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PostThe Chicago Squad (David Duggan, USA, 09/08/19 12:45 pm)
I'm sure WAISers are familiar with "The Squad," the four newly elected liberal Democratic Congress[wo]men "of color" who have been shaking up the Nancy Pelosi-Chuck Schumer-Joe Biden party backbone since coming to Washington earlier this year. These latter three, with more than a century of "public service" among them (Biden in the Senate since 1973, and Veep 2009-17; Pelosi, in the House since 1987; and Schumer, in the House since 1989, and the Senate since 1999), have represented the old and (mostly) white-male Democratic Party which has seemingly been behind the times in giving free stuff to everyone.
But for those who live in Chicago, the quadrumulierate of Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Ayanna Pressley (no relation to Elvis-note the two "s's"), have nothing on Chicago's four women of color who have, if not dominated Cook County politics, at least been retrograde forces to reckon with. I'm talking of course of Clerk of the Cook County Circuit Court Dorothy Brown, County Board President Toni Preckwinkle (Taxwinkle to the cognoscenti), State's Attorney Kim Foxx, and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot. If you want to see what The Squad may do to the country, it would be profitable to see what the Chicago Squad has done (or is doing) to Chicagoans.
Dorothy Brown: ethically challenged CPA/attorney who seems always to be on the brink of being indicted, yet so far as skated as they've looked at her husband's land deals, her fund-raising, and her patronage hiring. She announced she would not run for her sixth term next year after 20 years of managing the guts of the nation's largest integrated court system: that is the court filings which have resisted modernization. Fifteen years after the federal courts went to "e-filing," the Cook County Circuit Court finally went to e-filing earlier this year. Fortunately, however, if you are a pro-se litigant (that is representing yourself), you don't have to fool around with figuring out the e-filing system, and I can continue my "conscience-based cause litigation" on behalf of myself without learning new tricks.
Toni Preckwinkle: after lowering the county's sales tax when first elected in 2010, she raised it to tops in the nation levels (10.25%) in 2016 (after re-election), and followed that up with her infamous "soda tax," on even diet sodas, at a penny an ounce. This was of course to combat the obesity crisis in Cook County, and fund health initiatives in under-served communities. So thirsty residents got into their gas-guzzlers to cross county lines and buy cheap soda. The County Board ultimately repealed this tax, which Preckwinkle took as a victory, and won re-election in 2018, promptly deciding to boost her exposure and run for mayor three months later. The voters handed her a resounding 3-1 defeat. To her credit, Preckwinkle has been thumping the tub for criminal justice reform, with reduced penalties for recreational marijuana usage and higher thresholds for felony retail theft, but these are just band-aids on the shotgun wound that is the Cook County criminal justice system with corrupt cops, incompetent judges and ethically challenged prosecutors.
Kim Foxx: Preckwinkle's hand-picked State's Attorney (chief prosecutor in the nation's second largest county, with a significant civil docket as well). Three years ago she beat the ethically challenged Anita Alvarez (who had deep-sixed the LaQuan McDonald "sixteen shots" investigation, as well as an investigation into a bar brawl murder by a Mayor Daley nephew) and of course promised reform. That reform doesn't include competence in prosecuting murders, however, as just before Labor Day an out-on-bond felon who had killed a 20-something for his cell phone five blocks from my house (see my WAIS post "Two Plugs for a Cell Phone") was convicted of only "involuntary manslaughter." And this is not to mention her utter bungling of the Jussie Smollett fake crime case; after $130,000 worth of Chicago Police Department overtime investigating Smollett's false claim that he had been "noosed" by some MAGA-hat wearing miscreants on the coldest night in Chicago history, she dropped Smollett's prosecution in return for a $10,000 fine and 16 hours of community service stuffing envelopes at Jesse Jackson's Operation Rainbow Push. Michelle Obama's intervention, through her one-time chief of staff Tina Tchen, likely helped grease this deal and a special prosecutor has been appointed to look into this business-as-usual-in-Chicago folderol. Foxx has opposition in next year's primary, so her tenure might be short-lived.
Lori Lightfoot: the recently elected mayor has jumped all-in on paying retired employees (including corrupt cops and aldermen) their gilt-edged pensions, with generous 3% annual increases, promising tax hikes and maybe a "commuter fee" to pay these grifters. Evidently the notion of municipal bankruptcy--a la Detroit--or even firing half the workers who don't do anything anyway did not occur to her. If there is a saving grace, however, it is that she don't owe nobody nuttin, so maybe in the remaining 44 months of her tenure she'll realize that taxing people into oblivion is not a career-boosting strategy.
So, US WAISers, if you want to see what The Squad would do if elected into power, look no farther than Chicago: high taxes, incompetence and corruption. Be careful what you wish (vote) for.
JE comments: Let's subtitle this one "Jeremiad to the Ethically Challenged." Chicago politics have been "Chicagoey" for a century and a half, but the genders and colors of the Challenged change over time.
David, what more can you tell us about Michelle Obama's purported intervention in the Smollett hoax? Why would she want to get involved?