October 19, 2022

Forget about the Chicago Police Department’s “serve and protect” motto. With the creation of the new citywide Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability (CCPSA) and the eventual creation of 22 police District Councils (DC), the new motto will be “meddle and collect.”

The civilian-led CCPSA will have broad powers, including the  ability to search for and screening of candidates for police commissioner – which may happen soon if Lori Lightfoot gets booted in 2023. The mayor still has the power to pick but if the mayor vetoes any of the CCPSA’s recommendations, the CCPSA can vote “no confidence” and initiate council hearings.

The CCPSA can also weigh-in on policing policy, manpower allocation and on how the $1.9 billion budget is spent.

The CCPSA was created by a City Council ordinance in July of 2021 and is now operational. Lightfoot chose seven interim commissioners, who will serve until elected district council members take office.  They are Yvette Loizon, Anthony Driver Jr., Oswaldo Gomez, Cliff Nellis, Remel Terry, Isaac Troncoso and Rev. Dr. Beth Brown, according to published reports.

The district councils will consist of 66 paid members collecting $500-a month, with 3 elected next Feb. 28 from each of the city’s 22 police districts in conjunction with the non-partisan municipal primary. The DCs will then elect the 14 CCSPA commissioners. A DC member cannot be on CCSPA and neither can be active CPD.

The CCPSA and DCs should not be confused with the existing COPA, the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, which monitors and investigates alleged police misconduct and makes findings for disciplinary action. The CCPSA, however, will now select COPA’s chief administrator. The only acronym missing is a CCCPC, which would be a Civilian Community Commission to Punish Criminals: Sort of a paid neighborhood Crime Watch that would submit findings and recommendations to Kim Foxx. But who would possibly think of that? The ACLU would be all over anything resembling a CCCPC.

“I have no idea what it (CCPSA) does,” said Alderman Nick Sposato (38th), “nor why it is needed.” But pursuant to Municipal Code 2-80-070(a)(c), the CCPSA’s mission statement is to do the following (and these are direct quotes): (1) build connections between the police and the community, (2) collaborate in the development and implementation of community policing initiative,; (3) ensure regular community input for Commission efforts, (4) ensure that within each District there is a forum where District residents can raise and work to address any concerns about policing in the District, including but not limited to police interactions with youth and people of all immigration statuses; (5) ensure the independence and increase the legitimacy of the Commission by participating in the selection of its members, (6) participate in the selection of Commissioners, and (7) assist the Commission.

The DCs will immediately politicize CPD operations. The popular term “gaslighting” comes to mind. It means the distortion or exaggeration of an issue by a politician for publicity purposes. And have no doubt that Chicago will have 66 more politicians after Feb. 28, that each will have either a pro- or anti-police agenda, that each will pander to their district base by MEDDLING in CPD affairs, that each will have ambitions and that each will use district councils as a platform to run for higher office or get re-elected in 2027. 

And each will be collecting a stipend of $2,400-a year over their 4-year term. Members are anticipated to spend 20 hours per month at their task, so they’re netting about $25 an hour. There will be no time-clock punching. The focus of the anti-policers will be to get media publicity by finding something wrong with CPD, and the focus of the pro-policers will be to get publicity by holding pro-police rallies and events.

The 22 police districts are of widely varying size, with boundaries based on (1) history and tradition, with many stationhouses built in the early 1900s, (2) population density and (3) crime rates. More officers are deployed to high-crime districts. The 16th (Jefferson Park) Police District runs from Belmont north and Cicero west to the city limits, takes in large sections of  about six wards and includes O’Hare Airport. Sposato noted that the 16th has 28 square miles to be patrolled, whereas 6 other districts contain a TOTAL of 29 square miles, adding that the 16th has the largest population, lowest crime and fewest cops.

The next biggest is the 27th (Mount Greenwood, Beverly) on the Southwest Side and the smallest in size is the 18th in the Loop. Yet each district gets a district council with 3 members. “It’s unfair,” said Sposato. “There should be a weighted-vote,” with each DC casting a vote equal to its population in the CCPSA election. Just 34 DC members can elect all 14 CCPSA commissioners. That’s 11 districts plus one more member. You know where this is going. The game is already rigged. 

Shouldn’t FOP be outraged, frothing and mobilizing, fielding pro-police slates in as many DC races as possible? Apparently not. FOP “told me last summer they were going to have a slate” in the 16th District, Sposato said. “Nothing happened.” That’s because it takes a ground game to gather petition signatures and John Catanzara’s FOP Lodge 7 doesn’t have precinct workers. It takes a minimum of 700 signatures to run in the 16th, so at least 2,000 must be gathered to be safe.

So Sposato took it upon himself to create a district council “Sposato Slate,” consisting of Colleen Dillon, Danny Martin and Colleen Murphy. He said collaborated with fellow aldermen Anthony Napolitano (41st) and Jim Gardiner (45th), state Rep Brad Stephens (R-20), former alderman Brian Doherty, NWSGOP founder Matt Podgorski (who is running for county commissioner) and police lieutenant John Garrido.

Each faction got a pick: Sposato chose Danny Martin, a staffer on the council’s Special Events committee, which Sposato chairs. Stephens/Doherty chose Dillon, whose father and sister were CPD and was a longtime political worker for Mike McAuliffe. Podgorski/Garrido chose Murphy, a NWSGOP member.

OUTLOOK: Also running include Dave Feller, a longtime political operative for state Senator Rob Martwick (D-10), and Dan Butterworth. Both live in the 38th Ward, where Martwick is committeeperson. Few voters are aware of the DC races, but that will change as Feb. 28 nears. But the pro-police slate, running in conjunction with the three aldermen, and presumably with FOP money (probably not much) is certain to win. Also running is 45th Ward resident Trisha Kannon. 

FUMBLING AND PAYBACK: It is famously remembered that Catanzara stormed into Sposato’s office earlier this year with cop Erin Jones in tow and Napolitano and Gardiner present. He allegedly demanded that all three aldermen endorse Jones for state senator against Martwick, whose record was in no way anti-police. He threatened retaliation in 2023 if they didn’t. Really? FOP is going to spend money to defeat the city’s 3 most pro-police aldermen? Probably not.

Sposato and Gardiner refused. Napolitano caved, endorsing Jones, and later got a $54,900 donation from FOP. As expected, Martwick crushed Jones 14,280-7,081, or 66.9 percent, in the district, which contains 31suburban precincts and 148 Chicago precincts. In cop-heavy 41st Ward Jones lost 2,906-2,091, getting just 41.8percent. She won 4 of 35 precincts. 

MARTWICK’S MINI-MACHINE: Martwick had $370,882 on-hand according to his 3rd quarter D-2s and taking on Catanzara is no risk to himself in the short-term. Catanzara is a paper tiger. His seat is up in 2024.

Martwick has been busily building a local mini-empire., getting his allies elected to office. He got Frank Avino elected Norridge trustee and installed as Norwood Park township committeeperson (D), a post his dad held for 58 years. He got Dan “Pogo” Pogorzelski slated and then nominated as MWRD commissioner. He is running Feller for the district council. Ed Bannon, a member of 38th Dems, is circulating aldermanic petitions to run against Sposato, Martwick’s erstwhile ally, who endorsed him in 2020 and who gave him the committeemanship in 2017. Martwick said he is “non-committal” and will make an endorsement AFTER Nov. 28, after Bannon files and after 38th Dems endorse.  Who’s he kidding?

And now Martwick is apparently backing (or at least helping) Edison Park attorney Paul Struebing  in his 2023 run against Napolitano.

41ST WARD: Let’s get this straight right away. There is NO WAY Napolitano is going to lose in 2023. He won 12,562-5,289 in 2019, getting 70.3 percent and carrying all–of the ward’s 47 precincts. He is ex-CPD and now CFD-on-leave. He is visible, popular, energetic and delivers great constituency service, He has $115,626 on-hand. And it should be remembered that Pat O’Brien (R) crushed Kim Foxx (D) by 21,286-6,114, or 73.2 percent, in the 2020 state’s attorney election. O’Brien won every precinct.

Struebing was on the Ebinger LSC and is now vice president of the Edison Park Community Council.

He promised to raise $50,000 by year end.  He is planning to run to Napolitano’s Left – not a smart move.

The question is: Will he crack 30 percent?

Read more Analysis & Opinion from Russ Stewart at Russstewart.com

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