Rahm Emanuel

Chicago’s 2015 Budget Includes Tax And Fee Hikes

Gee, who could’ve anticipated new fee and tax hikes look to be in store for Chicago next year?

From Fran Spielman over on the Chicago Sun-Times website this morning:

[Chicago Mayor Rahm] Emanuel will campaign for re-election on a budget that raises $62.4 million through “targeted” tax hikes and closing “loopholes,” which amounts to the same thing.

People who live, work and play in Chicago will be paying more for everything from parking and vehicle leasing to cable television and stadium skyboxes…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

These individuals have been doing that for a number of years now. Hal Dardick pointed out over on the Chicago Tribune site:

As the Chicago City Council prepares to approve his latest budget Wednesday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel repeatedly has reminded voters that he didn’t raise city property taxes during his first four years in office.

But that doesn’t mean homeowners haven’t had to pay. Under Emanuel, vehicle stickers cost more. Cable TV and phone taxes went up. And water and sewer fees increased significantly…

Taken together, Emanuel’s hikes mean the typical Chicago family will pay about $481 more to the city next year than it did in 2011. That’s the equivalent of a typical Chicago homeowner paying 60 percent more in city property taxes, which are nearly $800 a year for city and library services on a $250,000 home…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

“Nearly $800 a year for city and library services on a $250,000 home”

In the Chicago neighborhood I recently moved out of, I’m not sure if any inhabitable houses at that price range with more than 2 bedrooms/1 bath even exists. So I’m guessing a number of my old neighbors- who already shoulder a significant tax burden for the city- will be somewhat pissed to hear of this “good news” coming out of City Hall.

That being said, it’s not exactly Chicago’s “financial reckoning day” we’re talking about here. But it’s probably not what Chicagoans want to deal with as the holiday season kicks-in.

As for the well-publicized pension crisis going on in the “Windy City,” Spielman added:

By December, 2015, the City Council must decide whether to raise property taxes — or find other new revenues — to fund a state-mandated, $550 million payment to shore up police and fire pension funds.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

So a property tax hike might also be coming down the pipeline.

One more thing. Regarding the ongoing manpower shortage in the Chicago Police Department? That doesn’t look like it’s going to be resolved in 2015. From the Sun-Times piece:

Once again, the mayor’s budget includes only enough money to keep pace with retirements. It also includes roughly $70 million in police overtime, down from $100.3 million in 2013 and a projected $95 million this year…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

“Crime is down!” Yeah, whatever.

As always, I’m glad to see Fran Spielman and Hal Dardick are on top of their game.

What does all this mean for Chicago residents/workers/visitors?

It’s probably wise to budget a good deal more money for anything city-related next year. Even more so in 2016 considering what could be in store with the city’s public pension mess and what Cook County is telegraphing these days (blogged about Monday).

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(UPDATE: The Chicago City Council approved Mayor Emanuel’s proposed 2015 city budget Wednesday by a vote of 46-4, and “puts off dealing with the city’s most vexing financial woes until after next year’s elections” according to the Tribune Thursday morning)

Sources:

Spielman, Fran. “Chicago City Council set to pass Emanuel’s $7.3 billion budget.” Chicago Sun-Times. 19 Nov. 2014. (http://politics.suntimes.com/article/chicago/chicago-city-council-set-pass-emanuels-73-billion-budget/wed-11192014-742am). 19 Nov. 2014.

Dardick, Hal. “Higher Emanuel fees and taxes add up.” Chicago Tribune. 19 Nov. 2014. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/politics/ct-emanuel-budget-2015-met-20141118-story.html#page=1). 19 Nov. 2014.

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The Civic Federation Analyzes Chicago’s FY2015 Budget

The last time I talked about The Civic Federation (an independent, non-partisan government research organization that provides analysis and recommendations on government finance issues for the Chicago region and State of Illinois) was back on March 4, when they proposed a five-year plan to balance the Illinois state budget, eliminate its huge bill backlog, and reduce income tax rates. But yesterday, the group released a new report on the City of Chicago’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2015. From their press release Monday:

Civic Federation Supports FY2015 Chicago Budget

Recent Progress Threatened by Pension Funding Crisis, Borrowing for Operations

In a report released today, the Civic Federation announced its support for the City of Chicago’s proposed FY2015 operating budget of $7.3 billion but expressed deep concern for how the City will manage rising pension costs and debt service payments in future years. The full 101-page analysis is available here.

The FY2015 budget closes a $297.3 million deficit with reasonable structural changes including targeted tax and fee increases, vacancy eliminations and other operational efficiencies. The budget also reflects significant actions toward long-term stability including the 2014 pension reform law for the City’s Municipal and Laborers’ pension funds and the continued phase out of the City’s retiree health care subsidy and planned transition of most retirees to coverage under the federal Affordable Care Act.

“Mayor Emanuel and his team are continuing to make the reasonable changes and bold decisions necessary to stabilize Chicago’s finances,” said Laurence Msall, president of the Civic Federation. “Two issues, however, threaten to erase all recent progress: the pension funding crisis and the administration’s continued use of borrowing for operations through the issuance of refunding bonds.”

Landmark pension reforms were enacted in June 2014, but only for two of the City’s four pension funds. The City’s Police and Fire pension funds remain dangerously close to running out of funds with market value funded ratios of only 27.0% and 31.7% respectively in FY2013. The Illinois General Assembly passed legislation in 2010 that mandates a sharp $550 million increase in contributions to the Police and Fire funds. This change, even without considering increased contributions to the City’s Municipal and Laborers’ funds, would require a significant increase in the City’s property tax levy, crippling cuts to City services, or both. The Mayor, City Council and State legislators must work together to create a reform framework for the Police and Fire funds that will stabilize the funds at an affordable cost to taxpayers. The Civic Federation also recommends that the City study ways to consolidate its pension funds, including the possibility of merging its Police and Fire funds with suburban and downstate public safety funds.

Over the last three fiscal years, the City of Chicago reduced its annual debt service payments by refunding bonds that are due to mature and extending the life of these bonds for an additional 30 years, a practice referred to as “scoop and toss.” This practice dramatically increases the cost of providing government services. It also could threaten the City’s ability to issue future debt by filling the out years of the City’s debt service schedule with previously issued bonds. The Civic Federation urges the City to develop a strategy for ending this costly and unsustainable practice.

The Federation’s full report also discusses the creation of the City Council Office of Financial Analysis in 2013. The office was intended to give aldermen access to the independent information and analysis they need to be effective stewards of the City’s finances. A delay in fully implementing the office means aldermen will not have access to this resource before they vote on the FY2015 budget.

You can read the 101-page report entitled City of Chicago FY2015 Proposed Budget: Analysis and Recommendations on The Civic Federation’s website here.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Tuesday, November 4th, 2014 Bonds, Borrowing, Fiscal Policy, Government No Comments

Chicago Police Department Manpower Shortage Worse Than Portrayed

Something tells me the popular Chicago police blog Second City Cop is going to have a field day with the following. Hal Dardick and Jeremy Gorner reported on the Chicago Tribune website tonight:

The ranks of the Chicago Police Department are well below full strength, even as the rate of hiring has increased in recent years, according to testimony Thursday before the City Council.

The department has 587 vacancies, with plans to hire 200 more officers in coming months — before accounting for end-of-the year retirements, Superintendent Garry McCarthy said during council hearings on Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s 2015 budget proposal. The city is working to bring the department up to the full authorized strength of 12,533 officers, he said…

About 200 of the vacant posts are among rank-and-file officers, which would reach full strength at 9,608. The rest of the vacancies are among the ranks of detectives and police brass…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

“Full authorized strength of 12,533 officers”

I seem to recall “full authorized strength” for the Chicago Police Department meant 13,500 officers only a short while ago.

I blogged on October 26, 2012:

The Chicago FOP has argued for the past couple years that the Chicago Police Department should return to its previously budgeted strength of 13,500 officers.

Recently, Mayor Rahm Emanuel presented his 2013 budget to the Chicago City Council. Under “Investing to Enhance Public Safety,” the Mayor called for, “Funding for CPD to hire officers to remain at full strength at all times.”

I blogged back on October 12:

The Chicago Police Department to finally be at “full strength?”

That I’ve got to see.

Why do I suspect the goal posts are going to be moved here?

I was thinking of that 13,500 number when I wrote that.

Apparently, Mayor Emanuel and Superintendent McCarthy were thinking more along the lines of a thousand cops less. Dardick and Gorner added:

Before year’s end, the city plans to hire 263 more officers, city officials said. And the mayor’s proposed 2013 budget calls for hiring an additional 500 officers — four quarterly classes of 125. The goal is to keep the total number of officers at about 12,500.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

“12,500.”

Goal posts moved?

Goal posts moved.

And the CPD currently has 11,946 officers, while full-strength amounted to 13,500 just a few years back.

But seeing that “crime is down” in Chicago. Wink wink. Nudge nudge.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Dardick, Hal and Gorner, Jeremy. “Chicago Police Department not at full strength, top cop says.” Chicago Tribune. 30 Oct. 2014. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-chicago-police-budget-hearing-met-1031-20141030-story.html). 30 Oct. 2014

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Thursday, October 30th, 2014 Government, Public Safety No Comments

Chicago-Area Security Heightened After U.S. Terrorism Warning

I saw a segment last night on the Channel 9 (Chicago) evening news regarding the City of Chicago’s response to that security bulletin issued by the FBI and DHS the other day. From the WGN TV website:

A renewed terror warning in the U.S. is prompting security concerns in Chicago.

While acknowledging the city may be a potential target, Mayor Rahm Emanuel stresses local and federal agencies are on the lookout for any terrorist activity.

The head of Cook County’s Department of Homeland Security says there is no sign of a specific, credible threat against the urban area. But in Chicago airports and across the region security has been heightened

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

In the news segment, Michael Masters, Executive Director of the Cook County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, stated:

I think it’s important for people to realize that our first responders are training everyday on the types of threats and issues we see going on around the world.

Reporter Julian Crews added:

Cook County’s homeland security chief says the region is prepared to respond.

Here’s hoping he’s right.

You can watch that entire segment- which also includes comments from former Secret Service special agent Arnette Heintze and DePaul University professor and terrorism analyst Thomas Mockaitis- on the WGN TV website here.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Crews, Julian. “Renewed terror warning in U.S. prompts security concerns in Chicago.” WGN TV. 24 Sep. 2014. (http://wgntv.com/2014/09/24/renewed-terror-warning-in-u-s-prompts-security-concerns-in-chicago/). 25 Sep. 2014.

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Chicago Faces $297 Million Budget Shortfall In 2015, $588 Million Deficit By 2017

I’ve been wanting to blog about the latest City of Chicago annual financial analysis for some time now. This afternoon I’m finally getting that chance. From Fran Spielman (who’s done a terrific job breaking those analyses down the past couple years I’ve been paying attention to them) on the Chicago Sun-Times website back in August:

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has ruled out a pre-election increase in property or sales taxes, but he’ll have to find another way to close a $297.3 million budget gap that assumes the Illinois General Assembly will lift the pension hammer hanging over Chicago.

State law requires the city to make a $550 million contribution to shore up police and fire pension funds that have assets to cover just 30 and 24 percent of their respective liabilities.

If Emanuel chooses to fund the payment with property taxes, the city’s levy must be raised in 2015 so bills issued the following year reflect the increase.

Instead of including that payment in the financial analysis now used as a substitute for Chicago’s preliminary budget, the mayor left it out, assuming he will get both revenue and reform before the payment is due

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

$297.3 million budget shortfall for Chicago in 2015- assuming the city gets “relief” from that State of Illinois-mandated $550 million pension fund contribution.

From what I’ve read, that looks to be a big assumption.

Still, the projected 2015 budget gap that’s being advertised by City Hall is significantly rosier than a year ago (big election coming up in February 2015 you know).

I blogged back on August 1, 2013:

The latest financial analysis is out, and the budget gap in 2014 is projected to be $339 million. Still crappy, but a lot better than what could be in store for the “Windy City” by 2015. Hal Dardick reported on the Chicago Tribune website this morning:

The day of financial reckoning for Chicago is not far off, with the city budget shortfall expected to near a record $1 billion in 2015 if major changes are not made to the government worker pension systems, city officials said Wednesday.

That stark assessment, contained in the annual financial analysis prepared by Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s top budget officials, overshadowed the fact that the city needs to close an expected $339 million budget gap predicted for next year.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Returning to that Sun-Times piece from this August, Spielman added:

As for the more manageable, $297.3 million gap, sales and property taxes are off the table. But [Budget Director Alexandra] Holt refused to rule out other tax and fee hikes after exhausting further cost-cutting that might include layoffs

Last year’s financial analysis projected a $338.7 million shortfall that would balloon to $994.7 million in 2015 and $1.15 billion in 2016 without a painful mix of employee concessions and new revenues. This year’s version takes the 2017 shortfall down to $587.7 million, but only if the mayor’s risky assumptions are correct.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

That classic Benny Hill skit about why one shouldn’t assume things comes to mind right now.

Okay. Looking at the actual 2014 annual financial analysis on my laptop screen right now, I see that $297.3 million budget shortfall projected for Chicago in 2015, a $430.2 million gap in 2016, and that $587.7 million deficit in 2017 that Spielman mentioned.

The trend is definitely not Rahm’s and the City’s friend in this instance.

Here’s what I see going down for the “Windy City.” The Machine will mobilize as many kissing cousins (Democrats elsewhere in the state) as it can to get Mayor Emanuel his much-desired pension “reform.” Basically “kicking the can down the road.” If full reform isn’t achieved, perhaps partial “relief”?.

Of course, the City of Chicago will still have those snowballing budget shortfalls to contend with. At first, I anticipate a lot of stupid spending still going on, with only some belt-tightening and layoffs here and there (“Kiss Your Clout’s Ass” Day soon to be a much celebrated event?). And fees, fines, and taxes will be heading up (but not property and sales taxes initially). But I suspect as Chicago’s “day of reckoning” gets closer, all these measures will be intensified.

Think major cost-cutting in conjunction with a much stronger attempt to increase incoming revenues.

Like my forecast for the rest of the nation- regrettably, I see things getting a lot worse before they get better again.

You can view the entire 2014 City of Chicago Annual Financial Analysis on the City of Chicago website here (.pdf format).

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Spielman, Fran. “City budget puts off day of reckoning until after election.” Chicago Sun-Times. 1 Aug. 2014. (http://politics.suntimes.com/article/chicago/city-budget-puts-day-reckoning-until-after-election/fri-08012014-1210am). 23 Sep. 2014.

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Chicago Police Department Manpower Shortage Continues

It’s nice and quiet around the house this Sunday morning. Why’s that? My girlfriend is downtown this weekend, hitting the scene with friends from her college days.

So with Chicago’s violent crime making headlines worldwide these days, am I worried about her safety?

Not really. First off, she’s “street smart,” having grown up in the city and lived there prior to meeting me and after we started dating years until we moved to the suburbs in 2013. Second, to quote that 1952 film classic The Quiet Man:

Oh, that red head of hers is no lie.

She’ll beat on you if it comes to that…

Girls Soccer

Third, as I responded to a comment on the blog recently:

The city of Chicago is still generally safe. A healthy dose of “street smarts” and situational awareness goes a long way though when living there on a daily basis (i.e., don’t stare at gangbangers, like one of my vehicle’s passengers was doing while I was driving on a local expressway some years back)…

The majority of the shootings/murders are still confined to the “seedier” areas of Chicago. But criminal activity seems like it’s picking up in a lot of other neighborhoods- including the “safe” ones- though “official” crime stats don’t support this. I, for one, stopped trusting the government numbers a long time ago.

Still, I’d feel better knowing there were more police officers around. The manpower shortage in the Chicago Police Department is well-documented (hat tips Second City Cop and the Chicago Reader), and regular readers of Survival And Prosperity know it’s something I’ve been blogging about for a couple of years now. In fact, Mick Dumke wrote the following over on the Reader website just yesterday:

As a mayoral candidate, Emanuel promised to add as many as 1,000 police officers to the ranks. Once he had the job and was in charge of the budget, he switched to saying that he was moving more cops to the street. Then, after shuffling hundreds of officers around, he announced that he’d successfully added more than 1,000 “to the beat.”

What Emanuel hasn’t mentioned is that the number of police officers on Chicago’s force has dropped since he’s been mayor. In June 2011, shortly after he was sworn in, there were about 10,900 officers on the city payroll, records show. Now there are about 10,600.

That’s potentially 100 fewer cops working around the city at any given time

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

I’m pretty confident my girlfriend and her buddies will be safe. Still, the CPD manpower shortage really needs to be addressed- in addition to other crime prevention/reduction initiatives- for the sake of residents, commuters, and visitors.

Otherwise, Chicagoans will just have to get used to their city being called the “Murder Capital” of the United States. And Rahm Emanuel, “Mayor Murder.”

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Dumke, Mick. “Beneath the doublespeak, do we need more police in Chicago or not?” Chicago Reader. 9 Aug. 2014. (http://www.chicagoreader.com/Bleader/archives/2014/08/09/beneath-the-doublespeak-do-we-need-more-police-in-chicago-or-not). 10 Aug. 2014.

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Sunday, August 10th, 2014 Crime, Government, Public Safety, Self-Defense No Comments

Illinois State Troopers To Join Chicago Police In Patrolling Four City Neighborhoods

From a State of Illinois press release yesterday:

Governor Quinn Announces State Police to Assist Chicago Police Department
Forty State Police Troopers Will Join CPD Officers Following Mayor Emanuel’s Request for Assistance

CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today directed the Illinois State Police to deploy 40 state troopers to join Chicago Police officers in patrolling four city neighborhoods. The action follows the city’s request for assistance and is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to ensure the safety of all people in every community across Illinois.

“The state of Illinois will do whatever is necessary to protect public safety – in Chicago and every community across Illinois,” Governor Quinn said. “Earlier this year I told Mayor Emanuel we would help in any way we could to combat violence in the city. When he requested assistance, I immediately agreed to help.”

At the Governor’s direction, the State Police will deploy troopers to areas coordinated with the Chicago Police Department (CPD). The State Police and CPD will set up 20 to 25 “surge” teams with five Chicago Police officers and two State Troopers on each team. The teams will focus on apprehending those with known violent criminal histories who are wanted by law enforcement. The troopers will come from State Police districts across the state. The assistance will be accommodated with current State Police resources…

“40 state troopers to join Chicago Police officers in patrolling four city neighborhoods”

Here’s what I think about this announcement:

1. Mayor Emanuel and Governor Quinn can tell their constituents they’re doing something about violent crime with this action. Personally, I think that’s the real motivation behind this announcement as both are running into some campaign headwinds.
2. It’s worded at one point- “apprehending those with known violent criminal histories”- so as to not make Emanuel look as if he requires outside assistance. The state troopers are just providing a helping hand. Yeah, that’s it.
3. The actual impact on violent crime by this action is questionable. “The teams will focus on apprehending those with known violent criminal histories.” How about those without known violent criminal histories? I’m guessing a number of these individuals are contributing to the headline-making carnage as well. I won’t be surprised to hear the shootings and homicides are continuing at the same pace as they have been this year.
4. If you ask me, this announcement demonstrates above all else the Chicago Police Department needs a lot more bodies. And not the perforated ones. Remember, the press release specifically calls for state troopers to join the CPD in patrolling city neighborhoods. Not enough personnel to effectively carry out patrols? Time to hire more cops.

Having problems finding the money to pay for these additional police officers? Slash the number of aldermen in the city by half… to start.

That’s my two cents. You can read the entire press release on the Illinois Government News Network website here.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Thursday, August 7th, 2014 Crime, Government, Public Safety No Comments

Flee Chicago By The End Of 2015?

April 7, 2015.

That’s the date of the next Municipal Runoff and Supplementary Aldermanic Election in the wake of the February 24, 2015, Municipal General Election in the city of Chicago, Illinois.

And that would be the ideal deadline for moving out of the “Windy City” if I still lived there due to the likelihood of fees, fines, and taxes being hiked (even more than they already have) shortly thereafter, along with additional government “belt-tightening.”

If not April 7, definitely by the end of the year. Hal Dardick reported on the Chicago Tribune website right before the weekend:

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and aldermen won’t grapple this fall with the financial reckoning the city faces over its underfunded police and fire pension systems, budget officials acknowledged Thursday.

Instead, the Emanuel administration plans to take advantage of a state law that gives it until December 2015 to decide to make changes to its property tax levy. For years, both the current and former mayor have been saying property taxes would have to be hiked or services drastically cut to come up with the extra $550 million.

By the end of next year, the February city elections and any potential April runoffs will be history. Delaying a decision also will buy the city more time to get the General Assembly to enact pension changes that could significantly reduce the required payments to the two retirement funds..

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Fine. So the Illinois General Assembly votes to allow the City of Chicago to “kick the can down the road” on its pension fund payments. The well-publicized crisis isn’t going anywhere, as the public sector retirees are still owed their money.

(Editor’s note: Check out this graphic on the Tribune website showing Chicago’s pension debt rank compared to the 25 largest U.S. cities and Puerto Rico. It’s disturbing.)

And how about that “Sword of Damocles” hanging over the city’s head in the form of long-term debt it’s on the hook for? Fran Spielman reported on the Chicago Sun-Times website on July 26, 2013:

The new round of borrowing brings Chicago’s total long-term debt to nearly $29 billion. That’s $10,780 for every one of the city’s nearly 2.69 million residents. More than a decade ago, the debt load was $9.6 billion or $3,338 per resident.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Remember- those figures were from a year ago. Updated numbers should be out shortly.

Yep. If I hadn’t departed the city like I did last year, I’d be making plans to leave Chicago by the end of 2015 at the latest.

But that’s me. I understand individual circumstances vary, and there are residents who can’t leave or choose not to.

Despite what others may think, I have an idea this group can still weather the coming storm if they’re really up to the task. I’m guessing it will be somewhat harder though residing in a city already burdened with significant financial problems when challenging times arrive.

More about this in future posts…

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

Dardick, Hal. “Chicago’s day of reckoning over pensions delayed.” Chicago Tribune. 1 Aug. 2014. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/watchdog/ct-rahm-emanuel-budget-hole-met-0801-20140801-story.html). 5 Aug. 2014.

Spielman, Fran. “City of Chicago’s cash cushion plummets, debt triples, arrests drop, water use rises.” Chicago Sun-Times. 26 July 2013. (http://www.suntimes.com/21552920-761/city-by-the-numbers-cash-cushion-plummets-debt-triples-arrests-drop-water-use-rises.html). 5 Aug. 2014.

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Detroit Police Chief: ‘Good Detroiters Are Armed And Will Use That Weapon’

“Detroit’s police chief has a solution to help drive down crime in one of the nation’s most dangerous cities: arm more citizens.

James Craig made the comments at a police press conference Thursday, when he announced a 7 percent drop in violent crime in 2013, The Detroit News reported. Although urban police typically favor gun control, Craig said his views evolved after working in Los Angeles and Maine, where concealed weapons permits are more easily obtained.

‘I changed my orientation real quick,’ Craig said. ‘Maine is one of the safest places in America. Clearly, suspects knew that good Americans were armed.’

-FOX News website, January 3, 2014

Detroit Police Chief James Craig grabbed national headlines back in July with that comment in support of armed city residents to fight crime. And he’s in the news again today regarding that same topic. George Hunter reported on The Detroit News website:

Detroit has experienced 37 percent fewer robberies in 2014 than during the same period last year, 22 percent fewer break-ins of businesses and homes, and 30 percent fewer carjackings. Craig attributed the drop to better police work and criminals being reluctant to prey on citizens who may be carrying guns.

“Criminals are getting the message that good Detroiters are armed and will use that weapon,” said Craig, who has repeatedly said he believes armed citizens deter crime. “I don’t want to take away from the good work our investigators are doing, but I think part of the drop in crime, and robberies in particular, is because criminals are thinking twice that citizens could be armed.

“I can’t say what specific percentage is caused by this, but there’s no question in my mind it has had an effect,” Craig said.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Too bad the merits of an armed citizenry in the face of significant criminal activity are being recognized after Detroit had already imploded.

Seeing that there’s no shortage of talk about Chicago becoming the next Detroit, perhaps Mayor Emanuel and his City Council are taking note of the “Motor City’s” experiences?

Doubtful.

Detroit West he we come?

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Hunter, George. “Detroit police chief gives credit to armed citizens for drop in crime.” The Detroit News. 16 July 2014. (http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20140716/METRO01/307160034/Detroit-police-chief-gives-credit-armed-citizens-drop-crime). 16 July 2014.

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Chicago’s Gun ‘Control’ Fetish Costing City Big Bucks

If I still lived in Chicago, I’d be livid at City Hall the way those guys keep pissing away hard-earned taxpayer dollars challenging litigation in defense of gun rights.

How many dollars? Recently, over $1.5 million.

From the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action website on July 11:

Check, Please! Chicago Once Again Learns an Expensive Lesson About the Second Amendment

While litigants generally bear their own costs in the American legal system, certain provisions of federal law allow parties who prevail in “proceedings in vindication of civil rights” to be awarded reasonable attorney’s fees. NRA has once again used these provisions to recoup attorney’s fees from the City of Chicago. You would think that Chicago’s disarmament-focused politicians would have learned their lesson after being court ordered to pay NRA over $600,000 in legal fees for work done by NRA attorneys on McDonald v. City of Chicago. Nevertheless, Chicago has once again been court ordered to pay NRA’s legal fees, this time $940,000 for work on Illinois Association of Firearm Retailers v. City of Chicago (formerly Benson v. City of Chicago). That case challenged the prohibition on lawful gun sales within the city. As noted earlier this week, this brings Chicago’s recent total for NRA legal fees to over $1.5 million.

That’s a lot of cash, even to politicians who are spending their constituents’ money. Still, the city’s new push to keep gun dealers away through over-regulation may well indicate that its aldermen and its mayor, Rahm Emanuel, remain willing to spend even more taxpayer funds to support even more symbolic and ineffective gun control.

“May well indicate?” Try “indicate.” Here’s what Mayor Emanuel had to say after the Chicago City Council passed what critics says is a de factor ban on gun stores in the city (special-use zoning would keep gun stores out of 99.5 percent of Chicago) late last month. Don Babwin of the Associated Press wrote June 25:

Emanuel, while not welcoming a lawsuit, suggested it was important to pass the toughest ordinance possible whether or not it prompted a legal challenge.

“You have to do what you think is right,” he said.

Easy to say- and do- such things when it’s other people’s money on the line.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s note: Permission granted to reproduce NRA-ILA article)

Source:

Babwin, Don. “Chicago City Council passes strict gun store law.” Associated Press. 25 June 2014. (http://www.kob.com/article/stories/s3271400.shtml#.U8VYyJVOXIU). 15 July 2014.

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Tuesday, July 15th, 2014 Firearms, Government, Gun Rights, Legal No Comments

Illinois Governor Offers To Deploy State Police To Chicago

“State lawmakers, Rep. John Fritchey, 11th, and Rep. LaShawn Ford, 8th, are calling for Governor Quinn to deploy the Illinois National Guard to Chicago’s violent areas… 113 people have died in Chicago so far this year.”

-NBC Chicago website, April 26, 2010

“Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. and Rainbow PUSH Coalition call for immediate Federal Intervention and Homeland Security in Chicago as January homicide totals exceeded 45.”

-Rainbow PUSH Coalition press release, February 1, 2013

“To reduce the homicides and shootings plaguing Chicago streets, elected officials should consider calling on the state and federal governments for help, even the National Guard if necessary, said a retired Army lieutenant general who spearheaded the military response after Hurricane Katrina.

‘Just like we do with any disaster. When the tornado comes, or the floods come, the federal government comes in to help,’ Russel L. Honore said Thursday at a news conference in Chicago.”

-Chicago Tribune website, February 21, 2013

“Something tells me it may just be a matter of time before certain individuals start calling again for the Illinois National Guard and/or U.S. Department of Homeland Security to patrol the streets of the ‘Windy City.’”

-Survival And Prosperity, May 27, 2014

In the wake of an incredibly bloody holiday weekend in the city of Chicago, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn (D-Chicago) has offered to deploy the Illinois State Police to the area. From The State Journal-Register (Springfield) website yesterday:

Gov. Pat Quinn says he would be prepared to deploy state police to help address Chicago violence if Mayor Rahm Emanuel requests it.

Over the years Illinois State Police have assisted authorities in Chicago and East St. Louis fight street violence.

Quinn told reporters Tuesday after an unrelated event that he’ll only do so if Emanuel asks and won’t “impose anything” on any municipality…

No word yet from City Hall regarding Governor Quinn’s offer. As I doubt there will be, as even giving it the slightest bit of consideration might give off the impression Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is in over his head with this violence.

Not good if you’ve got higher political aspirations, which I think he does.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

“Quinn: ISP could deploy in Chicago if mayor asks.” Associated Press. 8 July 2014. (http://www.sj-r.com/article/20140708/NEWS/140709484). 9 July 2014.

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Wednesday, July 9th, 2014 Crime, Government, Military, Public Safety No Comments

82 Shot, 14 Killed In Chicago Over Long July 4 Weekend

“I heard my mama cry
I heard her pray the night Chicago died
Brother what a night it really was
Brother what a fight it really was, glory be…”

As the local news talked about the high number of shootings that occurred over the long holiday weekend in Chicago, I couldn’t help but think of the song lyrics of “The Nght Chicago Died” by Paper Lace. Peter Nickeas reported on the Chicago Tribune website yesterday:

In all, at least 82 people were shot, 14 of them fatally, since Thursday afternoon…

Five of the people were shot by police over 36 hours on Friday and Saturday, including two boys 14 and 16 who were killed when they allegedly refused to drop their guns.

Many of the long weekend’s shootings were on the South Side, clustered in the Englewood, Roseland, Gresham and West Pullman neighborhoods that rank among the most violent in the city.

As expected, Mayor Rahm Emanuel used the occasion to push for more gun “control.” From the Tribune piece:

Asked why police, even with extra patrols, couldn’t tamp down the violence, Emanuel said: “It’s a fair question, where were the police? What were they doing? I would also say, where are the gun laws?”

Nickeas added:

He called for “better policing, better prevention” as well as better parenting and tougher gun laws…

Meanwhile, Chicago Police Department Superintendent Garry McCarthy called attention to one of the real reasons why the “Windy City” is experiencing the type of violence seen this past weekend. Stefano Esposito, Frank Main, and Brian Slodysko wrote on the Chicago Sun-Times website yesterday morning:

McCarthy, standing beside a cache of recently seized guns and rifles, touched on one of his favorite themes — the lack of punishment in Illinois for people who illegally own guns…

He repeated his frustration that many of the people who threaten his cops with firearms have been previously convicted of gun crimes. He frequently points out that people arrested for gun crimes are often released on bond. And if they’re convicted, they don’t serve serious prison time, he says…

“They don’t serve serious prison time.”

Why is that?

Consider what Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle said back in the fall. The Chicago Tribune’s Hal Dardick reported on October 2, 2013:

“I’ve been quite clear that I don’t believe in mandatory minimums,” said Preckwinkle, who also made it clear she was referring to both drug and gun crimes. “I think that they’re one of the reasons that our jails and our prisons are overcrowded, and they basically tie the judges’ hands and eliminate judicial discretion, and the reason we have judges on the bench is to exercise discretion.”

Dardick later added:

Preckwinkle is trying to lower the costs of detaining people who are awaiting trial at the overcrowded county jail.

Preckwinkle also has noted the costs to society of get-tough-on-crime mandatory minimum sentences that often put nonviolent offenders — or people capable of rehabilitation — behind bars for long periods, making it less likely they can later launch a productive life.

“All of these people, you know, unless we send them to jail for life, they eventually return to our communities,” Preckwinkle said, speaking to reporters after a County Board meeting. “And the longer they stay in prison, the less employable and the more problematic their future outcome.”

In the meantime, the carnage continues…


Paper Lace, “The Night Chicago Died” (1974)
YouTube Video

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

Nickeas, Peter. “Fourth of July weekend toll: 82 shot, 14 of them fatally, in Chicago.” Chicago Tribune. 7 July 2014. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-fourth-of-july-toll-82-shot-14-of-them-fatally-in-chicago-20140707,0,5439185.story). 8 July 2014.

Esposito, Stefano, Main, Frank, and Slodysko, Brian. “McCarthy: Hundreds of extra cops not enough to quell weekend of violence.” Chicago Sun-Times. 7 July 2014. (http://www.suntimes.com/28524972-761/mccarthy-hundreds-of-extra-cops-not-enough-to-quell-weekend-of-violence.html#.U7vrD5VOXIV). 8 July 2014.

Dardick, Hal. “Preckwinkle opposes Emanuel on gun crime mandatory sentences.” Chicago Tribune. 2 Oct. 2013. (http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-10-02/news/chi-preckwinkle-opposes-emanuel-on-gun-crime-mandatory-sentences-20131002_1_preckwinkle-gun-violence-gun-crime). 8 July 2014.

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Chicago To Be Sued For De Facto Gun Store Ban?

Survival And Prosperity readers outside the Chicagoland area may have heard that the City of Chicago just recently approved commercial gun sales within its city limits.

Mind you, this wasn’t done willingly.

From a June 25 press release from Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office:

Due to the fact that a federal court has ordered the City of Chicago to allow commercial gun sales, the City drafted one of the toughest, smartest licensing laws in the country.

In order to operate with a city license, gun stores will be required to take a number of steps that are proven to minimize gun trafficking, illegal gun sales and theft including:

• Employee background checks and state-of-the-art training
• Anti-theft safety plans and quarterly inventory audits
• Video cameras to record the point of sale
• Maintain a log of all guns sales where the gun was later recovered in a crime and traced back to the store
• Sell only one handgun per month per buyer
• Make store records available to police for inspection at all reasonable times
• 72-hour waiting period to purchase handguns, and a 24-hour waiting period to purchase rifles and shotguns…

Of course, left out of the press release is any prospective gun shops would only be permitted to operate in less than one-half percent of the city. Fran Spielman reported on the Chicago Sun-Times website last Wednesday:

Special-use zoning would keep gun stores out of 99.5 percent of Chicago and at least 500 feet away from all schools and parks…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Critics are adamant that when all of the above is taken into consideration, a de factor ban on gun shops in Chicago exists. Spielman added:

Richard Pearson, executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association, has accused Emanuel of making the ordinance so restrictive, it will “make sure there are no gun shops” in Chicago.

“The license is $3,800. Your business transactions are videotaped. The costs are so high, nobody can possibly make a living doing that, so no one is going to do it,” Pearson said…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

So should Mayor Emanuel and the City of Chicago expect to be slapped with yet another lawsuit related to gun rights?

The Associated Press reported last Friday:

Richard Pearson of the Illinois State Rifle Association says the ordinance is so restrictive it amounts to a ban, and will likely be challenged in court.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Chicagoans, get ready to bust out your wallets yet again.

And in case anyone’s interested, that press release (pdf format) is located here on the City website.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

Spielman, Fran. “Facing court order, City Council votes to allow gun shops.” Chicago Sun-Times. 25 June 2014. (http://politics.suntimes.com/article/chicago/facing-court-order-city-council-votes-allow-gun-shops/wed-06252014-929am). 30 June 2014.

“Chicago City Council passes strict gun store law.” Associated Press. 27 June 2014. (http://www.myfoxchicago.com/story/25870759/chicago-city-council-passes-strict-gun-store-law?clienttype=mobile). 20 June 2014.

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Monday, June 30th, 2014 Crime, Firearms, Government, Gun Rights, Legal No Comments

Chicago Reader: Chicago Aldermen Silent On Violence

“Fellow west-side Alderman Michael Chandler (24th) also believes the police could be doing more with the officers they already have. ‘They get paid for eight hours of work, but if they just did six hours of work, that would be an improvement,’ he said. ‘You see them sitting on the side of the road.’”

-Chicago Reader website, June 3, 2014

This morning I spotted an article on the Chicago Reader website that focused on the violence in the “Windy City.” Particularly, the response of elected officials- Chicago’s aldermen- to the shootings and murders in their wards. Mike Dumke wrote this morning:

But with few exceptions, the elected officials who represent these areas haven’t been nearly as vocal as the mayor. This has been especially noticeable in the City Council, where most black aldermen have been quiet, loyal mayoral backers even as their constituents grow increasingly distressed and discontented.

It turns out there’s a good reason for the silence: many aldermen aren’t exactly sure what to do about the violence, politically or otherwise. That’s what I heard repeatedly when I surveyed them on the same day Emanuel made his latest gun control proposal…

Like that introductory quote suggests, Dumke’s piece is interesting, insightful, and somewhat controversial (“The police ranks have even shrunk under Emanuel- a point that doesn’t sit well with many aldermen, though they’ve been reluctant to bring it up publicly”), which you can read in its entirety on the Chicago Reader website here.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014 Crime, Government, Public Safety No Comments

Chicago’s Monthly Phone Tax To Rise 56 Percent?

New and higher fees, fines, and taxes. Less government services.

That’s what Chicagoans should expect going forward considering the city’s fiscal health and who’s running the show.

Fran Spielman reported on the Chicago Sun-Times website last night:

After playing cat-and-mouse for days, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration came clean Thursday: Chicago wants to raise the monthly fee tacked on to hardline telephone and cell phone bills by 56 percent — to $3.90…

(Editor’s note: “After playing cat-and-mouse for days, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration came clean Thursday…” Beautifully worded; bold added for emphasis.)

Spielman continued:

Instead of simply asking the General Assembly to renew a $2.50-a-month surcharge due to expire July 1, cash-strapped Chicago is seizing the opportunity to get more money — by asking state lawmakers to raise the cap to “the highest monthly wireline surcharge imposed by any county or municipality” in Illinois.

The highest monthly telephone tax around the state is the $3.90 imposed in Putnam County. Under the bill Emanuel is hoping to push through in the waning days of the Legislature’s spring session, Chicago would be empowered to match that $3.90 — and go higher if any other city or town goes first.

The new and higher tax would apply to both cell phone bills and wireline phones, according to a summary sheet of the legislation distributed by City Hall. The bill would also empower the city raise the fee imposed on prepaid cell phones from the current “seven percent of the transaction amount” to nine percent…

According to Spielman, a 56 percent increase in the monthly phone tax would generate an additional $50.4 million for the City’s coffers.

John Byrne, Monique Garcia, and Ray Long added on the Chicago Tribune website Thursday:

Emanuel’s late push for a measure that would allow the City Council to raise 911 fees by as much as $1.40, which could bring the monthly charge on landline and cell phone bills to $3.90 a month, cleared its first hurdle in the Senate.

Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, said the increase was needed because the current $2.50 fee isn’t raising enough money to pay for operating the city’s emergency response center, forcing the Emanuel administration to dip into other pots of money to keep it running. How much more the fee hike would bring in depends on whether aldermen vote to increase the fee and to what level.

The city collected about $90 million last year through the current $2.50-per-month phone fee, Emanuel spokeswoman Kelley Quinn said. This year’s budget for the Office of Emergency Management and Communications is $123 million. Quinn did not directly answer whether the mayor wants to raise the 911 fee to an amount that will bring in more revenue than the city needs to cover the OEMC budget or how the city would use any extra revenue

Let’s see. Assuming the City of Chicago collects the same amount ($90 million) as last year from their monthly phone tax, adding the projected $50.4 million from a 56 percent hike totals just over $140 million. That’s enough to pay for OEMC operations plus tax- although something tells me that’s probably not where all the money would be steered to.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

Spielman, Fran. “Emanuel seeks 56 percent hike in telephone tax.” Chicago Sun-Times. 29 May 2014. (http://politics.suntimes.com/article/chicago/emanuel-seeks-56-percent-hike-telephone-tax/thu-05292014-434pm). 30 May 2014.

Byrne, John, Garcia, Monique and Long, Ray. “Emanuel makes late push to raise 911 fees paid by those own landlines, cell phones.” Chicago Tribune. 29 May 2014. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/politics/clout/chi-emanuel-makes-late-push-to-raise-911-fees-paid-by-those-own-landlines-cell-phones-20140529,0,6958184.story). 30 May 2014.

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