Sunday, April 04, 2010

Arresting Republicans and Non-Republicans: An Insider's View

Howard Safir with Ellis Whitman. Security: Policing Your Homeland, Your State, Your City. New York: Thomas Dunne Books. St. Martin’s Press, 2003.

It takes $3.7 billion (circa 2003) to police New York City, using 40,000 police officers, and 14,000 civilian employees. While Safir was Police Commissioner (1996 to 2000), the major crime rate decreased 38%, the first drop since the mid-1960s. Safir credits this to a deliberate policy he calls Goal Oriented Neighborhood Policing. It was a program, that went after5 all crime, realizing that major crimes are often prevented when major criminals are caught committing smaller crimes.

Safir related this policy to the James Q. Wilson and George Kelling “Broken Window” concept which states that an unrepaired broken window incites stone throwers to break more windows which leads to the entire building deteriorating. By going after the “broken windows” in policing, such as panhandlers and graffiti artists, a community is saved from deterioration, according to the belief.

A leading policing philosophy previous to this was to look at the police arrest rates. Police promotions were based on making more arrests. Safir changed the emphasis to crimes rates and looking at how to lower the rates. (Note: Critics would note that emphasis in one direction or another may tend to drive official statistics towards that direction.)

Safir made the precinct commander, a middle manager between the department and officers, responsible for both how officers acted and the precinct’s crime rate. Officers had to uphold courtesy, professionalism, and respect. Their skills on these attributes were monitored. Counseling was offered to people with civilian complaints.

Safir saw drug enforcement as a local problem. Officers were concerned with drugs within the city and in driving dealers out of town. Safir recognizes that may have only driven the problem to other cities, yet he sees the job of local police to protect their locality.

Safir created Domestic Violence Units in each precinct. He instituted a mandatory arrest policy when finding domestic violence. Officers were to check on victims within a day afterwards. Squad supervisors examined each domestic violence matter within three days.

Subway turnstile jumping happened about 214,000 times in 1993. Safir had the police enforce this crime, which dropped to happening about 15,000 times a month. This reduced subway crime by 60% as enforcing the smaller crime removed criminals from the subways.

First Deputy Commissioner Jack Maple achieved success at producing and analyzing police data. He sped up intelligence gathering, deployment of officers and resources, improved the effectiveness of how police respond, and assessed situations in order to find ways to improve future intelligence. The data would show the types of resources needed at different locations and identify the “hot spots” of criminal activity.

New York implemented an On-Line Booking System that allows an officer to book a suspect electronically and send the information to the District Attorney’s office. Thus, suspects no longer needed to be booked in one central location.

84% of rapes are not reported, according to Safir. He supports greater efforts at capturing rapists.

Safir notes the importance of DNA testing. He is upset at the backlog of rape tests being analyzed. DNA evidence is found in 60% of murders, assaults, and batteries. Hair evidence is found in 10% of robberies and 6% of residential burglaries.

There is only a 14% probability of a robbery or burglary being solved. Safir had police officers take DNA at every robbery or burglary to increase the odds of solving these crimes.

Safir calls for abolishing parole. He argues the recidivism rate is the same for those paroled as those who serve their full sentence. (Note: There are critics who would argue there are differences in some types of cases.)

Safir greatly increased video surveillance in high crime areas. This helped reduce crime in these areas by up to a third.

The New York police began checking guns involved in crimes through a database of previous chares. Ballistic fingerprints were added to this database. Decoy and plainclothes police searched for illegal guns. In 1996, 120 officers in this unit made 20% of the illegal fun arrests in New York City. This unit was expanded to 400 officers, or 2% of the police force.

All 40,000 police officers take marksmanship training twice a year. They use hollow point bullets.

Sair argues that gun owners should be required to have insurance for their guns. This way guns will be accountable as to where they should be.

80% of all arrested test positive for drugs. Safir observes most crimes are drug related.

Safir tried to implement merit pay. The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association (PBA) sued arguing raises should be given to everyone. The PBA won and the merit raises were stricken.

Friday, April 02, 2010

There's Always Some Good Democrat Trying to Ruin Things for Bad Republicans

Cynthia Grant Bowman. Dawn Clark Netsch: A Political Life. Evanston, Il.: Northwestern University Pres, 2010.

Dawn Clark Netsch was an Illinois public servant with a long career in politics and government. She was the top of her graduating class at Northwestern University Law School as well as the only female graduating there in 1952. She became active in the Committee on Illinois Government that fought the Democratic Party “machine”. She was an aide to Governor Otto Kerner, taught law at Northwestern, was a Delegate to the 1970 Constitutional Convention was elected to the State Senate in 1972 against a “machine” candidate, won reelection against a “machine” opponent, and served until 1990 when she was elected State Comptroller, becoming the first female Illinois executive office holder. She ran for, and lost, for Governor in 1994.

Netsch was born in Cincinnati in 1926 to a family that owned a building material business that faltered during the Depression. The family moved into a smaller house. The family business later failed.

As a child, she was upset to see some white children throwing stones at Black children. This created a lasting impression for her to fight for racial justice.

In Cincinnati then, there was the Republican Party and the Charterites Party, and no Democratic Party. The Charterites argued for moving to a city manager governance and that City Council be elected with voters selecting first and second choice candidates to provide minority representation. Dawn volunteered for the Charterites while in junior high during when they helped create a new city charter. This was the seed for her to later challenge the Daley machine in Chicago.

As an undergraduate at Northwestern, Dawn wrote for the school newspaper and fought against campus racial segregation. Black students were not allowed to live in on-campus housing. A poll of students found 72% would not accept a Black roommate and 42% would not live in the same residential house with a Black. The movement, though, led to one interacting house being created.

Dawn graduated from Northwestern in 1948 and was Phi Beta Kappa. The League of Women Voters hired her for secretarial work. She volunteered for the Adlai Stevenson for Governor campaign.

Dawn worked with Volunteers for Stevenson in the 1952 Presidential campaign. After working two years for a law firm she became a Clerk to Judge Julius Hoffman in 1954. Dawn became active with the Committee on Illinois Government (CIG). This group fought patronage and machine politics. It called for disclosing political contributions, more civil service, and reforms in several areas of government. Dawn worked on researching and writing about mental health reform. In 1958, Dawn was Treasurer of CIG.

When Otto Kerner was elected Governor, Dawn has hired as an assistant for examining legislation. She often had to negotiate with powerful Senate Republican leader W. Russell Arrington on crafting final legislation. Arrington often defended banking interests. Dawn also reviewed bills for vetoes. She discovered there were bills the Governor supported that had other provisions he didn’t like. This led to Dawn researching the idea of an amendatory veto which ultimately was created in 1970.

Dawn married Walter Netsch in 1963. In 1967, she was appointed by Governor Kerner to the Constitution Study Commission. A Convention was called. She was elected as a delegate. Her support for creating the amendatory veto and reduction veto, which reduces budget amounts, were successful.

IN 1972, she challenged incumbent Daniel O’Brien for State Senator. O’Brien was also the 43rd Ward Democratic Committeeman and part of the Mayor Richard Daley political machine. The district included part of the high income Gold Coast as well as the low income Cabrina Green housing project and working class areas of Lincoln Park, Old Town, DePaul, and Lakeview. She recruited over 2,000 volunteers for her campaign. She was a narrow victory. Daley’s candidates, though, won most of their races against other anti-machine candidates,

Dawn and seven other Independent Democrats blocked the election of Democrat Cecil Parker as Senate President. Dawn demanded independents be placed on committees, with staff. A compromise was reached where independents were placed on committees and one became Assistant Majority Leader. This group grew to nine members and worked with the Black Caucus on reform measures.

A 1977 stalemate over electing a Senate President last five weeks and a historic 186 ballots, the most ballots even on any matter in the Illinois legislature. A compromise was reached were some independent s received desired positions. Sen. Richard Daley, Jr.’s Judiciary Committee was divided into two committees, one chaired by Daley and the other chaired by Dawn, a leading critic of Daley. Dawn and Daley worked together on crafting mental health policies. They mended fences and Dawn supported Daley for Cook County’s State’s Attorney.

Dawn’s legislative victories included allowing government programs to use less expensive generic drugs. Dawn also worked on ethics and campaign finance bills that did not pass. Dawn fought unsuccessfully for the merit selection of judges. She did get a voluntary Code of Fair Practices passed where candidates could sing and promise not to misstate race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or national origin in campaign statements.

Dawn chaired the Senate Revenue Committee. She successfully fought to reform rape laws to include male and female assaults and to increase penalties when children are victims. She worked for Family and Medical Leave and for gay rights. She fought for the unsuccessful Equal Rights Amendment.

Dawn fought with Major Jane Byrne and supported Richard Daley Jr.’s attempt to oust her. Harold Washington won the three candidate primary.

Dawn was elected Comptroller in 1989. She had the support of independent and regular Democrats. At first she wanted to run for Attorney General but Roland Burris dropped out of the Governor’s race to run for Attorney General. She then switched to the Comptroller’s race. Critics noted as a Constitutional Convention Delegate, Dawn had argued the Comptroller be appointed rather than elected. Her Republican opponent Sue Suten used ads against her on her opposition to the death penalty.

When Dawn became Comptroller, she found an office left by Roland Burris with decades old computers and a policy of delaying payments when funds were insufficient. She was upset to find a fiscal office engaged in partisan politics. She had her office work with local governments on improving their audits. She had the computers upgraded as they were slow to process cash and once had it so there was only $8 available for the entire state government.

Dawn ran for Governor. Emily’s List helped with fundraising. She proposed increasing corporate and income taxes to better fund education. Her opponents jumped on attacking her for proposing to raise taxes. She won the Democratic Primary but lost the general election to incumbent Jim Edgar. Her campaign had troubles raising funds against a well funded opponent. Edgar received 64% to her 34%.

Lincoln Was an Illinois Republican: Surely There Was Another Decent One Somewhere, Honest

James D. Nowlan, Samuel K. Grove, and Richard J. Winkel, Kr. Illinois Politics: A Citizen’s Guilde. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2010.

Illinois has a history of strong businesses with money influencing politics.

Illinois, in 2007, was the state whose demographic and economic levels, such as racial composition, educational attainment, industrial mix, and percent of immigrants, were the closest, of all states, to the national average.

Illinois has a mix of political activists who seek individual gain (who favor patronage and influence peddling), who have strong moral beliefs (who seek to reform government), and traditionalists who seek to preserve the existing social order and protect those with influence.

Illinois’s development was strongly influenced by its locations providing it transportation advantages along the Ohio River, on the Great Lakes as serviced by the Erie Canal, and rail connections. Members of Congress, including Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas, convinced the Federal government to give land grants to private railroad interests. The 705 miles of Illinois Central Railroad made it the longest private rail route at that time. By 1875, Illinois had over 7,000 miles of rail.

Northern Illinois saw the settlement of a number of mostly low income people of British and Scots-Irish descent from Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, and Tennessee who disliked the influence of local British aristocrats.

The next influx of Illinois settlers was mostly from New England and Middle Atlantic states during the 1830s. They settled primarily where farmland was good.

The Republican Party was the prominent political party in Illinoins from the 1860s to the 1930s.

Chicago with one million people was the second most populous city in the U.S. in 1890. Chicago increased to 3.4 million in 1939 and hit its greatest population of 3.6 million in 1945. As car ownership doubled form 1945 to 1950, city residents began moving to suburbs.

In 2007, 50.1% of Illinois voters considered themselves Democrats, 33.3% Republicans, and 16.6% Independents. Chicago was 75.6% Democrats and 8.4% Republicans. The suburbs have been increased in population and political power while Downstate has been decreasing in political strength.

In 1987, Downstate paid 33% of state taxes and obtained 47% of state spending while Chicago residents paid 21% of state taxes and received 25% of state spending.

There have been numerous political corruption cases in Illinois political history. In the 1890s, almost all Chicago Aldermen were bribed for$50,000 or less to award franchises as sought by Charles Yerkes. Yerkes also bribed several state legislators.

People seeking to get the legislature to make U.S. Rep. William Lorimer a U.S.Senator gave $100,000 total to at least 40 legislators. Lorimer was later expelled from the Senate for the bribery.

Half of Chicago Police officers during Prohibition were bootleggers, according to Police Chief Charles Fitzsmorris.

Gov. George Ryan was convicted of racketeering and other charges in 2006. Previously, Gov. Otto Kerner was convicted of crimes in office. Gov. Rod Blagojevich was arrested for allegedly attempting to award a U.S. Senate seat for illegal consideration in 2008.

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan controls much fund raising from interest groups and then disperses campaign contributions to favorable legislative candidates, controls all Democratic staff placements, and controls when legislative votes are held and amendments are considered. Madigan disbursed $5.7 million in campaign funds from July 2005 to December 2006.

Illinois ended the “straight ballot” where a voter could vote for all political party’s candidates. This helped move candidates to campaign more individually than as part of a political party.

While political parties have relatively less influence in Illinois than in other states, interest groups appear to be relatively more influential. In 2007, there were 1,726 interest groups registered as represented by 2,200 lobbyists. The Illinois Rifle Association is known for being influential over gun laws. The Illinois State Medical Society is known for its effectiveness on health care laws.

Several contribute to candidates in hopes of receiving government contracts or to obtain desirable government actions. This is known as “pay to play”. Negative press led in 2008 led to a law prohibiting a holder of a public worth over $50,000 from contributing to the office that awards the contract. Otherwise, Illinois has no limitations on how much individuals, corporations, businesses, and incorporated unions may contribute to state political candidates.

Illinois has 10 TV markets. In 2006, Rod Blagojevich aired 22,109 TV commercials costing $18.1 million to defeat Judy Baar Topinka, who aired 4,638 commercials costing $4.6 million.

In 2007, the date of the Illinois Presidential Primary was moved to February’s first Tuesday. This was to make Illinois an early and influential state in the Presidential race.

The Green Party obtained official party status in 2006. It will last four years or longer if it’s candidate for Governor obtains 5% or more of the vote in 2010.

The Illinois legislature has 118 House members and 59 Senators. This is set by the state Constitution.

Legislative redistricting is handled by a commission of four Democrats and four Republicans who must agree on a plan by July 1. It is believed this commission will seek an agreement before a ninth member is named by the Illinoins Supreme Court randomly choosing between one Democrat and one Republican. The Commission then has a October 5 deadline.

Illinois in recent years has seen several open primaries with weak political party operations where a winner emerges from a multicandidate race with little resources remaining who then loses the general election.

The Illinois State Board of Elections believes 77% of those eligible to vote as of 2006 were registered to vote. Of those eligible, 48.6% voted in 2006, or 37% of those eligible to vote did so.

Democratic Presidential candidates have carried Illinois every Presidential election from 1952 on.

State House members have two year terms. Most State Senators have four year terms except at the start of a 10 year redistricting all Senate seats are elected in the first even numbered year with about half elected to two years terms and half elected to four terms,

The legislature historically and seem likely, unless there is a dramatic change in public attitudes, to consist of many safe legislative seats and competitive legislative seats where party control of the legislature is determined by these outcomes. Many partisan legislative staff leave their state jobs to work on campaign campaigns during campaign times.

The authors note that winning and obtaining power, and not policies or making major changes in how government acts, have been the main goals in most Illinois elections over the past 40 years.

Illinois became a sate in 1818 with a Constitution that did not prohibit slavery.

The authors see the Illinois legislature as very partisan and guided by making deals on bills where keeping and using power is more important than is ideology on policies. Legislators are mostly full time. The legislature has 700 staffers. About 9,000 bills are typically introduced in a two year session. The budget is due for approval by May 31. Missing the deadline create an overtime session. The legislature usually begins meeting in October or November to consider whether to override vetoes.

The Speaker’s office issues a list of bills with arrows indicating if the Speakers approves, disapproves, or is neutral towards a bill.

Legislators receive about $80,000 each to rent, staff, and supply a district office.

Caucus leaders, over the past 15 years, have designated a legislator as the “budgeteer” who changes the Governor’s proposed budget into a budget favored by caucus leaders.

A conference committee can make large changes to the bills before it.

Since the 1980s, much of the legislative process has been led by what is known as the “Four Tops”, who are the leaders of both parties in both chambers. These leaders control most campaign fundraising for all legislative races and assign all partisan staff. Many legislative staff thus are expert at campaign work.

The Governor has the power of line item veto and reduction veto, where the Governor may lower amounts of appropriated funds. Any type of veto may be overridden by three fifths of legislators in both chambers.

The legislative process can lead to struggles. Governor James Thompson vetoed numerous bills. Speaker Michael Madigan then held up votes on bills Thompson wanted.

The Illinois legislature allows a member to vote “present” instead of voting “yes” or “no”.

IN 2008, Governor Blagojevich called 16 special sessions as he fought with the legislature on the budget. He vetoed projects sought by House Democrats and Senate Republicans, the minority parties in each chamber, to make his budget veto proof. He shifted the vetoed funds to expanding health care, although it was not as much money as he wanted. The Health and Family Services Department attempted to expand a health care program to 147,000, even though there were insufficient funds to pay for the expansion. The courts struck down the expansion.

Blagojevich ran as a populist challenging the political system. His first term had success in passing a stronger ethics bill, raising the minimum wage, creating gay rights, creating health care for all children, and establishing universal preschool for three and four year olds. In his second term, he sought to increase business taxes by $7 billion while keeping sales and income taxes the same. The FBI wiretapped him and overheard him attempting to seek a deal for an appointment to a U.S. Senate vacancy.

Frank Lowden was Governor from 1917-21. He was a leading candidate for the Republican nomination for President in 1920 where a deadlock convention eventually nominated Warren Harding.

Richard Oglivie was Governor from 1969-73. He created the Burean of the Budget as well as the Environmental Protection Agency before the Federal government created one.

James Thompson was the longest serving Governor elected to four terms and served from 1977 to 1990. He was known for hiring good managers and avoiding scandals. His use of patronage, though, was stuck down by the U.S. Supreme Court for being too extreme. Thompson was not a reformer and continued past systems of awarding contracts to friends, according to the authors.

Illinois has three courts statewide with distinct jurisdictions. There are circuit courts, appellate courts, and the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is elected from five districts with one district, Cook County, electing three. They are elected to 10 year terms and run in partisan elections.

Several Judges have been convicted of bribery. Judicial candidates rated “unqualified” by the Bar Association have been elected. A judicial race once resulted in both sides spending $9.3 million total. Special interest groups were concerned over issues such as torts and medical malpractice.

Illinois had 6,039 local governments in 2005 followed by Pennsylvania with 5,032. The state gave local governments, not counting school districts,. $7.6 billion in 2007.

Illinois in 2008 spent $11,428 per pupil on education. This was the 14th highest average among states.

State funds for Illinois colleges, not counting student tuition assistance, decreased from $2.94 billion in 2002 to $2.62 billion in 2006.

Robert Manville, Illinois Budget Director, claims budgeting is easy: 1.) determine how much money there is, 2.) estimate incoming receipts, 3.) decide how much money one wishes to have at the end of the budget year, 4.) add 1 and 2 and subtract 3, and 5.) allocate the remainder to programs. Of course, the actual process is more involved.

In 2007, property taxes raised $21 billion. 60% went to schools, 16% went to municipalities, 12% to special districts, 8% to counties, and 3% to townships.