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The Great Chicago Train Wreck

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* From the Tribune

Given the deep economic pain afflicting Americans, politicians are generally not very popular – whether it’s the president or members of Congress, Republicans or Democrats. So it should be no great surprise that Chicagoans are dissatisfied with the most important Chicago pol, Mayor Richard Daley.

Just three years after he was re-elected for the fifth time, by a landslide margin, people are asking what he’s done for them lately. A Tribune poll finds 53 percent don’t want to see him re-elected, with 68 percent disapproving of his handling of city corruption.

“The city that works” doesn’t. It’s an old cliche, but it certainly applies.

The middle class is being squeezed hard by high taxes and fees and service that gets worse every day, not better.

Expensive parking meters are springing up all over the city where meters have never been. It’s never cost more to take a bus or a train, yet the service has never been worse. Billions are spent on downtown, while neighborhoods crumble. None of Daley’s big projects were done properly because he wanted them done so fast. Midway’s remake was a disaster, for instance. Millennium Park had so many retrofits that the grass where the general public watches band shell concerts couldn’t be sloped for fear that it would collapse the entire thing. So, nobody can see what’s going on except the swells up front.

The schools still suck. The streets aren’t even close to being safe. Remember Natasha McShane and Stacy Jurich, the women who were beaten half to death in Bucktown? There’s a far different vibe in the city now, and the murders of three police officers in the past two months has gotta have residents on edge. Police cameras are everywhere, but crime is legitimately freaking people out. Zorn

Though Officer Thor Soderberg was in uniform July 7 when a man attacked him in a police parking lot, took his gun and shot him dead, that attacker was evidently mentally ill. Sunday’s attacker or attackers, apparently, in contrast, made what they considered a rational decision that an unprovoked assault on a uniformed officer was worth the risk.

This death wasn’t the result of a shootout with thugs who felt cornered, a high-speed pursuit or a terrible encounter with a deranged person. It appears to be a random hit by predators utterly undeterred the uniform.

Violence problems don’t get much more out of control than that.

“Out of control.” That’s Chicago. Daley was supposed to be good at control. But the city has gotten too far away from him while he was doing things like jaunting to Europe on his failed quest to bring the Olympics to Chicago.

And what does Daley do? Well, he says he’ll hire 100 new police officers. That’s a drop in the bucket…

A two-year police hiring slowdown has left the Police Department understaffed by more than 2,230 officers a day, below the city’s budget-authorized 13,200.

Meanwhile, the kids are left to fend for themselves in a hostile world

And sometimes we are seized by the startling commonality of it all. That was the case last week, when a group of young men from the Midtown Educational Center’s journalism apprenticeship sat in on an editorial board meeting. Our guests, participants in a mentoring program for 10th- to 12th-graders, had already done some reporting on crime and gangs — their work will appear soon on the Midtown Voices blog, Many of them live or go to school in neighborhoods where gangs and violence are everyday fixtures.

For nearly an hour, the apprentices schooled the pros about life on those streets. How they navigate their neighborhoods to get to class safely. How they distance themselves from intraschool skirmishes and gang conflicts. How to behave, who to cultivate and who to avoid in order to maintain relative safety in public. How gang members hold their guns, as opposed to the laughable depictions in the media.

We quizzed them about what can be done to defuse the danger. Are there enough officers on the street? (No, they said.) Do police surveillance cameras deter crime? (Get serious, they said.) Is Chicago better off with or without a handgun ban? (There was a spirited debate.)

Most tellingly, our young guests said they don’t count on adults, especially police, to protect them. They dodge the daily perils as best they can. They didn’t say this in a way that suggested they felt the grown-ups had failed them. It is what it is.

Chicago has failed its people. Illinois has failed its largest city. The federal government has failed one of the nation’s greatest cities.

Why doesn’t the city launch an all-out war on the gangs with the state and federal governments? They infest everything now.

Why not try new ideas in the city’s schools? A friend of mine in Kansas City sends her daughters to a fantastic French immersion charter school. She’s the widow of my best friend and we’d all love her to move to Chicago, but there’s nothing even remotely like that school in Chicago’s public system.

Why not take some of that bloated TIF fund and put it towards hiring more cops?

Why raise CTA fares just enough to barely get by but never enough to make the system decent again?

Most importantly, why isn’t the mayor asking why?

It’s time for fresh thought and a complete do-over. Top to bottom. And Daley is far from fresh.

* Related…

* ‘We really lost an absolutely terrific man . . . it’s crime without fear’

* We must stop ‘creating more monsters’: But the most insightful words came from retired Chicago Police Sgt. Thomas Wortham III. Wortham urged government to come up with more money to keep young people involved in positive activities that will steer them away from trouble. “There is a new generation coming up that we need to save. We need funds. We need activities in the community to keep from creating more monsters,” he said.

* ‘A war out here’

* Friends: Slain cop looking forward to retirement

* ‘No one knows the pain’ of slain police officers’ families

* Chicago’s CAPS Chief Says He’s Asked Daley for More Funding

* City: More cops are on the way

* Daley Remembers Bailey, Won’t Commit to More Police

* If you know who did it, you must come forward

posted by Rich Miller
Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 9:51 am


  1. Hoffman for mayor

    Comment by anon Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 9:59 am

  2. “Most importantly, why isn’t the mayor asking why?”

    Fantastic line. In yesterday’s Sun Times, Daley seemed completely unconcerned that people in the Loop were having phones ripped out of their hands. As I noted yesterday, if we are not safe in the Loop, we are not safe anywhere.

    It almost seems like Daley lost the Olympics, and now just does not give a damn.

    Comment by Skeeter Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 10:01 am

  3. Why was Midway remake a disaster? Seriously, I don’t know what that reference is about or at least don’t remember it.

    Comment by Cosmic Charlie Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 10:01 am

  4. I will debate you on a lot of these issues later when I get back to my office but for now my only comment is it looks like your buddy Brendan is gearing up for a run for mayor.

    Comment by Been There Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 10:03 am

  5. Why has the Federal Government failed Chicago? The voters of the city put Daley in office year after year.

    The voters of the state have voted for corrupt politicians for years and years.

    Citizens of Chicago, you have nobody to blame but yourselves.

    Comment by Doug Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 10:05 am

  6. Many Chicago families have been living in war zones for generations. Yes it has spread to neighborhoods like Bucktown and the loop, but why did it need to take that to get all of the attention? We have to give youth an alternative. Boys and Girls clubs, afterschool programs, libraries, park district programs are what we need, not more guns on the street. On top of that police need to spend time in schools getting to know our your people. We need to bring the relationships back.

    Comment by southside irish Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 10:08 am

  7. Chicago has been a failure for alot longer than just the last Daley Term. Should I even bring up right to carry as a possible solution to the violence? Didn’t think so, I can here the shouting down starting already…

    Comment by Living in Oklahoma Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 10:10 am

  8. Great segment on this tragedy on Chicago Tonight last night…it was chilling to hear Daleys new head of community policing who lost his own son to gun violence on the streets of Chicago talk about “a lost generation of violent youth”…the “experts” on the panel had few answers or a remedy…

    Comment by Loop Lady Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 10:10 am

  9. Fantastic blog post Rich. It needed to be said, just this way, looking at the totality of events.

    As you say, the kids still can’t read and write and there’s no choice for parents with kids trapped in the public school monopoly. Why has Daley never pushed for vouchers in Springfield or stood with Sen. Meeks and others in the African-American community to give poor kids a choice?

    Daley’s relationship with the police force is hostile and his unwillingness to use NY-style tactics against crime and gang hot spots is hurting the city.

    Downtown TIFFS build new hotels for connected developers, but the park district can’t keep bathrooms open on the weekends, when kids and families are playing ball. And where are the programs that used to be there in the parks, to keep the kids off the street?

    Add 20 years of featherbedding, an unsustainable debt binge, the nickel and diming of people out of their neighborhoods, and an economic downturn, and you’ve got a combustible political environment. Appropriately so.

    Comment by Upstate Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 10:12 am

  10. Just like the good old days (mid 70’s) when I used to see daylight muggings in the Loop.

    Comment by Excessively Rabid Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 10:13 am

  11. @ Rich

    Why not take some of that bloated TIF fund and put it towards hiring more cops?

    I assume you get the irony of that statement considering the TIF funds are redirected away from bread and butter like first responders (and schools) so that they can go into a slush fund to “redevelop” the community.

    Daley’s strategy has been to push low-income people out of their neighborhoods while giving tons of money to large corporations to set up headquarters and regional offices in the loop. He uses the TIF slush fund to do this which starves the community and gives him huge leverage over the entire city council.

    However, the 25 year assault on public education in Chicago has also created this situation, and plenty of that blame lies at the state level. The pain that the wealthier suburbs are starting to feel is what’s been happening in Chicago for a generation.

    Comment by Sacks Romana Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 10:14 am

  12. The murders of the three policemen have been unnerving, to say the least. The two young ladies who were beaten… — well, all I can say is please teach your daughters that it’s not safe to be walking anywhere at 3:30 in the morning.

    I’m all for breaking up the CPS and allowing virtually all kinds of options to bloom — vouchers, magnet schools, anything. What the heck happened with that voucher bill in the GA, anyway?

    Other than that, more cops. Many more cops. Everybody was talking yesterday like Rudy cleaned up New York by himself. He had more cops per capita than any big city in the country.

    And take responsibility for your neighborhoods. Those gangbangers aren’t from Mars. They’re your kids. So get rid of that Folk Nation and People Nation ennabling stuff.

    In two weeks, I go to Ludington State Park in Michigan, a grand CCC project that put kids to work and is still enjoyed to this day. But we can’t afford stuff like that, right? Not when we spend $10 billion a month protecting heroin kingpins in Afghanistan. Let the kids here make their money on the corner.

    I admire immensely the kids who make it despite the overwhelming odds of the ghetto. They’re the real heroes in this world.

    Comment by wordslinger Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 10:23 am

  13. Greg Hinz earlier questioned why no one is seriously considering a run against Daley. Coverage of this is lacking. . .

    Comment by tubbfan Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 10:23 am

  14. @ Sacks: right on…public education in Chicago is now being run by a former police officer who answers to Daley…when a society stops adequately educating it’s children in the public schools, it is on it’s way to the dumper…

    throw in the breakup of family structures, disinvestment in the neighborhoods, and a killer recession and there’s a recipe for societal breakdown…

    Comment by Loop Lady Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 10:26 am

  15. The elephant in the room is Chicago’s massive illegal drug trade which funds so many of this thuggery and probably funds some local and state politicians as well.

    Despite all the hype, you can apparently still drive up Laramie or Central from the Eisenhower
    on a given night and easily purchase any illegal drug you want. Right under the noses of all those police officers and politicians.

    Comment by cassandra Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 10:26 am

  16. After this post, the odds on Brendan “Rich is my guy” Reilly running for Mayor just went up significnatly.

    Comment by Wizard of Ozzie Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 10:26 am

  17. Why aren’t the business leaders asking WHY? It will tale the civic and business communities to stand up and demand a change in leadership. Daley and Madigan will continue to get out their machine vote and the rest of the voters will stay home. How depressing……..

    Comment by padraig Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 10:26 am

  18. Okie, the three cops who were killed were all armed. Officer Wortham and his father left two assailants on the ground. Any more simple solutions?

    Comment by wordslinger Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 10:28 am

  19. Rich - thanks for the post. The only thing in it I take issue with is the comment about CPS having no school like the one in Kansas City you describe. There are several world class high schools and grammar schools in Chicago and my kids are fortunate enough to attend one of them (without clout). Of course, the disparity between those amazing schools and the rest of the system is the ultimate tragedy.

    Effective policing and crackdowns on gang violence will never be the full answer. If we want better schools and less violence, we need to be doing more to prevent child abuse and neglect with parent coaching and other outreach to these teen moms and get every three and four year old into preschool.

    Can’t believe anyone would still be touting right to carry as the solution since Officer Bailey was in uniform and carrying!!

    Comment by Dedicated Chicagoan Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 10:32 am

  20. Rich-
    Great post, really well-written. You ask, “Why doesn’t the city launch an all-out war on the gangs with the state and federal governments?” It is a good question, but is the city really ready to move to a police state? Conversely, instead of crime deterrence you may try prevention with increased social programming, better education, etc. Either option has pro/con, but both cost money. The government does not have it, and taxpayers are already lashing back.

    So, what is left? Perhaps gang violence is a problem not best solved by government. Instead, personal and community responsibility could take the lead. If you see a crime, report it– or confront the offender directly. If your kid is a gangbanger, you are a bad parent. Deal with it. If you are using drugs or abusing alcohol in front of your kids, you are causing their problems.

    This is not a racial problem, or even a class problem. There are gangs in the suburbs, too, folks. We all need to take accountablility for ourselves, our kids, and our neighbors. Government cannot make its citzens be good people. Only we can do that.

    Comment by Confused Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 10:34 am

  21. I hate Daley, but the part about “the swells up front” at the Pritzker Pavilion is not quite accurate. It’s absolutely right that nobody on the lawn can see - which sucks - but almost all Pritzker concerts are FREE for lawn and seats alike. They ain’t necessarily swells, just folks who want to sit up front. Me, I’d rather be out on the lawn with a blanket and picnic anyway.

    Comment by In fairness Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 10:34 am

  22. ===or confront the offender directly.===

    And get shot.

    Comment by Rich Miller Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 10:35 am

  23. “Why not take some of that bloated TIF fund and put it towards hiring more cops?”

    Rich, how can I make a contribution to your campaign? I’m more than willing to make the check out to “cash.”

    – MrJM

    Comment by MrJM Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 10:35 am

  24. Families and watchful neighbors who are there, care, and lead by example to teach kids responsibility and respect for their fellow humans and property are necessary for a civil society. Carol Marin did a very fine program about this last evening. The guests all agreed that many Chicago communities are busted at the core and especially their young are rudderless, lawless, and futureless. Alderman Lyle basically said that a generation has been lost and admitted that crime is spreading beyond control. The guests were depressingly honest about how difficult it is going to be to change things, especially when many areas are like a war zone. Government, the police, and the schools simply cannot fix broken souls. Deep down I think Daley and others in power know this and their sense of helplessness over it all has begun to kill their souls too.

    Comment by Responsa Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 10:38 am

  25. ===or confront the offender directly.===

    And get shot.

    Absolutely, that is a risk. For me, it is a risk worth taking. Back in 1993 I broke up a mugging in Wicker Park. It was broad daylight, middle of the afternoon. There were 8 punks beating the heck of another kid on the ground. Sure enough, I got pummelled as the kid jumped up and took off. But what struck me most about it was the half-dozen folks standing and watching from their porches, not doing anything or saying a word. You blame the cops? Daley? I blame the citizens. We create the world we live in.

    Comment by Confused Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 10:50 am

  26. I agree with everything Responsa wrote.

    Comment by Confused Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 10:51 am

  27. - For me, it is a risk worth taking. -

    This means you are an idiot. The problem is not that citizens aren’t willing to be morons and confront criminals who may be armed.

    Comment by Small Town Liberal Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 10:53 am

  28. One more thought on this: folks do not have to be risking “getting shot” (as Rich puts it) to make a difference. Be a good parent. Volunteer. Show up to Take Back the Night walks. Heck, it is so empty at the CAPS meetings in Rogers Park that it looks like a ghost town. Meanwhile, kids get shot their routinely.

    Comment by Confused Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 10:56 am

  29. “there” routinely. Heh. Sorry, I am a bit fired up on this issue.

    I wish all Chicagoans were. :(

    Comment by Confused Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 10:57 am

  30. Map the rampant violence. treat it like war cause that’s what it is.
    surround and control. there are still too many in the extreme
    violent zones who regard the gangs and drug dealers as
    financial saviors, or “my baby doesn’t do nothing wrong.”
    the mayor has tried with all the CAPS meetings and the
    marching, but it’s not working. what do they do in
    a war zone?

    Comment by Amalia Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 11:14 am

  31. Well said Rich.

    I think part of the problem in the city is the love that the suburbanites give Daley. The other problem is, well, drugs and the drug trade.

    Daley forgot about all the things that makes the city “work” while chasing the Olympics. The city is a mess because of it, though the people from the ‘burbs love it because they can still go to Wrigley and the Bean without any incidents or interactions with any ‘tough’ types. Major bummer what’s going on in Chicago right now, everything seemed so good five years ago.

    However I won’t blame the city for the schools. There are plenty of good options within CPS and outside CPS. The problem with education starts at the basic family level.

    Comment by The 'Dale to HPark Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 11:16 am

  32. The social structure of neighborhoods have broken down. There is nothing the government can do to return safety to neighborhoods unless the people in those neighborhoods help themselves. Do not look to the government, it can not “solve” this problem. Many of the problems associated with this unruliness is because we have come to expect government to solve all of our problems.

    It cannot. It should not.

    Comment by Cincinnatus Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 11:21 am

  33. I really have trouble with the notion that the inner city is full of bad parents who could solve these problems if they’d just get control over their kids, help them with their homework, spend more time with them, and so on.

    All neighborhoods have good parents and bad parents. But not all neighborhoods are the locus of the illegal drug trade, with its accompanying violence and massive amounts of illegal money. These inner city gangs are not shooting each other and innocent bystanders just for entertainment. There is huge money involved in gaining or losing even modest amounts of turf. It is big, big business.

    Easier for the pols to blame the residents, I guess, and “poverty.” And local reporters, unlike their unbelievably courageous Mexican counterparts, seem unwilling to address the issue

    in a major way. For example, doubt will be seeing the Chicago Tonight crew doing any in-depth studies of Chicago’s illegal drug trade–the whose, whats and whys and why the politicians and the police are so ineffective Too risky for the crew.

    Comment by cassandra Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 11:22 am

  34. Should Chicago really model its school system on Kansas City’s, Rich?

    Comment by Anon Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 11:24 am

  35. Yeah, more cops wouldn’t help at all, Cincy. They don’t have ghettoes in New York, right? The Great Rudy turned the South Bronx, Harlem and Bed-Stuy into garden spots. All those cops they hired had nothing to do with the decrease in crime. Coincidence.

    Comment by wordslinger Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 11:27 am

  36. Anon, I never said Chicago should model its entire school system on KC’s. Read it again.

    Comment by Rich Miller Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 11:28 am

  37. cassandra, just look at anything James Heckman has done on education. Listen to the first part of this: we can pretty much determine a kids education outcome just by knowing where they live, who is raising them, and their parents education level.

    CPS can’t make bad parents good parents. CPS can’t reverse the number of single family homes. Neither can any inner city school system. The problem is much bigger than the school system; it’s the entire system–parents, teachers, communities, administrators.

    Comment by The 'Dale to HPark Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 11:34 am

  38. I too think Responsa’s post hit it on the head. The only problem with Carol Marins show was that there were nobody from the Hispanic community. Like it or not (and I do) the many various communities that make our city diverse also are one of the causes of our problems. At least as far as fighting over gang turf. And this is where I agree with Rich and the feds have let us down. The heroin problem in Chicago is the worst in the country. That means there is money to be made and to fight over. Also means more crime from the junkies themselves. The Chicago and Cook County Sheriff cannot stop the inflow of drugs themself. The feds need to step it up big time.

    Comment by Been There Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 11:35 am

  39. I’d love as well to see “new ideas” in the city’s public schools but that was pretty vague Rich. One French immersion charter school in KS City does not for new ideas make.

    Are posters on this thread implying that if Daley had gone all-in on the school vouchers vote, last May, he could have put 12 more votes on it? Because I agree that would be a serious indictment of his administration. But it’s not at all clear to me, from 30,000 feet, that he could have. As the IOC vote showed yet again, Daley’s not quite the puppet master some of his critics allege, the Chicago Teachers Union is a formidable opponent, and I’m sure many Chicago Democrats just had fundamental philosophic objections to the idea.

    Comment by ZC Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 11:41 am

  40. Cinncinnatus, you don’t seem to understand why Daley’s numbers have tanked.

    If the bad activity was confined to certain areas, then we could just turn our backs and let it sort it self out,as you suggest.

    Unfortunately, the people from those neighborhoods are being more aggressive and are going beyond the neighborhoods. That is what has changed. There was a robbery a few weeks ago on East Huron at around 4:00 p.m. Cops in uniform are becoming chosen victims of violent crime.

    Things have changed. Daley needs to step up. Government needs to take action. Alderman Reilly was right in demanding more POs in the Loop, but that’s just the start. We need more POs everywhere.

    Comment by Skeeter Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 11:43 am

  41. - unless the people in those neighborhoods help themselves. -

    I’d love to hear the story about how Cinci was born into an impoverished family in a Chicago ghetto, took it upon himself to rise above the vice and violence, educated himself and went on to be a successful business man all with absolutely no help from the government.

    Comment by Small Town Liberal Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 11:43 am

  42. But in defense of Anon, you never did say either what Chicago -should- do, Rich. Are there particular studies / authors / positions out there you think Chicago should adopt, in response to its public schools? Would be interested in reading them.

    Comment by ZC Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 11:43 am

  43. Chicago needs new ideas. The corruption, machine politics and the constantly shifting of the same tired old personnel isn’t an answer to the decline going on. And it will get worse as Daley plunders cash assets built by selling off future cash flows.

    The city needs new ideas and strategies to develop neighborhood schools that work and to shut down the gangs. It will take a generation to fix but both need to start now for the youngest kids.

    Daley should step aside, but if he doesn’t he will remain in office. His roots run too deep and he is a national political power with chits to call in from the current president as well as the Clintons. He has controlled everything so long there isn’t a single local political “star” who has built a base by opposing him. If he runs it is a cakewalk regardless of the race the media and blogosphere is salivating for.

    Comment by LSC member Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 11:50 am

  44. “- For me, it is a risk worth taking. -

    This means you are an idiot. The problem is not that citizens aren’t willing to be morons and confront criminals who may be armed.”
    Small Town-
    Thanks for your (as always) graciously phrased insights.

    Maybe life is grand in your “small town” but I see gangbangers on most every corner and every park in my Chicago neighborhood. Adding the flashing blue lights with a camera is clearly not working. Our alderman is more concerned with courting political favor from SEIU than jobs in his ward. Residents here mostly do not care enough to get involved. So, if I am an “idiot” for caring enough to try, so be it.

    What are your suggestions to the problem? Or do you think there is not a problem at all? If you have nothing constructive to offer, perhaps you should just “shut up” as you so delicately suggested to other posters in the strike thread.

    Comment by Confused Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 12:00 pm

  45. I applaud all of the previous posters whose comments have been right on target. Chicago’s problems are virtually everywhere. The only way to start solving them is to oust Daley. The tribune poll probably understated the anti-Daley vote, because too many people are still unwilling to speak out publicly against him to some pollster. but there is NO WAY that Daley is going to get their votes.

    The absence of a single challenger at this time does not matter. When the campaign begins, there will be more than enough time for opposition candidates. The question that should be raised is whether Mayor daley would even make a runoff should he seek re-election.

    Comment by fedup dem Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 12:02 pm

  46. More police? Absolutely.

    More social programs? Probably not. We have seen a tremendous breakdown in the social structure in the past 50 years, even while social spending has skyrocketed. I know that a correlation is not causation, but have the social programs resulted in better “society?” Debatable.

    More education funds for “inclusion?” Has that helped? Again debatable. When I was growing up in the city, the neighbors, local fraternal organizations, and the church, assimilated the recent immigrants. We now expect the schools and other poorly equipped government institutions to handle these issues diluting their efforts from the 3Rs. Good or bad? As I said, debatable.

    I have actually taught Physics in a high school with gangs, 7 permanently assigned police, etc. These poor kids lacked something at home that no teacher could provide.

    Society is broken, and anyone that thinks that the government can do more than police the streets and provide limited infrastructure is sadly mistaken.

    Comment by Cincinnatus Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 12:07 pm

  47. - What are your suggestions to the problem? -

    More police, better education, less TIF money spent making neighborhoods too expensive for lower income families and forcing them to uproot and concentrate in low income areas. I never said there was no problem nor does your mention of my “small town” make any sense at all. If you want to play cowboy and get yourself shot, its absolutely fine by me. But suggesting citizens need to confront potentially dangerous criminals is stupid, no matter how you slice it.

    Comment by Small Town Liberal Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 12:16 pm

  48. I am perfectly happy to vote against Daley in 2011, but I’m happy to vote for him, again, too, barring a reasonable alternative. William Doc Walls? Dorothy Brown? Bobby Rush? Give me Daley.

    I also want somebody who has some concrete proposals about things they would do differently, as opposed to generic pledges about “new ideas” (kind of like Jason Plummer’s pledge to look at the state budget, if elected), and new ideas that amount to more than vague pledges that the city’s TIF money could solve most of its financial and social ills.

    Are you out there, dream candidate? Because if you are, I’m all ears.

    Comment by ZC Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 12:20 pm

  49. While it may be easy to point the finger at the Mayor, can anyone here name an alternative that would be better? I am not a fan of the Mayor’s on most things, but much of the crime can be traced to intractable poverty. Solve that, and you’ll have solved the crime problem.

    @wordslinger: Yes, nothing good happens after midnight, but those young women who were attacked with the baseball bat were coming home from work. It’s not like they were out partying until 3:30am. I know you weren’t blaming the victim, but…

    Comment by 47th Ward Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 12:25 pm

  50. More programs isn’t going to solve this problem. It’s a problem of family breakdown to the nth degree. The norm is now single parent homes, which if run by a capable person with an interest in and ability to deal with the emotional, educational and physical needs of the children is fine. However, in many cases it seems there are now families that while they may have a single adult in them, that adult is incapable of functioning as a parent. It is not uncommon for Mom to also run off, so maybe grandma cares for them or possibly a rotating collection of relatives. This type of upbringing is going to foster antisocial behavior.

    It’s possible some kind of grassroots, community oriented “shared parenting” effort might stem some of the breakdown by moving from a paradigm that isn’t working.

    When constructs such as the nuclear family no longer work in a given environment, it tends to be because that environment is hostile to the construct and a new construct must be found.

    Comment by cermak_rd Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 12:26 pm

  51. “We have seen a tremendous breakdown in the social structure in the past 50 years.”

    No, we really have not.
    What has changed in the color of the skin of the criminals. For certain people, the days of Al Capone do not seem so bad. Of course, Al was white.
    Richard J. Daley himself was part of what now would be considered a gang (and likely participated in some rioting).

    This whole idea of “societal breakdown” really shows ignorance of history.

    Comment by Skeeter Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 12:27 pm

  52. === Why not try new ideas in the city’s schools? A friend of mine in Kansas City sends her daughters to a fantastic French immersion charter school. She’s the widow of my best friend and we’d all love her to move to Chicago, but there’s nothing even remotely like that school in Chicago’s public system. ==

    The implied premise is that Kansas City has somehow found a way to incorporate a school into its public school system that’s fantastic — but the Chicago school system doesn’t have anything nearly as fantastic.

    It’s a false premise on at least two levels:

    First, the French immersion school that you cite is apparently a singular exception to what is — according to the New York Times — a real “train wreck” of a school system overall.

    Second, if we’re talking about exceptions, Chicago has plenty of compelling examples of tremendous schools — both public and charter — that are doubtlessly equal to the Kansas City school (LaSalle Language Academy, to name an obvious example,

    Schools like LaSalle didn’t exist before the Mayor became involved with CPS, but the Johnny-Come-Lately-Brendan-Reilly-types of the world are unwilling to give Mayor Daley credit for enacting very real, tangible change in the school system that has benefited residents of the city.

    It’s worth noting, too, in my opinion, that because the city has become so much more livable under Mayor Daley, that the private sector has responded with a host of new choices (The British School, to name one).

    And, of course, the failed Olympic bid is fertile ground for all armchair quarterbacks and political opponents, but had it succeeded it would have meant billions upon billions in federal money pouring into the city. That money would have addressed any number of “ills” you are quick to blame on the Mayor (CTA underfunding, for example).

    If you ask me — and you didn’t — the blame for the chronic underfunding — at both the state and city level (which is ultimately at the root of all the problems) — should be laid at the feet of our ridiculous congressional delegation, which manages to bring back only .73 cents from the federal government for every dollar that we send them. That ranks Illinois 46th out of 50

    Brendan Reilly should run for congress against Danny Davis or one of the other back-benchers from whence our former governor came if they really want to address Chicago’s problems.

    Comment by Anon Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 12:33 pm

  53. =The only way to start solving them is to oust Daley.=
    =I am perfectly happy to vote against Daley in 2011, but I’m happy to vote for him, again, too, barring a reasonable alternative. William Doc Walls? Dorothy Brown? Bobby Rush? Give me Daley.=

    I really doubt a credible candidate will run against Daley. It’s political sucide. Even if we want him to go, we have to be given an alternative that can get the job done.

    For me, I’m hoping Daley steps aside and I think Tom Dart is electable and is up to the job.

    Comment by Who cares Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 12:34 pm

  54. Oh, and the schools? CPS has some fantastic schools. Primarily any neighborhood school with an intake area that is 10% reduced lunch or lower will be pretty good. Other than that there’s a plethora of charter schools like Urban Prep, and the one run by U of C. Then there are the magnets and selective enrollments. You can get a fantastic education if you can test in.

    CPS (really the US as a whole) has never learned how to educate the segregated poor. In the old days, they provided shop classes and the students dropped out at 16 or 17 to go get jobs. It worked as a strategy back then because there actually were jobs for minimally skilled people. No so much today.

    Comment by cermak_rd Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 12:41 pm

  55. “- Skeeter - Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 12:27 pm:

    “We have seen a tremendous breakdown in the social structure in the past 50 years.”

    “This whole idea of “societal breakdown” really shows ignorance of history.”

    Really? Abortions, up. Single family homes, up. Out-of-wedlock births, up.

    If you don’t think this is part of the problem, do you propose more of the same failed policies of the last 50 years? Since it seems so, you are part of the problem, since, like many of the social policies ‘establishment” you want more of the same. New ideas will not come from the government, it will come from committed individuals in their own neighborhoods and homes.

    Unless the government assigns one person to every one troubled family, the government cannot make an impact nearly as affective as a single committed parent in their own home.

    Comment by Cincinnatus Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 12:42 pm

  56. What’s all this Reilly talk? You think this post is about him? You’re nuts. First, he won’t run against Daley. Second, he hasn’t proved yet that he can run citywide. Third, I don’t care about that political end at the moment. I have enough to do right now with fall elections.

    Comment by Rich Miller Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 12:44 pm

  57. ===Single family homes, up.===

    Yeah, because the biggest problems are in areas with nothing but single family homes. Right.

    Comment by Rich Miller Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 12:45 pm

  58. Abortions up? Under President Clinton they went down, and under President Bush they went up. For out of wedlock births, similar numbers exist. Maybe we can get Bill Clinton to move to Chicago.

    Comment by Skeeter Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 12:46 pm

  59. I’m sure Cincy was referring to singe PARENT homes. Although I have not seen those numbers, I suspect they track out of wedlock and abortion number, i.e., better under President Clinton than under President Bush.

    Comment by Skeeter Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 12:50 pm

  60. Skeeter, I hope you’re right.

    Comment by Rich Miller Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 12:55 pm

  61. In fairness, all this Daley-cannot-lose meme may be overstated as well.

    Truth is, we don’t know. Unless somebody out here has credible benchmark polls they’d care to share. Daley has been around so long, without a top-tier challenger for so long, there’s a perception of invulnerability around him that might - might - be more myth than reality, especially in this downturn. Look at New York. Michael Bloomberg in the eyes of some is supposed to be everything we’d dream Daley would be, the truly competent, non-corrupt uber-mayor, and he barely won reelection in 2009 to an underfunded, much lesser well known challenger, 50.6 - 46.

    If somebody credible had the guts to step up and shake the Daley tree, hard, who knows, the Mayor might just fall out of it. But two things: 1) X individual would need a capacity to raise boatloads of cash; 2) X individual would have to be willing to raise eternal animosity and quite possibly a severe career-ending calamity, should he / she lose. Shoot at the king, best not miss.

    Comment by ZC Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 1:06 pm

  62. ===he barely won reelection in 2009 to an underfunded, much lesser well known challenger, 50.6 - 46.===

    It wasn’t that the guy was horribly underfunded. It was that Bloomberg spent a kabillion dollars and barely won. But you’re right.

    Comment by Rich Miller Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 1:08 pm

  63. Skeeter,

    Clinton with a Republican city council would work just fine for me.

    Comment by Cincinnatus Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 1:09 pm

  64. I don’t think the answer is more police and more jails; we tried it for years and look at where we are. What we need is more effective policing and an improved corrections system.

    Comment by Objective Dem Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 1:41 pm

  65. To all you “folks” or “People” who want to oust Daley, go forward with the knowledge that such an ouster will create more instability and perceived/actual chaos.

    Chicago is a city of neighborhoods, and suffice it so say special interests (i.e. community groups/block clubs), every sect has self interest. The crime issue ravaging the south, southeast side may not move people in say…Roscoe Village, Lake View or Lincoln Square, to change a thing - except more money for pretty flowers and street improvements (think flower pots). Those in Little Village, Lawndale or Englewood may view street improvements as a secondary concern…or way down the list - education is always up there. The point is, who ever is mayor must be able to influence these groups to move in a direction that they otherwise would not, which takes time. Time…we do not have.

    If not Daley, then who? From Houlihan to Hoffman, there isn’t a single potential candidate that has the “troops” on the ground to effectively combat the problems we now face, or the national influence. This is more than Daley for sure…it’s our legislators, our alderman, our county commissioners, our Governor, and our Mayor…it is us.

    If you don’t live in Chicago, never have run a precinct or belonged to a community organization, then you really don’t understand how it works. With a city as dense as ours, its about organizing, self-interst, and lastly…collective conscious. As to density, do we really want millions of people walking around with guns? how many arguments occur on the city streets? Late night brawls? Fights over parkins spots in the winter? In a heated exchange, do we want people packing heat?

    Comment by GetOverIt Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 2:43 pm

  66. To add on to Getoverit’s comment, a number of people will talk about “the machine” without understanding it is a coalition of the neighborhood, wards, and special interest groups that make up the City.

    Comment by Objective Dem Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 3:14 pm

  67. =Then there are the magnets and selective enrollments. You can get a fantastic education if you can test in.=

    Sure. Or you can buy your way in like the recent migrants from the suburbs to the city. It’s a lot easier that way.

    Comment by Brennan Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 3:26 pm

  68. In the BEZ story on the right, Daley says he can’t hire more cops because it would take money out of the budget to develop affordable housing, retail and “create jobs.”

    That’s just crazy. Create a safe environment in some of the city’s shooting galleries and you just might attract private money to do those things. Of course, the mayor might not to get to cut the ribbons, but who cares?

    He can “create” 2,300 jobs by bringing the police force up to authorized level.

    Comment by wordslinger Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 3:42 pm

  69. Chicago has reached a point where there are more people riding in the train than can be found to pull the train.

    Daddy Daley expanded the taxbases into Cook County when it seemed that there would be enough working folks to pull the Chicago train.

    Successive administrations have widen the support base into Northeastern Illinois, the Chicagoland Region and eventually into the State of Illinois itself. They reached to Washington.

    But it still wasn’t enough. We have generations of train riders in Chicago, instead of train pullers. For-profit business organizations are no longer the top employers.

    Chicago isn’t manufacturing like it used to. People came and lived in Chicago not because of it’s warm winters, or mountain views, it’s ocean islands or it’s clean air - they moved to Chicago to make buckets of money. Without buckets of money, folks decided it was better to live elsewhere - and WE moved away.

    Chicago is a train wreck because the folks pulling the train have given up and have moved to places where the load is lighter, the grass is greener, the schools are new, and the neighbors are married with children and work.

    The tipping point has been reached.

    Comment by VanillaMan Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 5:15 pm

  70. Yes, VMan, the paragon of private entrepreneurship, hard work and virtue.

    You are on the state dime during all of these ridiculous rants, right? You’re familiar with the concept of time theft, right? By the way, the great majority of Chicagoans work.

    Comment by wordslinger Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 5:53 pm

  71. Daley’s departure will create political instability. But given the stagnation and dearth of vision that political stability has provided a little chaos looks good.

    Daley as to go at some point, whether he walks out, is led out, or carried out. Chicago thrived before him and can do so after him. It’s time to stop clinging onto him like a security blanket and start planning for a post-Daley Chicago be it in ‘11 or ‘15.

    Even if Daley wins again Chicago needs a strong opposing candidate in the upcoming campaign to shake things up. Conditions are perfect for a strong candidate to emerge and it would be a shame if Daley breezed without being pushed.

    Comment by Independent Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 5:56 pm

  72. While some may love the idea of Chicago reaching the tipping point, its not even close.

    First off people are still moving here because there are a lot of great jobs and the ability to make money. It may not be manufacturing like it use to, but it is always generated new businesses. Ever hear of Threadless or Groupon?

    People also move to Chicago because of its culture, restaurants, shopping, parks, universities, etc. I will take a lake view over a view of the ocean any day of the week. And by the way the weather isn’t that bad. Sure it gets cold but I would take it over the heat of those cultural wastelands in the south and west any day of the week. Plus we don’t have hurricanes or earthquakes.

    And in regard to the idea that Chicago isn’t carrying its load, get real. Look at where dollars from the fed come from and go to. Its the red states that are subsidized by the blue states despite what they think. And in the state of Illinois, Chicago pays its way.

    And regarding employment - yes unemployment is an issue but it is just as bad if not worse in places like Galesburg.

    Things are not perfect in Chicago but it is still a great place to live.

    Comment by Objective Dem Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 6:07 pm

  73. I’m going to ignore the issue of money and go on a bit of a rant here … but for those of you who say the money isn’t there, my memory of trying to do projects in Chicago included what I would call (at minimum) a 10% corruption tax .. eliminate it and you might have the money.

    Government’s first job is to provide a secure environment for it’s citizens … so hire lots more cops, double the current force if necessary and do the community / broken window policing that needs to be done … and if you have to be politically incorrect to do so, so be it … until you get the crime under control, nothing else will matter.

    Government’s second job is to provide equality of opportunity … the schools are basically failing in both Chicago and, at a slower rate, the rest of the State. Quit having the teachers try to be a parent / nanny / social worker and just teach the basics at the elementary and secondary levels. If you need more money, cut out the college level money … colleges already have to spend money on remedial reading and math classes because the incoming students can’t function at grade level, so money spent at college level is a waste if you aren’t doing the basics. This means you will most likely have to just write off a generation. It took me a long time to come to this conclusion, but I eventually reached it after listening to my wife come home complaining every day from the schools where she worked with high risk kids and limited tools.

    And if, repeat if, poverty and the breakup of the family social structure is part of the problem, consider a really radical solution - orphanages / military style boarding schools. Again, in a lot of cases you’re already spending the money in the form of either welfare payments or prisons … maybe the money would be better spent trying to actually educate the kids and providing a stable social structure as an alternative to the gangs. At the same time, have a close to zero tolerance policy on disruptive kids. Again, from personal experience, my own son attended a high school where there were regular disruptions in his classes whenever there was a substitute teacher who didn’t know how to control the class. Whenever that happened, my son packed his books, went to the principal’s office, and studied there … in his own words to the principal: “I’m here to learn and I can’t do it in that kind of class environment”. (They actually gave him a corner to work in and won a couple of small scholarships when he graduated.) It may take something as radical as changing the school aid formula from simply paying for the students present each day (which encourages keeping the disruptive troublemakers in class) to paying a flat amount per school regardless of students or punitively cutting school payments based on the number of kids not achieving grade level scores … I don’t know what the answer is to that one, maybe 100% vouchers for every kid and letting the money follow the kid to any school including private or religious, but I know the current system is broken.

    Finally, create jobs. If you can’t get private investment to do it, create CCC and WPA type programs to simply keep the city clean and maintained … it will probably require busting the unions so they can pay less than “prevailing wage” but at this point any job that improves the city’s “quality of life” has to be better than doing nothing.

    I realize a lot of this is not the “prevailing wisdom” … but that doesn’t seem to be working. If you can provide security, education and some blue collar jobs, things might change.

    Comment by Retired Non-Union Guy Tuesday, Jul 20, 10 @ 11:04 pm

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