Saturday, December 12, 2015

From Chicago to Baltimore From Rahm Emmanuel to Stephanie Rawlings-Blake

Chris Hayes had a great show last night about the aftermath of the Baltimore riots-that were precipitated by the killing of Freddie Gray.

What is also striking is the similarities between what happened there and what's happening now in Chicago.

One of the demands that I always have mixed feelings about is the open-ended demand that heads must roll and it's time to 'throw the bums out.'

The question that begs is why will the next set of bums be better? One of the really bad ideas of the Gingrich revolution-there were many-is the idea of term limits. To be sure, this idea was attractive to George Will and friends mostly as the GOP had been out of power in Congress for 40 years. Once they got back in this died down a lot.

In general too much constant turnover is a net negative on the quality of governing and administration.

Congressional term limits are a terrible idea. Interestingly, Think Progress ran a piece recently that argued that even Presidential term limits are a bad idea, and, indeed, you might as well just call that Amendment, the FDR Amendment.

Ok, so cases like in Chicago are very different. There's obviously a real desire and need for change. But I think the real issue is the Chicago PD's inner workings rather than Rahm Emmanuel who certainly didn't invent the problems. It's a problem of the PD's culture that goes back many years.

Of course, part of the anger at Rahm is the timing of events-the election, the $5 million dollar payout to the family-which didn't actually raise the victim anyway.

Then there's the timing of the release of the video. Then there was a lot of anger by many in the black community for Rahm closing schools, etc. He won a very tight election that could have gone differently had the video been out-though its speculation.

But you notice that things went the same in Baltimore. A lot of time there is a demand for more people of color in the positions of power in the PD or in government. But Baltimore shows that race is no panacea as three of the six cops who are accused of the murder of Freddie Gray were African-American.

And the Mayor of Baltimore is a black female and many turned on her just like they did on Rahm.

Like Rahm, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake refused to resign as many called for but she is not running for re-election.

Rahm's one advantage is that there is a lot of time till he would run again if that's his plan-2019. A lot can change in 4 years.

But what stands out is that in these cases the Mayor always takes the hit. Yet in truth there are structural, systemic problems not of the Mayor's creation-in any of the cases.

The culture of the police department has to be changed. The similarities between Rahm and Ms. Rawlings-Blake continue.

Both are the Democratic Mayor who have gotten all the blame despite Republican Governor in both states that have been conspicuously absent from the situation. On Chris last night it emerged that the GOP Governor of Maryland in response to the riots cut the plan to introduce the subway system into Baltimore.

As it stands now there is very little public transportation in the city-good luck travelling between East and West Baltimore.

But these GOP Governors aren't being asked to step down, just the Democratic Mayors. Of course, the reason why the focus is always on the Mayor is that it's easier to punish him or her than the Governor of a state that may not be as Democratic as the city.

But if the Mayor can't get the support of the Governor much less a GOP dominated Congress how much can be done?

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