Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Catching gangbangers on bikes?

In theory, it sounds like it ought to make some sense.

Soon to be seen all over non-touristy Chicago
Yet the idea that special patrols in the city’s most street gang-infested neighborhoods will be put on bicycles just creates an image that might work against any such police efforts.

MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL made the announcement last week, saying that about one-third of the 360 officers assigned to units that patrol the heavy-gang areas have already been issued bicycles and trained how to handle themselves in potentially-hazardous situations.

But what happens the first time that a gang situation, which is all about intimidation, occurs and a police officer arrives at the scene while wearing his bicycle helmet and those short pants that bike riders would wear?

It’s about as unintimidating a sight as we could be asked to see. I don’t know if we’d have gang members laughing their tushes off, or what.

But we’d definitely be seeing a situation where an officer would be at a disadvantage – primarily because the whole idea of a cop on a bike is that he’s not bogged down with all the gear that might come in necessary in a potentially-violent situation.

THE WHOLE IDEA of police on bicycles can work at public events or in certain situations because they create the illusion that police are on hand, without creating an image that is too intimidating.

You don’t want to turn something like “Taste of Chicago” into a “police state” atmosphere! And Chicago definitely didn’t want to have an overbearing police impression (although it wanted the force of one) back when the whole NATO gathering in Chicago took place.

While I’m not convinced that creating a “police state” atmosphere in the Englewood neighborhood is the solution either (you’ll just create more resentment amongst the people who live there), it definitely takes more of a sense of intimidation to grab attention in certain neighborhoods.

I just don’t buy into the line of logic that Emanuel is offering up to justify this change.

WHICH IS THAT having more officers on foot in the neighborhoods will let people living there get to know the police better. And will make them more trustful of the police to the degree that they may have faith in law enforcement to protect them from the gang members.

Who get most of their power these days from the perception that they’re more powerful than the police! It certainly isn’t that they’re more well-liked than the police. People know who it is that is ripping them off and holding back their neighborhoods from ever amounting to much.

A cop on a bike would have greater maneuverability than officers in a squad car, particularly when chasing a person on foot who may try to dart and dodge into obscure corners of a given neighborhood.

Perhaps. But somehow, I think a gang member would be more intimidated by the sight of the squad car.

NOW I DOUBT that da mare is about to be influenced by this commentary. We probably will get more cops on bikes in the future.

I’m just curious to know what happens if a police officer is caught in public riding his bicycle without wearing his helmet. Will he get some sort of discipline? Because it is an offense that leads to unsafe conditions.

And what happens if the same gangbangers whom a police officer on bike is trying to catch wind up snatching his bicycle? Will being able to ride around on a city-owned bicycle become some sort of perverse status symbol for these people?

Or are we going to get our court system loaded up in the future with a backlog of cases of Grand Theft, Bicycle?


You’d think it was still 20th Century by composition of immigration forum

“House Speaker” J. Dennis Hastert. “Governors” James R. Thompson and Jim Edgar.

Those were the “big names” for a political forum held Tuesday by the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition to try to persuade people that it’s good for our economy to revise the federal immigration laws so as to make sense of our policy.

SOMEHOW, I SUSPECT this collection from Illinois’ political past didn’t do a thing to persuade the ideologues of our society how their allegedly hardline approach to immigration (it’s actually more bigoted than anything else) reform is harming us. For all I know, the forum was regarded as a RINO-fest, and nothing more!

Then again, that is the real partisan split within the allegedly grand old party that is keeping so many issues bottled up politically.

Check out this weblog’s sister site, the South Chicagoan, for a more detailed account of what occurred at the Chicago Club. And whether or not anybody was listening to the men who are now nothing more than oil portraits hanging from musty political halls.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Weekend shootings in the dozens; is this going to be a Chicago habit?

Initially, it sounded like one of those quirky stories that can enhance a news report – 36 people shot last weekend in a 36-hour time period.

EMANUEL: Looking to place blame?
Most of them survived – fortunately. But the 36 in 36 does have a nice ring to it – particularly since it happened only once. When would we get something comparable?

THE SCARY PART is that it only took one week. This past weekend, some 37 people were shot in Chicago, with nine winding up dying.

Is Chicago’s population now going to endure a three-dozen reduction each weekend? Somehow, I doubt the birth rate each weekend will balance things out.

Although I also find it saddening to realize that the last outburst of springtime violence came during the Easter weekend. The religious holiday devoted to the concept of rebirth wound up being more a tribute to the misery of Good Friday.

We’re also likely to get an outburst of the rancid rhetoric from political ideologues who are determined to want to believe Chicago is some sort of hellhole in which people are gunned down every day for no good reason.

THAT IS THE primary reason why I am disgusted by the violent outbursts – which don’t some quite so cute any longer.

Let’s only hope we don’t get 38 people shot this coming weekend. That would be just a little too cutesy to be taken seriously.

Less cutesy is the way political people are trying to spin the happenings.

KELLY: Jobs, not guns!
Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Monday he thinks it’s a matter of values – although is he trying to tell people to impose good values. Or is he trying to find people to blame for imposing crummy values?

I’M STILL TRYING to figure out the answer to those questions. Because it comes across like he’s more interested in placing blame, than finding a solution.

“Every child deserves a childhood, regardless of where they live,” Emanuel said during an unrelated press conference. “But to do that, our city and community, the neighborhoods that make up this city, cannot live by a ‘code of silence.’

“They have to live by a moral code,” he said, according to the Chicago Tribune. Does this mean Emanuel thinks some people bring violence on themselves? Just because they happen to get a lot in life that puts them in one of the city neighborhoods that officials have chosen to ignore whenever possible.”

McCARTHY: More cops, less violence?
Actually, I find myself more sympathetic to the thoughts of Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Ill., who Monday night used a suburban East Hazel Crest appearance to say one of the reasons she wants to push for more programs focused on job creation is that she thinks providing more employment reduces the number of people who will feel compelled to use violence to try to get something out of life.

“NOTHING STOPS A bullet like a job,” she said, while adding she perceives the problem of violence as something that extends beyond Chicago or urban communities.

“It’s not an urban problem, it’s an American problem,” she said. “We want people to be responsible.”

Although there’s a practical notion to the way that police Superintendent Garry McCarthy wants to view the problem – he wants more police on the streets.

Which might not have the effect of reducing the social issues that create conditions spurring violence to higher levels. As McCarthy sees it, we might be focusing too much on the recent outbursts, which the Chicago Sun-Times reported he referred to as a “bad week” for Chicago.

A MORE LONG-RANGE approach probably needs to be taken. As McCarthy puts it, “our success doesn’t have to do with what happens today or tomorrow or what happened last week.

“It’s really going to be what happens in two years from now,” the superintendent said.


Monday, April 21, 2014

Does Oberweis really want Kirk support? Or to put senator in place?

It always amazes me when political rivals publicly expect their opponents to support them following an election.

KIRK: Keeping quiet for party loyalty
Any public statements of support would be half-hearted, at best. Outright lies, more likely.

IF I HAD managed to win a political primary election against a challenger who was ideologically opposed to me, what I would most want is that opponent to keep his (or her) mouth shut during the following general election cycle.

Don’t keep harping on how much you don’t agree with me. Accept the fact that you lost the primary election, and gear up for the future election that you will seek to win.

That’s basically the attitude I have with regards to Republican Senate nominee James Oberweis and whether he should expect any support from incumbent Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., in his bid to defeat Illinois’ other U.S. senator, Richard Durbin, D-Ill., come the Nov. 4 election.

Now I know that, strictly speaking, Oberweis and Kirk don’t fit my theoretical scenario.

KIRK DIDN’T LOSE to Oberweis in the primary elections held last month. Doug Truax did, and he has withered away in the public eye. Nobody expects him to say or do anything publicly. If anything, it would be regarded as tacky if he tried to seize the public eye any longer during this particular election cycle.

But Kirk has managed to offend his political colleagues – first by saying he has developed a relationship with Durbin during the past few years and doesn’t want to jeopardize the work they’re trying to do on Capitol Hill on so many issues.

Traitor!!!! RINO!!!!

OBERWEIS: Doesn't want undermining
Since, he has said he will campaign a bit on behalf of Oberweis. Which has the same people who want to label Kirk questioning how sincere anything he could say on Oberweis’ behalf could be.

HE REALLY OUGHT to go out of his way to avoid anything involving the election cycle – and focus on being a senator, since his term runs for two more years.

For the fact is that Oberweis is the favorite candidate of the conservative ideologues who want a government that will reinforce their views on so many social issues.

While Kirk is the more moderate. He’s got a solid enough supportive attitude toward military issues and certain economic questions that he wouldn’t fit in with Democrats – and people who say he’s really a Democrat are just being nonsensical.

TOPINKA: The GOP big winner?
On those social issues, Kirk is more influenced by the fact that he’s a North Shore suburban resident (Highland Park, to be exact). He’s urban in his viewpoint, compared to the fact that the majority of Republican officials these days tend to reflect the rural perspective of our society.

I EXPECT KIRK will wind up trying to do as little as he possibly can – largely because the kind of people who are Kirk supporters are the kind who will have serious trouble coming around to vote for Oberweis.

They are the reason why serious Republican operatives are writing off the Senate seat from Illinois as un-winnable, and are focusing their political efforts on backing Bruce Rauner’s bid for governor.

Pat Quinn politically is more vulnerable than Dick Durbin. Although it’s very possible that the outcome of this year’s election cycle could be both Quinn and Durbin keeping their electoral offices for another term (four years for governor, six for senator) – with the GOP victory coming in the form of Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka taking down Sheila Simon’s political aspirations.

People who think that Kirk could do anything to bolster Oberweis’ chances are merely dreaming. If he’s really the GOP loyalist that I believe he is, he’ll pipe down until Nov. 5 – then speak out all he wants!


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Wishing Buehrle back on Sout’ Side

It’s early in the baseball season. Nowhere near enough ball games have been played to be able to say a team is doing well. Or poorly.

But I couldn’t help but notice the record of pitcher Mark Buehrle in Toronto (what with four wins, no losses and an earned run average of 0.64) and wish the Blue Jay were still wearing black socks.

THE FORMER CHICAGO White Sox pitcher achieved enough here during his career (a pair of no-hitters, a World Series appearance and all those Opening Day starts) that he’s always going to be remembered primarily for what he did here. His stints with Miami, Toronto and any other ball club he ever pitches for (maybe someday the St. Louis Cardinals he rooted for as a kid) will be the add-ons of a professional career that is very impressive for a guy who was drafted in the 38th round out of a junior college in Missouri where he played ball for a year.

But you have to admit he’s had an impressive season’s start – most recently pitching just over seven shutout innings Saturday night against the Cleveland Indians.

Starting pitching may not be the White Sox’ weakness this season. But you have to wonder how much better the South Side ball club would have in 2014 if that 0.64 ERA were done here.

For those of you who don’t comprehend, an earned run average figures how many runs he gives up in a typical nine-inning stretch. Thus far, he gives up about two-thirds of a run.

HE’S BOUND TO have a bad outing eventually that will shoot his ERA up to a more normal-sounding figure (something that starts with a “3.” rather than a “0.”

I’d definitely think that 2013 wouldn’t have been quite as atrocious if Buehrle had been around, ensuring that losing streaks didn’t get quite so long if he had been pitching.

But ’14 is ’14. The White Sox seem to be on their way to being a team that will win about 80 ballgames – and no more.

Although as evidence of how early it is in the season, Buehrle’s Blue Jays ball club is 10-8 and in first place in their division (tied with the New York Yankees), while the White Sox are 8-10 and in fourth place – only a half-game ahead of the Cleveland ball club that Buehrle beat.

ON THIS EASTER Sunday (when perhaps we should have higher ideals in mind than the doings of a mediocre ball club), we should wait for the next significant holiday (Memorial Day) before we start seriously paying attention to the standings.

Maybe then, Buehrle himself won’t have quite so impressive a record. Or maybe he’ll be even better.

And maybe, by chance, the 35-year-old who likely has another two or three seasons left may wind up returning to Chicago for a career-ending stint that would make some fans happy while waiting for the White Sox to put together a team that would actually contend for a league championship.

Which I still suspect will come to the South Side and Bridgeport before it manages to work its way up to Lake View.


Saturday, April 19, 2014

GOP upset they didn’t get a chance to vote “No” on something Obama-related

There is a stink going on these days with regards to the way an Illinois House of Representatives committee gave its recommendation to a bill providing some state funds to the eventual development of the presidential library and museum that honors Barack Obama.

Someday to be on display?
The committee gave its approval to the idea, which sends the bill to the full Illinois House for consideration. No big deal, right?

OF COURSE, IT’S a huge deal!!! But only for the ideologues who are upset that the political maneuvering deprived them of a chance to rant and rage about how Obama is unworthy of ANYTHING showing him respect.

For sparing us that, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, deserves our respect and admiration.

We certainly shouldn’t be getting all worked up over it. The conservative ideologues will get their chance to complain and make their views known later this spring – because the Illinois Senate also will have to review the measure as well.

There will be ample chance for ideologues to spew their venom against Obama.

ALTHOUGH I’LL BE the first to admit that the means by which Madigan got a recommendation for the Obama library bill was an intriguing one – and a bit sneaky, as well.

What happened was that on Wednesday, the Illinois House executive committee (the one whose members are picked by leadership because they can be trusted to do what the party leaders want done) held a hearing in Chicago to discuss bills related to expanded gambling opportunities.

Considering that the focus of this particular hearing was to study the idea of a Chicago-based casino, perhaps it made a lot of sense to hold the hearing outside the Statehouse in Springfield.

Upset because they were silenced for a day?
When the hearing ended Wednesday, instead of adjourning, it was “recessed to the call of the chair.”

WHICH IN THIS particular case was Thursday. Committee members reconvened the very next day, heard talk about an Obama library, then instead of a vote, they decided to take an “attendance” role call – meaning everyone recorded as being present was an “aye” vote.

The only problem is that the Republican members of the committee, particularly those who came to Chicago from outside the metropolitan area, left the city immediately after Wednesday’s proceedings.

They claim they didn’t know the committee would meet again Thursday, so they went home. But because it was a “recessed” hearing, they were still considered “present.” Personally, I heard Wednesday afternoon they'd be returning to action the next day.

So there are now some Republican legislators who are on the record as having supported the idea of state funding for an Obama library. Which for some of them will not be a popular vote back home.

THEY’RE GOING TO get trashed by their constituents for letting such a thing happen. And if the best explanation they can offer is that they weren’t there, they’re going to get trashed for being dumb enough to let something like this happen to them!

That’s what the anger is really about. I suspect the only difference if the GOP members had been present is that the debate would have been rancorous, and it would not have been unanimous in favor of it.

Statehouse debate will be heard loud and clear ...
It would have been a partisan vote that still would have recommended the bill because, after all, it is a Democrat-run state Legislature.

If there were Republican leadership of any significance, then it would have been rigged to make for a vote against Obama, which merely shows that Illinoisans are as politically-motivated as officials anywhere else in the country.

HOW ELSE TO explain the fact that the “$100 million” figure suggested as the appropriate state level is the same amount of money spent to develop an Abraham Lincoln museum and library in Springfield?

Equal time? Political parity? Regional balance?

... after being silenced at Bilandic Building.
The reality is that the Obama library and museum is going to be a contentious issue – no matter what happens. There’s also the reality that most of the money for the project will come from private fundraising overseen by Obama himself.

The reason state officials are willing to put some government money into the project is that they want to ensure it gets located in Chicago – instead of the counter-proposals from New York and Honolulu officials.

BECAUSE WITH CHICAGO being a place of significance, and Obama library and museum has the potential to be a significant draw – unlike the libraries of presidents such as Gerald R. Ford that are so isolated they just don’t draw.

It could be a tourist attraction of significance – one that Madigan is trying to ensure comes here. What’s wrong with that?


Friday, April 18, 2014

What do Obama/Yoda have in common

I realize life in government isn’t all serious. But seeing our elected officials on Thursday focusing their attention on museums?

I suppose they justify it by saying they’re trying to create tourist attractions of the future – even more reasons why people might want to visit Chicago and bolster our local economy by spending their money here.

BUT THAT’S WHAT we literally got on this day – state government officials spent time talking about the possibility of the future presidential museum and library that will pay tribute to Barack Obama.

While Mayor Rahm Emanuel created a new task force that will study the possibility of moviemaker George Lucas developing a museum in Chicago to pay tribute to his work – primarily “Star Wars” and all its declining-in-quality sequels.

Could we literally get the day someday when tourists make stops at museums paying tribute to the first non-white U.S. president AND the Jedi Master whose command of “the Force” doesn’t overcome the fact that he sounds just like Grover from Sesame Street?

Quite a difference from the days of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Field Museum being the places people felt compelled to visit (along with the Museum of Science and Industry, if they had kids in tow) when they stopped off in Chicago for any length of time.

NOT THAT WE’RE anywhere near getting either museum. This is literally the first stage in the process, and it is still very possible that both museums could wind up elsewhere – particularly in the case of Lucas, although I’m not underestimating the concept of Obama wanting to retire to Honolulu and have his museum nearby.

To that museum’s end, an Illinois House committee meeting in Chicago gave its recommendation to the idea of spending $100 million someday on an Obama museum – with Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, saying that’s comparable to the amount of state funds that went toward developing an Abraham Lincoln library and museum in downtown Springfield some nine years ago.

Not that this latest action, which still needs approval by the full Illinois House, the state Senate and Gov. Pat Quinn before it becomes official, tells us where such a museum would be located.

Since we’re still nowhere near deciding where, in Chicago, would be the best site to remember the eight-year period in which a one-time community organizer from down around the Altgeld Gardens public housing complex became the most feared (by the conservative ideologues amongst us) element of our society.

FOR HIS PART, Emanuel said he does not think the fact that Obama still owns a home in Chicago and may come back at some point to live part of the rest of his life here does not ensure Chicago would get the museum.

He wants to see serious politicking on the issue. Similar to what we’re likely to see to get the Lucas museum.

Similar to the task force that he created to try to bring a Lucas museum to Chicago. Long live the imagery of “Star Wars,” although I’d be more interested in seeing relics of “American Graffiti” – which gave us “Happy Days” before “Happy Days” existed on television.

How about that souped-up yellow car that actor Paul LeMat’s “John Milner” character drove about all throughout the film, before beating Harrison Ford’s character in the film-ending drag race?

Check out the car!
THEN AGAIN, FORD went on to become “Han Solo,” and ride around the galaxy in the Millennium Falcon with a walking carpet named “Chewbacca.”

It seems Chicago is amongst the cities being considered because Lucas’ wife is a Chicago native, and he actually has a home here, along with in San Francisco.

And if we get it, we run the risk of having people suddenly think that a museum makes the “Star Wars” saga real-life history – just the opposite of those people who think “Titanic” was a story about Leonardo DiCaprio and some rich chick!