KAPOS: CEOs donate $1.5 million to fight crime
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The success of crime-fighting measures in Englewood has prompted some Chicago civic leaders to plunk down $1.5 million to start a similar program in the city’s South Shore neighborhood.
Their donations will fund a Chicago Police Department nerve center that pulls together crime data and high-tech systems, including ShotSpotter, a program that pinpoints in real time where a gun is fired.
The big-name donors toured the center in Englewood, one of the more violent areas in the city. The mayor’s office says it’s seen a drop in crime since the center and its accompanying technology was put in place.
“I wouldn’t be taking people’s time if it wasn’t making a difference. Technology is an important piece, but it’s not the only piece,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel told me. “I think having Whole Foods, Starbucks and Chipotle in the neighborhood has a lot to do with it, too.”
The fundraising effort for the South Shore center was led by Jim Reynolds, chairman and CEO of investment bank Loop Capital Markets. Donors included Richard Price, chairman and chief executive of Mesirow Financial; Al Goldstein, CEO of online lender Avant; real estate developer and Sun-Times investor Elzie Higginbottom; and Trisha Rooney, CEO of R4 Services records management. Major donors ponied up $250,000 each.
“This is important to me as a mother and as a business owner,” Rooney told me after touring the Englewood facility. “It’s about raising awareness and funds to support additional efforts to make our communities safer.”
Since the beginning of the year the Englewood District has seen a 39 percent decrease in shootings and a 31 percent decrease in murders, according to the mayor’s office.
Shootings in Englewood totaled 136 this year as of Aug. 19, down from 223 a year ago. Murders were down, too, according to City Hall, with 38 as of Aug. 19 compared with 55 a year earlier.
Rooney said supporting the program isn’t about politics, it’s all about civic pride.
‘Blood boils’ over racism
Michael Sacks, the circumspect businessman and friend of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, strongly condemned the white nationalist protest that turned violent in Charlottesville, Virginia.
“My blood boils,” he wrote in an email to employees a day after President Donald Trump defended the protesters who wore Nazi swastikas and carried torches.
“Hate, bigotry, intolerance . . . Ku Klux Klan, Nazi’s, Neo Nazi’s White Supremacy, White Nationalists, White Power, BAD, VERY BAD, HORRIBLE, OFFENSIVE DISGUSTING,” the CEO of GCM Grosvenor wrote in an email that was forwarded to me.
“We won’t tolerate a whiff of it here,” he wrote of racism. “We as a firm will stand against it. We will stand up to it. We will fight it.”
Sacks said his comments weren’t meant for public consumption but acknowledges, “I felt the need to be crystal clear with no equivocation.”
He’s among several Chicago top executives who used the events in Charlottesville to discuss company principles and moral codes.
Marcus Lemonis, the CEO of Camping World and host of CNBC’s “The Profit,” was more public. In a TV interview he had a message for customers who agreed with Trump’s comments: “Don’t shop at my business.”
Jen Tescher, president and CEO of the Center for Financial Services Innovation, referenced Charlottesville at a staff meeting.
“We made clear that financial insecurity is no excuse for race-based hatred and bigotry. We reject the idea that improving the lives of some means worsening it for others,” she told me.
Outcome Health CEO Rishi Shah also talked with employees. He told me he wanted to send a message to staffers that Trump’s comments “are not consistent with our values.” And he praised CEOs for “speaking up” about Trump’s “inappropriate response.”
North Shore businessman Howard Gottlieb was among members of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities to resign in protest.
Searching for Chamber chief
It’s been almost two months since Theresa Mintle resigned as president and CEO of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce. And there’s no replacement expected anytime soon.
The Chamber has enlisted Koya Leadership Partners for its search.
Lucas buys a vineyard
“Star Wars” creator George Lucas has bought a vineyard in the south of France.
Lucas, who’s married to Chicago businesswoman Mellody Hobson, purchased a historic chateau with a working vineyard in the Var in Provence for $11.2 million, People magazine reports.
The property also has olive groves and produces what’s called “estate oil,” olive oil that’s made only with olives from that estate.
The new estate is near a chateau owned by actors Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.
Read more Taking Names at shiakapos.com.