Last April, when she still a candidate for mayor, I asked Lori Lightfoot why she would want to leave her cushy berth at a big law firm to play urban problem whack-a-mole, a game impossible to win.
What I meant was, why condemn yourself to a series of bad choices? The recently-settled strike of the Chicago Teachers Union being a perfect example: She could give the teachers what they want and drive Chicago deeper into its pit of bottomless insolvency. Or hold firm and let the teachers walk, meaning 300,000 kids would start rattling around the city, each a wrong step away from blundering in front of a bus or a bullet and becoming a tiny body set at Lightfoot’s doorstep. She tried to split the difference and the teachers struck.
I spent the strike manfully suppressing the urge to write a column that began with me marching into my boss’s office and demanding my own 16 percent raise. I would then share with a delighted reading public the eye-rolling rejection and bum’s rush I’d certainly be given. But frankly, the man has enough worries without his employees cooking up stunts then dragooning him as an unwitting participant.
Now Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson is retiring, which has nothing, nothing, nothing to do with his being found slumped behind the wheel of his car after a festive dinner. And another jump-out-the-window-or-drink-poison decision is dangled in front of our still sorta-new mayor. Promote from within the department? The Matt Rodriguez Method. Or seek someone from the outside the force. Let’s call that the O.W. Wilson Gambit.
Promote from within and you get men like Johnson, whose qualities I dare not characterize without being accused of slandering the guy as he grabs his cardboard box and hurries out the door with all the dignity he can muster. Perhaps the tactful route to recall what Johnson said last year when asked about the Code of Silence in the Robert Rialmo trial:
”I’ve never heard an officer talk about code of silence. I don’t know of anyone being trained on a code of silence.”
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