The number of police on a particular set of streets should not be based on how much an alderman supports an administration’s agenda. The Fire Department should not arrive more slowly to a fire in a ward represented by a recalcitrant. Ambulance response times should not be dependent on how much an alderman supports the mayor’s agenda on, say, real estate transfer taxes.
All of this would seem so obvious as hardly to merit an editorial. But under this current administration, it clearly does.
To wit, Ald. Bill Conway, 34th, made the following statement Tuesday: “When the mayor’s office offered to address rising drug and violent crime incidents under the viaducts in my ward only if I agreed to support two of their legislative priorities, I was shocked. When I subsequently learned the mayor’s office canceled plans to address those issues after I didn’t vote according to their wishes, I was speechless.”
I wonder why either the editors or Ald. Conway are surprised? It’s been like that in Chicago for as long as I can recall. I remember when a politically-connected neighbor of mine explained the political affiliations in my neighborhood like this: “Here a Democrat is an independent who want his trash picked up.” That was 20 years ago.
The editors conclude:
Sure, Johnson needs to lobby for his point of view, and we don’t doubt the increasingly outspoken Conway has his own future agenda in mind too. And we’ll also stipulate that crime in this city exceeds the resources presently available to tame it. So, yes, some tough choices have to be made. But they should be made on their merits, based on the needs of Chicagoans, and not used as leverage for political support.
The mayor should direct the staff in his office to end this practice of offering more police attention in exchange for legislative support, before it causes yet more chaos in a young administration desperate for firm and ethical direction from the boss.
The problem of crime in Chicago is easy to explain but hard to solve. If criminals are arrested, the Cook County States attorney won’t prosecute them. If the states attorney prosecutes them, the judges won’t convict them. Why arrest them?