Dear Mayor Emanuel,
I applaud your address this morning to the city council. Thank you for publicly apologizing for the police shooting death of Laquan McDonald and for acknowledging the deep seated problems we have in Chicago. I accept your apology and look forward to working together. I would like to arm you with some additional ideas and suggestions to fix our great city:
-FIX THE CHICAGO PUBLIC SCHOOLS. In order to do that, you need to stop being a jerk, especially to Black women because we don’t play that. You owe Karen Lewis an apology. If she hadn’t had a health challenge, she would’ve wiped the floor with you in the election. She’s a proud Black woman and the head of a powerful entity…YOUR SCHOOLS! She’s not the help. You need her and you need to work with her efficiently. You need to dig deep, sincerely apologize, get her an thoughtful Kwanzaa gift, and ask her to bury the past so you can forge a partnership to empower our teachers and our students (AKA our future). Our Black children will keep killing each other if we don’t properly educate them and give them opportunities to advance. Stop being a rude jerk who talks down to Ms. Lewis. Give her and the CTU what they need to educate our youth. Drastically cut the salary for the next CPD Superintendent and move that money and even more from CPD and FOP to CPS. We need less cops and more scholars. (Speaking of apologies, you also need to apologize to the First Lady. I can only imagine what you did or said to get banished from the White House, but it’s never too late to say “I apologize.”) You also need to move Forrest Claypool. He should not be the head of CPS. He does not have the right background to run the schools. They need to be run by someone with a background in education. He would be great as the CFO for CPS, but not as the leader.
-FIX THE CHICAGO POLICE DEPARTMENT. You will need to think, research and hunt long and hard before you hire a new CPD Superintendent. You sicced that racist McCarthy on us. Please don’t do that again and thanks for sending him away. I’m glad you have a task force and have already put in place mechanisms for community feedback. It would be ideal if you promoted someone from within the CPD ranks. Chicago is a particular town. We like our own. I also would like the new head not be racist and I’d love the new superintendent to be a person of color. Actually, a woman would be awesome. Ask Sheriff Tom Dart how his Nneka Jones Tapia is working out as the executive director of the Cook County Jails. I really like Dart. He should be apart of your braintrust.
The racial and gender makeup of the new CPD should mirror the community. Why did the last CPD graduating class only have 2 blacks out of 60? You don’t need a college degree to be a police officer. The task force needs to research the recruiting/new hire requirements and process. The police department should match the racial make up of the city which means 32% Black officers and 28% Brown. Black and Brown neighborhoods...need Black and Brown officers. I didn’t pull the numbers on the racial make up of the CPD now, but that would be fascinating to compare to the city’s racial make up. Also, the CPD needs to be rebranded and reeducated as a peacekeeping force. In Europe, officers don’t carry guns and they have less crime than in America. Ask Idris Elba AKA Luther. I really like the officers on bikes and foot patrols, but they shouldn’t be writing traffic and vehicle violations. One day I saw three police officers walking the neighborhood and it made me feel safe until they starting writing a ticket for a car without a city sticker. This city’s desperate need for cash has turned the police force into a revenue source. That’s no good. Police should not be responsible for revenue generation. It’s disgusting that the office that handles tickets is called the Department of Revenue. Police should focus exclusively on safety. Police writing tickets with huge fines makes people hate to see police officers in their neighborhood and that’s not the relationship we want to foster. We want the community to see the officers as peacekeepers. We need less policing and ticket writing and more protecting and peace. Take notes from the University of Chicago who have “peace keepers” on the corners at night to discourage any funny business. When people are visible and watching, crime is less likely to occur which is also another reason you need to get rid of the CPD black opps site on Homan Avenue. That is a disgraceful violation of first amendment rights and a human rights nightmare. It needs to be shut down NOW.
-FIX THE FRATERNAL ORDER OF POLICE. I’m all for unions. My daddy is a Teamster and they have provided him excellent council and help throughout his career. The CPD need a union, but not the way the FOP is operating. They are acting like the new KKK whose primary job is to cover-up police misconduct. I understand they have a contract with the city. Well, it’s not working. Everything they say is a lie and every issue they adamantly rally against is usually an offspring of something corrupt and racist the CPD perpetrated.
-FIX THE LOCAL ECONOMY. Chicago needs you to do what you do best which is creating corporate partnerships and driving economic opportunity. The thing I love the most about you is you’re a money-making, networking, deal-closer just like me. Let me say what you haven’t, can’t and won’t say. Former Mayor Daley, his cronies, and the Black executive poverty pimps raped the city coffers and segregated and oppressed the Black and Brown people. You inherited a mess. Most of this crap is Daley’s fault so I feel for you. But President Obama put you here to clean up his city and I’m going to help however I can because I’m #TeamBarack 100%. Chicago need a fiscally sound mayor who knows how to bring in corporate dollars and negotiate sound business deals. You never would have given away our parking meters for 70 years for peanuts. Bill Clinton said it best, “It’s the economy, stupid” and I think you are losing sight of that. In your address this morning, you said “we need to work on three fronts: justice, culture and community”. You forgot the most important and the one you are the best at: THE ECONOMY. We have so much crime because we don’t have jobs on the south and west side. Chicago has the highest sales tax, property taxes, city stickers, parking meters fees, parking lot fees (my Dad paid $49 to park at the Bear’s game…that’s ridiculous), convention center fees and on top of the city is relentless in doling out red light tickets, speed camera tickets, booting cars, towing fees/storage, and on and on. It’s too much. It’s too stressful driving and living here. I don’t event want to own a car anymore. I understand the city needs money, but pimping the residents is not the way. You are essentially robbing Peter to pay Paul. In collecting more taxes, fees and fines for the city, you’re shrinking the disposable income that should be spent in our stores, restaurants and local businesses that then will circulate in our neighborhoods and drive the local economy. IT’S THE ECONOMY. Most citizens only have a finite income. The city is siphoning off too much for city revenues and not leaving enough for local business. We need less taxes, tickets and fine. The tourists are great for new revenue generation, but we need even more.
-FAST TRACK THE LEGALIZATION OF MARIJUANA. The city and the state are broke. Governor Rauner wants to default on our loans which is a smart and strategic idea, but I have an even better one. We cannot keep asking the people to bail the city and state out. Now that the truth has been revealed, the wrongful death and wrongful incarceration lawsuits are going to keep coming. Cost of living keeps going up. We need major infrastructure improvements for our road, bridges and transportation. We need more money and we can’t keep asking the people for it. We are breaking the people’s backs. We need to infuse an enormous and new revenue stream. Hmmm, I wonder where we could find one? Oh wait, marijuana! Just look at Colorado. They are giving their residents money back and crime hasn’t increased. In fact, crime will probably go down in Chicago when you legalize drugs. And the best part is you and your wine bestie can work on it together. And while you’re working on that, can you also work on a complete overhaul of the Illinois Prison Review Board and System. Let all the Black and Brown people in jail for having a dime bag out.
-FIX CHICAGO’S LEGISLATIVE PROCESS. Since the highest office in America is restricted by term limits, then your office should be also. It would be a great gesture if you proposed mayoral term limits and enacted them. We also want an elected school board as was overwhelming voted for in the non-binding referendum. And why do we have non-binding referendum? Seriously! The people spoke loud and clear on what they wanted, but Mayor Daley and his crooks structured the city laws and elections so it doesn’t matter what the people say. Well since he’s finally out of office (Thanks President Obama and Mayor Emanuel), can the people have their voice and power back? We need a task force to review, update and change the voting process and the city of Chicago Rules and Regulations. Cliff Kelley from WVON was on the committee that rewrote the Illinois Constitution and he would be a great person to spearhead this project. (I actually got this suggestion from him. Thanks Cliff.) Cliff also said that the City Council should have their own attorney. Patton Corporation Council should not be the lawyer for the city and for the alderman. We need a separation of the executive and legislative branches which might have helped when the two branches allegedly decided not to watch the Laquan McDonald videotape.
-FIX THE SOUTH AND WEST SIDES. You know how you open the coffers and pour ungodly amounts of dollars into downtown and the north side. It’s completely ridiculous that Millennium Park Grill didn’t pay for water! Well, we need you to do that on the south and west sides. We need jobs, contracts, TIFS, corporate partnerships, and economic development. I don’t need another MetroPCS, Baba’s Lemonade or Dunkin Donuts. I don’t want fast food. I want fine dining. I want to walk to Starbucks, Bed Bath and Beyond, and Mariano’s. We need technology centers. You have plenty of empty school buildings that can be converted into tech centers. Get Uber to sponsor it. We can have Uber tech centers on the south and west sides teaching our kids to code and how to use technology to create economic development. We also need to create some centers dedicated to empowering former prisons and preparing them for re-entry into society. Not half way houses, but empowerment centers. We also need an empowerment center for people who were wrongly convicted of crimes. They need special consoling, attention, and financial planning if they received a large settlement. TIF money needs to be distributed and used by area. Stop letting crooked officials and poverty pimps steal TIF dollars assigned to Black and Brown area and move the money to projects downtown. And when a TIF is designated in an area, people from the area need to be hired to work on that project. Black and Brown communities need jobs. When you close our schools, you are also depleting our jobs. When you don’t hire us for the police and fire department, you are depleting our jobs. When you don’t propose construction projects in our neighborhoods and hire us to work on them, you are depleting our jobs and ultimately our economic viability. We desperately need more jobs in our areas, more money for circulation and economic growth. Stop focusing on the tourist and folks downtown and focus on your Black and Brown brothers and sisters. We need you!
I usually charge for my consulting expertise, but I’m going to give you all these great ideas for free. But it wouldn’t be the Chicago way if I didn’t at least ask for a couple of things in return. So here’s my list of what I’d personally like: an honorary street for Fred Hampton, Former Officer Howard Morgan, and my late uncle Skip Burrell. Also for Former Officer Howard Morgan a full pardon, restitution of all benefits, and generous settlement. Repeal the ban on mini bottles of liquor (you know the size you get on an airplane…and thanks for already bringing back Happy Hour). Repeal the ban on spray paint (I can get a gun easier than I can get spray paint. My arts and crafts people will thank you.) And you might as well repeal the ban on fireworks. You’ve been here for a few 4th of Julys. Does anybody think the ban on fireworks is effective? Plus repealing these bans will bring in three new revenue streams. Not enough to save us, but every little bit helps until you get marijuana legalized. That is truly our saving grace. Oh, and put my book Single Girl Summer in the One Book, One Chicago program. Thanks!
Rahm, for the most part, I’ve been on your side. I don’t like when you are a mean, rude bully so please stop that. I agree that man shouldn’t have put your Cuba vacation plans on blast. That was whack and deserving of a side eye, but some people you demean don’t deserve it like Karen Lewis. My grandmother always said, “you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar”. Stop alienating people you have to work with because you don’t like them, they are stupid, or because they won’t do what you tell them to. You have to get better at peaceful negotiations, working with stupid people, and creating win-win solutions. You have to work with Karen Lewis so get better at it. Though you lost many points in my book for calling Karen a bitch to her face, I love Safe Passage, the longer school day, free community college for any CPS student with a 3.0 GPA, Englewood Whole Foods, the future 95th CTA station, Put the Guns Down, Divvy bikes, ride sharing airport pick ups, and all the corporate engagement. I even like some Red Light cameras because to be honest running red lights was a serious and scary problem in Chicago.
I like you and I love my city. I’m tired of everyone blaming you for everything. To be honest, the responsibility lies with all of us. Daley, his administration and any elected officials who served under his reign are largely at fault. The alderman, officials, clergy, poverty pimps (AKA Black business executives) and such who have been active in Chicago longer than you have been mayor need to have a seat. They didn’t stand up to Daley and now they want to jump bad with you. Please stop. Rahm got rid of Daley and for that you have my eternal gratitude. But we the people are also to blame. We didn’t stand up to Daley. We didn’t vote him out. We didn’t organize for change. And we need to accept our collective blame in this mess. We failed ourselves, our democracy and the legacy of Chicago’s greatest mayor Harold Washington. I will be silence and complacent no longer. I am the answer. I am the work that needs to be done. I am the voice. I am the boots on the ground. I am Chicago and I am here Mayor Emanuel to help you make Chicago the greatest city in the world. Just let me know what you need me to do! #TeamObama #TeamRahm #TeamChicago #LetsGetToWork
Deanna Burrell is the author of the best-selling novel, Single Girl Summer and the inspiration journal Voted Most Creative. Described as "Waiting to Exhale" meets "Sex and the City", your summer won't be complete without it. Click here to download Single Girl Summer now!
If you enjoyed this blog, type your email address in the box, click the "create subscription" button, and sign-up for my blog alerts. The list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time. Thanks!