Thursday, February 15, 2024

Unpublished files 2020: Magnificent Mile looting Foxx’s gift to city

     This week, the paper moved from one computer system, Chorus, to another,  something called BrightSpot. My immediate concern was the advance obituaries written over the years, which I tend like a flock of prize sheep. Some I've been watching over since the days of glowing green Atex screens; people live a long time. I called their names, and nudged them with a crook, guiding them toward a new pasture.
     This was necessary because only published stories migrate over to the new system. The unpublished are lost. So my obituaries secure, I went looking for anything else worth rescuing before Chorus vanished down the well of time, and found just one, this. I didn't know why it wasn't published, but my blog post of that day — Aug. 11, 2020 — gives a hint:

      I wrote three columns—that's the good news. The bad news, from your perspective, is that none of them are running here today....
     As to when they'll run, well, that's above my pay grade. Both could run today, or neither, or one Wednesday and one Friday, or never. 
     Or three and a half years later. This must have failed to meet the light of day because of the trenchant editorial comments, which I've included — this doesn't happen very often and, rattled, I might have set it aside to consider them, then just forgot about the story in the commotion. Anyway, with candidates jockeying for Foxx's job, and the serial bumbler being nudged off-stage, at long last, this seems relevant. I was downtown twice this week and, given how empty certain stretches remain, my point certainly has merit.

     Thanks Kim Foxx!
     Before Monday morning’s looting of Michigan Avenue fades into memory, someone should tip their hat to our state’s attorney, who invited this mayhem by dropping charges against rioters in June. Hundreds of cases were tossed out.
     Yes, police can only do so much. Time spent trying to put away someone for grabbing an armful of Nike t-shirts is time not spent solving murders. I get that.
     But the flip side is, why bother arresting anybody if crimes short of murder are going to be ignored?
     If you can drive to Michigan Avenue, bust out a window, load your car, then drive away without being arrested, or secure in the knowledge that if you are, you’ll merely have the back of your hand patted by the Cook County state’s attorney, guess what? People will do it.

     there are two relevant points below from yesterday’s Hinton story below that we need to better address in here. they don’t negate your point but they do need to be incorporated somehow - you can talk the perception of “getting off the hook” as it relates to announcing that you were dropping all sorts of minor charges in June. BUT you can’t say looters were let off the hook if they simply haven’t gone to trial yet.
     Foxx said she hasn’t prosecuted any of those people arrested in connection with the May or June looting because the cases are just getting trial dates now, blaming the delay on the pandemic largely shuttering courts until July 1.
     Foxx announced in June that her office would focus on dismissing charges stemming from arrests at demonstrations and for citywide curfew violations after a week of protests and civil unrest in the wake of George Floyd’s death.

     You can be the squishiest liberal in the world, like me, and not want to see Chicago descend into lawless chaos. You can be cheering Black Lives Matter, keen for racial justice, and not want BLM re-branded as a synonym for violent anarchy, assuming it hasn’t been already. When you see how badly Seattle botched its slide from protest into Jacobinism, you have to passionately hope that Chicago will not follow suit.
     Do I have to explain why? Let’s just touch upon the top three bad things that come from Monday’s spree:
     1. The loss to merchants already slammed by four months of COVID-19 and the rioting two months ago. Gary, Indiana also had a vibrant downtown once but, guess what? Now it doesn’t. Every day like Monday is a step in that direction.
     2. Chicago’s reputation is important. It guides investment, luring new residents and tourists, should the world opens up again. The Magnificent Mile being ransacked is big national news. I heard from a friend in Texas, for God’s sake, expressing sympathy. We know we’re in a bad way when Texans pity us.
     3. Donald Trump, the personification of bigotry and ruin, is hoping to distract voters from his miserable failures as a leader and human being by weaponizing civic unrest in places like Chicago. He was elected in 2016 by dangling the ooo-scary specter of Mexicans sneaking over the border to rape your sister; now he’s hoping for a repeat by holding a flashlight under his chin and describing what happened on Michigan Avenue before dawn Monday. If he hasn’t jubilated this news yet, he will. The fact that Lori Lightfoot felt the need to point out, “This is criminal activity,” is telling. The former prosecutor feels obligated to explain that breaking into stores and taking stuff that doesn’t belong to you is a crime. That means we’ve done enough ripping up the social contract and need to start taping the thing back together.
     These are days to challenge the best of us. New police superintendent David Brown seems to be at least talking the talk: “Criminals took to the streets with the confidence that there would be no consequences for their actions,” he said, certainly a grim nod in the direction of Kim Foxx giving lawbreakers a wink and a thumbs up in June.
     We’re stuck with Foxx — thank you, Toni Preckwinkle — and I hope she learns from this, improbable though that is. I’ve learned, but it’s a lesson I already know too well. When someone is inept in one area, they tend to be inept in another. When Foxx ran, I opposed her because she couldn’t handle her own campaign finances. A person who can’t run effectively can’t hope to govern. But she passed the not-as-terrible-as-Anita-Alvarez test and got into office, where she hopelessly bungled the Jussie Smollett case, then bungled her reaction to her own bungling. Now this. In her post-looting press conference, Foxx said she is “heartbroken, angry, confused.” Obviously. Time for her to shake that off.
     The city raised the bridges to cut off access downtown only after the looters had done their work. It’s harder to raise the bridges before trouble arrives, but that is the challenge we face. We can’t hold police officers accountable to the law and then not hold criminals accountable. That isn’t working.


  1. Far from your point but there's an Irish Black Comedy on Hulu called OBITUARY that's worth a watch. No spoilers but it stars an impatient advance obituary writer.

    1. Sounds intriguing, though patience and advance obituary writing go hand in hand. I used to say there's no tonic to guarantee long life to someone of advanced years as effective as my writing their obituary. If I write one about a 90-year-old, then it's a certainty they'll make 102. Not that I'm complaining...

    2. You've interviewed a lot of people over the years, Mr. S. Some of them were for stories and assignments, while others were for advance obituaries. Of all of the ones you've met, during your long career, who among them were the most engaging...or the most unforgettable? Especially those of "advanced" years?

    3. That's easy. Charles Schulz, the artist who drew "Peanuts." Both fans of the comics, we talked for over four hours. He was very memorable, saying things that, as a young man in my 20s, I wouldn't quite understand. I remember him saying he'd lay in bed and think about his adult children. "Where did they go?" he asked. "We had so much fun." He was so close-to-the-bone. He's the only subject who ever sent me a letter, praising the resulting story. I have it framed here on my wall.

    4. I'm very glad that question was asked and answered. My perception of Schulz was tainted by the story that he had succumbed to the "Why me?" temptation towards the end of his life. Now I can rest assured that even if true, he was better than that.


  2. Replies
    1. Easily — at 9 p.m., trying to read a book. At 2 a.m., not so much.

    2. That's a T-Shirt, Neil. It can be a challenge getting through one chapter sometimes, needing to backtrack because you don't remember what you read the night before. Then you barely make progress the following night, it's a vicious circle.

    3. True that. I think I've been reading The Iliad for six months. I usually last a page or two.

  3. The looting also went on in other places that never made the news media.
    I was in MicroCenter on Elston Ave. & was talking to the manager & he said they got broken into & lost $250,000 in merchandise!

  4. These grab-and-go robberies are nothing new, they've just increased in intensity. In the late 80's Florida department store Burdines made the mistake of placing their Polo section just inside an exit door. A half dozen or so thieves walked in and took a few thousand dollars worth of merchandise in less than a minute, including a quick getaway.

  5. Did it ever get sorted out whether she was dropping charges against folks that were doing the smashing and grab robberies, or just "stemming from arrests at demonstrations and for citywide curfew violations"? I honestly have no idea how this eventually shaked out.

  6. I love the image of herding the obituaries into their new pastures.


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