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Tag: Chicago City Council

The Chicago Way Alderman Jim Gardiner

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If their actions were not so pathetic, you would have to laugh at some of Chicago’s clownish aldercritters.

Take 45th Ward Aldercritter Jim Gardiner. Gardiner replaced aldercritter John Arena during the last election. Arena was a clown and a half. He was vengeful to any constituents who publicly disagreed with him. He even had Chicago Police, and Fire personnel investigated for being racists because they disagreed with a proposal on a pet project of his. Arena was too obnoxious and eventually hated by enough people in his ward to lose election to a third term.

Aldercritter Jim Gardiner is proving to be a clown. He, too will not tolerate dissent from constituents. Gardiner goes to great lengths to seek revenge on them, including denying city services. He also called another alderman’s female assistants vile names in texts. Does Gardiner think he is Vladimir Putin? But, worse, it appears he had his ward superintendent file a false police report over a lost or misplaced phone.

Gardiner’s Ward Superintendent, Charles Sikanich, left or lost a cell phone in a 7-11 store. He reported the loss to Gardiner. Gardiner allegedly told Sikanich to report the phone stolen instead of lost. Ahem, FILE A FALSE POLICE REPORT, A HOAX. Shades of Jussie Smollett.

Benjamin George, a former constituent and business owner, found the phone. He planned to turn it into the police after he finished work for the day. The police discovered he had taken the phone. They went to his home and accosted his roommate over the “theft.”

But wait, there’s more. Gardiner and Sikanich also went to the home after the police left and accosted the roommate. What right does an alderman have to enter a person’s home and accost them over a crime, let alone a hoax?

Mr. George found out from his roommate what had happened. He took the phone to the police station as any good citizen would. He was arrested and spent 24 hrs. in jail for stealing a lost or mislaid phone he was turning in. The case was dismissed in court.

Mr. George is suing Gardiner, Sikanich, seven police officers, and the city of Chicago in federal court for various civil rights violations. A federal judge ruled the lawsuit could go forward.

Again, but wait, there’s more. Sikanich is under investigation by the ATF. In August, the ATF seized a Steyr machine gun from him, a possible federal crime. Hoo boy, first he commits a hoax– filing a false police report, a crime in Illinois. Then, the federal boys come a-knockin on his door. Man, this city hires some deep thinkers.

Gardiner is facing other lawsuits by citizens over a series of allegations. “The FBI, the Chicago Board of Ethics, the Circuit Court Clerk’s Office and the Office of the Inspector General have launched investigations into Gardiner’s conduct in office.” (Block Club Chicago)

With all those investigations, how does aldercritter Gardiner sleep at night? Curled up in a corner on a critter bed?

When the hoax was exposed, the real question is, did the Chicago Police Department open an investigation into Skianich and Gardiner? Or, under the rules of the Chicago Way, are aldercritters and Ward Superintendents immune from criminal investigation, arrest, and prosecution by local authorities?

The Chicago City Circus has aldercritters, current and former, under indictment. Others may be under investigation. One was recently found guilty, and another was just sentenced to prison. Since the 1970s, over 30 aldercritters have been tried, convicted, and sent to prison for corruption or other crimes.

Original Photo: Owlcation/Digital Enhancement, PV Bella

We have an abundance of creatives in Chicago. Some should get together and write a play, maybe a dramatic musical comedy. The aldercritters could be portrayed as critters. wolves, ala “Cats.” The name of the play could be titled “The Gray Wolves*.” There should be catchy songwriting, choreography, maybe a special ensemble dance each time an aldercritter wolf brings in a big tuna.

There could be dramatic scenes, with the Wolves snarling, snapping, and trying to shred pesky constituents who disagree with them or fight their proposals. There is enough meat here to write and put on an award-winning play.

The people of the 45th Ward should be demanding Gardiner’s resignation. That won’t happen. He would have to go back to his full-time city job and actually work for a living.

*The Gray Wolves were corrupt Chicago aldermen who ruled the roost in City Hall from the 1890s to the 1930s. The Gray Wolves were led by First Ward aldermen “Bathhouse” John Coughlin, “Hinky Dink” Mike Kenna, and Johnny “The Undertaker” Powers of the Nineteenth Ward. They were the original organized crime in Chicago.

Hats off to Chicago’s archcriminal

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This is the city, Chicago, Illinois. The story you are about to read is true. The name was not changed because we do not know it.

There is an archcriminal preying on the streets of Chicago. He lurks, sneaks, and skulks in darkness. Some say he is a myth. Others claim he is a legend. Like some historical or fictional archcriminals, he is a hero. He steals from thieves. His crimes are dearly costing them.  

Chicago Superintendent of Police, Tex Brown, is planning, strategizing, and creating precision deployments to stop this one-man crime wave. He formed a posse. They will ride out at sundown to hunt for this elusive mastermind and bring him in Texas-style, dead or alive.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot called for all hands on deck to catch this nefarious and mysterious criminal before he caused more losses to the thieves.

The mayor asked the FBI to get involved. They had to refuse. Too many resources were tied up investigating aldercreatures.

States Attorney Kim Foxx promises to throw the book at this archcriminal. Her office will swiftly approve felony charges and recommend no bail to keep the thief in jail until his trial is over. She will provide vigorous prosecution of this nefarious criminal. Reform be damned. How dare he, how dare he steal from other thieves?

This crime spree is way more severe than the murder and mayhem plaguing Chicago and the catch and release of violent criminals by prosecutors and the courts.

The only people who are not concerned are the citizens of Chicago. They are cheering this ghost. His crimes and the ability to get away with them in this era of surveillance are epic. Who does not love a thief who steals from thieves?

Who are the thieves this archcriminal is stealing from? They are not the Chicago Outfit. The few thieves they have left are a rag-tag bunch of aging stumbling bumblers. It is hard to commit crimes using a walker.

Our thief is not stealing from the bands of thieves who terrorize high-end stores in broad daylight, walking out thousands or tens of thousands of dollars of merchandise.

Why is there an all-hands-on-deck approach to stop and capture him? Our loveable thief is stealing from the City of Chicago, the modern-day Chicago Outfit.

According to CWB Chicago, the best crime reporting news site in Chicago, this archcriminal is stealing red light cameras. Those cameras steal more money than violent criminals with guns and bespoke dressed aldercreatures with laptops and cell phones.

So far, the thief struck the same intersection three times over the summer. The cameras were at the intersection of Lawrence and Cicero Avenues in the Sauganash area. They generate about $850.00 per day when operational.

The Chicago City Council, a band of brigands themselves, is in an uproar over the audacity of this bandit to step on their turf. If anyone were going to steal from the city, it should be them, not some renegade.

The thieves at City Hall are praying he does not go after the speed cameras. Since the city lowered speeding from over ten mph to over six mph, they stole over 1.1 million dollars from the citizens since the spring. The city would vote to implement the death penalty if the thief struck those cameras.

During this Summer Olympics of Violence and the city’s willing failure to curb it, we needed a hero. We found one, an unknown archcriminal. Hats off to you, whoever you are.

Timing is everything

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In comedy, timing is everything. The 50 strong comedy troupe in the Chicago City Council are up for a yearly raise tied to the Consumer Price Index. This year it is 5.5%, approximately $6000. They have until September 15th to decide whether to accept or reject the raise. 

Alderpersons not only make six-figure salaries for what is, by definition, a part-time position, but they also have expense accounts, health care benefits and are eligible for pensions if the gullible voters reelect them a few times.

There is no prohibition on alderpersons holding other full or part-time employment, owning businesses, or practicing professions. Some of those professions have conflicts of interest, like property tax reduction attorneys.

Full-time city employees do not have annual raises tied to the Consumer Price Index. They must show up, putting in a 40-hour week. Their unions fight for years to get paltry 2-3% annual raises. Here is a novel idea, all municipal employees should get annual raises tied to the Consumer Price Index, just like the City Council. If it is good enough for the alderpersons, it should be good enough for city employees.

The timing? Citizens of this city, AKA voters, are still struggling from the economic carnage caused by COVID-19. They will not get 5.5% raises along with Rolls Royce benefits and expense accounts. Many are still unemployed or underemployed. The homeless population exploded during the pandemic.

Most citizens in this city have no idea what their alderpersons, do if anything, to “earn” such generosity. They are accountable to no one. There is no transparency. 

Alderpersons are not public servants. They are lords and ladies of the manor, dining at a royal banquet. We are paying the tab.

Many alderpersons cry poor, even those who have lucrative professional practices. They have mouths to feed, tuition payments, mortgages, the same expenses us peons have.  We get by, barely sometimes. We settle for orts while they get the whole hog with sides and a dessert of apple pie in the sky with ice cream and a cherry on top. There is a reason why many refer to them as aldercreatures or aldercritters.

It is past time for the citizens of this city to be outraged. During this Summer Olympics of Violence, few alderpersons demanded action. Not one harshly criticized Superintendent David O. Brown or State’s Attorney Kim Foxx for their epic failures. They are silent until the payola comes around. Then, you can hear them loudly rooting, grunting, and snorting.

There will be no scathing editorials from the friendly news media in Chicago. They went mute a long time ago. They play well with the politicians. It is inappropriate for the news media to criticize political failure unless politicians get caught with their grubby hands in the cookie jar by the feds.

When the news media was fearless and relentless, they would get their hackles up, scream, and demand change. That was in quaint olden times when slaying dragons was acceptable, and dragon slayers were heroes. 

In our new age of genteelness, it is a kindergarten world. The Chicago Way is go along to get along. Play well with others. If you play nice, you might get a dog biscuit. If you are a bad little puppy, you get slapped around like a hockey puck.

Demanding change from elected officials is futile. If the friendly news media turns on them, they may- may, being the operative word- change their stripes. Do not count on those oh-so-appropriate news media purple dinosaurs to do anything. They are all, “I love you. You love me….”

During the pandemic, most people had to take a haircut. People have been unemployed for over a year and a half. The alderpersons got paid whether they showed up or not. While citizens suffer, they keep feeding at the trough.

It is a pity we just sigh and put up with this municipal malfeasance. There is no we the people in Chicago. The people merely provide the slop.

Lest I forget, this is what we are paying for.  

Chicago is a long dark dangerous alley

Rush Steet alley at night Image: PV Bella

Would you walk or drive down a dark Chicago alley? Chicago is turning into a proverbial dark alley. The well-lit streets are as dangerous and fearsome as nighttime alleys.

“We deeply understand how important it is for our residents to feel safe within our neighborhoods across the city,” said Brown said in a statement. “We are retooling our crime-fighting strategies to stop the spike in crimes that we are seeing so we can bring a greater sense of safety to our communities.” (Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown/WGN)

Retooling? is that the new word for another plan? When all else fails, change the vocabulary. He had plans. Now, he is retooling. His retooling will fail too. Brown does not get it. The violence in Chicago is wanton and has nothing to do with the supposed root causes of crime or gangs, guns, and drugs. The violence is caused by people just because they can do it. There is a sub-culture of violence all across the city. Blacks, Hispanics, and Whites are fueling violent crimes, depending on the neighborhood.

This cultural violence cannot be curbed. The people committing violent crimes believe this is what they should be doing. They are like the Taliban. Instead of violence on behalf of Allah, these terrorists are committing violence on behalf of themselves. They know there will be few if any, repercussions.

We are heading into a three-day, four-night holiday weekend. If the 4th of July was an indication, this will be another bloody, violent, and deadly weekend in Chicago. Some are projecting that by year’s end, over 1000 people will be killed by gunfire.

I talk to many people. They all say they used to feel safe in the city. They no longer feel safe. They lost confidence in the police department to keep them safe. Many blame Mayor Lightfoot, Brown, Kim Foxx, Toni Preckwinkle, and the court system. Their blame is well-founded.

The street cops are confused, overworked, understaffed, and distraught. They no longer know what is allowed, and they will not risk their jobs or lives because of the confusion. They do not trust that the Chicago Office of Police Accountability performs fair, balanced, accurate, and legal investigations. They do not trust that Brown has their best interests in mind. He is an outsider mercenary.

Some of the alderpersons are fed up. They see what is happening in their wards, yet, the mayor controls the police. They have no power. Since the City Council is fractured into various caucuses, there is no large block of alderpersons to demand the mayor hold Brown accountable or send him back to Texas.

The question is, when will enough be enough for the citizens? When will we demand better from the mayor and Superintendent of Police? She is accountable, and there is no accountability. There is no transparency. There is only talk, and talk is cheap.

The criminal element has no fear. They are taking every opportunity to prove who has the power in Chicago. They do. They are wielding their power and exploiting the leadership vacuum. Vacuums create chaos. Chicago is a city in chaos. Havoc rules.

We deserve better. We need to demand better. The reformers, activists, and news media lied to us. They claimed criminal justice reforms would not impact public safety, even though they knew better. Instead of public safety, we have criminal safety. The criminals are safe from arrest, prosecution, and punishment. The citizens are not safe from murder, mayhem, or violent death.

This violence is a pandemic, now worse than COVID-19. Masks, social distancing, and lockdowns will not curb it. There is no vaccination. If anything is taking away our freedoms, it is the criminal element in this city. They rule with impunity. We live in fear, and if you do not, there is something wrong with you. Anyone, no matter where they live, can be a violent crime victim in Chicago.

Chicago is nothing more than one long dark dangerous alley, too dangerous to walk or drive down.

Who Speaks for the Dead

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“We speak for the dead,” was a saying among homicide detectives and Forensic Services personnel on the Chicago Police Department. No one else speaks for the dead in Murder City.

The saying means they would move heaven and earth to get justice for murder victims. The mayors and alderpersons do not speak for the dead. The State’s Attorney’s Office does not speak for the dead. The courts do not speak for the dead. The local news media does not speak for the dead.

We are in the middle of August. As of yesterday, 270 victims were shot, 44 were killed. From Friday through Sunday, 47 victims were shot and 5 were killed, including two purported mass shootings. 

On Sunday a 7-year-old child was murdered, in the Belmont Central neighborhood while sitting in a parked car. Her 6-year-old sister is fighting for her life. The death toll of children, down to toddlers and infants is heartbreaking.

Every single murder victim was a son, daughter, father, mother, brother, sister, niece, nephew, cousin, or grandparent. The families of the dead mourn, grieve and suffer the loss of a loved one. No matter their past or present transgressions, no one deserves to be murdered. Too many are innocent bystanders. 

The dead and their families cry out for justice. Justice is denied. Detectives, forensic investigators, and street cops are stretched thin. They are overwhelmed. There are not enough of them to investigate, close cases, make arrests, and take them to trial.

Our elected officials sit on the sidelines offering nothing. There is no plan. There is failure after failure.

Communities live in fear of retaliation if they cooperate with the police. No one is safe. No neighborhood is safe. Good people want to help, but not at the expense of their lives or the lives of their loved ones. 

How many more people must be killed before someone says enough is enough? 

Forget about the root causes of crime, the systemic this or that, faulting parents, and other phony issues ginned up by alleged experts with no expertise or whack jobs on social media.

It is past time to change the conversation. It is past time for aldermen, especially aldermen whose wards are most affected by the violence to step up. They are as responsible as the mayor for public safety.

We need more people to speak for the dead. The Chicago Police Department needs more detectives and forensic specialists. We need a prosecutor who is willing to prosecute crimes instead of nit-picking detectives to provide more and more and more evidence.

We need the courts to stop releasing dangerous people out on low or recognizance bonds. Electronic monitoring is failing.

Chicago elected officials are losing credibility every day in this Summer of Violence. Talk is cheap. Phony raw emotions will not abate the murder and mayhem. We need people to speak for the dead, in the communities, in City Hall, in the State’s Attorney’s office, and in the courts.

Either be part of the solution or get the hell out of the way.

Chicago Retail Politics

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Today is Sunday. At 8:30 this morning, my mail carrier delivered the mail. It got me thinking about retail politics. Retail politics is the political religion in Chicago. Mayor Richard J. Daley was responsible for creating the Church of Retail Politics, hence the phrase, “Chicago is the city that works.” He and his successors spoiled the citizens. We not only expect city services, we demand them, especially when there are blips.

The worst thing a city employee can tell citizens is there is nothing they can do. They find a way to resolve the issue fast.

Citizens want, demand, and expect 24/7/365:

  • Police, fire, and EMS to show up yesterday when called
  • The streetlights on at night
  • Uninterrupted utilities
  • Public health and sanitation
  • Safe and efficient public transportation
  • Scheduled garbage pick-up
  • Clean streets
  • Good schools
  • Good and safe parks
  • Potholes fixed
  • Snow plowed in the winter
  • Flood control
  • Consumer protection
  • Safe buildings
  • Safe roads
  • Tree trimming
  • Mail delivery
  • Quick removal of debris after major storms
  • Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and glitter spewing unicorns

Alderpersons and the mayor will not survive if the basic city and other services are interrupted too long or too often. People in charge of agencies, utilities, and even the Chicago Postmaster General shudder when the phone rings, and it’s an alderperson or the mayor on the other end.

Thanks to improving communications technology, service interruptions are mitigated fast and efficiently. Toward the end of my police career, it was not unusual to see a commissioner, department head, alderperson, or other executive show up for some major issue in the wee morning hours. During major emergencies, the who’s who of politics and utility executives showed up on the scene.

I used to work out with one of former Mayor, Richard M. Daley’s bodyguards. He regularly told me if they were driving through the city and Daley saw something amiss, he got on the phone and made sure the problem was resolved ASAP, sometimes yelling and swearing.

No one cares about the political ideology of the mayor or alderpersons when it comes to services. Rightwing, leftwing, progressive, socialist, whatever. They may get elected spewing weasel words drafted by weasels. If they fail to resolve, implement, or create city services, Chicago’s retail bread, and butter, they will not get re-elected.

Some alderpersons do not get this. It is more critical for them to wax ideologically, attend protests, be in solidarity, and down with whatever cause of the day or hour is. Some of these alderpersons represent distressed wards where things are deteriorating every day. They are blind to the needs of the people in their quest to be right on their petty ideological issues versus serving the public.

The mayor is the CEO of the Chicago Retail Store. The alderpersons are the regional managers. Most do a good to fair job. Others are so far in the weeds they cannot see a two-story building. These are wards suffering from decades of economic and social neglect. Nothing changes except, sometimes, the alderperson.

Chicago is suffering from a long hot summer of rampant violent criminality. The mayor is just about the only one discussing it. We hear crickets from too many alderpersons. The mayor may be the one responsible. In Chicagoese, she wears the hat. But the alderpersons are just as responsible. They are supposed to work with the police commanders in their wards to ensure people are safe. Many would rather spout nonsense instead of common sense. Some would not be caught dead, seen with a member of the police department.

My former alderperson was AWOL for six of his eight terms in office. His successor is hands-on. He is also feet on as he walks through the ward. When he sees something, he says something. He gets on the phone to resolve the issue. I may disagree with his political views, but he is doing what the people of this ward want, ensuring city services are ongoing.

Never listen to the political horse manure alderpersons spout. Look at what they do. Weasel words are meaningless. Action is the only thing that counts. We have a responsibility to hold alderpersons’ feet under the fire. If they get complacent or talk, we need to demand, loudly, more from them. If not, no matter how “beloved” they are, we organize and raise money to vote them out. That is the Chicago Way.