By Mark Glennon, of Wirepoints,
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is planning to pump $412 million into its community safety plan, much of it targeting 15 of the city’s most violent community areas.
But the plan is already a proven failure. Furthermore, it has been subject to little transparency or accountability and its funding is unsustainable.
That’s according to a great column in Thursday’s Chicago Sun-Times, based on crime data being kept by the Sun-Times and experts it interviewed.
The plan, called “Our City, Our Safety,” was unveiled more than a year ago and has produced few results, and many of the communities it targeted have only gotten more dangerous, the Sun-Times reported:
Fatal shootings are higher in 10 of the 15 community areas: East Garfield Park, West Pullman, North Lawndale, Greater Grand Crossing, Auburn Gresham, Englewood, Roseland, Chatham, South Shore and Chicago Lawn. Only the Austin area measured about the same as last year. Four are better: South Lawndale, West Garfield Park, Humboldt Park and West Englewood.
Funding for the plan was approved by the City Council in the budget drafted by Lightfoot. It includes more than $50 million going to more than two dozen organizations for street outreach, victim services, transitional jobs, scholarships and domestic violence.
Who are those neighborhood organizations and do they spend the money effectively?
That’s where the transparency and accountability issues arise. More than half the money is not earmarked for any particular neighborhood, according to the Sun-Times, and “there is little information available on what exactly these groups are doing and how effective they’ve been” and it has it “has been difficult to gauge whether money spent so far has been going where it’s needed most.”
Funding for the plan is temporary. Over 70% of the city’s violence prevention budget through 2024 is funded by federal American Rescue Plan money, according to those interviewed by the Sun-Times, but that was a one-time shot. “They’re not going to continue the funding,” said Professor Lance Williams with Northeastern Illinois University’s Urban Studies Department. “
Adding to the challenges, the mayor has struggled to keep key people involved in crafting the plan and carrying it out.”
The more fundamental problem with the plan, not discussed by the Sun-Times, is that it is not about law enforcement and policing. It instead addresses supposed underlying causes of crime with longer term solutions, namely these, which the Sun-Times listed:
- $85 million on violence intervention, including victim services, street outreach and other violence reduction programs.
- $62 million for affordable housing and homeless programs.
- $80 million for assistance to families and youth jobs.
- $40 million for health and wellness programs.
- $114.6 million for community development and parks.
- $30 million for small business.
Chicago, however, has an immediate and overwhelming plague of violence, the fast response to which must include firm policing and law enforcement, including prison for violent offenders.
Crime certainly does have underlying causes that must be addressed with long term solutions. Policing is a Band-Aid on deeper problems. Some elements of the plan therefore may have merit, but the emergency is now and so is the need for policing and prosecutions.
Ironically, Lightfoot effectively acknowledged that, though in a foolish way, just last week. She blamed some of the primary victims for not paying for the protection the city is failing to provide.
“Some of the retailers downtown and [on] Michigan Avenue, I will tell you, I’m disappointed that they are not doing more to take safety and make it a priority, she said. “For example, we still have retailers that won’t institute plans like having security officers in their stores, making sure that they’ve got cameras that are actually operational, locking up their merchandise at night.”
It should come as no surprise that the Our City, Our Safety Plan has not worked. Look through it yourself. It’s mostly social justice gibberish. “Equity” appears 30 times. “Violence is an equity issue,” it says. “Empower and heal people” is its “Pillar No 1.” “Racism” appears 105 times. “At the root of violence is systemic racism which has been pervasive throughout Chicago and its history,” it says. “Participate in local and national collaboratives to elevate policy positions,” whatever that means, is one of its strategies.
Lightfoot has no real plan to stop the violence. Her’s is Otter’s Plan.