The city of Chicago just experienced one of the worst weekends of violence since the days of criminal mobsters. Today mobsters have been replaced by gangs and their turf wars. Between Friday and Sunday there were 63 shootings and of them 12 were fatalities. This tragic weekend took place just one day after a large, peaceful march in the city protesting the rising gun violence. Many within the communities suffering the most from the bloodshed are blaming mayor Rahm Emanuel. There have also been a number of police-civilian incidents that have not been adequately addressed in the eyes of others. Last November the mayor declared Chicago to be a sanctuary city despite the loss of federal funds. Many of those participants in the peaceful protest last week were vocal in demanding that the mayor resign. They believe that the mayor is more concerned over these illegal immigrants than the legitimate citizens of Chicago. The city is already in financial crisis mode with hundreds of millions of dollars in unfunded police, firefighter and teacher pensions. The budget for the coming year is already facing a $426 million deficit. Emanuel has recommended a $543 million increase in property tax for the next budget to help with the existing shortfall. Even taking such an increase into consideration, there is a projected $1.9 billion shortfall in city pensions by 2025. The mayor (who previously played major roles in both the Clinton and Obama Administrations) is now faced with the biggest crisis of his political career. He is potentially looking to repeat the Great Detroit Default. Too bad he can’t summon some of the wizardry that saw him make $18 million in just two & one-half years as an investment banker. Despite his obvious financial mismanagement, the issue that is likely to be his undoing is inner city gun violence. Chicago has the strictest gun laws in the country, yet certain areas of the city have become war zones.
Gangs and gang shootings are a huge concern for every Chicago parent. The mayor has no plan to curb shootings and he rejected help from the Trump Administration. Rahm made a big mistake when he decided to close 54 city schools in predominantly black neighborhoods. Closing schools in communities forced students to walk through rival gang neighborhoods. Attacks on one gang member then leads to revenge attacks in response. The mayor should work with individuals in each neighborhood and encourage police/community interaction. Some gang activity is likely due to a sense of despair. Providing for alternative schools and recreational outlets such as the YMCA or other social organizations can provide a better option for children. An increase in police presence and parental involvement would increase safety for those going to and from school. Hold teachers accountable for student performance and understand that quality, dedicated teachers can make a difference in a young person’s life. Rahm Emanuel will never gain the confidence of city residents by avoiding issues in hopes that they will go away. He must become more involved with his voter base and less with his wealthy donor base.