Politics in review: Arrested protestors want face time with Rahm; Jackson, Jr. in hot seat; Preckwinkle snuffs ICE; Daley's day in court

Here's a week's worth of political and elections news that had The Chicago Reporter jawing.

Twenty-three people were arrested early Friday morning after barricading themselves inside a Woodlawn mental health clinic in protest of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's plan to consolidate 12 clinics into six. The Chicago Reporter recently reported on some of the planned closures.  The peaceful dissenters, part of the group Mental Health Movement/South Side Together Organizing for Power, announced its plans in a press release Thursday afternoon. In it, the group claimed that its efforts to meet with Emanuel to discuss the closures were ignored by his administration. But, the Chicago Tribune reported that Dr. Bechara Choucair, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, also tried to meet with the group yesterday, but its members refused. In Thursday's press release STOP demanded that all clinics be kept open, plans to privatize them be halted, more doctors be hired, there be an expansion of services and funding, and that the drug assistance program be reinstated. Twelve of the arrestees are expected to face charges, and Emanuel has given no indication that the protest will alter his plans for the clinics.

Jesse L. Jackson, Jr's got some 'splainin' to do, Robert Blagojevich told members of the U.S. Congress, the Chicago Sun-Times reported today. Robert, brother of the imprisoned ex-governor, is heading to Washington D.C. later this month to tell congressmen what he knew about Jackson's involvement in an alleged pay-to-play scheme involving President Barack Obama's vacated Senate seat. During the first Blago trial, when Robert was a co-defendant, he claimed two Jackson representatives approached him with a $6 million offer to get Jackson in the Senate seat. Jackson and his camp have vehemently denied that accusation. This controversial ethics issue, and others, dogged Jackson during the primary, but he still walloped his opponent Debbie Halvorson. Regardless, "I think he's got some hard questions to answer," Robert said.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle dealt another blow to Immigration and Customs Enforcements this week. She rejected a request from the federal agency to hold suspected illegal immigrants at the Cook County Jail even after they've been granted bail for other offenses. Last September, the Cook County board voted to ignore these "detainer" requests, and Preckwinkle has taken heat for it. At the time, Preckwinkle said the county's fiscal woes prompted the ordinance. But, following ICE's recent request, Preckwinkle told the Tribunethat dollars and cents are no longer her primary concern. "The more I've gotten into it, the more offensive and unjust it seems to me to make distinctions between people based on their documentation," she told the Tribune. "Equal justice before the law is more important to me than the budgetary considerations."

Tenth District state Rep. Derrick Smith's ready to get back to work, despite being indicted for bribery this week. His attorney, Victor Henderson, told the Associated Press on Wednesday--a day after Smith's indictment--that Smith is heading back to Springfield because he "takes his responsibility as a state representative very seriously." Smith hasn't gone downstate once since winning the March 20 Democratic primary. He has missed over 150 votes and 28th Ward Alderman Jason Ervin said on Tuesday that Smith either needs to quit or go back to work.

Twenty-First Ward Alderman Howard Brookins, Jr. said this week that he wants Mayor Emanuel to order a delay in fire battalion chief exams in order to promote diversity amongst the Chicago Fire Department's top ranks. If the exam is given on April 21, the current date, almost all of the battalion chiefs will be white. Brookins, the chair of the City Council's Black Caucus, wants it postponed until after a large group of retirements, which could usher in as much as a dozen new black captains. Only captains are eligible to take the exam, and it's given every six to eight years. Emanuel has not said what he plans to do. Read the Reporter's coverage for more info on this.

This week, ABC 7 reported that former Mayor Richard M. Daley will answer questions under oath related to alleged police brutality under jailed former Police Commander Jon Burge. Michael Tillman is suing the city after being in prison for nearly 24 years. He was released in 2010 when it was determined that a confession he made about murder had been coerced by torture at the hands of Burge's officers. Daley is named as a defendant in Tillman's suit. Tillman contends that Daley, who was state's attorney at the time, knew about Burge's tactics but did nothing to stop them. Daley and his attorneys have long denied the former mayor had any knowledge of police brutality.

On Monday, Will Guzzardi announced that he's going to pursue a discovery recount in his bid for 39th District state representative. According to polling results, Guzzardi is only 125 votes behind incumbent Toni Berrios, daughter of Democratic boss Joe Berrios. Under Illinois law, a candidate who comes within 5 percent of his or her opponent can ask for a recount of up to 25 percent of the precincts at the price of $10 per precinct.

Late last week, Gov. Pat Quinn granted clemency to 52 Illinois inmates, many of whom were non-violent offenders. Twenty-five involved theft; 16 were for drugs; and eight included some kind of violence, such as misdemeanor battery, FOX Chicago reported. Quinn also rejected 136 clemency requests.

© Community Renewal Society 2012

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