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Pritzker slammed for finger-pointing on gun violence

Wednesday, Aug 8, 2018

* One of the reasons why I haven’t posted any candidate statements on Chicago’s violent weekend is that most of them were just empty finger-pointing. Rex Huppke’s new column takes aim at several folks on this very topic, including JB Pritzker

I’d like to ask each and every Illinois politician and political candidate scrambling to condemn this past weekend’s outbreak of gun violence in Chicago to please shut up.

All of you. Please. You’re flapping your gums and pointing fingers and tossing out useless bromides and generally making nuisances of yourselves.

Take Democratic gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker, who on Tuesday saw fit to leverage Chicago’s insanely violent weekend — 74 shot, 12 killed — to go after Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, blaming the governor for the shootings. Pritzker said funding cuts to social service programs under Rauner’s watch have led to an uptick in gun violence across Illinois.

Please explain to me, Mr. Pritzker, how that’s helpful right now? I’m one of the last people anyone would expect to stand up for Rauner, and I agree that properly funded social service programs are a key to stemming violence in Chicago and elsewhere, but what good does a transparently political jab like that do in this moment?

I’ll answer that: None.

Rauner’s campaign called Pritzker’s comment “shameful,” and I agree. Unless your mouth is able to utter some sensible, well-thought-out, comprehensive solutions to a problem that has plagued Chicago for decades — a problem no politician or political candidate past or present has seen fit to properly address — then silence is your best option.

* But, to be fair, Pritzker and his running mate did do more than just point fingers

Pritzker said “violence interruption on the streets” is probably the quickest way to address the gun issue in Chicago. “These are all things that can be deployed if the state will have funds available and make funds available for those. Those are things that can happen this weekend, next weekend and should happen on a consistent basis,” he said. […]

“In terms of this specific weekend, it’s nothing that’s just going to be a Band-Aid approach where you can say, ‘OK. Let’s just do something, just kind of, you know, address an issue really quickly,’ ” Stratton said. “We have to make sure there’s investment and that requires a long-term vision for these communities.”

* And connecting the impasse to the violence spike is not a new thing

In 2013 and 2014, the years before Rauner took office, the number of homicides in Chicago dropped to levels not seen since the 1960s with 420 and 415 killings in those years respectively. In 2015, Rauner’s first year as governor and the first six months of the budget impasse, the number of homicides grew to 468 before surging to 750 in 2016 — a level that had not been seen in two decades.

In 2017, there were about 650 homicides. Through the first half of this year, Chicago was on pace for a double-digit drop in the number of homicides compared to last year but still on track to far outpace the numbers in 2013 and 2014, statistics compiled by the Chicago Tribune showed.

But is it causation or correlation? According to the Tribune, Pritzker said yesterday the violence spike was “almost concurrent with the defunding.” He also said the defunding of human service progrms “has led to this problem.” And he said that when those programs are defunded, budgets are vetoed and violence interruption programs aren’t prioritized, “then gun violence will increase.”

Fair or unfair hit?

…Adding… To clarify, I meant was the hit on Pritzker fair, but I suppose we could expand this to mean was Pritzker’s hit on Rauner also fair or unfair.

…Adding… From October of 2013

The city of Chicago has cut funding for a model anti-violence program, deciding to focus instead on community policing and other strategies to combat the city’s high murder rate.

The program, CeaseFire, sends former gang members into targeted neighborhoods to defuse conflicts before they erupt into violence. FRONTLINE featured some of the CeaseFire operators earlier this year in The Interrupters, tracking their efforts to intervene in gang violence, stopping revenge shootings and curbing fights.

Plenty of blame to go around here.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

49 Comments
  1. - Spliff - Wednesday, Aug 8, 18 @ 10:23 am:

    Fair. These projects have been hit year after year for stagnant funding then with the impasse were totally cut off. These services aren’t like a garden hose that can be turned on and off at the drop of a hat. They need a constant funding and infrastructure to work.


  2. - Lil Squeezy - Wednesday, Aug 8, 18 @ 10:27 am:

    To me it depends how you word your attack. Its certainly fair to talk about social service programs, and a lack of City and State coordination. I would say a fair criticism is that defunding of programs and a lack of coordination contribute to Chicago’s violence problem, as opposed to “led to” increases in violence. I would also say that if you call out Rauner by name, then you need to call out others by name.


  3. - logic not emotion - Wednesday, Aug 8, 18 @ 10:28 am:

    Mostly unfair.

    Fair in that human services programs might help some.

    Unfair in that those programs probably wouldn’t be operating between midnight and 4 a.m. on a Sunday morning and they may not have kept any of those kids from being out there instead of home in bed.

    The true answer is probably a combination of human service / educational / etc. programs to help steer kids down the right path (and try to keep them there) and real consequences if they don’t (police / judicial enforcement).


  4. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Aug 8, 18 @ 10:34 am:

    On Jan. 4, 2107, Cap Fax looked at the question of a correlation between the Chicago shootings spike and the cutoff of state funds to violence interruption programs, as well as treating the problem as a public health issue.

    Based on that, I’d say fair hit. Certainly worth another look.

    https://capitolfax.com/2017/01/04/our-public-health-crisis/


  5. - MG85 - Wednesday, Aug 8, 18 @ 10:37 am:

    It is certainly fair to argue that income inequality and its relationship to crime is causal.

    It is hard to argue that the Governor’s self inflicted crisis on Illinois didn’t contribute or exacerbate the growing income inequality in Chicago and around the state.

    Loss of revenue for vital services to impoverished or under-valued communities has devastating repercussions; all of which Rauner didn’t care about in his pursuit to cripple middle class families.

    So yea, it’s fair.

    https://siteresources.worldbank.org/DEC/Resources/Crime%26Inequality.pdf


  6. - Grandson of Man - Wednesday, Aug 8, 18 @ 10:37 am:

    After the BS hits on Pritzker by Rauner on corruption, I’d say it’s fair. Rauner’s budget crisis damaged a lot of people and stopped funding CeaseFire. Pritzker needs to finish the story and say that union-busting is more important to Rauner than any of Illinois’ most vulnerable residents.


  7. - @misterjayem - Wednesday, Aug 8, 18 @ 10:45 am:

    “Unfair in that those programs probably wouldn’t be operating between midnight and 4 a.m. on a Sunday morning and they may not have kept any of those kids from being out there instead of home in bed.”

    This is a joke, right?

    – MrJM


  8. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Aug 8, 18 @ 10:46 am:

    –Unless your mouth is able to utter some sensible, well-thought-out, comprehensive solutions to a problem that has plagued Chicago for decades — a problem no politician or political candidate past or present has seen fit to properly address — then silence is your best option.–

    Really? Unless you can offer the full “solutions” to complex problems immediately, you shouldn’t say anything about them?

    Do you want a pony, too?

    Should that silence apply to gasbag tronc columnists, as well?

    How do you get the ball rolling or make progress, on anything, without talking about it?


  9. - City Zen - Wednesday, Aug 8, 18 @ 10:47 am:

    ==In 2013 and 2014, the years before Rauner took office, the number of homicides in Chicago dropped to levels not seen since the 1960s…==

    In the 1960’s, there were 900,000 more residents living in Chicago.


  10. - A Jack - Wednesday, Aug 8, 18 @ 10:48 am:

    Wasn’t the purpose of the recent gun violence protests to get people to talk about the problem? Now Huppke wants people to shut up instead of trying to start a dialogue about causes and solutions?

    No one has a solution, so public discourse that puts any and all ideas into the public arena is required.


  11. - Lester Holt’s Mustache - Wednesday, Aug 8, 18 @ 10:48 am:

    Fair hit by far, because candidate Bruce Rauner said on multiple occasions in 2013 that the Governor of Illinois is to be blamed for not reducing violence. Among multiple examples, this from just after the Hadiya Pendleton shooting:

    ==”Pat Quinn has been a massive failure on crime in Illinois,” he went on. “Crime under Pat Quinn’s administration has skyrocketed throughout Illinois — not just Chicago, but in Rockford and many other communities.”==

    http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2014-03-05/opinion/ct-rauner-quinn-crime-chicago-primaryoped-0305-zor-20140305_1_crime-rate-bruce-rauner-gun-ownership

    There are plenty of other examples on the google. I don’t expect Governor Rauner (or his defenders) to acknowledge candidate Rauner’s own finger-pointing, of course.


  12. - Name/Nickname/Anon - Wednesday, Aug 8, 18 @ 10:50 am:

    Ask the shooters if they think a drop in social services causes them shoot someone over a social media beef.

    People may be suffering because of the budget cuts, but it’s not the people responsible for our unbridled gun violence.

    Smh.


  13. - Lucky Pierre - Wednesday, Aug 8, 18 @ 10:50 am:

    More of JB pinning blame on Governor Rauner for the failed policies in a city run by Democrats for his entire lifetime.

    Rauner’s budget crisis? Pinning the budget deficits in Chicago and Illinois that also precede his tenure is of course ludicrous.

    How about calling out the exodus of jobs from the South and West sides to neighboring states because of our high property taxes and workers comp premiums?

    Forget about reasonable, sensible and moderate positions and just keep appealing to you left wing base JB.

    No one leaves Illinois because of high property taxes. Right?


  14. - Honeybear - Wednesday, Aug 8, 18 @ 10:54 am:

    As someone who works in a high poverty/economically oppressed area I feel that I can speak to this some authority.
    The huge difference between
    East St.Louis/metro East
    And Chicago
    The United Way is based over
    In St.Louis, MO
    They cover us
    They are well funded publically and
    Very well privately
    The Metro East benefits
    Enormously from that
    Enormously
    We have funded programs here
    And we did throughout the impasse
    Sure some were really hurting
    Lessie Bates let some folks go at first
    But St Louis has stepped it up.
    Programs help
    Tremendously
    Sure It’s anecdotal and just my experience
    But I truly believe the impasse
    Radically effected Chicago


  15. - bucknirish - Wednesday, Aug 8, 18 @ 10:54 am:

    Unfair. These kinds of spike in violence doesn’t happen overnight, or even three years. Violence like this comes about due to long term structural deficiencies and lack of investment in these communities. These programs also have a long history of being wound down in order to balance the books. Even if it didn’t fall as much till Rauner. I don’t think it’s fair to go after Rauner unless your going to blame Emmanuel, Daley, and Quinn as well. Otherwise it’s just partisan sniping.


  16. - Sue - Wednesday, Aug 8, 18 @ 10:55 am:

    Not a fan of Rauner but this Pritzker statement is really Dumb and reflects a degree of partisanship which I was hoping would be absent seeing how Pritzker claims he is a new kind of pol. The response is to say heath issues are caused by being FAT. Do Pritzker is responsible for bad health


  17. - West Sider - Wednesday, Aug 8, 18 @ 10:56 am:

    Imho Pritzker has every right. Rauner has been governor for nearly four years now. The “you break it- you brought it” rule applies. Whether he literally broke it- or not, I will leave to others.
    His responses to the existing problem, however, have been inadequate/nonexistent. So he owns the crisis.


  18. - Amalia - Wednesday, Aug 8, 18 @ 10:57 am:

    the shootings are because of gangs and money and turf. money for that is a much bigger need. breaking up communities where gangs proliferate is a longer reach that goes beyond social services. it is literally a community development/demolition issue. criticize Rauner for that.


  19. - anon2 - Wednesday, Aug 8, 18 @ 10:59 am:

    What could be fairer than to apply to Rauner the same standard of culpability that he had applied to Gov. Quinn?


  20. - Interested - Wednesday, Aug 8, 18 @ 10:59 am:

    After School Programs were desemated during the budget impasse. These programs not only keep kids safe after school and during the summer, they also engage parents in terms of how they manage their kids. Absolutely related to the increase in violence!


  21. - Pundent - Wednesday, Aug 8, 18 @ 10:59 am:

    I’d say fair but maybe not the best argument to be made. There’s so much low hanging fruit for Pritzker to attack Rauner over that it surprises me a bit when he goes out on a limb.


  22. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Wednesday, Aug 8, 18 @ 11:00 am:

    ==Ask the shooters if they think a drop in social services causes them shoot someone over a social media beef. People may be suffering because of the budget cuts, but it’s not the people responsible for our unbridled gun violence.==

    I think you missed the point. Budget cuts eliminated Ceasefire. Ceasefire was making progress, then it was cut. Now crime has spiked back up. Ceasefire has been effective in other cities, most notably Los Angelous. We can’t ask the shooters anyway. Most of them haven’t been caught.


  23. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Aug 8, 18 @ 11:01 am:

    As soon as I saw the Tribune headline blaring, “Pritzker slams Rauner for city violence,” I cringed. Then I read what Pritzker actually said and it was a lot more nuanced than the headline would lead you to believe.

    Mattie Hunter’s idea to get everybody around the table on this is a good one. Rauner, Rahm, the four tops, US Attorney, County Board President, etc. This should happen because the city’s violence is under their collective jurisdiction. It matters to all of us, so it should matter to all of them.

    But I find it interesting that no one is commenting on the fact that Rauner has been completely AWOL on Chicago violence. I know he doesn’t have the first clue as to what to do about it, but that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be hounded about this just like the Mayor is being hounded about it.

    Remember, it’s not just Chicago. It’s Aurora, and Lansing, and Maywood and Ford Heights.

    I don’t think anyone who read what Pritzker has said believe Pritzker is skipping over anybody to lay the blame solely at Rauner’s feet, but that is the charge that Rich is asking us to rate. I think it is very unfair.


  24. - Father Ted - Wednesday, Aug 8, 18 @ 11:04 am:

    I couldn’t agree more with Wordslinger. Pritzker talked about the issue because he was ASKED by one of Huppke’s fellow media members.

    What was he supposed to say? “I don’t have the finite solution to a violence problem that has been snowballing for decades, so therefore I’m not in a position to say anything about it.”

    I couldn’t help but notice Huppke used most of the rest of his column to do essentially the same thing he railed on Pritzker for- calling out others but offering nothing new in terms of solutions. I liked him better when his column was made up of people venting about how much they hate their job.


  25. - Not It - Wednesday, Aug 8, 18 @ 11:08 am:

    Naturally the Democrats answer to a problem is throw more taxpayer money at it. Why don’t they on the root of the problem: NOT ENOUGH JOBS!


  26. - Jocko - Wednesday, Aug 8, 18 @ 11:09 am:

    Fair hit. If violence in Chicago was down, you don’t think Rahm and Rauner would be shouting about it from the rooftops?


  27. - Arsenal - Wednesday, Aug 8, 18 @ 11:15 am:

    I can’t really judge Huppke’s critcism because he doesn’t actually include JB’s quote. If JB said, “These shootings were all Rauner’s fault”, then, ok, I can see why that makes people cringe. But if it’s just, “Rauner’s budget crisis caused a lot of community services to shut down, and the lack of these services leads to violence”, then…yeah, that’s true.


  28. - Birdseed - Wednesday, Aug 8, 18 @ 11:19 am:

    === - Honeybear - Wednesday, Aug 8, 18 @ 10:54 am:

    But St Louis has stepped it up. ===

    They sure did. All the way to #1 on the homicide per capita chart. Congrats, I guess.


  29. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Aug 8, 18 @ 11:31 am:

    To be fair, Ceasefire under the leadership of Tio Hardiman wasn’t terribly effective. The concept of treating urban violence as a public health threat is interesting and worth pursuing, but I think we’ve all seen enough of Tio’s leadership style to know he isn’t the best candidate to lead the effort.


  30. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Aug 8, 18 @ 11:56 am:

    How much more money does JB want the tax payers of Illinois to throw at the Chicago gang problem? Remember this when you vote.


  31. - walker - Wednesday, Aug 8, 18 @ 11:59 am:

    Fair or unfair isn’t the issue. Pointing fingers for political gain, before struggling to develop some solutions, is shameful.


  32. - Downstate Illinois - Wednesday, Aug 8, 18 @ 12:01 pm:

    The uptick in shootings goes back to Black Lives Matters and other anti-police protests. The cops backed down, stopped pro-active policing and a crime wave followed.


  33. - Amalia - Wednesday, Aug 8, 18 @ 12:02 pm:

    one problem with Ceasefire is that they were using gang members, some of whom were still active. it’s cute, talking about violence as a virus, but that’s really not it. what you need to do is diminish the structures in which the gangs are active. you can’t have large tracts of active area. smaller neighborhoods where they can act.


  34. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Wednesday, Aug 8, 18 @ 12:08 pm:

    ==Naturally the Democrats answer to a problem is throw more taxpayer money at it. Why don’t they on the root of the problem: NOT ENOUGH JOBS!==
    ==How much more money does JB want the tax payers of Illinois to throw at the Chicago gang problem? Remember this when you vote.==

    Interesting that money spent to prevent crime is always “throwing.”

    Money spent on cops, prisons, courts, overtime, ambulance personnel, funeral directors, Stroger and other hospital personnel, families left without breadwinners, families needing psychological care, what do we call what we do with that money?


  35. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Aug 8, 18 @ 12:09 pm:

    ===The cops backed down, stopped pro-active policing and a crime wave followed.===

    Another deep thinker heard from.


  36. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Wednesday, Aug 8, 18 @ 12:16 pm:

    ==They sure did. All the way to #1 on the homicide per capita chart. Congrats, I guess.==

    East St. Louis crime rate, while very high, has been going down.

    https://www.cityrating.com/crime-statistics/illinois/east-st-louis.html


  37. - Silicon Prairie - Wednesday, Aug 8, 18 @ 12:49 pm:

    A ridiculous comment by JB. Maybe he should read today’s Chicago Tribune headlines: ” Chicago police solve 1 in very 20 shootings. No arrests over the weekend on the 74 shootings ”

    The people that live in those areas refuse to help out, that has nothing to do with funding or the gov. They are fearing for their life if they report some gang banger. According to those stats you have a 95% of getting away with a shooting in Chicago


  38. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Aug 8, 18 @ 12:55 pm:

    How much more money does JB want the tax payers of Illinois to throw at the Chicago gang problem?

    Do you really think Chicago isn’t paying your bills?


  39. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Aug 8, 18 @ 12:56 pm:

    Fair hit on Rauner; his cuts to programs like CeaseFire led to increased violence, which he then blamed on Rahm. We need more of treating this like a public health crisis, with all that that implies. You attack the environment that hosts the disease, you inoculate the populace (with information), you establish new healthier behaviors and procedures. This translates as: infrastructure improvements, business investment, getting these people jobs that can actually feed a family. Stable housing. Neighborhood beat cops on foot patrols and cycles, backed up by dedicated fast response cars. Relocating recidivists elsewhere and setting them up with a job and a place to live outside the gang dominated sphere they’ve been in. Social workers, legions of them, counseling, mediating, advocating.


  40. - @misterjayem - Wednesday, Aug 8, 18 @ 1:03 pm:

    Amalia,

    The peer-reviewed work of the subject matter experts listed below confirms that “violence as a contagion” is more than a cute idea. (Feel free to double-check with the Google.)

    Who supports your “let’s bulldoze the black neighborhoods” plan?

    – MrJM

    Carl C. Bell, M.D. Community Mental Health Council, Inc. Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, University of Illinois at Chicago;
    Patrick Burton, Ph.D. Center for Justice and Crime Prevention;
    Eric F. Dubow, Ph.D. The University of Michigan and Bowling Green State University;
    Madelyn S. Gould, Ph.D., M.P.H. Columbia University and New York State Psychiatric Institute;
    Alison M. Lake, M.A. New York State Psychiatric Institute;
    Marco Iacoboni, M.D., Ph.D. David Geffen School of Medicine at University of California, Los Angeles;
    Barry Krisberg, Ph.D. Earl Warren Institute on Law and Social Policy at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law;
    Gary Slutkin, M.D. The University of Illinois at Chicago;
    Jeffrey Victoroff, M.D. University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine.


  41. - Steve - Wednesday, Aug 8, 18 @ 1:03 pm:

    The numbers will not be that different under Governor Pritzker . Generally , neighborhoods that have 2 parent households don’t have a big gang problem. It’s poor form to mention this.


  42. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Aug 8, 18 @ 1:13 pm:

    –Generally , neighborhoods that have 2 parent households don’t have a big gang problem. It’s poor form to mention this.–

    Wow, simple-minded answer with a poor-me-victim kicker, to boot.

    That’s the Da Vinci Code, is it? When I was a kid, plenty of my friends were in single-parent homes. Same with my kids today.

    No shootings.

    Wonder if there is anything else going on in those neighborhoods where all the shootings are happening?

    Let us know what you find in your deep dive into the subject.


  43. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Aug 8, 18 @ 1:29 pm:

    ===simple-minded answer with a poor-me-victim kicker, to boot===

    Just another reason why there’s an award named after that man.


  44. - Veil of Ignorance - Wednesday, Aug 8, 18 @ 4:08 pm:

    I think there’s unfairness that Pritzker’s comments completely overlook the fact that the Mayor has had years to invest more into the 6-7 neighborhoods that have been the primary source of the increased violence (not that the previous “normal” level of violence was acceptable).


  45. - Amalia - Wednesday, Aug 8, 18 @ 4:49 pm:

    bulldoze? no, but huge neighborhoods of poverty mean huge areas where crime occurs so mixed development is a good thing. it’s a poverty thing, not a race thing that drives violence. as for Ceasefire, the gang membership matters. they don’t work well with police.


  46. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Wednesday, Aug 8, 18 @ 7:29 pm:

    ==The numbers will not be that different under Governor Pritzker . Generally , neighborhoods that have 2 parent households don’t have a big gang problem. It’s poor form to mention this.==

    It’s more like poor science.

    https://www.theatlantic.com/sexes/archive/2012/11/single-moms-cant-be-scapegoated-for-the-murder-rate-anymore/265576/


  47. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Wednesday, Aug 8, 18 @ 8:04 pm:

    And historically, before antibiotics and vaccines (The first antibiotic was ised in 1928) it wasn’t that unusual to lose one’s spouse because of disease. Single parent families have never been that rare.


  48. - Anonymous - Thursday, Aug 9, 18 @ 5:40 am:

    The future is less spending on social services to pay for ever increasing pension obligations.


  49. - DMAN - Thursday, Aug 9, 18 @ 8:21 am:

    The only one to blame is the City of Chicago.


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