she is kidding?

The mayor obviously knows as much about retailing as she does about security, which is little to nothing. Violent crimes are out of control. Looting is out of control. The city is spiraling out of control. Light foot in the mouth Lightfoot plays her fiddle ala Nero when Rome burned.

The one person who is not taking safety seriously and making it a priority is Mayor Lori Lightfoot. Her chosen mercenary Superintendent of Police, David “Tex” Brown, is an abject failure. So is her handpicked First Deputy of Police, Eric Carter. She plays nice with State’s Attorney, Kim Foxx, a news media darling. Foxx may be in contention for an Emmy Award for her over-the-top emotional on-camera performances. They took idiocy up to the nth degree.

The victims,  the merchants, are not responsible for being victimized. They are providing security officers and security cameras. Unlike the city, they have plans, policies, and procedures. The mayor’s victim-blaming is not only wrong but also shameful. Only the most gullible people in this city would believe her. It is as bad as State’s Attorney Kim Foxx blaming shooting and murder victims over mutual combat when refusing to prosecute those crimes. Blame the victims, even the innocent ones caught in the crossfire. 

Mayor Lori Lightfoot lost control of Chicago. Kim Foxx emboldened criminals with her no prosecution policies. The court’s lenient bail policies are also are not helping. Yet, like most failing government policies, the elected officials refuse to concede they are wrong. Their social experiments failed, and they doubled down with excuses, logomachy, and blame others, including the victims.

What a f**king city!

His Name is Woom Sing Tse

Image: Family Photo

“He came here for a better life for his family and paved the way for his generation. You know, the immigrant dream to come to America,” his son William Tse said.” (Chicago Sun-Times)

Woom Sing Tse, 71, came to America from China with a hundred dollars in his pocket. He worked hard as a restaurant cook and saved his money. Tse opened a restaurant in the suburbs. After some years, he closed it and opened a second one.

As his son said, he accomplished the immigrant dream. He came here from China with little, and he succeeded through hard work and grit. Tse retired nine years ago.

Tse supported his family and made sure his children received educations. He was a husband, father, grandfather, and brother.

Tse was brutally gunned down on a Chinatown street while walking to get a newspaper for his wife. A car pulled up. Shots were fired from the vehicle. Then, the driver exited, walked up to Tse, lying on the sidewalk, and fired more shots. The driver went back to his car and drove off.

The murder happened near a Chicago Public School. The shots were heard at the school. The school was locked down. Tse’s daughter is a teacher at that school. She found out about her father’s death at work.

Chicago police arrested the shooter a short time later, and, surprisingly, he was quickly charged with murder. Surprisingly? In Cook County getting charges approved by State’s Attorney, Kim Foxx’s prosecutors, for violent crimes are as rare as hen’s teeth.

A family is devasted. A community is in mourning and living in fear. This murder proves that no one is safe in Chicago. No neighborhood is safe in Chicago. The mayor is silent. The alderman who represents the ward offered weasel words. Just another day in Murder City.

Within the next day or two, Woom Sing Tse will be forgotten. He will be just another number, a dry statistic. One of 756 souls shot and killed in Chicago. One of 806 souls murdered. These are just numbers and dry, boring statistics of adults, teens, toddlers, and infants murdered in Chicago this year.

There should be outrage over this murder and the number of murders this year. There should be scorching editorials from our local news media. Citizens in every neighborhood should be outraged. Mayor Lightfoot and City Council should be outraged. State’s Attorney Kim Foxx should be outraged. There is only silence. Silence is consent. The citizens, elected officials, and news media consent to and are complicit in these murders.

Chicago is not only Murder City. It is a city with no sympathy, empathy, pity, or mercy. Chicago is as cold as winter. We are a town without feelings.

His name is Woom Sing Tse. He is not some dry statistic. Like all the other murder victims, he should not be forgotten.

Say his name, Woom Sing Tse.

The Apostles of Humboldt Park (I, Apostle)

Cover of The Apostles of Humboldt Park (I,Apostle)/Tony Fitzpatrick

“I Apostle of this Garden of all of Humboldt Park’s ecstasies
They shimmer in the late afternoon like bright angels,
Like an answered prayer
at play in the bright and eternal music of sparrows.
I, Apostle of this radiant place, I cast my bread upon your waters.

Artist Tony Fitzpatrick is a Chicago son of the Southside, though he spent his formative years in the suburbs. Fitzpatrick is not just a visual artist. He is a writer, poet, actor on stage and screen, designer of signs and album covers, birder, activist, radio personality, raconteur, among other pursuits.

Fitzpatrick is a very gregarious and generous human being. If you look up the word humanity in the dictionary, the first definition should be Tony Fitzpatrick.

Tony Fitzpatrick’s works are on display and in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, and the National Museum of American Art in Washington, DC, and in private collections.

Some of his work is currently in an exhibition at the Cleve Carney Museum of Art on the College of DuPage campus in Glen Ellyn. This will be his last museum exhibition.

Despite his fame, Fitzpatrick is still a down-to-earth “Soutsider.”

Tony Fitzpatrick published his latest book, “The Apostles of Humboldt Park (I, Apostle).” The book is a visual and poetic masterpiece. It contains works of art and poetry. The book came about during his almost daily forays to Humboldt Park during the COVID pandemic, walking, bird watching, and feeding the geese and ducks. It is a tribute to birds, friends who joined him on his forays, and the people in the park daily, including food vendors and fishers. The book is a spiritual tribute to nature and urban open spaces.

This book is beautifully visual and poetic. It is a slim but powerful memoir of time, place, fauna, and the people who inhabit that space. The artwork is stunning. The poems are religious about the birds and the natural and human world of Humboldt Park.

Humboldt Park was originally a limestone quarry. The limestone, used for many buildings in Chicago, came from there, including the limestone exterior of Second Presbyterian Church. The city commissioned Frederick Law Olmstead to design the park. It is one of the most beautiful and underappreciated parks in Chicago.

I have known Tony Fitzpatrick for over thirty years. We met through the late Chicago author, Guy Izzi. Fitzpatrick had a studio in what is now the gentrified South Loop. Back then, the area was sketchy. His current studio is on the border of the Humboldt Park neighborhood.

When Fitzpatrick has exhibitions of his works or the works of other artists, the studio resembles the post-WWI Parisian salons of American ex-pats. There are always a varied and eclectic group of friends, fans, and people from various arts in Chicago.

There is one thing to caution people about Mr. Fitzpatrick. It is the kind of thing where if you see him walking down the street, you want to hide the children, lock the doors, turn out the lights, and call the cops. Mr. Fitzpatrick lives on the Northside, yet he is an avid White Sox fan.

The Apostles of Humboldt Park (I, Apostle) is available on Mr. Fitzpatrick’s website.

The Grades are in Fs Across the Board

Image: PV Bell
  • Mayor Lori Lightfoot- F
  • Chicago City Council- F
  • Cook County Commissioner Toni Preckwinkle- F
  • Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx- F
  • Chief Judge Tim Evans- F
  • David Brown, Superintendent of Chicago Police- F
  • Chicago News Media/Editorial Boards- F

If you get an F in public safety, you have no business holding elective or appointed office or publishing or airing news.

One of the nice things about being an elected official in Chicago is never having to take responsibility for your failures. Elected officials are not responsible for anything. It is always someone else’s fault. They keep coming up with systemic lame excuses instead of effective solutions. Yet, you gullible voters believe their logomachy and keep reelecting them.

There were over 1000 homicides in Cook County this year, with one month left. 803 homicides were committed in Chicago. In Chicago, 4304 people were shot, and 3549 were wounded this year. Over 80% of the victims were African American. Over 14% were Hispanic. 3.9% were white or of other races. Add to those numbers the 1444 carjackings this year, most of them armed. (Cook County Medical Examiner and HeyJackass)

There is a daily spate of armed robberies in various entertainment neighborhoods. High-end stores are being burglarized and robbed by groups who steal thousands or tens of thousands of dollars worth of merchandise while traumatizing the employees. Flash mobs are causing havoc, injury, and shootings downtown and along Michigan Avenue near Grant Park.

Chicago witnessed out-of-control violent crime in every neighborhood for over one year. No area of this city is safe. Any citizen is at risk of becoming an innocent victim of violence or a shooting. Even children, toddlers, and infants are innocent victims.

Our elected officials are silent over the unrelenting violence in Chicago. The Mayor, Cook County Board President, State’s Attorney, and many Alderpersons and Cook County Commissioners are mute. When and if they do speak, it is word soup and jabberwocky.

Everyone keeps seeking the causes for this rampant criminality. Experts with no expertise are brought in and paid to give their reasoning and solutions through their narrow-minded mercenary lenses. The Chicago Police Department continues with its merry-go-round of plans, strategies, contingencies, and realignments. The politicians come up with solutions based on their communication spoke’s weasels. They toss around systemic this or that. They are not seeking effective solutions.

We are beyond looking for causes. We are witnessing the effects- death, wounding, and traumatization. We need effective solutions to curb this criminality. Effective being the operative word. The politicians threw effectiveness out of the window in their quest for the “why.” The most compelling question is “what.” “What” is a direct question that yields specific effective solutions. “Why” gives us more logomachy, nonsensical word soup.

There is a total lack of empathy and sympathy for the victims and their families. Our politicians are cold-hearted, devoid of pity, mercy, and basic humanity. The only time they display emotion is when they are harshly criticized. Then, after their faux over emotional Academy Award appearance before the news cameras, critics are slapped down and silenced. 

The Chicago news media goes right along with this. It appears they are working hand in hand with the politicians’ spoke’s weasels. The news media in Chicago is no longer courageous. The editorial boards are silent on the rampant violent criminality. They, like the gullible voters, believe whatever the politicians tell them. Like well-trained parrots, they repeat it.

We no longer have the luxury of time to figure out the causes- the “why”- of this criminality. We need to find effective solutions to curb it. We can figure out the why later. How many more people must die, suffer, or be traumatized before our elected officials start caring?

We do have one stubborn verified systemic problem in Chicago. It is the systemic stupidity of the voters. They keep reelecting the same people who are responsible for the criminality. Public safety is one of the most important, if not the most important, government responsibility. The voters keep voting for failures.

Public safety is not even a consideration to the politicians. They are all talk and no action. The county and city elected officials are gearing up for their next re-election cycle. They will tout their various supposed successes. There is only one solution. Shed the mantle of systemic voter stupidity. Embrace Critical Election Theory. Do not reelect anyone who did not and will not keep us safe. Throw all the bums out. Bring in new people who believe in public safety.

Maybe some long ago pundit was right. One of the most profane, obscene, and vulgar terms in our language is “career politician.”

The Day My Grandfathers Cried

By the 1930s, it was apparent Prohibition was a failure and unenforceable. The 18th Amendment did little to stop the sale and consumption of alcohol. Organized crime became big business in America.

The government was losing necessary tax revenue during the depths of the Great Depression. Money became more important than morality. It was estimated that ending Prohibition would employ between 250,000 and 500,000 people in alcohol-related businesses, from farming, production, transportation, and the manufacturing sector.

In February of 1933, Congress passed the 23rd Amendment, repealing Prohibition. Many legislators who voted for Prohibition voted to repeal it. States voted to ratify the Amendment. It was ratified on December 5, 1933. It was the day both my grandfathers cried. They both brewed beer, made wine, cooked alcohol, and sold illegal booze.

Happy days were here again. The liquor flowed, and the people celebrated. The tax revenue rolled in. During the first year after repeal, the government collected $258 million in taxes on alcohol, 9% of that year’s tax revenues. Those additional revenues helped fund President Roosevelts New Deal programs in the years following.

Prohibition was a failure from the day it went into effect. Americans liked their alcohol and were not going to let a little old law or a bunch of religious zealots who pushed for Prohibition stop them from drinking or selling booze, beer, or wine.

The government only funded 1500 Prohibition Agents for the whole country. They were poorly paid and barely trained, leading to vast corruption, dooming enforcement from the beginning.

During Prohibition, Chicago was awash in alcohol, beer, and wine. Bootleggers ran whiskey in from Canada, besides the alcohol they produced in the neighborhoods. Prohibition gave rise to the Capone mob, which eventually became the Chicago Outfit. During and after Prohibition, the Outfit grew. Its tentacles reached into legitimate businesses, City Hall, the County Building, and the courts. They became a power unto themselves.

The Capone mob took corruption to new and higher levels in Chicago. It appeared everyone was on the take, from the cops on the beat, the prosecutors, judges, and various politicians. The mob got way more in return than they paid out.

Besides liquor, the mob ran prostitution and gambling dens, especially in some of their speakeasies. Some were like high-class casinos. Chicago was not alone in vice. Other major cities became vice havens. Americans started to blame Prohibition for the decay in society’s values and morals.

Prohibition did have some positives on American culture. It brought changes in men’s and women’s fashion, made jazz popular, and created new entertainment venues, though they were illicit. There was a sense of liberation in people going to speakeasies to drink, socialize, and be entertained. Women could drink in public in the speakeasies. Popular culture brought us the gangster genre of movies and fiction.

The “Noble Experiment” failed on all levels. Amazingly, the government took 13 years to realize its epic mistake.

Welcome to the KMA Club

Image: PV Bella

When Chicago Police officers retire, we join the KMA Club. Captain Melvin Roman retired from the Chicago Police Department after over 31 years of service. First, welcome to the best club in the world, boss. 

Roman was a former commander who was shamed, “dumped,” and demoted to captain. He wrote this email to the citywide distribution list before proudly walking out the door. It floated around social media the past few days. I was able to obtain a copy from a website to publish here.

I have no commentary on this except to offer my best wishes to Melvin Roman in his retirement.

“After over 31 years with the Chicago Police Department, my career has come to an end. I find contemplating retirement similar to contemplating life in general.

Thoughts of what has been left undone, thoughts of what I could have been done better come to mind. I’d like to think that I have always tried to do the right thing regardless of what was right.

Anyone who is a true leader will understand what I have said. My resignation as a Commander was done with this in mind. If I cannot have a voice to be heard then I have no business being in the position.

I will always be proud to say that I was a Chicago Police Officer, although I cannot be proud of our current Department. We speak about building trust with the community but do not have a trust within our own department. We speak a lot about Officer wellness and contradict that daily by missing the simplest and most basic opportunities to truly show Officers we care.

In 31 years I have never seen a Department in which the rank and file Officer is at war with the top brass administration of the Department. An administration that listens to no one, allows no one a voice, and tries to lead by the only tools they know: Fear and intimidation. Tactics which will always be doomed to fail.

A plumber on a job knows that his tools are the most important aspect of his job. An electrician knows the right tools for the job are critical. Yet here in the Department we seem to lose track of one plain and simple fact: Officers are the most important aspect of our mission.

They must have trust and faith in us as supervisors to leave the station and fulfill the missions we decide and they do that because they respect and have faith in the MEN AND WOMEN who lead, NOT the rank! This is a fact that some will never understand. Some put on the uniform and rank, and even ribbons, and think they are more important and look down on the Officers they should be holding in high esteem.”

Supervisors who have had the benefit of some of the most prestigious leadership training and still do not know the most fundamental traits of a leader: A leader must genuinely care about the people they lead. Without that you will never accomplish a mission and this Department will not change.

Some will claim they do care and maybe they do, but if your outward demeanor exemplifies disdain and a lack of respect, that is what is received. Rank should be perceived as a level of responsibility. Even though it’s also authority, you should lead by your character and not by what’s on your collar.

I have faith that at some point the Department will build itself back up and will once again be something to be proud of. I hope that many of you who will take over the Department will keep these hard facts in mind. Many will be angry and upset with my words but I promise you I offer them only out of a deep gratitude and respect for the Officers who serve the great city of Chicago and to a beloved Department which I will always love and support.

To the rank and file Officers to whom I undoubtedly owe any and all my success, I can never express my true gratitude so I will simply offer a very sincere appreciation and a huge thank you. (CWB Chicago)

Captain Santa a Chicago Christmas Story

A message in a bottle:

“Friday … everybody goodbye. I guess we are all through. During the night the small boat washed overboard. Leaking bad. Invald and Steve lost too. God help us.”

The bottle, corked with the thick stem of an evergreen, washed up on a Wisconsin shore sometime after Chicago-bound Great Lakes ships disappeared during a late November storm.

Some say the message was from the Rouse Simmons*. It could have been from one of three other lost ships that left north woods harbors the same day.

If you were a ship captain on the Great Lakes, it was never a matter of if a catastrophe would strike but when. This was especially true if you sailed in November.

The Rouse Simmons left the dock of Thompson, Michigan, for Chicago on November 22, 1912, heavily laden with cargo.

The next afternoon, the schooner was spotted by the Kewaunee, Wisconsin Life Saving station. (Approximately 185 miles south) The ship was flying its flag at half-mast, the universal sign of distress. By the time rescue boats could be launched from Two Rivers, Wisconsin, the schooner had vanished.

The Rouse Simmons was no ordinary schooner. It carried no ordinary load.

The Rouse Simmon’s part-owner and the captain was Herman E. Schuenemann, known as Captain Santa. The cargo was three to five thousand Christmas Trees. Witnesses claim the deck looked like a pine forest.

As they were known, the Christmas tree ships sailed from the Northwoods to Chicago every November, docking at the Chicago River near Clark Street. They sold trees right off the boats, making more profit than wholesaling them. The price range was .50 cents to $3.00.

The ships were festooned with electric lights and decorations on the riggings. Schuenemann would lash a tree atop the main mast of his schooner.

Herman E. Schuenemann had a long nautical career. He captained several ships. During his career, every November, he brought a load of Christmas trees to Chicago. A newspaper named him Captain Santa. Soon, Chicagoans referred to him by the nickname. This was not only due to his yearly runs but for his generosity in giving away trees to the needy and churches.

In 1910, Schuenemann purchased an interest in the Rouse Simmons. The schooner was 44 years old, possibly well past its prime to sail the Great Lakes, especially overladen during a heavy storm. Herman E. Schuenemann and his family were entrepreneurial. Aside from the trees, his wife and daughters made wreaths and boughs to sell from the schooner.

After the ship vanished, Chicago newspapers and Schuenemann’s family held out hope that he found a safe harbor along the coastline. Hope vanished weeks later when Christmas trees started washing up on the Wisconsin shoreline. The schooner had a crew of 6-8 sailors. Since lumberjacks sailed back home on the ships for the winter, the actual number of souls lost is unknown.

After the Ship perished, Schuenemann’s wife and daughters continued to sell Christmas trees off the docks. They would have them shipped to Chicago and sell them off the boat. Eventually, they had the trees shipped by train. After Ms. Schuenemann’s death, the daughters moved the operation to a vacant lot in the city.

Captain Santa provided trees to his Church, St. Pauls United Church of Christ. In 2012, the church commemorated the Centennial of the Rouse Simmons sinking and the generosity of Captain Santa.

In 1924 an oilskin packet was found in the nets of Wisconsin fishermen. The packet contained the wallet of Captain Herman E. Schuenemann. In the wallet were business cards, newspaper clippings, and some business correspondence.

The Rouse Simmons was discovered in 1971 by a wreckage search diver, Gordon Kent Bellrichard, while he was searching for another sunken vessel.

The tale of Captain Santa is one story of Chicago. It is part of the city’s maritime history. It is the story of brutal, harsh work to earn a living. It is the story of struggle, people defying nature. It is the story of Chicago’s history of generosity. It is also a cautionary Chicago tale of courage and folly. Captain Santa attempted to sail before a storm hit. As fate would have it, he sailed too late.

*The Rouse Simmons was named after the brother of a well-known Kenosha businessman. Rouse Simmons’s brother, Zalman, became the first manufacturer to mass-produce wire spring mattresses in 1876. The company became the Simmons Bedding Company, now known as Simmons Beauty Rest.