The First Ward Report – “Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong” Part 2!

To recap previous events, my good from Ken Menzel accurately stipulated that, “Feelings and self-righteousness trump facts now. Facts are merely social constructs in the service of the racist heteronormative phallocentric patriarchy,” and we’re in the process of proving that postulate by completely dismantling the local progressive’s arguments against my application of seventh grade coronavirus math!

NSJW

So, let’s proceed!

2. Governor Pritzer is doing a great job!

And progressives have the nerve to say Trump supporters define the term blind loyalty. Let’s start with the indisputable fact that over 50 percent of Illinois coronavirus casualties have come in nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

In fact, Bria accounts for 27 of the 29 Geneva COVID-19 deaths, and their case count now stands at a criminally reckless 153, up 31 from when we first covered that travesty a month ago. Nursing home residents aren’t exactly tearing up the aisles at Meyer, either, rendering the whole social distancing debate quite moot.

Of course, J.B. immediately launched an inquiry, ordered the Attorney General’s Office to prepare charges, and shut the worst facilities down, right? Nope! He put recovering COVID-19 hospital patients in those very same nursing homes, instead!

Harkening back to point one, exactly what has the Governor done to improve health care possibilities in our inner-city neighborhoods? The answer to that question would be “absolutely nothing,” because black folks continue to needlessly die from a lack of medical resources.

3. The new models predict further pandemic havoc

Yes! Just like the old models did! If we throw senior citizens to the wolves, take absolutely no precautions, and always assume the worst, it could get really bad. But it won’t because it never does.

Remember when California was gonna have 26 million coronavirus cases, Chicago was going to see 40,000 “serious” hospitalizations, and we’d have a million nationwide deaths by now? But none of it happened, did it?

And yet, the press and the progressive the progressive throng will lap up the very next prediction of impossible dire consequences in a heartbeat.

4. MRSA deaths don’t matter

This one that really frosts my cookies! If progressives don’t simply ignore the fact that 99,000 Americans die each year from secondary hospital infections like MRSA, they rationalize those pointless deaths in all the best Stalin-esque ways!

To quote a local nurse who works with COVID patients, “Hospitals test for MRSA and people can get it at work or at school, so it’s not just hospitals.”

Oh! So the fact that 99,000 people vanish every year because long-term care facilities can’t be bothered to clean and disinfect correctly is immaterial when compared to a one-time pandemic? That’s good to know! Apparently if those deaths take place at the hands of health care concerns its all right. And hospitals simply consider any secondary infection death lawsuits to be the cost of doing business.

5. Shutdowns have no consequences

If is weren’t for the MRSA issue, his fascinating omission would easily come in first place in the progressive pantheon of preposterous hypocrisy. “Not one more coronavirus death,” they shriek, while showing absolutely no concern for the inevitable despair driven suicides, alcohol and substance abuse deaths, and mental health issues caused by these prolonged and pointless shutdowns.

Not to mention the businesses that will ever come back. When I explained that restaurants were dying at a record pace, a progressive’s flip answer was, “They can do carry out!” When I further informed them that Rick Bayless’ popular Frontera Grill locations had to lay off 225 people because pandemic carry out orders accounted for just 20 percent of their total business, they suddenly went silent.

They wouldn’t admit they were wrong because they never are!

6. What’s your plan?

When you finally throw in the you-can’t-fight-pandering-illogic-with-facts towel, and you ask the question, “OK, my progressive friend, then what’s the plan? How long do we stay shut down, how do we take care of the folks unduly affect by this unnatural shelter-in-place, and how do we mitigate the tremendous economic damage, you get the kind of look you get when you tell Donald Trump Finland isn’t a part of Russia.

Progressives just love to live in the moment until the moment doesn’t work and then they blame the “status quo!”

So, no! The fact that you firmly believe whatever you’ve been thinking for the last five minutes is the truth doesn’t make it the truth. And the fact you fall prey to the same mindset the Trump supporters you loathe, makes you so much worse because you think you’re so much better.

And however hard you might try, you can’t cancel that!

 

(I will be taking Friday off!)

The First Ward Report – “Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong”

My planetary sojourn will soon hit 62 revolutions around the Sun mark, and all I can say is it’s truly been a fascinating proposition!

My later Baby Boom generation has proceeded from five scratchy remote-free black-and-white channels to 4k smart TVs with a myriad of cable options. We’ve evolved from a busy-signal-prone landline to cellphones with exponentially more computing power than the Apollo missions got by on. The closest thing to the internet was walkie talkies, we had to resort to utterly un-refoldable paper maps, and Pong was videogame nirvana!

But while our daily lives have generally improved, people have not! In fact, it’s gotten so bad, that my current, and quite persistent, recurring dream centers around a desperate but inevitabely futile attempt to return to 1970’s Evanston where, as my childhood friend David May put it:

What happened to the days when your mom and my mom could work at the polling station and still come home friends that night. This social justice, cancel culture, and all the other crap going on drives me batshit crazy!

For references purposes, Mrs. May and Mrs. Ward were Democratic and Republican judges of election, respectively, who peacefully provided ballots at the Evanston Number 2 Fire Station polling place for decades.

Ascent of progressivism

But despite nostalgia becoming a particularly potent pastime, let’s get back to the people suck problem because what David described are just symptoms of a plague decidedly more problematic than any pandemic could possibly be.

As my good from Ken Menzel just said, “Feelings and self-righteousness trump facts now. Facts are merely social constructs in the service of the racist heteronormative phallocentric patriarchy.”

I fervently believe that “racist heteronormative phallocentric patriarchy” is gonna catch on, too!

Put more simply, if, back in 1972,  you insisted that, not only would flying cars sadly remain science fiction, but the rabble would be so consumed by their own partisan pandering thought process, they wouldn’t begin to be able to recognize the truth – and progressives were particularly prone to this perpetual propaganda – I would’ve pointed at you and called you a name!

Trust me! I fully comprehend and “appreciate” my “adoring throng’s” absurd pitchfork and torch reaction to my more common opinion pieces, but to go obsessively over-the-top in regard to a series of fact-based coronavirus pieces that aptly apply seventh-grade math?

I never thought I’d see the flippin’ day!

My previous radio show protestations aside, today’s progressives have progressed into something palpably more preposterous than their always fascinating Tea Party counterparts. Yes! The far right loves to take offense, shout loudly, and fear brown people, but the left is convinced they have a monopoly on what’s best for the rest of us and that kind of pure patronization is the worst kind of bigotry.

Why, what would black and Hispanic folks ever do without the persistent kindness of Caucasian strangers?

But all bovine manure aside, I never thought I’d see the day when progressives would collectively resolve that pandemic politics always trump the truth (pun intended). As I said to a gaggle of Tri-Cities social media scions of social certainty this weekend, “You wouldn’t know a fact if it bit you in your ample ass.”

Then, fully triggered, they proceeded to prove my point.

And they did this despite the accurate and duly referenced application of CDC and Illinois Department of Health numbers. I swear, if a perceived member of the “racist heteronormative phallocentric pale patriarchy” said the sky was blue, without as much as an upward glance, progressives would argue it was purple to their dying breath.

So, without further ado because we’ve clearly ado-ed far too much, let’s cover some of their contrived calculations:

1. We may need to close the economy again to protect minorities!

There may be a kernel of truth there in that, black folks, who constitute just 13 percent of the population, account for 23 percent of U. S. coronavirus deaths. But the massive flaw in that reader’s logic is minorities are no more susceptible to COVID-19 than anyone else, it’s that they tend to be economically disadvantage which limits their health care options.

Call me crazy, but wouldn’t the far better solution be to ramp up medical efforts in our inner-city neighborhoods? That initiative would solve a host of health care problem beyond those deleterious coronavirus consequences.

Of course, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot have been paying lip service to that possibility since late March, but despite a demonstrably Democratic General Assembly and Chicago City Council, black folks just keep on dying. C’mon! If the Chinese can build an entire hospital complex in just six days, we can significantly improve inner-city health care prospects in two months.

 

Part two on Wednesday!

The First Ward Coronavirus Report – Still good!

Though it wasn’t as bad as his last overnight visit, our grandcat Teddy – along with our younger son – is back for an extend stay, and the scurrilous cat unilaterally decided he was nocturnal last night, which apparently requires regular bouts of yowling that can be heard at least two blocks away!

Facts Not Fear 3

So, because I’m a bit sleep deprived, instead of our regularly scheduled First Ward programming, and because the press is right back at their pandemic panic porn best, let’s do a quick coronavirus update! And we’ll start with the most recent numbers:

Date   Cases   % Increase  N Cases   N Tested Prevalence Deaths N Deaths

6/11 130,603            0.5             766         22,325       1 in 29.1     6,185        90

6/12 131,198            0.4             595         24,774       1 in 41.6     6,260        75

6/13 131,871            0.5             673         21,844       1 in 32.4     6,289        29

6/14 132,543            0.5             672         22,004       1 in 32.7     6,308        19

6/15 133,016            0.3             473         18,663       1 in 39.4     6,326        18

6/16 133,689            0.5             673         18,729       1 in 27.8     6,398        72

6/17 134,185            0.3             496         29,987       1 in 60.4     6,485        87

6/18 134,778            0.4             593         25,504       1 in 43        6,537        52

6/19 135,470            0.5             692         27,171       1 in 39.2     6,580        43

6/20 136,104            0.4             634         25,965       1 in 50        6,625        45

6/21 136,742            0.4             638         23,816       1 in 37.3     6,647        22

6/22 137,224            0.3             482         18,219       1 in 37.7     6,671        24

6/23 137,825            0.4             601         20,507       1 in 34.1     6,707        36

6/24 138,540            0.5            715         29,331       1 in 41        6,770        63

6/25 139,434            0.6             894         31,686       1 in 35.4     6,811        41

I’m sure you can see there’s absolutely no evidence of even the mildest Illinois post-protest COVID-19 spike, and the rock bottom daily case numbers indicate just the opposite. Clearly, it’s virtually impossible to catch this thing outdoors, which begs the question, why are we cancelling all manner of morale boosting outdoor summer events?

1. Mortality rate

The Illinois mortality rate inched up from 4.6 to 4.8 percent, but that’s the result of those insistent and inexplicable nursing home deaths combined with our rapidly decreasing daily case numbers. When you consider over half of Illinois coronavirus casualties have occurred in long-term care facilities, the mortality rate has become quite meaningless.

2. New daily case percentage increase

I know I’ve said it before, but bouncing between .3 and .6 percent really is as good as it gets! Until we fully develop herd immunity or an effective vaccine, this pandemic ain’t goin’ anywhere anytime soon. But please note that, at the onset of the plague, it took just 24 hours for cases to double and now the same process takes over 45 days!

3. New daily cases

We haven’t’ had a four-figure new case day since June 5th, and that’s despite Illinois’ unrelenting testing effort. That trend would indicate that, for the next few months, we’ll simply see a 600 daily new case average.

4. Prevalence

Of course, the astonishing prevalence continues to be the best news. It recently retreated as far as 1 in 60.4, settling in at around 1 in 40. It’s truly hard to believe that, less than two months ago, it took five tests get a positive result, but now it takes a whopping 40!

Again! The only possible answer for that is a rapidly growing herd immunity.

5. Daily Deaths

The third-best news is we haven’t seen a three-figure coronavirus death day since June 4th!  And when you combine that stat with the swiftly ICU bed and ventilator numbers, that stat should continue to get better.

6. ICU beds and ventilators

Which brings us to our second-best news as both indicators continue to hit new lows. COVID-19 occupied ICU beds crashed from a March 28 1,290 high to just 389 Wednesday, while ventilator usage similarly dropped from 789 to just 216 on Thursday. Those are massive 70 and 72 percent declines respectively!

 

General COVID-19 thoughts:

1. Coronavirus Spikes

Other than they’re the three most populous states and there’s bound to be a rebound effect after the numbers hit rock bottom, I have no specific answer for the spikes we’re seeing in California, Texas and Florida. But the news the papers refuse to report is, though COVID-19 hospitalizations are up in those states, just like it is with Illinois, deaths are way down.

2. Cancelling outdoor events and youth sports

The Bundesliga just finished their 2020 regular season and the English Premier League has resumed theirs, but neither soccer association has reported one new coronavirus case as a result. That means there’s no reason not to go back to those amazing River’s Edge concerts and restart youth sports. If you don’t want to participate then don’t!

3. New Illinois school resumption rules

Just when you start to think our Governor’s IQ can’t possibly slip any further, it does just that.:

  • I predict a rash of retirements as second grade teachers everywhere run screaming from their schools after just two hours of trying to get their students to stop fiddling with their masks.
  • The CDC has been abundantly clear that you can’t catch COVID-19 from a surface, but students won’t be allowed to share toys.
  • The same agency finally admitted the critical contagion factor is how long someone’s been subject to the virus INDOORS! So, a time when classes should be held outside, there’s no more recess.
  • Temperature checks? Really? By the time you have a temperature you’ve probably already infected half of your classmates. Can you say “pointless?” I knew you

4. The curve is already flatter than a Donald Trump combover

Before the economic havoc-wreaking shutdowns became a partisan hot potato, the entire point of social distancing was to “flatten the curve” such that we didn’t overwhelm our health care system. In the words of a President whose suddenly lookin’ so much better these days, “mission accomplished!”

But with deaths, ICU beds, and ventilator usage all at new lows, Pritzker just declared he’s ready to pull the shelter-in-place trigger again at the slightest pandemic provocation! Why?

I suppose the bright side there is, if he dares attempt to reinstall that bovine manure, the Governor will long for the days of our previous social unrest.

5. We’re still not protecting the vulnerable

Utterly immune to the rising chorus who correctly contend we can open the country while protecting our senior citizens, not only do those bleepin’ Democratic governors refuse to make that eminently obvious move, but they refuse to hold nursing homes accountable for a criminally reckless number of deaths.

And the CDC U.S. COVID-19 age group deaths trend is blithering clear. As of June 17:

Age Group      Deaths

1 to 24            151

25 to 34             699

35 to 44          1,780

45 to 54          4,976

55 to 64        12,307

65+               83,426

I’m sure even an off-meds ADHD sugar-buzzed sixth grader can see the obvious pattern! Our senior citizens account for more than four times all the other coronavirus casualties combined! To put that in perspective, 3,446 Americans under 50 died of the 2017-18 flu, which reasonably approximates the same age group’s current 4,630 COVID-19 deaths.

I’ll say it again! Particularly when you consider the vast number of asymptomatic cases, for reasonably healthy folks under 65, the coronavirus is far milder than the average annual influenza. But regardless of the irrecoverable economic damage a disastrous second shutdown would inevitably entail, our patently pandering politicians are still willing to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

I voted for Dan Walker, Rod Blagojevich, Pat Quinn, and J. B. Pritzker, but I will never vote for another Illinois Democratic governor again.

Before we part ways till Monday, who’s willing to take Teddy for the weekend so I can get some bleepin’ sleep?

Stay Safe!

The First Ward Report – Black lives clearly don’t matter to Black Lives Matter!

To give you some idea of exactly where this Evanston, Illinois, classic liberal is leaning these days, I just cancelled my New York Times subscription over their lurching-to-the-left lynching of former editorial page Editor James Bennett.

And when the eminently progressive regular Rolling Stone contributor Matt Taibbi writes:

…the American left has lost its mind. It’s become a cowardly mob of upper-class social media addicts, Twitter Robespierres who move from discipline to discipline torching reputations and jobs with breathtaking casualness.

that really says something.

Don’t get me wrong (even though you surely will), it’s somewhat gratifying to see some reasonable folks talk up the mantra’s columnists like John Kass, Neil Steinberg, and yours truly have been repeating for years:

  • Police reform
  • The over-militarization of law enforcement
  • Minorities being vastly overrepresented in white suburban municipal courtrooms
  • The need for kneeling football players
  • Traffic/misdemeanor court simply separating minorities from their money to support a somewhat corrupt judiciary
  • Asset forfeiture being nothing more than legalized law enforcement theft

and so much more.

The problem is, these sane voices are being summarily drowned out by the emerging social justice cancel culture warriors who simply sit in their parent’s basement eating hot pockets while they fully engaged in an insipid online purity contest to determine who’s the “wokest.”

A perfect example of this abject stupidity is how this same cancel culture “canceled” Chicago’s iO Improv Theatre through a slew of utterly unfounded racism claims, and then the very folks who signed the spurious petition lamented they no longer had a place to perform.

There’s only two words that can describe that brand of brain-dead people and the would be “bleepin’ idiots!” These are exactly the twits and nitwits who will happily hand Donald Trump the 2020 election.

And even though I clearly see the need for the Black Lives Matter movement, and I’ve consistently supported their basic premise, they barely rank above the self-righteous bleeps who so blindly destroyed their own venue.

To wit, let’s take a closer look at the latest Chicago weekend festivities which included, but weren’t nearly limited to, 104 mostly black residents shot and 14 killed. Five of those slain were minors and one was just three years old.

That follows a weekend in which 85 people were shot and 24 of them died.

Chicgo Violence

And the best these Chicago “activists” can do is publicly demand that the three-year-old’s killers turn themselves in? I had no idea it was that easy! Has someone explained this to the CPD?

There were no protests, no marches through the affected neighborhoods, no bold public proclamations, no blocked highways, no social media barrage, and Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton were nowhere to be seen.

Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown lamented:

There are too many violent offenders not in jail, or on electronic monitoring, which no one is really monitoring. We need violent felons to stay in jail longer and we need improvements to the home monitoring system. We also must collaborate with our criminal justice partners to create a safer Chicago.

Even though our new Chief came perilously close to the only solution to gang violence, Brown didn’t dare utter the rest of the truth because that would’ve cut his superintendent tenure to the shortest in Second City history.

Ah! But Rockford Police Chief Dan O’Shea did have actually had the temerity to tell the truth when he recently explained:

The 16 and 17-year-olds that are running around shooting each other, we’re not wasting our time trying to save them. They’re lost. We’re trying to focus on the 3-, 4-, 5-year-olds, all the way through up to maybe 12 and 13, where we have a chance at saving them and changing their lives and changing the direction they’re going in their lives.

And to say the Chief was excoriated by BLM and all manner of black activists would be just like saying President Trump has a minor Twitter addiction. After the various and sundry repeated calls for his head, O’Shea backed off faster than Lea Michelle’s co-stars!

Trust me! I understand the ultimate solution to Chicago’s gang violence is economic opportunity, but even if we poured billions of dollars into the West Side by the end of the year, given the required cultural mind shift, it would take at least a decade or two to realize any real gains.

As those Zen folks like to say, you have to start with where you are now, and where we are now is sitting squarely in the morass those blithering oblivious white Cook County prosecutors created when they though it was a good idea to lop off those traditional gang leader heads.

Their theory was that the body of the snake would then wither and die, but the gangs devolved into ultra-violent splinter faction that no one can control, instead. And neither Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot nor Chief Brown will be able to solve this problem through anything other than the application of brute legal force.

As former Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin said on the former Ward & Jones radio show, these shooters are a well-known gang minority, but we lack the stomach to get them off the streets and put them under the jail. Once they’re removed, we have to apply the best community policing methods to save the children that, as Chief O’Shea noted, can still be saved.

And the activist response to his beyond keen perception of the obvious was the sound of crickets.

The bottom line is, if black lives really mattered, those generally well-meaning BLM activists could put an end to this Chicago violence by mobilizing their vast human resources to stand on those weekend street corners and put a serious dent in the drug trade that fuels this ultimately self-destructive violence.

But they don’t because, just like the white folks they loathe, BLM has co-opted the eminently Caucasian theme that their “constituents” can do no wrong and personal responsibility always starts with everyone else but themselves. You’ve come a long way baby!

If black lives really matter, BLM sure has a funny way of showing it!

The First Ward Report – You wouldn’t remember your high school graduation anyway!

In the sense that the offense-based mob mentality is so eminently easy to predict, I do have a basic understanding of the incessant garment rending and teeth gnashing revolving around the lack of any formal 2020 high school graduation ceremonies.

This is the very same horde who threw a hissy fit when classrooms canceled cursive despite their failure to apply that useless skill for decades. I’m sure their PDAs are still sitting in a drawer somewhere.

Granted, I’m old and my 70s era graduating class consisted of a considerable 998 Evanston compatriots, but other than I’m convinced I was there, I remember just two things about my high school graduation.

The first was the something-datorian’s attempt at a funny speech that fell so flat, it was far more amusing than if it had worked.

Drive By Graduation

The second, and it’s still one of my favorite memories, was, having gleefully returned the blue gown, dashing out that east side Dodge Avenue exit while running directly into the much more popular Michael Tarkington. With a grin befitting of a Carroll-esque feline, he turned to me and said, “It feels good to get the hell out of there doesn’t it?”

Summarily breaking into a similar smile, my simple reply was, “Yes it does!” That was the last time I ever saw or spoke with Michael, and, aside from fantasies like ‘The Breakfast Club,’ it may have been the only time a geek and an in-crowder truly connected.

Meanwhile, I have absolutely no recollection of my name being called or marching up to the stage to get my diploma.

Fast forwarding forty years, aside from it being a blisteringly hot late May day, I can only remember two things about my older son’s Geneva High School graduation. The first is laughing my ass off as he made a beeline for the diploma while utterly ignoring the outstretched hands of all those on-state-administrators. The second is eminently tall GHS Principal Tom Rogers hugging his almost-as-tall daughter with such zeal that her feet left the ground.

And that was just five years ago!

I actually remember more about my younger son’s glorious decision not to attend his high school graduation than I do about the iteration in which my older son participated!

But isn’t that the stark reality of these things? Despite the hugs, the tears, and the promises to reconnect, unless you ill-advisedly choose to remain in your small hometown, you’ll barely remember and never see or hear from those people again.

The vast double irony of Green Day’s ‘Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)’ becoming the most played high school graduation song certainly isn’t lost on me. “Good riddance? C’mon! That ballad isn’t about fond remembrances, it’s about parting ways with someone you never really want to see again.

And that’s particularly fitting for most high school graduates, who, for the first time in their young freshman lives, abruptly realized their elementary and middle school teachers lied! Being different wasn’t something to be celebrated, it was something to be endured.

So, it’s the parents of that small student plurality who actually enjoyed high school who primarily keened about these coronavirus cancellations. But the truth is, those ceremonies are beyond boring, parents tend to behave like inebriated Bears fans, and the speeches are consistently and distressingly unremarkable.

High school, in its current form, isn’t something to be celebrated, is a lot more like a category four hurricane – it’s something you hope to survive. Only our absurd nostalgic capacity can make that torture seem like “the good old days!”

I understand how important milestones and rites of passage can be to the parents and older relatives who’ve had to contend with teenagers. But if you want to make that transition memorable, then make it memorable! One of the most important lessons any high school graduate can learn is if you wait for the world to accommodate you, you’ll die long before it makes the first move.

Furthermore, I fervently believe the class of 2020 will remember and smile more about their drive by graduation ceremonies than their more formally matriculated peers ever will.

Get used to irony graduates!

 

The First Ward Report – Police reform or just political pandering? – Part 3

To briefly recap, in parts one and two we discussed the police “reforms” recently promoted by Elgin City Councilpersons Corey Dixon and Tish Powell. Our contention has been these proposals are more about pandering to their posse than they are about real change.

Adding two minority civilians to the Police and Fire Commission isn’t a bad thing, but if those appointees don’t have a minimum of law enforcement experience or knowledge, they’ll only make matters worse.

A police officer residency requirement? That won’t solve a single problem and it will only serve to further limit the police officer recruitment pool.

police reform

Insisting that any internal police investigation be conducted by a board of folks who have absolutely no ties to law enforcement is patently absurd. That’s like asking the average American to referee a soccer game. Trust me! It won’t end well.

Ah! But if I were in a position to implement real police reform, here’s exactly what I’d do:

1. Traffic and misdemeanor court imbalances

Our newly “woke” social justice warriors may fervently believe that defunding the police as they beat people over the head with their perceived shortcomings is the road to real reform, but some of us have been consistently arguing for the kind of smaller shifts that would bring balance to an already difficult day-to-day minority existence.

Just once, I’d like to cover a Kane County misdemeanor traffic/misdemeanor court call where our black and Hispanic compatriots aren’t overly represented. Considering Geneva is 95 percent Caucasian, how it that those defendants are always 50 to 60 percent minority?

I’ve seen how white people drive, and to quote a great philosopher, “It ain’t that pretty at all!”

Even my Republican attorney friends agree that traffic/misdemeanor court has become nothing more than an institutionalized scheme to separate minorities from their money. The real crime there is, it’s typically the minority defendants who can least afford those ever-increasing fines, court costs and fees.

The problem for our perpetually pandering Elgin politicians is, real reform takes the kind of retraining time, persistent effort, and Springfield lobbying perseverance that doesn’t lend itself to grand gestures and vote soliciting soundbites.

2. Asset forfeiture

This purported law enforcement tool by which cash and property can be seized from suspects and their families without any form of due process, is nothing more than legalized theft, and  the only solution is to repeal these statutes outright.

Most folks think it was police brutality that incited the Ferguson, Missouri, riots, but they’d be wrong. The Michael Brown shooting was simply the spark that set off that already smoldering powder keg. That simmering anger and resentment was the direct result of how that department funded themselves on their predominantly black population through rampant property seizure and absurdly high traffic fines.

Even the best departments abuse asset forfeiture (the current Kane County Sheriff literally wrote the book on it), so if Dixon and Powell were truly concerned about their constituents and real reform, this would be the place to start. But that kind of change requires a subtle long-term partnership with the Illinois General Assembly, which doesn’t translate into city council votes.

3. Minority officers

Whether we want to admit it or not, Homo Sapiens haven’t begun to evolve beyond their basic tribal instincts, and the men and women in blue are particularly prone to that kind of exclusionary thinking.

When you have no reference point to see the other reference point, it becomes too easy to allow the prevailing “us against them” mentality to turn into the kind of poison that makes blacks and Hispanics your sworn enemy.

And that’s particularly true when a command staff consists solely of white males. Think about it! Who wants to be the only black police officer in Geneva?

Though they took a boatload of crap for their Puerto Rico recruitment venture, the EPD is pretty good in this regard, but given the inherent difficulties in attracting minority officers, this reform takes a dogged and relentless effort, something neither Powell nor Dixon are known for.

If it don’t rile their base, then it ain’t worth the chase.

Since no one wants to see part four, let’s briefly cover the last three potential reforms:

1. Rockford Police Chief Dan O’Shea made the mistake of telling the truth about dealing with gangs and gang members, but he was dead on. We have to put the irrecoverable 17-year-olds away while applying the best community policing standards to those still recoverable ten- to twelve-year-olds.

2. If my wife is required take massage classes every year to keep her license, then police officers should be required to attend annual de-escalation training.

3. Considering the ridiculous amount stress involved in the job, and with suicide claiming twice the number of officers killed in the line of duty, every department should hire a part-time in-house psychologist who talks with the officers on a regular basis.

4. The psych eval should be the first thing an officer has to pass, and not the last. Just like it is with airline pilots, we can’t afford a few bad law enforcement apples.

The truth is, while our suddenly shrieking social just warriors have been far too busy ordering the avocado toast, I’ve been advocating for these changes for years. But the problem is, the debate has become so personal that the truth tends to fall on deaf ears, particularly if those ears sit squarely on the heads of politicians like Mr. Dixon and Ms. Powell.

Quick Hits – Wasn’t this supposed to be a conservative court?

Two bleeping great decisions in one week? I could really get used to that!

Employers cannot discriminate against our gay and transgender brothers and sisters, and now the children of undocumented workers don’t have to pay for the sins of their parents!

Maybe 2020 ain’t so bad after all!

All I can say is, I’m really starting to fall in love with Justice Roberts! After all, he is kinda cute!

Daca

 

Quick Hits – Jim Fuller sucks!

At least some things never change!

And all the evidence we need to prove that Ecclesiastes postulate is yet another bullshit Jim Fuller Daily Herald story! 

What the fricken worst reporter on the planet completely failed to mention is the federal government continues to change the COVID relief fund distribution rules on a weekly basis. That leaves the County with no other choice but to wait until August when Congress takes their annual summer break and then they can’t change the rules.

Call me crazy, but wouldn’t that minor detail be an important thing to note? Not to mention he’s intermingling the CAREs funds with COVID funds in yet another sign of his vast incompetence.

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Jim isn’t too full of himself, is he?

But apparently the federal issues aren’t worth mentioning when you’re the kind of reporting snowflake that, because Chairman Lauzen had the temerity offend your overly delicate sensibilities, you insist upon warping stories to fit your sad lack of any real self-definition. I’ve heard that Jim still cries himself to sleep every night with a picture of Chris Lauzen firmly tucked under his pillow!

Correction! Actually, Fuller is the second worst reporter on the planet because it can’t possibly get any worse than Harry Hitzeman.

Does anyone harbor any doubt as to exactly what killed the Daily Herald? Just like Dr. Malcolm Crowe, Paddock Publications is dead – they simply haven’t caught up with that reality yet.

Where’s Haley Joel Osment when you really need him?

HansonMeanwhile, just when I thought there wasn’t a good nerve left for County Board Member Matt Hanson to get on, he provee me wrong.  Matt thinks the County should pass out that $93 million despite the distribution requirements being a moving target and that the County would be liable for any perceived “misappropriation.”

Matt! I beat you once and I’ll beat you again! Do you really want me to intervene in your next electoral effort because I know you’re gonna run and I’m more than up to the task.

Bleepin’ morons!

 

 

The First Ward Report – Police reform or just political pandering? – Part 2

Considering how I rambled on for over 900 words in Part 1, for brevity’s sake, if you need to fill in the background blanks, please refer to Monday’s piece.

Our premise going forward is the police reforms primarily promoted by Elgin Alderpersons Corey Dixon and Tish Powell at last week’s City Council meeting are more about pandering to their public than they are about any real change.

Again, I’m all for reasonable, well-considered, and incremental police reform, but reform simply for reform’s or political expediency’s sake always makes matters worse – much worse. It’s in that very vein that I have three major issues with this pointless post George Floyd death push.

And the first one is, if this truly isn’t a case of preaching to the progressive choir, then why now? Dixon, Powell, and their liberal council compatriots have had the votes to start this process for the last three years, but they’ve simply been sitting on their hands.

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Elgin City Councilwoman Tish Powell

Pandering and political expediency are particularly perilous when the council reaction is clearly of the knee-jerk variety. We’ve already discussed how an Elgin Police Department residency requirement can backfire on a number of levels, and an astute reader added,

Many teachers, as well as police officers, do not wish to live and socialize in the city in which they work. It can be very uncomfortable to see one of your professional contacts in a social setting.

 

Not to mention the education and law enforcement debate has risen to a fever pitch in these hyper partisan times. Put more simply, does Elgin want to severely limit their police officer recruitment pool in this way?

So, yes! I question Dixon’s and Powell’s timing. If they were serious about police reform, it would’ve already be happening.

My second issue is the massive hypocrisy of Dixon’s furious but doomed-to-fail attempts to serve two masters. I may not be a Christian, but the Bible was dead on in this regard:

No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.

What Corey fails to mention in his frequent self-righteous dais-borne declarations is, despite his abject lack of the basic qualifications, he landed a plum 75 grand plus benefits patronage position in the Kane County Sheriff’s Office. To be fair, I’ve heard he’s doing a good job, but that doesn’t begin to mitigate the fact he never should’ve been hired in the first place.

So, while the Councilman regularly rails against the EPD, he’s been conspicuously silent about the office for which he toils. This is a perfect example of why the two-master dynamic is eternally flawed, and Dixon needs to choose between his job and his political aspiration. He clearly can’t succeed at both.

When I think of real police reform, the first possibility that comes to mind is eliminating those BS asset forfeiture laws. Sheriff Ron Hain certainly hasn’t abused that kind of institutionalized theft, but his predecessor did. So, where’s Corey? Ron Hain won’t always be our sheriff.

Put more simply, will Dixon push the Sheriff’s Office to adopt the same “reforms” he’s thrusting upon Elgin, because any other possibility would be beyond disingenuous.

To make matters much worse, Dixon’s insistence on needlessly pummeling the EPD has cost the Sheriff all the support he once had from those officers, not to mention soliciting a significant morale loss among Hain’s own deputies.

But while Dixon loves to set the bad example, if you look up the word “hypocrisy” in the venerable Oxford Dictionary, you’ll see Tish Powell’s picture right next to it.

While Dixon manages to pay some lip service to the EPD’s basic merit, Powell makes no such pretense. As long as whatever she’s been thinking in the last five minutes plays to her pious posse, it will inevitably exist her mouth unfiltered.

And that’s a particularly egregious propensity when you consider that Powell oughtta show some modicum of gratitude to a department that went out of their way to help her family out of what could’ve been a tough legal jam. It’s one that could’ve seriously damaged her political aspirations and reputation, too.

But unlike Powell, who revels in dragging her adversaries’ and their family’s names through the mud, I will avoid divulging the specific details of that case. But I do want to be abundantly clear that none of the involved sources came from within the Elgin Police Department.

In fact, when I confirmed the story with a second source and took it to my regular EPD friends, they wouldn’t say a word about it. Considering their rising animosity for the councilwoman, that’s an real journalistic rarity. So much for gratitude, right?

Now that we’ve covered these generally useless reforms and the political motivation behind them, on Friday well discuss the kind of everyday police reform that would make a real difference in minority lives.

Until then!

The First Ward Report – Police reform or just more political pandering?

From the 1966 Chicago race riots to Rodney King to Ferguson, Missouri, to George Floyd, in light of what I’ve seen during my fascinating lifetime, the fact that we, as a society, are finally taking the need for widespread police reform seriously, is particularly encouraging.

From the aforementioned circumstances right down to minorities being vastly overrepresented in predominantly white suburban municipality traffic court calls, it’s truly time to see some sort of cultural shift.

Corey Dixon 3

But those required reforms should never consist of the knee-jerk variety which inevitably create more problems than they solve. They should be reasonable, well-considered, and these new stipulations should actually serve the people they purport to serve, not the politicians promoting them.

As I’m rather fond of saying, “Do you want the change you seek, or do you just want to feel good about yourself for a while?” Given how the political pendulum always swings the other way, venturing too far in either direction only creates further chaos.

Having tackled this tough topic for years, I’m convinced that community policing is the only law enforcement dynamic that really works, and when I think of the departments that have managed to pull that kind of thing off, Elgin is always one of the first that comes to mind.

But given the timbre of these post George Floyd homicide times, it wasn’t too terribly surprising when that ‘City in the Suburbs’ city council dove directly into the deep end in the police reform regard.

It’s not that that there isn’t room for improvement. Were I an EPD officer – a terrifying thought if there ever was one – I would avoid social media like the plague – and that embargo would extend to my children. My approach to known gang members would also be quite different than the method that’s currently being applied, too.

So, let’s examine those impending reforms and the motives of the council members primarily promoting them – Corey Dixon and Tish Powell:

  1. Adding two new citizen positions to the Police and Fire Commission, one filled by a minority and the other by a woman.
  2. A residency requirement for all officers and not just the command staff.
  3. Future internal police investigation will be handled by an independent board or agency that do not include former law enforcement officers.

The wording Dixon used may be fraught with peril, but I have absolutely no problem with reform number one. There are currently three civilians on that board, and as long as they have more than a passing knowledge of law enforcement practices, adding two more couldn’t possibly hurt.

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Tish Powell

But when you consider that white folks make up just 41 percent of the Elgin population, I’d be careful about throwing around the word “minority.” It would be far better to say, of those five civilians, one must be black, one Hispanic, and one female.

Meanwhile, number two is a far more complicated proposition.

My original Evanston hometown has tried to implement an officer residency requirement for years, but the problem there is, few officers can afford to live in that city. That’s not an undue obstacle as it stands now, but it could become an issue as Elgin continues to make its comeback.

While you certainly want your officers to be fully invested in their city, a residency requirement ultimately limits the new recruit pool, and thus, it dilutes the available talent. Though the U-46 School District has made great strides under CEO Tony Sanders, you certainly don’t see parkway real estate development signs boasting “Elgin schools.”

My wife and I moved out of Streamwood solely because of that 90’s era school system, and I’m convinced it would be a deal breaker for many potential EPD candidates. That kind of prerequisite tends to work better in cities with a population of 300,000 or more.

This brings us to reform number three which is patently absurd. It’s nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt by Dixon and Powell to rewrite history and stack the deck against Elgin police officers going forward.

So, if you don’t like the verdict rendered by three separate entities in the DeCynthia Clements case, you simply rewrite the rulebook? That’s not the way it works, and that stilted shift will inevitably lead to an equal and opposite reaction when the political pendulum swings back to the right.

Don’t get me wrong! I’m all for internal police investigations being handled by an independent board, but by definition, those bodies must contain former law enforcement officers or how would they possibly understand how to apply the correct standard?

Considering my years covering Kane County family courtrooms and my close friendships with family court judges and attorneys, it seems like I spend half my journalistic life explaining the family law process to participants who are almost always utterly overwhelmed by it.

The bottom line is, just as it is with parenting, nothing can prepare you for family court but being in family court, and sometimes even that fails. It’s no different with internal police investigations.

So, while police reforms are generally a good thing, I question the timing, the intent, and the long-term efficacy of what Dixon and Powell are suggesting.

In part two on Wednesday we’ll discuss the hypocrisy of:

  • Why a city council that’s been in power for four years suddenly chose to act now.
  • Councilman Dixon’s failure to apply the same standard to the law enforcement agency that employs him.
  • How Tish Powell can so easily dismiss a police force that provided her family with the kind of consideration we regular folks would never get to enjoy.

See you then!