Mayoral candidates bicker over police reform, schools as Mayor Lightfoot criticizes rival for ‘mansplaining’ – Chicago Tribune newstrendslive

Chicago mayoral candidates differed on the state of criminal justice reform in the city Tuesday night, with Mayor Lori Lightfoot drawing scoffs from challengers as she argued her administration has made worthy inroads in overhauling problematic policing practices.

Tuesday’s forum, moderated by WTTW-TV reporter Paris Schutz, was less contentious than some previous candidate sessions but got occasionally testy. Lightfoot accused Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson of “mansplaining” and also scolded former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas for treating her “like some child” as businessman Willie Wilson criticized her for talking over him.

The most contentious exchanges of the forum kicked off after Schutz asked state Rep. Kambium “Kam” Buckner whether he would institute a gang database as mayor.

“Absolutely not,” Buckner said about the troubled repository that the city is in the midst of overhauling. “The gang database has not made us safer. In fact, it has made people in communities, many of whom look like me, not be able to walk around the city and participate in a way that’s fair and equitable.”

Johnson, meanwhile, touted his efforts to remove a gang database in Cook County, saying that list included an 8-year old and a 108-year-old.

“That is the oldest G in America,” Johnson joked, using a slang term for “gangster.”

Activist Ja’Mal Green also said he would not proceed with a gang database as mayor. But he also lamented there was too much talk about policing and not enough “about our young people,” repeating his vow to provide a citywide, year-round apprenticeship program to 13- to 25-year-olds.

Lightfoot defended the city’s implementation of the consent decree, a federal court order with nearly 800 paragraphs that the city must comply with to reform the police department.

“We are at about 80% in compliance overall, and we have moved faster than any other city in any period of time,” Lightfoot said. Other candidates murmured that the true number is closer to 5%. Both are technically correct: So far, the city has reached at least some level of compliance with 78% of provisions reviewed in the consent decree, but only fully complied with about 5%.

Ald. Sophia King then interjected, “Fire the Proud Boy, not the officer that’s (presiding) over the consent decree.”

The comment was a reference to Lightfoot’s defense of an officer who was suspended but not fired for lying about associations with the Proud Boys, and to last summer’s firing of a Chicago police director of reform, Robert Boik. Lightfoot responded that the city couldn’t fire the suspended officer because the investigation lacked sufficient information, a stance disputed by Chicago inspector general Deborah Witzburg.

“I appreciate that all these folks want to throw bombs from the cheap seats, but the fact of the matter is absolutely clear,” Lightfoot said. “We are in compliance or improving our compliance every single day. And this nonsense that you’re hearing from some of these folks really, really completely belies the facts.”

Candidates were asked how they would address the city’s low clearance rates for shootings and murders.

“It’s abhorrent, and we have to do better,” Ald. Roderick Sawyer said, adding that he wanted police to be “laser-focused in their positions” and given “all the resources necessary” to do their jobs. He said he was also in favor of expanding the city’s witness protection program.

At one point, Wilson drew laughs when he criticized the moderator for asking Lightfoot too many questions, saying she’s “responsible for all the problems.” Wilson also criticized Lightfoot for interrupting him.

“I’m talking to Mr. Vallas who’s … trying to treat me like I’m some child,” Lightfoot said.

When Johnson tried to rebut her on the officer accused of Proud Boy ties, Lightfoot snipped, “Mr. Johnson please. I know you want to mansplain up here, but you got to give me the opportunity to finish.”

The incumbent mayor also launched the first attack of the night, claiming Vallas overstated his role on federal criminal justice reform, saying it was a “far cry” from reform of police departments. Vallas said during the debate he “did significant work for the Justice Department” on “occupational training programs.”

Vallas, as a consultant with the Bronner Group, did advise the U.S. Department of Justice on education in federal prisons, including starting a school district within the federal prison system that was slated to offer “programs for adult literacy/basic skills, high school diplomas, post-secondary education, and expanded opportunities for individuals with learning disabilities.”

Johnson also sought to undermine what Vallas touted as successes.

“Paul was the (city) budget director during the time in which pensions weren’t being paid,” Johnson said, a reference to Vallas using money that was previously earmarked for pensions to cover operating costs at CPS, a practice that deepened the district’s pension problems. “Look, everywhere Paul Vallas has been in charge of finances, he’s been run out of the city.”

Johnson, in turn, was asked whether there are any policies on which he differed from the Chicago Teachers Union, which has backed his campaign and for which he is an organizer.

He said he was grateful to be supported by working people, and “for too long, the interests of corporations have been represented,” in the city. Asked again, he responded: “If you’re asking me if I do not believe in public education, what kind of question is that? … Yes, I believe we should have fully-funded schools, yes, I believe that workers should be protected.”

Lightfoot went on to criticize Vallas’ education plans as a copy of policies she’d already implemented. “I know you’ve been gone from the school system for a long time, but everything you’ve said, ‘Why don’t we do (that)?’ … We’re doing it, Paul,” she said, noting that the city operates alternative schools and co-located campuses in certain buildings.

During the spat over the suspended officer’s investigation over extremist ties, King noted the combative tone that has dominated the past several forums.

”This is exactly what the people of Chicago don’t want: People up here bickering,” King said. “They want to hear our solutions to problems.”

After the forum, Lightfoot said Johnson interrupting her was “quintessential” mansplaining but said he apologized afterward, which she appreciated. Johnson confirmed to reporters that he told Lightfoot he did not mean to interrupt her but disputed the idea that he was “mansplaining,” which is slang for when a man gives an explanation to a woman in a patronizing tone.

Candidate and U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia did not participate because he was attending President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.