Cardinal Blase Cupich says 9-year-old Gustavo Garcia’s death by an assault weapon goes to the heart of all the problems city and civic leaders need to figure out.

Standing before a City Club luncheon, the cardinal ticked them off one by one. Guns, violence, poverty, a lack of respect for life and the “grave sin” of racism.

“It all leads to hopelessness,” Cupich told the crowd gathered at Maggiano’s banquets in River North.

It’s been three years since Pope Francis named the Nebraska native with a taste for barbecue to head the Chicago Archdiocese.

OPINION

Cupich has since been appointed to the Congregation of Bishops, a committee that takes him once a month to the Vatican. And he’s seen as part of a new generation of Catholic leadership.

Cupich says in spite of monthly trips to the Vatican for meetings, he remains focused on Chicago.

On violence, he said, “I will continue to work toward a daunting task — sensible gun restrictions.”

The church continues to work with University of Chicago’s Crime Lab to identify neighborhoods needing the church’s social-service assistance. It’s a long-term project.

Cupich announced a new position within the archdiocese to serve as a liaison between the church and community in addressing issues related to violence. “Too often, we work in silos. There’s been a lack of coordination,” he said. The new position will help coordinate efforts to improve programming.

Cupich acknowledged that the church continues to struggle to maintain its rolls. In the broad sense, he acknowledged that means Catholic churches, schools and hospitals are struggling.

He wouldn’t say whether any more of those facilities would close anytime soon. “It’s for local communities” to figure out.

Cupich criticized national health-care legislation that has “abandoned” the nation’s most vulnerable.

On President Donald Trump, Cupich was passive aggressively pointed, “We have a government that we deserve because we elected them.”

Is it 2006 all over again?

Some Illinois Republicans are having deja vu, circa 2006. That’s when a divided GOP lost the governor’s race.

Treasurer Judy Barr Topinka won the Republican nomination that year to challenge incumbent Democrat Rod Blagojevich.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich, left, and his GOP opponent, Judy Baar Topinka, prepare for a debate taping in a Chicago studio in this May 26, 2006, file photo. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, file)

Topinka’s primary was brutal. She bested businessman Ron Gidwitz, dairyman Jim Oberweis and state Sen. Bill Brady. The race was so bitter that Oberweis, now a state senator, balked at endorsing Topinka.

Divisiveness persisted into the general election and Topinka, who died a few years later, wasn’t able to convince voters that the party was unified.

Fast-forward to Republican lawmakers recently defecting from Gov. Bruce Rauner on the vote to end a budget impasse. That split could have a similar effect on the coming gubernatorial election, according to a few GOP insiders.

Six degrees of Howard Tullman

Howard Tullman, the CEO of the 1871 entrepreneurial center, is traveling with Mayor Rahm Emanuel in Europe this week.

They’re promoting Chicago and its tech scene.

Tullman’s a natural traveling partner as he has connections wherever he goes.

The Chicago businessman dished on some of them at a recent fundraising event for the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Tullman, who was the honoree, dropped one notable name after the other during his speech.

He and restaurateur Larry Levy years ago sold sandwiches to dorm students while they attended Northwestern University. And Tullman played tennis under the Fullerton El stop with Valor Equity Partners exec Vic Morgenstern.

Howard Tullman. Provided photo.

Tullman was an early investor in J.B. Pritzker’s first venture fund, and the Chicago businessman remembers Bruce Rauner as “the most junior associate” at what became GTCR. That’s the private equity firm that invested in CCC Information Services, which Tullman founded.

Rauner, of course, is now governor and Pritzker wants to unseat him.

Tullman dropped celebrity names at the IIT event, too, including “Shark Tank” star investors Mark Cuban and Daymond John; and American Online co-founder Steve Case.

And what about his friend Emanuel?

“Don’t even get me started,” Tullman told the crowd.

Who is Trump’s friend Jim?

President Donald Trump keeps mentioning a friend named Jim.

He’s “a very, very substantial guy,” Trump said during his recent trip to Paris.

Jim used to love Paris, according to Trump, but now says “Paris is no longer Paris.”

So who’s this mysterious Jim dissing Paris to Trump?

Apparently it could be any of a number of folks, including Jim McNerney, the former Boeing chairman who lives on Chicago’s North Shore. McNerney also serves on Trump’s kitchen cabinet of wealthy executives offering economic insight.

McNerney didn’t immediately return my request for comment.

If not him, maybe Jim is U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis.

There’s one Jim we can most likely rule out. His last name is Comey.