Without mentioning his challenger by name, Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday shot down former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas’ plan for what Emanuel called “policing without prevention.”
Vallas is promising to rebuild the Chicago Police Department to 14,000 officers — with 1,200 detectives and one sergeant for every 10 officers — to erase years of “bad decisions” by Emanuel that, Vallas claims, contributed heavily to a surge in violent crime.
Vallas also outlined additional spending — on everything from equipment, incentives and a new leadership academy for police supervisors to a return to five detective areas and the hiring of retired detectives to boost a 17 percent homicide clearance rate. The price tag for all that is well over $100 million.
On Tuesday, Emanuel dismissed the plan as one-dimensional and doomed to failure.
“If you’re going to [create] — which all of us want to see in every neighborhood – the public safety that we’ve come to expect, you cannot do it on policing without prevention. And I think the absence of that speaks volumes,” Emanuel said.
The mayor noted that he has increased the city’s investment in after-school programs in each of his seven years as mayor “regardless of the fiscal condition of the city.”
He has also more than doubled summer jobs — from 14,000 to 31,000 — at a time when the federal government was retreating from that arena and started a “mentoring program for up to 7,500 at-risk young men.”
Emanuel said he doesn’t know a single cop — from patrol officer all the way up the chain to superintendent — who “won’t speak volumes … about the importance of prevention and investment.”
“I’m proud that we’re leading that effort of not only giving our officers all of the training they need and adding 1,000. But you’ve heard me before. There are four p’s when it comes to public safety: policing, prevention, penalties and parenting. And if you’re gonna have a program that solves it, you’ve got to speak to all of it. Not some of it,” the mayor said.
Obama Center lawsuit ‘frivolous’
Vallas’ policing plan wasn’t the mayor’s only target. Emanuel also dismissed as “frivolous” the lawsuit filed this week aimed at blocking construction of the Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park.
Emanuel offered a one-word answer — “No” — when asked whether he’s afraid the lawsuit will jeopardize the massive project — just as a legal challenge killed the Lucas Museum on a lakefront site that remains a surface parking lot near Soldier Field.
Then, he took aim at the plaintiff: “Protect Our Parks.”
“This is a frivolous lawsuit. It’s based on some notion of the records. The records are gonna be digitized. Welcome to the 21st Century. They can be both in New York and in Chicago,” the mayor said.
“This is a lawsuit from a group based in Milwaukee…..The notion that somehow this is not a presidential library because the actual papers will be in New York, to me, is not only is frivolous. It means the people who filed it don’t understand the 21st Century. The good news is the presidential papers will be in two places. But there’ll be only one library and it will be here in Chicago.”
Despite the demand for a community benefits agreement Obama refuses to give and the controversy caused by the proposed closing of Cornell Drive through Jackson Park, Emanuel said he has no doubt the massive project will breeze through the Plan Commission on Thursday and the City Council after that.
“This is an incredible investment. It’s one of the largest private sector investments in the South Side in decades. Thousands of jobs,” he said.
‘Speechless’ on Rauner’s death penalty stance
Emanuel wasn’t done lashing out.
He saved a few choice words for his former close-friend-turned-political-adversary, Gov. Bruce Rauner, for using his amendatory veto of a bill that would have extended the “cooling-off” period for the purchase of an assault weapon to bring back the death penalty in Illinois for murdering either a police officer or two or more people.
“I thought Illinois stood pretty strong when, years ago, we banned the death penalty for a whole host of reasons in its implementation. They did something that can make all of us proud,” the mayor said.
“To just upend that with an amendatory veto … without having a discussion with legislators from both chambers, both parties that he empaneled — speaks … to why he did this. Not actually consulting or working with anybody. Which I think is a metaphor for the problems and challenges he has as a governor.”
The mayor added, “Very rarely am I speechless. But, I’m speechless. I don’t even know how to respond to this.”
Late Tuesday, Vallas fired back at the mayor. The former Chicago Public Schools CEO said this week’s policing plan was intended “to talk about the specific actions that Emanuel has taken, or failed to take, that have decimated the Police Department and contributed to the rise in crime.”
Vallas said he then “outlined the specific steps I will take to provide the police with the resources and support they need to ensure that all Chicago neighborhoods are safe and secure.”
But, that doesn’t mean he’s ignoring prevention. That comes in his “next public policy announcement,” which will discuss Emanuel’s “failure to implement effective strategies and policies to address root causes of crime,” Vallas said.
“I will be offering very specific proposals to effectively address these issues based on what’s best for Chicagoans in every neighborhood and not based on what’s best for the next election,” Vallas said in a statement.