WBEZ | Emma Mitts http://www.wbez.org/tags/emma-mitts Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Aldermen Finally Have Questions on Police Accountability at Marathon City Council Meeting http://www.wbez.org/news/aldermen-finally-have-questions-police-accountability-marathon-city-council-meeting-114173 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/cityhall-flickr-don-harder.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-68bedfa3-ab3b-2af7-7fcd-c462e95144cc">Chicago aldermen have been upbraided for swiftly approving a $5 million settlement to the family of Laquan McDonald, the black teenager fatally shot 16 times by a white police officer.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-68bedfa3-ab3b-2af7-7fcd-c462e95144cc">They never saw the video of him gunned down in the street. They didn&rsquo;t inquire much.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-68bedfa3-ab3b-2af7-7fcd-c462e95144cc">But at an 11-hour hearing Tuesday, many city council members used the opportunity to finally start asking some questions, but also to make statements.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-68bedfa3-ab3b-2af7-7fcd-c462e95144cc">&ldquo;We do understand that there are good police officers there,&rdquo; Ald. Emma Mitts said. &ldquo;But Lord help help them bad suckers. Lord help them because they don&rsquo;t need to be out there representing nobody.&rdquo;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-68bedfa3-ab3b-2af7-7fcd-c462e95144cc">Sharon Fairley, the new acting head of the Independent Police Review Authority, told aldermen that Mayor Rahm Emanuel gave her the directive of fixing IPRA.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-68bedfa3-ab3b-2af7-7fcd-c462e95144cc">&ldquo;I think that IPRA can do a much better job of fulfilling its mandate of driving policies and procedures with the Chicago Police Department learning about what&rsquo;s wrong with the culture and the processes as we conduct our investigations,&rdquo; Fairley told aldermen.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-68bedfa3-ab3b-2af7-7fcd-c462e95144cc">Aldermen threw many questions at her, from IPRA procedures to police contracts, but Fairley often answered that with only four days on the job she hasn&rsquo;t had time to fully analyze the issues yet.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-68bedfa3-ab3b-2af7-7fcd-c462e95144cc">Still, Tuesday was riddled with council contradictions.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-68bedfa3-ab3b-2af7-7fcd-c462e95144cc">Just two months ago the now-fired head of IPRA Scott Ando appeared before the council as part of the budget hearings. Aldermen had only a few questions, speaking to Ando for less than 45 minutes.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-68bedfa3-ab3b-2af7-7fcd-c462e95144cc">Now faced with an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice, Emanuel has wholly discredited the police discipline system in Chicago, saying it needs to be reformed from top to bottom.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-68bedfa3-ab3b-2af7-7fcd-c462e95144cc">Chicago has paid out more than $500 million in settlements for police wrongdoings since 2004. City Council has approved those checks.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-68bedfa3-ab3b-2af7-7fcd-c462e95144cc">Dean Angelo, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, the union, defended officers when he addressed city council</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-68bedfa3-ab3b-2af7-7fcd-c462e95144cc">&ldquo;The rhetoric that comes from here and the media has really really kicked these kids while they&rsquo;re down, these officers,&rdquo; Angelo said.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-68bedfa3-ab3b-2af7-7fcd-c462e95144cc">But his comments aggravated Ald. Pat Dowell.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-68bedfa3-ab3b-2af7-7fcd-c462e95144cc">&ldquo;Mr. Angelo, I&rsquo;m very upset with you,&rsquo; Dowell said. &ldquo;I was taken aback when you said your kids are feeling like they&rsquo;ve been kicked while they&rsquo;re down. Well, our kids are getting killed while they&rsquo;re down. I want you know that this FOP contract, the status quo is unacceptable. And we&rsquo;re going to have to make some changes on that. And if you&rsquo;re uncomfortable with it, we&rsquo;re uncomfortable and that&rsquo;s just too bad.&rdquo;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-68bedfa3-ab3b-2af7-7fcd-c462e95144cc">Eight hours into the meeting, at dinnertime, Chicago&rsquo;s new Interim Police Superintendent John Escalante stepped before the city council. A written copy of his prepared remarks had started quote, &ldquo;Good Morning.&rdquo; By that point, there were probably only 12 aldermen still at the hearing.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-68bedfa3-ab3b-2af7-7fcd-c462e95144cc">Escalante was the chief of detectives when the Laquan McDonald shooting happened. Questions linger about whether officers on the scene lied about the teenager lunging toward officers.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-68bedfa3-ab3b-2af7-7fcd-c462e95144cc">&ldquo;Let me be clear, any officer who lies in the course or performance of their duty or who files false case reports in the course or performance of their duty or who covers up the bad actions of others must be disciplined and will face termination,&rdquo; Escalante said.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-68bedfa3-ab3b-2af7-7fcd-c462e95144cc">While Escalante spoke a group of young black men erupted into protest from the back of the gallery, repeating the phrase &ldquo;16 shots and a cover up.&rdquo;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-68bedfa3-ab3b-2af7-7fcd-c462e95144cc">Police escorted them out of council chambers.</span></p></p> Wed, 16 Dec 2015 08:38:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/aldermen-finally-have-questions-police-accountability-marathon-city-council-meeting-114173 Alderman accuses bank of ‘redlining’ http://www.wbez.org/news/west-side-alderman-accuses-us-bank-owner-%E2%80%98redlining%E2%80%99-103151 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS5396_Mitts1-scr.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px; float: left; height: 279px; width: 250px; " title="Ald. Emma Mitts, 37th Ward, is angry about a plan by Minneapolis-based U.S. Bancorp to close a branch in her neighborhood. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" />An alderman on Chicago&rsquo;s struggling West Side is steamed about a plan by Minneapolis-based U.S. Bancorp to close a full-service branch in her neighborhood.</p><p>Ald. Emma Mitts (37th Ward) said the company&rsquo;s decision to shut down its U.S. Bank outlet at 4909 W. Division St. blindsided her. &ldquo;They&rsquo;re leaving high-and-dry with no warning,&rdquo; she said, calling the process &ldquo;disrespectful.&rdquo;</p><p>The branch is an anchor of Austin, a mostly African-American neighborhood hit hard over the years by factory closings and, more recently, home foreclosures.</p><p>But Mitts said there is still plenty of banking business for company officials to keep the branch open. &ldquo;The money is good but they don&rsquo;t want to be in the neighborhood,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s redlining.&rdquo;</p><p>U.S. Bancorp spokesman Tom Joyce bristled at the alderman&rsquo;s accusation. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s off base and unfortunate,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>&ldquo;In 2011, we put more than $152 million into affordable housing and economic development in metropolitan Chicago,&rdquo; Joyce said. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re a proud citizen of the Chicago area and the Austin neighborhood and we&rsquo;ll continue to serve the neighborhood.&rdquo;</p><p>When the branch closes November 16, Joyce added, the company will leave an ATM and start shuttling seniors from that part of Austin to nearby U.S. Bank locations two or three times a month.</p><p>The branch on the chopping block was once part of Park National Bank, a&nbsp;commercial chain owned by Oak Park-based FBOP Corp. The chain was known for charity and investment in low-income areas. U.S. Bancorp acquired FBOP holdings as part of a 2009 federal rescue.</p><p>Austin community groups fought the U.S. Bancorp takeover. In 2011, bowing to pressure from the groups, the company agreed to put hundreds of thousands of dollars into affordable-housing efforts in Austin and Maywood, a nearby suburb.</p><p>U.S. Bancorp says it has 88 branches and 1,600 workers in the Chicago area.</p></p> Tue, 16 Oct 2012 05:51:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/west-side-alderman-accuses-us-bank-owner-%E2%80%98redlining%E2%80%99-103151 Dems call on voters to support Derrick Smith, despite bribery arrest http://www.wbez.org/story/dems-call-voters-support-derrick-smith-despite-bribery-arrest-97415 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2012-March/2012-03-19/P1040620.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Some Chicago Democratic leaders are urging voters to support state Rep. Derrick Smith. That's despite Smith's arrest last week on a federal bribery charge.</p><p>U.S. Rep. Danny Davis and other members of the group West Side Black Elected Officials said on Sunday that voters shouldn't rush to judgment on Smith's guilt.</p><p>"We know that our colleague is charged with criminal activity, Davis said at a press conference outside the Thompson Center in downtown Chicago. "But we also know that a charge is not a conviction."</p><p>Still, Smith is not doing much to explain his innocence. He was not at the press conference and his campaign has not returned repeated messages seeking comment.</p><p>But Davis and others acknowledged their push is as much about Smith's opponent as it is about Smith himself. Tom Swiss is the only other candidate running in the Democratic primary, and - as Davis pointed out - Swiss has held leadership positions in the local Republican Party.</p><div class="inset"><div class="insetContent"><a href="http://www.wbez.org/content-categories/99831"><img alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/story/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-19/election2012promo.jpg" style="width: 270px; height: 50px; " title=""></a></div><div class="insetContent">&nbsp;</div></div><p>"We want to make sure that we don't elect a wolf in sheep's clothing," Davis said.</p><p>Swiss has said he hasn't worked with the Republicans for several years.</p><p>If Smith wins the Democratic nomination and ends up resigning or is forced to resign, Democratic leaders would pick his replacement on the ballot for the general election.</p><p>But if Swiss wins, the ballot spot is his. Democrats could try to run an independent or third-party candidate against him, though.</p><p>"If think at some point in time that we would be looking at that [if Swiss wins]," said Ald. Emma Mitts, chair of the West Side Black Elected Officials. "I don't want a sheep in wool clothing to represent no parts of my ward."</p><p>The 10th state House District includes parts of Chicago's North and West Sides.</p></p> Mon, 19 Mar 2012 06:55:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/dems-call-voters-support-derrick-smith-despite-bribery-arrest-97415