Black Caucus’ members demands to get rid of Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy are real, aldermen, Council staffers and members of the administration told Aldertrack last night. The pressure has been building up for some time now, as aldermen are frustrated that McCarthy and district commanders he has appointed don’t return aldermanic phone calls, fail to consult with them on staff changes, and tend not to communicate plans big and small to address crime.
Virtually the entire Black Caucus attended a press conference outside Council chambers yesterday afternoon calling for McCarthy’s outster. Only Walter Burnett Jr. (27) Howard Brookins Jr. (21), Derrick Curtis (18) and Will Burns (4) did not attend. Scott Waguespack (32), Raymond Lopez (15) and Carlos Ramirez-Rosa(35) also joined. Burns penned a response opposing the Caucus’ call for McCarthy’s ouster, but more significant was that staunch Mayor Rahm Emanuel supporter and Budget Chair Carrie Austin (34) came out against him, and even had some angry words to share in the press conference.
“My concern is that my constituents get sick and tired of hearing about statistics and no action. You read the Trib – why don’t we own it? We own it every day,” Austin said.
“That’s right,” Caucus members responded.
“Every time somebody is shot, every time somebody’s been killed, we’re the ones knocking on the door,” Austin said, banging on the podium. “Everybody’s that’s standing here today works diligently to try to combat some of these things going on in our community.”
The timing is auspicious, as McCarthy appears before the Budget Committee this afternoon at 1:00 p.m. Expect a packed gallery and no light touch from Ald. Austin as she chairs the hearing.
But Mayor Emanuel is unlikely to dump McCarthy, say administration insiders, since the two of them are tied at the hip on crime policy. Some insiders even think Emanuel admires McCarthy’s my-way-or-the-highway attitude, one of the biggest problems cited by Caucus members we’ve spoken to, who’ve called McCarthy “disrespectful” and “condescending,” both to brass and aldermen.
Mayor Emanuel, who does not have a history of bending when threatened, issued a statement late Monday supporting McCarthy: “While the mayor shares the concerns about rising gun violence, our focus must remain on the public safety challenge we face–reducing access to the illegal guns that drive violence in our communities.”
Ald. Anthony Beale (9) dismissed the idea the timing of the announcement was calculated to overshadow a vote on a hike in the property tax and garbage fees. “Spin it however you want to. We’re fed up, and we’re looking for change. We are demanding a better quality of life for our community.”
Ald. Lopez said the timing might seem calculated, but the fatal shooting in his ward last week cemented his stance, “I was having these feelings last week when the grandmother and pregnant mother were both shot and killed in Back of the Yards. That kind of crystallized it for me, and whatever the timing, I think the end result is the same: we need change.”
So, what comes next?
Caucus members are well aware Emanuel won’t fire McCarthy anytime soon, we’re told off the record. There was talk of a meeting of Caucus members with Emanuel set for tomorrow morning, but we’re told no meeting has been scheduled. However, there is an expectation that at some point, some pound of flesh will be extracted by the Black Caucus.
“One thing is for sure,” one old administration hand told us, “Mayor Daley would never have let a press conference like that happen. He would have talked to people first.”
And that’s probably the biggest problem Mayor Emanuel has. His credibility as someone to take your problems to has suffered enough that aldermen feel they have to take it to the media instead.