Wednesday, October 29, 2008

At Least One Honest Reporter Left In Chicago

In the City of Obama, it can't be easy these days as a reporter speaking honestly and openly with your readers and telling them what they don't want to hear: "The emporer has no clothes." But that's exactly what political columnist John Kass brings to his readers at the Chicago Tribune. While even the paper's editors broke with tradition and threw in with The One this year, Kass has remained steadfast and resolute in clinging to the one thing he values most: his journalistic integrity. A former colleague of Kass' at the Tribune, David Axelrod, probably had similar sentiments as a young reporter in the 1980s, but he long ago decided he would rather become a part of the political monster Chicago reporters like Mike Royko loved to challenge in pursuit of money, power and acceptance by the City's elites.

Years of political reporting in The Windy City have taught Kass just how bad and evil the people are who run the Chicago political machine. And when he speaks of that machine, his criticism isn't limited to Democrats. He often speaks of The Combine, which is a combination of movers and shakers within both political parties who put their self-serving interests above all else in carrying out their public duties. In putting the tragic triple murders of Jennifer Hudson's mother, brother and 7-year-old nephew into perspective, Kass is having no part of a national news media caught up in Obama mania as they prepare to celebrate a big election night victory in the city next week. "The national media don't care about corruption in Chicago," Kass writes. "It ruins their national narrative of Chicago as the new Camelot." "But indifference is one of the byproducts of systemic corruption. And there is nothing more indifferent than neighbors hearing multiple gunshots and doing nothing."

After this latest in a long string of bloody murders this year in Chicago's black neighborhoods, Mayor Richard Daley fell back on the same tired old liberal excuse: It's the guns. Kass isn't buying it. Chicago leads the country in murders this year with 430 because of the systemmic corruption which consumes this city Kass explains:

Chicago police officers are suffering terribly low morale. Many cops believe that if they aggressively pursue street crime when the mayor demands it, the Daley administration will abandon them when the neighborhoods push back at election time. It's happened before.

Another reason for the spike in homicides was City Hall's decision to dismantle some Chicago public housing projects. Developers loved the idea—they could make fortunes—but Chicago Housing Authority residents were relocated, and some CHA gangsters began clashing with established street gangs in their new precincts.

Add to this the fact that some street gangs are as politically active as the Mafia
was in its infancy. Convicted former 20th Ward Ald. Arenda Troutman's relationship with Black Disciples leader Donnell "Scandalous" Jehan in Englewood is an example. The story of Troutman, who pleaded guilty to federal extortion and tax fraud charges this year, isn't unique in a town where street gangs help provide Election
political muscle.

It was in Englewood where Hudson's mother and brother were shot to death before Julian was taken from the home. People heard shots but didn't report them, because they didn't think anything would come of their police calls, and this has given many in the national media an excuse to demonstrate shock and horror at Chicago indifference.

But why would residents expect much of anything, when only until recently the alderman whose ward boundaries ran within a block or two of the murder scene was publicly in thrall to Scandalous?

There you have it. Police can't employ aggressive community policing because Mayor Daley won't back them up when community leaders push back. Mayor Daley's vaulted public housing initiative did wonders to put money in the pockets of corrupt real estate developer insiders like Tony Rezko, but neighborhoods suffered. And the Chicago political machine relies on street gangs these days instead of the mafia for election day muscle. Yes, the alderman in Jennifer Hudson's Englewood neighborhood, convicted this summer on extortion and tax charges, lived with a leader of the Black Disciples, one of Chicago's most violent street gangs.

This is Obama's Chicago. The murder capital of America where in this one-party town the public schools are the worst in the nation and taxes are among the highest in the country. While black on black crime in the city rips apart black neighborhoods, Sen. Obama and his domestic terrorist pal, William Ayers, have advocated against incarcerating teen-age offenders like William Balfour who commit adult-like crimes. As Obama and Ayers pursued their idea of juvenile justice reform in the Illinois General Assembly, a 17-year-old Balfour was taking an SUV owner for a wild ride atop his car that Balfour had just jacked. The owner clung to the car's luggage rack as Balfour sped through city streets, lawns and alleys trying to eject the man. After crashing through a police barricade, Balfour slammed into an electrical pole, bringing down live wires on the owner and sending him to the hospital with bad burns.

Under Obama-Ayers' lenient criminal sentencing policies, Balfour was sprung after serving less than 7 years on convictions for attempted murder, carjacking and possession of stolen vehicles. In June, he was picked up by Chicago cops for possession of crack cocaine. Parole officers didn't want to mess with the paperwork of sending him back to already over-crowded jails. In August, his parole officer was turned away from his home. Last Friday, after missing his morning appointment with his parole officer, Balfour explained that he was on the westside babysitting. The parole officer said a child's voice could be heard in the background. Despite an Amber alert that made national news of the 7-year-old missing Julian King after the brutal shootings of his uncle and grandmother, nobody noticed anything out of the ordinary with the white Chevy Suburban described in the nationwide alert parked in a westside neighborhood for three days before a barking dog drew people's attention to the vehicle. Julian's bullet-riddled body was found in the car.

So go ahead, Matt Tully, and poke fun at Republicans like me who say Obama's associations with the likes of William Ayers, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Tony Rezko, Mayor Richard Daley and Rashid Khalidi matter a lot. Unlike John Kass, reporters like Tully care more about what his cocktail and dinner friends will think of what he writes than what he might write to allow his readers to make informed decisions. Suppressing well-established evidence of Obama's close ties to Ayers or withholding a videotape showing Obama honoring Khalidi with his pal Ayers at his side at a dinner in Los Angeles in 2003 as the Los Angeles Times has apparently chosen to do is the road chosen by the typical mainstream reporters of today. The dinner Obama attended with his wife in honor of Khalid was reportedly filled with anti-Semitic, anti-Israel talk.

Speaking of those associations, let me pose this question to Matt Tully. How could he spend weeks investigating and writing on Indianapolis' worst public housing project, The Phoenix, for which he won a prize and fail to see a connection between the failed slumlord Tony Rezko and the $100 million in public money Mayor Daley and Sen. Obama helped dole out to Rezko? Did it even cross his mind? Perhaps. But that's not what his close friends want to read about. They're all drinking the Obama Kool-Aid so who is Tully to disappoint them. Reality, Matt, is not fear-mongering. Sometimes a good reporter just has to tell it like it is, not what he thinks his friends want to hear from him. We could use a few more honest, straight-talking reporters like John Kass, who won't park their journalistic integrity at the door.


Kevin in Brownsburg said...

John Kass is a rarity in today's dinosaur media. He has taken principaled stands against the "Chicago Way" before and has had his children threatened as a result. This type of thiggery is what we all can expect in an obama America.

Gary R. Welsh said...

That is true, Kevin. Some of his readers offered to provide security for his home and family after one of Daley's thugs approached him at his table while he was dining and suggested something might happen to his kids if he wasn't careful.

Kevin in Brownsburg said...

I just realized I spelled "principled" principaled. Honest, I'm generally not that stupid!