CN Dec 10 2015

There’s a small cadre of reporters who regularly cover City Hall, and they deeply understand the goings-on at City Council, in the Mayor’s Office and the Departments.

Mike Fourcher is one of them. As publisher of Aldertrack, a daily subscription news service about All Things City Hall, he and his small crew cover daily committee meetings in great depth  and report on all fifty Aldermen.

Aldertrack’s been pretty busy these past few weeks, as you might imagine. Mike sat down with us today for a 45-minute discussion that wove together the police scandals, the impact of the McDonald shooting on minority communities and their Aldermen, the calls for Rahm Emanuel’s resignation and the seemingly spontaneous protests – driven largely by a younger generation of Chicagoans –  that have been erupting in the streets of Chicago.

Mike has a fascinating take on all these topics, and his perspective is really worth watching.

And if you’d prefer to listen while you’re driving or going for a walk or working around the house, don’t forget our audio podcast. You can find it HERE.

Here are some Fourcher quotes pulled from the transcript, which you can read in full here: CN transcript 12 10 15

On increased citizen scrutiny:

In the past politicians in Chicago, not just Rahm Emanuel, had an ability to say, “Here’s my decision. Move on,” and then in a few days there was another crisis or another series of things that took everybody’s attention. There is a very large portion of the city which is now forcing a micro-focus on Rahm Emanuel and all of the city council, especially the black caucus and the Latino caucus.

On the new breed of protesters:

So when you talk to a lot of these organizers, and I’ve spent a lot of time in the last two weeks trying to get to know who some of these leaders are, they are young, usually in their 20s. They are incredibly intelligent, sharp, maybe not necessarily college educated, but they’ve spent a lot of time doing reading and understanding what the policies are, and so they have an acute awareness of what sort of choices are available to the Mayor and the city council.

The young organizers and media

I think that these organizers are very savvy about ways to communicate and find ways to connect and enlarge their group, but they are definitely very interested in traditional media and trying to find ways to connect with traditional media..when I was talking to protestors before Thanksgiving, organizers, I asked them what’s going to happen? And what I heard back was well we’re telling everybody who is not from Chicago don’t come here. We don’t want you. We’re going to take care of this ourselves. And the second was yeah, we’re going to protest forcefully but we’re going to do it peacefully, and I heard that again and again and again.

Mayor Emanuel and the black clergy

…the older generation has a series of things that they have invested in already. So if you take a look at black pastors and you talk to a lot of the reverends, one of the reasons why they’re so reluctant to get out in front and to start tearing down the Mayor is that a lot of their churches are running city programs.

…when Aldertrack reported the story about Mayor Emanuel threatening to take away jobs to pastors if there were violent protests on Black Friday, what those pastors heard was wow, these social service programs that are valuable to my church and my community could be taken away if I don’t satisfy what the Mayor needs. And that froze them in place, and in a lot of ways I think that there is a secondary problem for the Mayor, which is that this group of people which was a good conduit for him to communicate to the African American community is now frozen and in some ways made irrelevant, so this new youth generation is rising up.

Channel 5’s story about emails disproving Emanuel’s timeline

Carol Marin put out a report after the Mayor’s speech, after his attempt to turn a corner, she put out a report that said the Mayor’s press office knew about the Laquan McDonald video as early as February this year, so two months after the shooting, and had discussed whether or not the video should be made public…Marin’s story yesterday calls in question the veracity of Mayor Emanuel’s statement to minority members of the City Council. I was stunned when I saw it because first off – oh my gosh, Rahm Emanuel’s team put out a thing that said this is the timeline, and then Carol Marin has a story that’s documented that says no, actually that’s not true. But what’s even more incredible is that the way that Carol Marin got these documents is that she and Channel 5 had submitted a FOIA request for the documents. The Emanuel administration is extremely meticulous and pays close attention to FOIA requests, so his leadership should have known – I’m certain that they knew that this FOIA request was out there and Channel 5 had the documents, and yet they continued to move forward with their timeline story.

Black aldermen are being challenged for their vote on the $5m settlement

That is becoming the drumbeat in the African American community, which is $5-million Laquan McDonald blood money, and I think that every alderman… So this was voted on in the last meeting of the last City Council before the new term began. Every alderman that is not a freshman, every black alderman that’s not a freshman should expect a mail-piece in 2019 that says that they voted for Laquan McDonald blood money…I think that this really makes it difficult for a lot of African American alderman to survive re-election. I really truly believe that this is going to be a major change. And also probably for a number of Latino aldermen as well.

On the Black Caucus call for police to “stop shooting people in the back”

That’s pretty devastating, and I think that 7-point plan that the black caucus came up with is very thoughtful and there’s a lot of good things that are in there. For instance, suggesting that there needs to be a special prosecutor every time a police officer is involved in a shooting.

On Ald. Moore’s call for a City Council investigation of Emanuel

Tuesday night, at Tuesday night’s meeting at Liberty Baptist three different people during the question time…three different people stood up and said, “I want to see a show of hands for all the alderman here, of the 11 aldermen who is going to support David Moore’s resolution to investigate the Mayor’s office?” The aldermen there at the table were stony silent. They didn’t say a word. They didn’t answer it. And then yesterday morning, Wednesday, I asked the alderman what do you think? And they were like – oh, it’s never going to happen. But then by that afternoon there were 9 or 10 black aldermen who had signed onto David Moore’s resolution.

I talked to one alderman who switched and he said to me, “Look, you know, we’re in a pickle. People are looking at us and they want to see some sort of action and they don’t necessarily trust what’s going on here.” What he didn’t say is that voters don’t necessarily trust the aldermen.

Rahm Emanuel will not resign

…there is an enormous amount of talk about Rahm Emanuel should resign, Rahm Emanuel should be investigated, etc. I don’t think that Rahm Emanuel is going away. He’s going to stick to the end. That’s the kind of guy he is.”

And finally, the schools and the CTU.

It may not be until the fall, but they will strike. There are a series of other City structural problems that need to be addressed with the CHA, the Housing Authority and other things, and all of that requires some sort of consensus. Right now we have a city government that is incapable of consensus. So I’m not exactly sure how we move through those major significant things in the current state of affairs.


About Ken

Ken's the host of Chicago Newsroom. A former news director, reporter and radio program host, he's also a past Vice President of the Chicago Headline Club.
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