Posts Tagged ‘Chicago’

“Against Collusive Consent Decrees, For Police Reform”

From Chicago to Baltimore and beyond, don’t assume that consent decrees with higher levels of government (the U.S. Department of Justice included) are the best route to police reform. John McGinnis, Liberty and Law:

Rahm Emanuel, the mayor of Chicago, has welcomed the lawsuit [by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan] and is looking to acquiesce in a consent decree which will create a new set of rules for the police department and a monitor to enforce them.

This collusive suit is a bad idea. To be sure, the Chicago Police Department needs reform, but this method reduces democratic accountability, imposes unnecessary costs, and most of all runs the risk of letting more people die from uncontrolled crime. And it is very unlikely to do what is most needed: eliminating or reducing the protections against discipline that police enjoy in union contracts or under civil service laws.

For an example of the kind of consent decree that is likely to be agreed upon, look at similar litigation in Baltimore….

…the greatest problem for lawful policing is that police departments have difficulty firing the few bad actors disproportionately responsible for civil rights violations because departments face constraints imposed by union contracts and civil service laws. The Baltimore consent decree does not rewrite these contracts or laws nor it is clear that it would have the power to do so. And I expect no different result in Chicago. Thus, the consent decree may retard the most important kind of police reform by giving a false sense of progress.

See also: “The lost history of police misconduct in Chicago” [Elizabeth Dale, PrawfsBlawg, first and second posts]

Labor and employment roundup

Environment roundup

  • Clean Water Act’s citizen-suit procedure can “be a huge money maker” for private groups: “Policing for profit in private environmental enforcement” [Jonathan Wood]
  • “Chicago Alderman Tells Property Owners to ‘Come Back to Me on Your Knees’ or Face Zoning Changes” [Eric Boehm, Reason]
  • Wetlands: “Farmer faces $2.8 million fine after plowing field” [Damon Arthur, Redding Record-Searchlight]
  • Urban bike lanes are green religious monuments, writes Arnold Kling, a biker himself;
  • Climate change shareholder disclosure: “Class action lawyers have become very clever at developing these cases for profit.” [Nina Chestney, Reuters]
  • “Why full compensation for property owners might lead to more unlawful takings” [Ilya Somin]

May 10 roundup

  • Redistricting, transit farebox, Court of Appeals, decriminalizing barbers, and more in my latest Maryland policy roundup [Free State Notes] And I’m quoted on the highly unpersuasive “six-state compact” scheme, which amounts to an excuse for leaving gerrymandering in place [Danielle Gaines, Frederick News-Post]
  • After scandal over falsified safety records, fired track workers sue Washington’s Metro on claims of discrimination and hostile work environment [Martine Powers, Washington Post]
  • Chicago mulls ordering private shopkeepers to provide bathroom access to non-customers who say they’ve got an emergency need. Too bad its own CTA is no-go zone [Steve Chapman]
  • Says a lot about why Obama CPSC ignored pleas for CPSIA relief: “US Product Safety Regulator Sneers at ‘Fabricated Outrage’ Over Regulations” [C. Ryan Barber, National Law Journal on Elliot Kaye comments]
  • “Implied certification” theory, okayed by SCOTUS in Universal Health Services last year, enables False Claims Act suits hinging on controversial interpretations of regulation [Federalist Society podcast with Marcia Madsen and Brian D. Miller] “A Convincing Case for Judicial Stays of Discovery in False Claims Act Qui Tam Litigation” [Stephen A. Wood, WLF]
  • Judge signals reluctance to dismiss hospital’s suit against Kamala Harris over her actions as California AG on behalf of SEIU in merger case [Bianca Bruno, Courthouse News via Sean Higgins/Washington Examiner, earlier]

Schools roundup

  • “It’s like open carry, but for Coppertone”: lawmakers in Washington move to “allow students to use sunscreen at school without a doctor’s note.” [Lenore Skenazy, Free-Range Kids]
  • Chicago Mayor Emanuel’s “life plan or no diploma” scheme meddles in grads’ lives [Amy Alkon]
  • Sounds like must viewing: School, Inc. is a three-part documentary on state of US education system based on work of late Cato scholar Andrew Coulson;
  • On both health care and K-12, U.S. tops the charts in cost but not in outcome quality. Yet people tend to draw very different lessons from the one case than the other [Arnold Kling]
  • Attacking appointee Candice Jackson, civil rights orgs “defend [educational] practices that the courts have ruled illegal, and every current U.S. Supreme Court justice would find illegal.” [Hans Bader, CEI]
  • Keen to “decolonize” curriculum, Boston Public Schools buy into dubious map theories [Kevin Mahnken, The 74 Million]

Crime and punishment roundup

  • Dairy Queen manager charged with involuntary manslaughter following suicide of teen employee reportedly bullied on the job [AP, Missouri]
  • Court orders new trial: carpenter, in school to argue against son’s school suspension over knife, had displayed knife he carries as part of work [Lancaster Online, Commonwealth v. Goslin]
  • Desires for retribution aside, hanging homicide rap on dealers after overdoses unlikely to solve opiate problem [Mark Sine and Kaitlyn Boecker, Baltimore Sun]
  • “Man wrongly convicted with bite mark evidence confronts bite mark analysts” [Radley Balko]
  • Judge Neil Gorsuch and over-criminalization [C. Jarrett Dieterle, National Review]
  • Debate over DoJ oversight of city police forces continues [David Meyer Lindenberg, Fault Lines (report on Chicago) and more]

Prosecutors: “Fast Eddie” Vrdolyak got secret cut of Illinois tobacco fees

The great tobacco settlement of the 1990s certainly is the scandal that keeps on giving, isn’t it? “On Tuesday, federal prosecutors…. charged that [influential former Chicago alderman Edward] Vrdolyak worked out a secret deal with other attorneys to collect as much as $65 million even though he’d done no work on the tobacco case [for the state of Illinois]. The indictment did not make clear just how much the former alderman actually pocketed. … The [Seattle-based Hagens Berman] firm has denied any attempt to conceal payments.” [Chicago Tribune]

By the time my book The Rule of Lawyers came out in its 2004 softcover edition, enough was known about the multistate tobacco settlement for me to call it a “gigantic heist.” More stories have emerged since then. How many more still haven’t come to light?

Police roundup

  • The stalker wore a badge: AP finds mass abuse by police of non-public databases to check out romantic interests, celebrities, journalists;
  • Union-backed bill: “Pennsylvania lawmakers approve ban on naming officers in shootings” [Philadelphia Daily News]
  • How Chicago’s FOP shapes coverage of police shootings [Chicago Reader] Reason coverage of police unions here, here (Cleveland demand to stop open carry), here (union contracts restrict oversight), etc.
  • Inside the Chicago Police Department’s secret budget of millions a year from seizures and forfeitures [Chicago Reader]
  • Baltimore police spokesman T.J. Smith about force’s use of dragnet of social media information about citizens: “The only people that have anything to fear about anything being monitored are those that are criminals and attempting to commit criminal acts.” Yes, that’s really what Smith said [Alison Knezevich/Baltimore Sun; in sequel, social media companies rescind access to the Geofeedia service]
  • “It ought to be possible to terminate cops short of criminal convictions for incidents like that involving [Freddie] Gray’s” [Ed Krayewski]

“Man pleads guilty in auto crash, then sues city alleging police siren and lights distracted him”

“A man who pleaded guilty to reckless driving in a suburban Chicago accident that injured multiple people last year is now pursuing a lawsuit over the crash.” William Kivit contends in his Cook County lawsuit that the city of Park Ridge “is to blame for the accident, because a city police officer distracted him by activating his siren and lights, causing him to run a red light and strike a car that was legally proceeding through the intersection.” The pursuing officer was himself found to have violated city policy on high speed chases and was terminated; a “police investigation had determined that Kivit was traveling between 79 and 90 mph at the time of the crash.” [ABA Journal]

Public employment roundup

  • Union representing Seattle school cafeteria workers threatens church for giving free pizza to students [Shift WA, KOMO]
  • Portland: “Police chief, police union urge officers not to attend citizen review panel hearings” [Oregonian] “The Most Inappropriate Comment from A Police Union Yet?” [Kate Levine, PrawfsBlawg; Tamir Rice case, Cleveland] “Maryland’s Police Union Rejects ‘Any and All’ Reforms” [Anthony Fisher, Reason back in January]
  • On-the-job porn habit got Wheaton, Ill. cop fired, but if he nabs psychiatric disability, he’ll draw 65% of $87K+ salary with no income tax [Chicago Tribune]
  • “Why TSA Lines Have Gotten So Much Longer” [Gary Leff, View from the Wing; Robert Poole, WSJ]
  • Unions are biggest beneficiaries of Congress’s transit subsidy spigot. Time to apply terms and conditions [Steven Malanga]
  • “HUD Can’t Fire Anyone Without Criminal Charges, Even Interns” [Luke Rosiak, Daily Caller] “Here’s Why It’s All But Impossible To Fire A Fed” [Kathryn Watson, Daily Caller]