Jeff Berkowitz and Terry Martin report, debate and reflect on this past week's political and public policy news in a show taped at 6 pm and posted around 8 pm this past Monday night.
You can watch the show discussion here, with virtual cameo appearances from Mayor Lightfoot and Gov. Pritzker.
First and foremost in our show discussion was Monday morning's firing by Mayor Lightfoot of Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson, who was set to retire in 29 days.
In the vernacular of the millennials, Lightfoot's action essentially said, "WTF, I've had it with the Chicago police culture of lying to my face."
--Then Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson and the evening of October 16, and early morning hours of Oct. 17; What did Johnson do and say? What did Police know? What did they report?
In the early, early morning hours of October 17, Supt. Johnson was seen by someone in his car, slumped over and asleep at a stop sign and 34th & Aberdeen. Supervisory police, called to the scene, didn't give the police chief a sobriety test. Instead, Johnson was allowed to drive himself home. Did he tell the police what he told others and the public later that day, i.e., the problem was a side effect of changing medications for blood pressure and his kidney operation?
Clearly the Mayor claimed on Monday morning, as included in Mayoral video clips on our show, linked to above, that Johnson lied to the Mayor, telling her he had a few drinks at dinner. The Mayor also accuses then Police Supt. Eddie Johnson of lying to the public at a press conference that HE called.
Further, the Mayor lamented on Monday morning that she stood next to the Police Supt. a few weeks ago, smiling warmly as he announced his January, 2020 retirement.
The above was what was known, as of the time we taped and posted our show online, early Monday night.
But, it is now being reported or speculated on by other media that the following questions are being asked as a part of the on-going investigation by the City Inspector General: (A) what did then Supt. Johnson do on the evening of Oct. 16? (B) what did Johnson tell Police in his encounter with them on the evening of the 16th or early morning hours of the 17th and (C) what did the on scene police report, in writing and orally, to their superiors about the events of late night 16th and early morning of the 17th.
It was reported last Monday evening by the Tribune, CBS-2 and/or NBC-5 news that the Inspector General had video from a few hours before Johnson was found by police in the early morning hours of October 17, "Dancing and drinking with a woman who was not his wife."
Over the last few days, the reporting by other media has changed to include allegations that there is video of Supt. Johnson, on the evening of October 16, dancing with, drinking with and kissing a woman not his wife for three hours at Ceres Restaurant (known for stiff drinks) at the Board of Trade Building in the Loop.
Moreover, it has been reported by the Chicago Sun-Times on Tuesday night that the woman, referenced above, is a Chicago police officer who was promoted by Johnson (after he became Supt) to his security detail, but her position changed recently. It was further reported that Johnson dropped her off at police HQ on Michigan Avenue on Monday night at 10:30 pm, after drinking with her for three hours.
The Sun-Times also reported that multiple Chicago Police Department employees are under investigation for allegedly engaging in a widespread cover-up to protect then-Supt. Eddie Johnson and conceal the circumstances surrounding The Oct 16-17 drinking and driving incidents, with Johnson driving after drinking: first from Ceres in the Loop to Police HQ at 3510 So. Michigan, then to 34th and Aberdeen and then police allowed him to drive home, without taking a sobriety test.
The Sun-Times reports further, "The alleged cover-up took place 'that night and the next day' and could end up being 'even worse than' the incident itself.
This reporter doesn't much care that Johnson was purportedly "Dancing with, drinking with and kissing" a woman not his wife. That's between Johnson, his wife, his children, his God, the woman, etc.
And, the fact that the woman may have been a subordinate of Johnson's may raise various legal issues as to city laws and CPD rules re sexual harassment, etc. and perhaps moral issues.
But, most bothersome to this reporter is that Johnson allegedly chose to "Drink and Drive," on two separate occasions that night and a third time possibly with the cooperation of police. All three such driving occurrences may have been with a blood alcohol level above the legal limit.
The danger and potential harm of those three decisions to drive while possibly drunk, by Johnson and possibly other police, to other citizens has not been focused on much by the mainstream media. But, I think they should.
This reporter looks forward to seeing the report of the Inspector General about the Eddie Johnson incident. And, he especially looks forward to State's Attorney Foxx and Interim Police Chief Beck reporting to the public as to whether there were any criminal violations by Eddie Johnson and other police relating to the October 16-17 incident, and as to whether any of those violations might or should impact the police chief's pension.
--Gov. Pritzker's Fiscal Agenda and IL's 3.9 % unemployment rate- Thanks to President Trump?
Also discussed on our show is Governor Pritzker's fiscal agenda (another virtual cameo) and how he tells us that IL should be proud of the State's historically low unemployment rate of 3.9%. While the Governor says he won't take the credit for the 3.9 % unemployment rate, he doesn't give the credit to Trump's Tax Cuts, deregulation policies or Trump's 100% asset expensing accounting change. Nor does Pritzker tell us that most of the other states also are at historically low unemployment rates. To whom does Gov. Pritzker give the credit for those national economic results? He doesn't say.
--Fed's corruption investigation suggest they are working on a possible RICO claim?
Berkowitz and Martin give an update on the Fed's investigation of public corruption in IL. Berkowitz speculates, based in large part on the micro reporting of the Chicago Tribune and WBEZ, that the U. S. Attorney for the N. D. of IL (Chicago) appears to be pursuing, on the macro level, an investigation that may culminate in the filing of a RICO lawsuit.
That federal complaint might allege that politicians in the Illinois Democratic Party have conspired with others, perhaps COMED, other companies and lobbyists and consultants in a criminal enterprise that may have involved and benefitted various politicians, lobbyists, COMED, consultants and perhaps other companies.
It has been reported that COMED paid out large sums of money to some "Consultants or lobbyists," who appeared to have done little or no work. The speculation is that the money may have been funneled or passed on to politicians or others influential in passing legislation or regulations favorable to the Company. In some cases, the money may have been the equivalent of an unreported campaign donation. In others, it may have been an illicit payment for a favorable regulation or rate change.
In short, in the jargon of RICO, you had a criminal enterprise or conspiracy and predicate acts, or actions taken in furtherance of that conspiracy and enterprise.
The RICO legislation was signed by President Nixon almsot a half century to deal with mobster syndicates or racketeering activities. Over time, it was applied by the Feds to White Collar, corporate fraud.
If this is where the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of IL is going, it would probably be the first application of RICO to political machines or enterprises. However, it does seem like a logical and most likely legally permissible extension of the law.
-- Senate President Cullerton in line to collect $4 million in pension benefits from his 277K pay in?
Also discussed on the show is an Illinois Policy Analysis of November 27, 2019 that estimates that Senate President Cullerton, retiring next month at 71, may collect as much as $4 million in pension benefits from IL, if he lives until 95. (see, the last four minutes of the show).
--January 19 Senate President election: an electorate of 56 or 37 state senators? or what?
The race for Senate President, which now appears to be primarily between Senator Lightford (D-Maywood) and Senator Harmon (D-Oak Park), is also discussed on the show. It is pointed out those eligible to vote include all sitting senators, not just Democrats. So, once you account for those who won't be voting, for various reasons, it is an electorate of 56 Senators, requiring 29 for a majority, not the 20 number that is usually given.
Of course, the 38 Democratic Senators (not counting John Cullerton- who has said he won't vote, nor Sandoval, whose resignation will be effective by then, but counting Tom Cullerton, indicted but apparently intent on toughing it out) could meet informally and agree that the first candidate to get 20 votes will receive all 38 Democratic votes in the official election.
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