Local News You Can Use – 1.24.17

DOJ Report – Reform Impossible If Chicago Police Union Don’t Change Contracts Protecting Abusive Cops:

In April, the accountability task force found that police contracts institutionalize the code of silence in the police department that shield cops from accountability. “The collective bargaining agreements between the police unions and the City have essentially turned the code of silence into official policy,” the task force report read.

Friday’s DOJ report echoed many of the criticisms of police union contracts raised in the task force report. The DOJ highlighted the myriad ways the agreements hinder how police are monitored, investigated and disciplined for misconduct. People issuing complaints against the police, for instance, must sign sworn affidavits under threat of perjury. Legal experts have said such rules intimidate victims of misconduct and discourage reporting.

Cops Using “Mediation” to Cop Out of the Punishment They Seek for Others:

The report identifies four forms of violence the CPD perpetuates with particular clarity: domestic abuse, violence against children—particularly students in Chicago Public Schools (CPS), civil rights violations, and racism.

To understand the pattern of domestic abuse prevalent in the CPD, it is necessary to first understand the “mediation” that is practiced by the departments responsible for disciplining errant officers. Usually, “mediation” denotes the practice of putting a person accused of a crime into conversation with the victim in an attempt to achieve reconciliation. But for the CPD, mediation is really a plea bargain system: the accused officer pleads guilty to a lesser charge in exchange for more lenient punishment. And while it’s true that mediation is never advised in domestic abuse cases in the first place (it is rightfully seen as questionable to ask a survivor of abuse to sit down with the accused to come to a settlement), the gross affront to justice that is CPD’s mediation is even more odious, effectively acting as a way for officers to get away with domestic abuse with no repercussions.

From 2013 to 2015, roughly fifty percent of the cases settled through mediation by the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA), the primary agency responsible for investigating CPD officer misconduct, were for allegations of domestic abuse. The report contains stories of an officer who broke his girlfriend’s nose and through mediation received only a five-day suspension.

Residents Continue to Flea Illinois – Blame Broken Political System:

Thousands of others moved out of the city and state last year – giving Illinois the distinction of losing more people than any other state in the U.S.

“It pains me to say anything negative about Chicago, but the cold hard facts are things are not going well there whether financial or political,” Seide said. “The political stalemate in Springfield is a joke. It’s a bad joke.”

The yearslong budget impasse and political showdown between Gov. Bruce Rauner and Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan has 25-year Chicago resident Darris Lee Harris considering an exodus from Illinois.

“It’s hard to ignore the politics as I get older,” said Harris, a photographer who moved to Chicago in 1992 from Wichita, Kansas, and attended Columbia College Chicago.

Political gridlock aside, Harris cites the city’s dire financial situation as a motivating factor to move.

“As we get into 2017, I was thinking about how much more expensive it’s going to be here,” said Harris, who lives in the Rogers Park neighborhood. Rather than pay off his mortgage early in February, he’s decided to save for a future move – just in case.

Lolla’s Organizers Thanked Rahm For Their Sweet Tax Deals This Christmas:

Lollapalooza must have had a pretty good run at Grant Park last summer, because owners and others affiliated with the music festival sure were nice to Mayor Rahm Emanuel this holiday season.

According to a just-disclosed financial report, people connected to Lollapalooza gave at least $45,000 to Citizens for Emanuel, the mayor’s main political campaign fund, in the last half of December. An additional $15,000 came from groups that appear to have an interest in the festival.

Some of Chicago’s Political Establishment Want to Help Women Run for Office:

“I woke up Wednesday fearing all those women who were inspired to run for office might not follow their dreams,” said founder Anne Szkatulski, a 32-year-old attorney who lives in Chicago’s West Loop. “The wheels started turning, and I thought, ‘We can do this.'”

By the following Monday, Szkatulski had a website, a group of 35 volunteer advisers and a mission.

“My primary emotional reaction to the election was fear that women would decide not to get involved in politics,” Szkatulski told me. “So that’s the problem I decided to attack head-on. We want to make sure every Democratic woman in Illinois has someone to call when she wants to get involved in her community.”

Why just Democrats?

“I, personally, and our team of advisers all have experience working with the Democratic Party,” she said. “We’re really only comfortable providing services through that lens.”

Closing on a lighter note: Trump’s Street Sign Has Gone Missing in Chicago

Chicago’s Trump street signs have gone missing.

More than a month ago, a city crew quietly removed the honorary “Trump Plaza” signs from near President Donald Trump’s downtown skyscraper amid calls from aldermen to melt them down or auction them off for charity. Now, a spokesman for the city Department of Transportation says he doesn’t know where they are or what happened to them.

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