Failing the Public’s Trust

Failing the Public’s Trust

Aldermen could choose to stand up on record and use the absence of a city recall mechanism to prove they stand for accountability and with the people of Chicago.

By RA Monaco and Allison Lyke

There is a way to introduce an ordinance in the city council to potentially force Rahm Emanuel’s resignation, explained attorney John Lag.  One suggestion—in the face of Rahm Emanuel’s unwillingness to resign—is for the City Council to call for council authority to hold hearings on police and mayoral knowledge about the Laquan McDonald case.

At the city level, “recall is not part of the equation,” says attorney Lag, who is an adjunct law professor at John Marshall Law School.  A lifelong city resident, Lag used the process to introduce an ordinance to ban the Hispanic Democratic Organization (HDO) as a rogue organization during the Hired Truck scandal, which resulted in several Intergovernmental Affairs (IGA) resignations.

Continuing Public Pressure Essential

According to attorney Lag, the current public notoriety surrounding Emanuel who vowed not to resign in the face of claims that he has withheld police dashcam video in order to win reelection, should get a vote with the city council—from those “who are disposed to do something to stand up on record.”

Lag thinks the ordinance title should have a euphemism like “Stand Up for Good Police.”  Continuing public pressure would be essential he says, to prevent the Council from burying the ordinance.  Lag suggested that the hearings be kept from Ald. Pat O’Connor and Ald. Ed Burke.  To accomplish that, he recommends that the hearings be assigned to a committee of the whole—all 50 members—of the council.


In response to a growing social media campaign and continuing protests seeking to recall Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the Better Government Association and legal experts have concluded that there is currently no way to recall Rahm Emanuel, simply because “there is no City of Chicago law or mechanism.”

Recall Ordinance Serves Electorate

Unwilling to accept anything less than Mayor Emanuel’s resignation or his removal, hundreds continued protesting through city shopping districts Wednesday while State Rep. La Shawn Ford was introducing co-sponsored legislation with State Rep. Mary Flowers—both Democrats—to amend the Cities and Villages Act of 1941, creating a procedure for an election to recall the Mayor of Chicago.

It’s hardly a surprise to learn that the City of Chicago has no recall-mechanism on the books to remove a sitting mayor.  After all, Chicago is still the “Capital of Corruption,” according to University of Illinois at Chicago, Anti-Corruption Report Number 8, published May 2015 by political science Professor Dick Simpson.

If State Rep. Ford’s proposed HB4356 is passed by the legislature, Section 5 would be amended to include sections 21-24.5 which set out a petition process that requires “at least 50 signatures from each ward” in support of an affidavit signed by the proponent of the petition and at least two aldermen.  Passage of the proposed bill rests largely on the influence of the Speaker of the Illinois House, Michael Madigan, who chairs the state party and like both Rep. Ford and Mayor Emanuel, is also a Democrat.

The power to recall provides an expeditious and effective means for removing from office an elected official like Rahm Emanuel, who has failed to sustain the public’s trust.  Moreover, a city recall ordinance serves an electorate that desperately wants accountability for the behavior of elected public officials like Emanuel, while in office.

Chicagoan’s Think Emanuel Was Lying

A recent poll published by Illinois Observer, showed that nearly two-thirds of Chicagoan’s think Emanuel was lying when he said he hadn’t seen the Laquan McDonald video.  Despite the profound loss of public trust, the absence of a recall mechanism presents an opportunity for the Chicago City Council—all 50 elected aldermen—to actually accomplish something positive for the City and “stand up on record.”

According to a Chicago Activism calendar post, Chicagoan’s protesting in Wednesday’s Citywide Walkout at Daley Plaza want a “new era of truly-democratic, accountable leadership in our city.”  The Citywide Walkout at Daley Plaza also serves to place both Mayor Emanuel and the city council on notice that “task forces, press releases, symbolic replacements of one crony for another are no longer enough to mollify the masses.”

Citywide Walkout Voices

Retired city employee Leo Di Domenico, who joined Wednesday’s protest at Daley Plaza, says that he would demand his current alderman support the passage of a City of Chicago recall law.   In Di Domenico’s opinion, the fact that the City doesn’t have a recall law on the books is “a reflection of ongoing corruption of Chicago politicians.”

Di Domenico would also support a Fraud at the Inception Lawsuit by the Urban League to challenge Rahm Emanuel’s election on the basis that he had actively mislead the public by attempting to conceal the dashcam video in order to win the runoff election.

An organizer with the Chicago Anti Eviction Campaign, J.R. Fleming explained during Wednesday’s protest that disruption of the normal activity in the lives of regular citizens who may have turned a blind eye to what is really going on, is necessary.   “It’s necessary to involve people who normally wouldn’t get involved,” said Fleming.

“There is no clear message on when it will stop” said J. R. Fleming, referring to the police killing of unarmed people of color. “It was a cover up for electoral purposes, city council members participated in it as well as the mayor’s office, that’s why folks are demanding his resignation” J. R. Fleming told journalist Allison Lyke during Wednesday’s protest.

“Today me, tomorrow you, don’t wait until it’s too late, until this happens to somebody in your family, do something about it now” was J. R. Fleming’s message to those who’ve yet to stand up and protest the killings and systemic cover up in the case of Laquan McDonald.

The Dominant Controlling Impulse

The citizen Police Data Project (CPDP), an interactive database of 56,000 complaint records for more than 8,500 Chicago police officers launched by Jamie Kalven, provides a factual reference to explain the $61.5 million paid out since 2011to defend legal claims against police officers.

Price of Police Misconduct

Behind the $61.5 million paid out to defend legal claims against police officers, sits a troubling neoliberal economic model that has supported fourteen outside law firms since 2010, nearing a total of $110 million in legal fees.  Follow the campaign contributions of managing partners’ from those law firms will further focus that picture.

Top of the heap2-01Cynically speaking, there is a lot of political loyalty in those figures, which to some extent, explains the dominant controlling impulse “to circle the wagons” as Jamie Kalven put it during a recent Democracy Now program, “to maintain and enforce an altogether false narrative that they had to know from day one was false.”

In a consistent pattern of mouthing insincerity, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has claimed “I own” the decisions, mistakes and problems, even apologizing which hardly addresses the huge financial and even more important human reality long ignored, if not embraced, by the city.

“At every single stage, at every level of the city from officers on the scene as Laquan McDonald was bleeding out on the street to the mayor and the senior officials in the city, the dominant controlling impulse” Kalven told Amy Goodman, “has been to contain information and suppress public information about the crime. “

Reason Politician’s Ignore

Resignation of the mayor won’t immediately address the much needed change in Chicago’s police department culture.  Neither would it restore trust in the city’s leadership.  However, aldermen could choose to “stand up on record” and use the absence of a city recall mechanism and ordinance to prove they stand for accountability and with the people of Chicago.

“Be it at the hands of the police or at the hands of impoverished people, do something about it” was J.R. Fleming message to Chicagoan’s.  Violence is an expression of those who are in poverty not a neoliberal economic reason for politicians to ignore police violence.



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