The Chicago Way: City Primeval and Lightfoot’s “Summer of Joy”

By John Kass

May 10, 2022

There are the birds of spring in your backyard, chirping of new life. And there are those birds of death you can hear in every neighborhood now as Chicago’s summer heats up, as Chicago’s mayor, unhinged, demands her “Summer of Joy.”

Summer of Joy? She thinks so. Chicago doesn’t think it will be all that joyful.

The songbirds, and cardinals and robins tell you about spring. But those birds of death? Years ago, you might have heard them when the weather warmed, at night, mostly on the South and West Sides. But now you hear the death birds in the morning and afternoon too, in the Loop, in upscale Lincoln Park, everywhere.

You want to really know the heart of Chicago, with the mayor unhinged and violent crime rising downtown and in every neighborhood? Try looking into the eyes of a Chicago Fire Department Paramedic after their 24-hour shift.

Now overtime is mandatory. They’re working 24 hours on,  24 hours off, 24 hours on now. They’re more than exhausted. City Hall is now working the Chicago Fire paramedics like dogs.

Jeff Carlin and I talk about this on the latest edition of The Chicago Way Podcast. In the photo at the top of this column, you’ll see a button in the bottom left corner. Click on it to listen.

You’ll hear about the angry protesters outside the homes of conservative Supreme Court Justices–the home addresses posted by leftist groups–to threaten the justices over a leaked draft opinion that overturns Roe v. Wade and sends the abortion issue back to be decided by the states, where the issue belongs.

And those imperfect Chicago homicide victims who’ve been forgotten. The race for mayor heating up, as crime savages the city. And those paramedics coming home at the end of their shift, taking their shoes off at the door, exhausted at the end of a workday.

You don’t need birds or weather forecasters to tell you that summer’s here. Just think Chicago Fire Department paramedics on their back stoops, alone, staring out into the back alley with empty eyes.

What do they think about?  The bodies taken away in Chicago’s River of Violence. The mothers screaming at the crime scenes. A little girl or little boy in the ambulance. That river is never ending. It sweeps the victims away. New victims are always falling into that river, and they too are swept away, the names of the dead forgotten.

As I type this, Dakotah Earley, the 23-year-old culinary student shot three times for his phone in Lincoln Park, was still clinging to life. That robbery gang roams through upscale Lincoln Park and other neighborhoods is reportedly thought by police to be involved in seven robberies over the past few days.

Lincoln Park homeowners pay some of the highest property taxes in the city. And for what? To get shot down over a phone?

When I’d write about the imperfect victims swept away in Chicago’s River of Violence, it irritated me that the influential Chicago, the Chicago with wealth and clout didn’t care all that much about crime elsewhere. Most of the victims are teenagers, minorities, black and brown. Many have police records. They’re imperfect, but somebody loved them. The neighborhoods of clout and power were of another universe, with no idea of what goes on in the South and West Side.

The neighborhoods of wealth and power didn’t raise their voices much when the anti-prosecutor, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, was elected and re-elected despite her permissive attitude about not cracking down on crime. They didn’t raise their voices when Foxx was backed by leftist billionaire George Soros. They didn’t raise their voices when Mayor Lori Lightfoot, having already caved to BLM rioters, endorsed Foxx for re-election.

Lightfoot lost the city then. And she lost me.

And most of Chicago doesn’t know much about Foxx’ political patron, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, who controls the jail and the courts and the Cook County Democratic Party. Yes, Lightfoot deserves the political pounding she’s taking over crime rates. She deserves it. She is the mayor.

But the local papers won’t address Preckwinkle’s role in rising crime. They avoid mentioning her. You don’t see editorials about Preckwinkle. Or many newspaper columns. You don’t see Preckwinkle exposes on local TV news.

The Illinois Republican Party won’t field a candidate against her. Toni is untouchable. She gets truckloads of federal money to buy votes. Gov. J.B. Pritzker needs her. Most candidates for mayor will line up to kiss Toni’s ring.

But now downtown is consumed by crime. The North Side. Lincoln Park. The entire city. On the el. On the buses. In the Loop. South, West and North. Everywhere.

The wealthiest Chicagoans, residents of the Gold Coast, are afraid to go outside their homes at night. They’re hiring private security forces there and in other neighborhoods, too.

You think they care about crime now? Sure they care, now that they’re afraid to go outside when the sun goes down. Yes, now they care. They have money to shape politics, but do they have the political will to make changes in a broken Chicago political system that turns a blind eye to crime, releases violent offenders, and fuels violence (and hopelessness) by sentencing low-income minority children to those perpetually failing government schools?

No.

I don’t think they have the will. They had the will once, those Gold Coast families, when Chicago rebuilt itself after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. But now? I don’t think so. I wonder if Chicago is just too tired and has lost the will to survive.

But don’t make the mistake of thinking prosecutor Foxx is too tired, or that she doesn’t have a heart. Foxx showed her survival skills and heart just the other day, when she took time to publicly mourn the death of Kathy Boudin, the mother of fellow her Soros-backed prosecutor and San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin.

Chesa Boudin is facing a recall vote, because San Francisco is disgusted with how he runs the prosecutor’s office there. But Foxx has no worries about a recall in Illinois. Boss Toni has no worries. Lightfoot is too weak. Chicago business leaders have curled up and gone fetal.  Local media doesn’t much care.

In her gushing praise of the late Kathy Boudin, Kim Foxx tweeted: “She worked to offer services and support to those managing the criminal justice system, all the while championing ‘restorative justice’ practices.”

Touching. And political. Kim is so good at networking.

But Foxx left out some important details about Kathy Boudin. One of the details involved Sgt. Edward O’Grady. Another was Officer Waverly Brown. They were law enforcement officers in New York.  Another omitted detail was the name of Peter Paige, a Brinks truck guard.

I’d written about this years ago, during the rise of Obama. But I’d forgotten until I read a tweet from the Chicago Contrarian.

O’Grady, Brown and Paige were killed in a 1981 Brinks armored truck robbery. Kathy Boudin, a leader of the radical leftist group the Weather Underground was part of it, a joint venture involving the Black Liberation Army.

At one point, as she was surrendering, apparently afraid, she was said to have convinced police to lower their weapons. That’s when her accomplices killed them.

Kathy Boudin’s son Chesa was raised by Weather Underground figures William Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn. You could say Chesa Boudin was raised by wolves in Chicago.

And now the city heats up. Dakotah Earley clings to life. Paramedics stare empty-eyed into the alleys at the end of their shifts. Those birds of death spit their songs at an exhausted city. And it’s just the month of May.

And Lori Lightfoot? Failing politically, having lost her city, unable to deal with violent crime, she’s become desperate. She’s in need of enemies, to help her rally support.

Late Monday, after the Chicago Way podcast was posted, Lightfoot raged, claiming the Supreme Court has targeted the LGBTQ+ community.

“The Supreme Court is coming for us next. This moment has to be a call to arms,” the mayor announced in a tweet.

That’s nonsense. But it does it matter to the mayor, who has no clue on dealing with violent crime? A mayor on the hunt for enemies as she casts for political cash from Planned Parenthood? A mayor so weak that she sought to curry favor with her rival, political Boss Toni by endorsing Kim Foxx?

Lightfoot is a former federal prosecutor, an officer of the court, who constantly complains about “gun violence.” Yet she wants to war with the Supreme Court and issues a “call to arms?” She seems to have lost her mind, as her rival, Toni Preckwinkle, keeps hers, smirking just off camera, untouchable, unmentioned, unbothered by Chicago media.

Lightfoot’s “Summer of Joy” has just begun.

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(Copyright 2022 John Kass)

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