Happy Saturday! While Chicago City Hall was generally quiet this week there was still plenty of big things happening in the city. Here are three big stories we think will set a trend in the coming months.
1. Chance’s Million Is Great, But Did It Do Anything?
This week started off with Chancellor Bennett, A.K.A. Chance The Rapper, giving $1 million to CPS schools, followed by another $100,000 spread out among ten individual schools. Chance’s gift was punctuated by a well-placed jab at Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner to “do his job” to fund Chicago’s schools. Students will miss 13 instructional days if CPS doesn’t fill its $129 million hole this spring.
While the big gift is great, and Chance’s taunts got a lot of play in the national press, it seemed to move Rauner a bit, who responded that he would accept a CPS funding bill right away, but also leaked a memo suggesting Chicago could pay the $129 million on its own.
The CPS funding is closely tied to the State House’s “grand bargain” to pass the first state budget in two years and as has been widely reported elsewhere, that bargain seems to be on life support since Gov. Rauner sank some promising negotiations between Democratic and GOP state senators.
The Chicago Teacher’s Union, upset that CPS hasn’t fulfilled promises to fund the full school year – either by state or city funds, they don’t care – are now threatening a one-day strike on May 1 to make their point.
But really, time is on Rauner’s side in this case, since he has a well-professed dislike of Chicago’s unionized teachers, and he’s publicly said that he thinks Chicago’s schools are over-funded. It suits his purposes either way: more of CPS’ bills to be picked up by Chicago rather than the state, or for Chicago teachers to get whacked on their salaries.
Lost in this equation, of course, are the kids going to CPS schools.
2. BLM and FOP Have Totally Different Frame References
One of the biggest struggles for law enforcement today is that often, those who work in police departments have completely different frames of reference than the people they are policing. In other words, people who choose to work in policing, have usually done so, or want to adopt a particular set of cultural values that are often different from those they police, which affects the way they make decisions. The result is that many police officers see the world in terms of peaceful citizens and law breakers. Many of those policed, see more grey, since some of those law breakers might also be friends, family members, and neighbors.
Those two different frames of reference couldn’t be more clear than in the back to back interviews we released this week of my sit-downs with Chicago Fraternal Order of Police President Dean Angelo and Black Lives Matter lead organizer Kofi Ademola. If you haven’t listened, both of these men are thoughtful, rational people who deeply care about the missions of their organizations, which sometimes seem diametrically opposed to one another. But the astonishing thing: they both seem to believe they are serving the same community.
[Note: Last night, we reported FOP union election results that will put Angelo in a runoff for reelection in the next 30 days.]
In our interviews, both Angelo and Ademola talk about how Chicago’s crime-afflicted neighborhoods are vastly underserved, lack opportunity and have not gotten the attention they need from government. Angelo believes the police are just trying to get the “bad guys” out so citizens can live good lives. Ademola believes the police’s presence and methods have corrupted the neighborhood, making it impossible for citizens to live good lives.
If you haven’t listened to these two interviews, please do. They are both remarkable people, and actually much more complex thinkers than past sound bites would lead us to believe. They are each good representations of how two important sectors of Chicago approach crime. It would seem that if there’s any kind of solution all of Chicago can move forward with, the conversation would start between Angelo and Ademola.
3. Use of Force and No DOJ
Feeding right into our “frame of reference” problem is a new draft use of force model released by the Chicago Police Department earlier this week. The proposal requires police officers to consider “sanctity of life” when using force, putting a priority on civilian safety, but it also requires officers to use de-escalation tactics only when it does not put the officer’s personal safety at risk.
Needless to say, this has been controversial. But not entirely in the way you might think.
No surprise, people like Kofi Ademola believe Chicago police already use too much force, and he would prefer a police force like in London, he says, where most beat cops don’t even carry guns, and are instructed to use de-escalation methods whenever possible. But on the flip side, police leaders like Dean Angelo, believe cops on the beat need more freedom to use force when necessary. Police advocates complain that the new proposed model still doesn’t give officers enough force and is written to, “pander to outside pressure from the media and special interest groups”.
And left in the dust of this controversy are the results of the U.S. Department of Justice’s report on CPD, which found Chicago police officers were already poorly trained in use of force models, and as a result used too much force too often. There was no mention of the DOJ report in CPD’s release of the new draft use of force model. And since U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announcement that “we’re going to pull back on this” so police departments are unfettered by federal oversight, it seems that Chicago is already interpreting that to mean the DOJ report no longer requires consideration.
What exactly happens with the proposed use of force model at CPD will be a pretty good indication of whether or not Mayor Rahm Emanuel has shelved the DOJ report permanently.