MMB: Spielman & Kass #Fail

Spielman Quotes Over Facts

SpielmanWhy does the Fran Spielman just refuse to cite Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara’s nearly 50 complaints (10 sustained) and multiple suspensions when she quotes him? He has zero credibility on the issue of accountability. The way to communicate that to the public when you quote him is to cite the fact that he is currently stripped of his police powers, under an investigation that very well could result in him losing his job, and has served multiple suspensions during his time on the force. This information would certainly lend credence to why he has no interest in bargaining accountability issues. Why? Because any reforms would certainly impact him as he is in the 99.7th percentile for complaints against officers.

Also, let’s be clear that Catanzara’s releasing of the details of the negotiations should negate any need for the proceedings to remain secret. Why not just stream the negotiations live? We have always been told by the city they are barred from discussing issues publicly. Now that the FOP disregarded that mandate it seems to me that everything from this point forward should be made public. I doubt Lightfoot has the guts to do this though.

Spielman is a pro at getting controversial quote but horrible at asking follow up questions. Let’s take a look at a few:

“When do we get our life back? If they want to treat us like rented mules, well then, start paying us like rented mules. We’re not gonna sit there and just be slaves.”

Chicago Sun-Times 9/24/20

SLAVES! Catanzara makes a base salary of $93,354 a year. Definitely a salve. How can one survive on such a pittance?

Spielman, do a little research before you just run a quote without challenging it. This deserved to be challenged.

“She doesn’t desperately need [reforms]. She desperately wants it because she’s trying to capitulate to the loud voices….That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the majority voices because I can tell you — the silent majority is getting louder and louder,” Catanzara said.

Chicago Sun-Times 9/24/20

What in the world is he talking about? Some results from a Gallop poll in late July:

  • 58% of Americans say policing needs major changes
  • 36% say minor changes are needed.

Another way of stating those numbers is that about 94% of the public said that at a minimum minor change are needed to policing, with 58% saying major changes are needed.

These are epic numbers that directly challenge what Catanzara is saying. He is either lying or totally uninformed. Either way that is context to include with the quote and should have been part of any follow-up questions.

“We already have districts that don’t have enough manpower because they keep creating these roving units. The average citizen is now less safe because there’s less police officers in the districts where they live,” Catanzara said.

Chicago Sun-Times 9/24/20

Chicago Journalists: can you please press the FOP and Catanzara about what would be appropriate staffing for the CPD and the districts and how they determined those numbers? They continue to use this quote over and over again without ever being challenged. Can we please stop that and hold them to support their allegations? I bet they cannot support them. All rhetoric and not facts.

Kass standing up for the rights of the powerful

It is a good thing the Chicago Tribune continues to survive because where else would a columnist stand up for the rights of the powerful. In his recent column Kass asks if the protestors would be as upset if a cop died as they are for Beonanna Taylor or George Floyd. To understand where he is coming from it is important to understand that from Kass’ perspective the well-paid civil servants that make up the police in Chicago are under siege from the people who are demanding that they treat everyone equally.

For a guy who made a reputation for fighting the political machine in Chicago he certainly thinks we all should just accept the authority of the police without challenging it. It certainly allowable to challenge politicians and prosecutors he doesn’t agree with but challenging the police is an affront to the heart of americana. Or put in another way, you are only allowed to challenge the integrity and authority of targets Kass says are worth challenging. If your target is not on his list then you will be. I wonder to what degree his opinion is shaped by the fact that he is a white upper middle-class gentleman who lived the vast majority of his life until just recently in the suburbs? The reality is Kass only likes it when you criticize or challenge those he believes are worthy of criticism.

Block Club on No-Knock Warrants

This is a pretty interesting story about why Chicago will not ban no-knock warrants while other cities around the country have done so in response to Breonna Taylor’s death. I think the story is pretty good but misses the mark in one very important way.

The most important question is what is the city doing to eliminate drug war related warrants from be sought by the Chicago Police Department in the first place? This is really the only question that matters. Breonna Taylor died from a legally obtained warrant directly related to the war on drugs. There was no connection that has been reported that it was in any way tied to violence.

Whether a warrant is knock or no-knock is almost irrelevant. The cops are going to say they knocked – whether they did or not. The people whose home is searched are going to say they didn’t knock – whether they did or not. Search warrants on homes is incredibly dangerous for both the police and the people in the home. This situation should be avoided at all cost regardless of what type of warrant it is, especially when they are merely looking for drugs. The drug war is a horrific failure that began failing the moment it started and has just been getting worse every day since.

Also, the cities cited in the report as having banned no-knock warrants: Indianapolis, Memphis, and Louisville together total about 75% of Chicago’s population. It really isn’t right to compare Chicago to cities so much smaller. Chicago should really only be compared to the handful of other really large cities in the US. This is a common problem found in Chicago journalism.

Sun-Times’ Single Source Story

This story is a little outside the last week but damn it needs to be criticized. Supt. Brown says the Chicago Police Department is risking everything in a press release dutifully reprinted in the Sun-Times by Stefano Esposito. This very brief story has all of 1 source – the Superintendent. When you hear the police and their union representatives talk about how unfair the media in Chicago is to them please show them this story. This story should have never been published. I am not sure how Esposito or the editor thought this was worthy of being published. How in the world is a single sourced story informing the public?

PatreonAlso, just a quick note for context. We are mere weeks away from suing the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office for violations of the Illinois Freedom of Information Act. Find out more insider details about our work through our Patreon Campaign

Author: Tracy Siska

Tracy Siska is the Founder and Executive Director of the Chicago Justice Project.

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