State Rep. Derrick Smith Charged, Arrested

Ha ha ha ha!

State Rep. Derrick Smith, a Democrat from Chicago, was arrested today for allegedly pocketing a $7,000 cash bribe to write an official letter of support for a day care center he believed was seeking a state grant.

The arrest came after an undercover operation launched by the FBI in December with the help of an undisclosed individual who works on Smith’s political campaigns, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.

The informant told investigators that Smith had talked about needing help with fundraising since he was appointed to the House seat last year. Smith allegedly said he wanted donations in the range of $5,000 to $7,000 and was willing to accommodate reasonable requests from donors, prosecutors said.

via Chicago Tribune.

Oh, this guy is so going down.  Read the story; the U.S. attorney has this guy dead-to-rights.

But the real question is who’s going to go down with him.  Mr. Smith is (was?) supported by a literal who’s who of the Chicago Democratic Party.  Jesse White, the Teachers’ Union, AFL-CIO, Ald. Fioretti, etc.

What’s even more interesting is that Smith’s opponent, Tom Swiss, is a former GOP party official of some sort in Cook County.  So now Democrats are forced to decide whether to vote for a guy who takes bribes or a former Republican.

Down right hilarious.

New Ward Map Confusing? Try Getting a Garbage Can

Excellent points raised by Greg Hinz over at Crain’s.

Ask folks at City Hall whether new or old wards apply for purposes of voting, zoning and distribution of services and the like and, after a couple of shrugs, you’ll get a multipart answer fit for an SAT test.  …

“We’re dealing with the old aldermen,” another official says.  But, just to be safe, the city also is consulting with the new aldermen, too, in the many cases in which blocks or whole neighborhoods are being moved around.  Suffice it to say “there’s at least two aldermen involved in every issue,” that source adds.  “It’s a fairly complicated issue.”  …
Officially, the new map goes into effect upon publication and approval of the official Journal of City Council proceedings….  But the lines on the new map are so contorted to protect incumbents and racial and ethnic minorities that doing so immediately is all but impossible.  For instance, the council majority and Mayor Rahm Emanuel pretty much hate Ald. Bob Fioretti, 2nd, a rabble-rousing independent sort with a bit of hot dog in him.  So they carved up and parceled out his current ward on the Near South and Near West sides and created a brand-new ward two miles north—not a square inch of which is in Mr. Fioretti’s current ward.  As a result, a 3½-mile stretch of Roosevelt Road that’s now pretty much within the old 2nd Ward has been divided among the new 3rd, 4th, 11th, 25th, 27th and 28th wards.  Man, I’m glad I’m not the executive director of the Roosevelt Road Improvement Association.

via Crain’s Chicago Business.

I have no idea how this can be permitted to stand.

Picketers Demand Local (Union) Labor at Costco

Seems like the Gazette’s missing the real story here:

A group of unemployed tradespeople, many with union cards, have been picketing Near West Side construction sites for more than a month, demanding that community workers get a share of both local building jobs as well as permanent retail positions.

via Gazette Chicago.

From what I can tell from the photos, not a single non-union person was there standing around doing nothing (a/k/a protesting.)  All the non-union people were working hard building something.

“Hundreds” of qualified tradespeople in and around the area who “worked on jobs in Roosevelt Square, Fosco Park, and the Engine 18 firehouse” are available to work, Loving said.

Just exactly what are these hundreds of “tradespeople” qualified to do?  I’m pretty familiar with the area — I’ve lived in and around the area since 1988.  I don’t see a whole lot of pick-up trucks with tools in the back driving around in the area.  I do see a lot of $500 cars with $5,000 kicker boxes in the back.

And on and on it goes.  It’s basically a PSA for Brother Dickens.  I wonder how I can get the Gazette to give me 300 words to do with what I want.

The minister and community organizer said he has seen “a lot of dashed hopes” since the area began its current renaissance. “Our people are not working,” Loving added. “Jones College Prep is going up even as we speak. That’s an $85 million project, but we’re not working on that. How’s that happening? All I’m saying is that we need jobs.”

What kinda skills do these people have?

Bro. Byron Dickens was protesting to make sure local residents get a fair share of jobs.

So is this really the issue?  Because there was a lot of news about how Costco got that site.  And the truth is…

Alderman Robert Fioretti (2nd Ward) earlier predicted Costco can be expected to bring 600 construction jobs, and full- and part-time retail jobs once the 50,000-square foot store opens.

Fioretti said the first day of Costco’s hiring fair this coming spring will be exclusively for 2nd Ward residents.

Oh, that.  That’s right, I remember now.  Costco said it would give preferential hiring to residents in the 2nd Ward.

…  Dickens and Loving said they are out tomake sure the neighbors get their share of those jobs.

What are they talking about?!  If the local folks are really qualified they have first chance at those jobs.   The even have an entire exclusive day to apply before anyone outside the area can apply.

Jeesh!!  I mean, what’s it going to take to make you satisfied?

Loving said the patience of some of the unemployed is wearing thin.

Uh oh.  What does that mean?  Ya know what I think?  I think that the good Brother Dickens is tied into the whole “protest movement” that we’ve been hearing so much about lately.  His job is to keep the people angry and on edge so they can be “mobilized” for a major event when the time comes.

We’ll see.

1 Block Away 2 Arrested

The wife and daughter head over to the Walgreens about 3 blocks away.  The daughter wants to walk; the wife insists on driving — smart move.

Two men have been arrested in connection with the robbery of a man’s iPhone outside a dry cleaning business in the Wicker Park neighborhood, authorities say.  …

The Thursday robbery happened about 5:15 p.m. when a 26-year-old man was texting on his iPhone outside a dry cleaning business at Wabasnia and Western avenues, according to police.  Two men approached him, at least one of them armed with a gun, and asked for the iPhone, police said.  …

Police were able to track the phone by its locator app to the area of Madison Street and Ashland Avenue, a few blocks from the United Center, police said.  The officers spotted the suspects in a car that was reported stolen, but one of them jumped out around the time police began pursuing it.  That man was taken into custody near Ashland and Washington Boulevard.

The other suspect headed west in the car on Madison, police said. The suspect stopped near Madison and Leavitt streets and abandoned the car, police said. He was arrested about a block away.

The perp was taken into custody at Madison & Oakley.  How do I know?  Because the wife saw the police running down the alley with their guns drawn catching the dude.  A txt message from someone on the job later confirmed two in custody.

Hardly the end of the story:

Detectives have been looking into a string of robberies that occurred recently in an area bounded by Ashland, Central Park Avenue, Division Street and Diversey Avenue.

A police alert about the pattern gave the following locations for the 12 attacks:

–3100 block of W. Fullerton, Dec. 4, 2011, 5:20 a.m.
–1800 block of N. California, Dec. 17, 2011, 6 a.m.
–1700 block of N. Central Park, Dec. 21, 2011, 6:15 a.m.
–1900 block of N. Western, Dec. 22, 2011, 11 p.m.
–2100 block of N. California, Dec. 24, 2011, 7:30 a.m.
–2000 block of N. Kimball, Dec. 31, 2011, 11:20 p.m.
–1500 block of N. Hoyne, Jan. 3, 2012, 3 a.m.
–1700 block of W. Wabansia, Jan. 4, 2012, 4:32 p.m.
–2600 block of W. Wellington, Jan. 6, 2012, 8 p.m.
–2100 block of N. Milwaukee, Jan. 8, 2012, 12 p.m.
–1500 block of N. Maplewood, Jan. 20, 2012, 8 p.m.
–1500 block of N. Milwaukee, Jan. 21, 2012, 2 a.m.

via Chicago Tribune.

In the 1980’s Wicker Park was a terrible place to live.  The park itself was one of many Heroin Squares that existed in the city (the “Midnight Express” still passes out clean needles on Saturday nights there.)  Over the years the place has gotten better.  But from the looks of things it’s beginning to slide back into the hell hole it once was.

This is disappointing for everyone.  The increase in the value of those homes provided a massive influx of tax revenue for the city (and county) which is used to support programs that help everyone; not just the rich.  Many of those who live there are single or married couples without children.  These are the “net givers”  in the system who pay tons of  taxes into CPS (it’s 2/3 of your property tax bill) and yet don’t have any kids in school.

We (the royal we, i.e. we all, myself included) need these people to stay in the city.  We need them to like where they live and feel safe.  If they move everyone suffers.  CPD really has to step-up it’s game and begin making more arrests for these sorts of crimes.  The State’s Attorney must begin to demand longer prison sentences for the perpetrators.   Probation is not enough for these types of crimes.  These guys have to do time.

There’s too much riding on it.  Crime must be brought under control.