Posts Tagged ‘Chicago’

Illinois: unconstitutional to curb public employee pensions

“In yesterday’s decision, the [Illinois Supreme Court] — as it did in a 2015 case dealing with state workers—relied on a clause in the Illinois Constitution that treats government pensions as ‘an enforceable contractual relationship, the benefits of which shall not be diminished or impaired.'” It wasn’t relevant that Chicago’s pension scheme was $8 billion in the hole, or that most of the city’s public unions had agreed to a deal with Mayor Rahm Emanuel under which the city would step up its funding in exchange for lower COLAs and higher employee contributions. “The bottom line …is that, having just been whacked with a record $543 million property tax hike to pay for old city pension debt, taxpayers are going to have to dig deep again — at least $168 million more over five years, by 2020, and rising from there.” [Chicago Business] Chicago now confronts population loss, aging of resident base [Chicago Magazine, Illinois Policy, Aaron Renn, City Journal] More: “While the US Constitution is famously “not a suicide pact,” the Illinois constitution apparently is.” [Jack Henneman on Twitter]

Police and prosecution roundup

  • Amid multiple scandals, why won’t office of Orange County, Calif. District Attorney Tony Rackauckas confirm name of county investigator alleged to have beaten defense attorney in courtroom hallway? [R. Scott Moxley/OC Weekly via Radley Balko, Voice of OC]
  • And from February: “former Los Angeles sheriff Lee Baca announced that he would plead guilty to criminal charges related to systemic misconduct in his department, specifically to a charge of lying to investigators in an effort to cover up that wrongdoing.” [Kevin Williamson]
  • Post-Ferguson investigation: problems with small-town municipal courts go way beyond North St. Louis County into outstate Missouri [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]
  • Judge throws out mountain of tickets from Chicago traffic and speed cameras [TimeOut, Timothy Geigner/TechDirt, earlier]
  • Britain: following collapse of lengthy Operation Midland law enforcement inquiry into a fantasist’s wild tales of abuse (did senior Tories murder rentboys for fun?) vindicated officials and their families wonder where to turn to get their reputations back [Dan Hodges/Telegraph (citing Metropolitan Police commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe’s favorable reference to a second official’s statement that “The presumption that a victim should always be believed should be institutionalized”); Matthew Scott/Barrister Blogger, Richard Bartholomew]
  • Supreme Court nominee: “In Criminal Rulings, [Chief Judge Merrick] Garland Has Usually Sided With Law Enforcement” [New York Times; more on Garland’s D.C. Circuit rulings]

Police roundup

  • Open-minded: liberal-leaning Marshall Project publishes Heather MacDonald, often found on other side of criminal justice debates, on why police shootings of “unarmed” persons are not as clear-cut a matter as one might think;
  • “Report: Dashcam Equipment in Chicago Police Vehicles ‘Intentionally’ Destroyed” [Bryant Jackson-Green, Illinois Policy]
  • Sure-footed SWAT response to San Bernardino terror attack proved value of police militarization, right? Not so fast [Anthony Fisher]
  • In December Cato held a conference on “Policing America,” catch up with the videos here [Jonathan Blanks]
  • “Head of multi-jurisdictional anti-drug task force says forfeiture reform may spell the end of these roving, self-funded teams of drug-fighting cops who aren’t answerable to any local authority. He makes a good argument, but not the argument he thinks he’s making.” [that’s Radley Balko summarizing Tim Helldorfer, Memphis Commercial Appeal]
  • U.S. Department of Justice “Wants to Punish Abusive Ferguson Police with Massive Raises” [Scott Shackford, more on civil rights suit]

“CTA pays $4.3 million in wrongful-death settlement”

The Chicago Transit Authority in September “approved a $4.3 million payment to the family of a Pilsen woman who in 2009 was killed by a hit-and-run driver and then struck again by a CTA bus following the car.” The driver who struck Martha Gonzalez in a pedestrian crosswalk sped off and was never caught; the bus driver who subsequently hit Gonzalez’s body, who has subsequently retired, was not issued a traffic ticket in the incident. [Chicago Tribune, September]

Neil Steinberg: “Sued by a Lunatic”

Chicago Sun-Times columnist Neil Steinberg reprints a column from 2000 about a lawsuit that ensued after he exchanged words with a young man waiting in line at the drugstore. The process dragged on through the Christmas season until just before the holiday itself: “It is days in a windowless, airless room, somehow both too big and claustrophobic, waiting for your case to be called, staring dully at tiles on the ceiling, hearing the headachy murmur of legalisms just out of earshot, noting the starched exhaustion of lawyers, the unease of regular folk. There are motions and counter-motions. Many times I recalled that Hamlet, listing reasons to kill himself in his famous ‘To Be or Not to Be’ soliloquy, puts ‘the law’s delay’ up high, right after the pangs of despriz’d love.”

Liability roundup

Police roundup

  • Ex-Costa Mesa police union head testifies re: scheme to set up councilman on bogus DUI charge [Daily Pilot, our earlier coverage of the scandal]
  • Ferguson-1-year-later stories should concede that initial “hands-up” accounts of the Michael Brown shooting were wrong, no? [Greg Weiner, Law and Liberty]
  • “Cops: We ‘Expected Privacy’ Because We Tried to Smash All the Cameras” [Lowering the Bar, Conor Friedersdorf/The Atlantic on Santa Ana, Calif. police union’s effort to suppress evidence in dispensary raid case]
  • Beach patrol, serving warrants, college football display: reasons departments gave in 465 requests for mine-resistant ambush protected (MRAP) vehicles from the Pentagon’s 1033 program [Molly Redden, Mother Jones via Anthony Fisher, Reason]
  • “Prosecutors’ union inadvertently demonstrates why local prosecutors shouldn’t investigate police shootings” [Radley Balko]
  • Past time for a public airing of what went on in the Chicago facility known as Homan Square [Spencer Ackerman and Zach Stafford, The Guardian]
  • Which human decision-making process claims a mere 0.25% error rate? Shootings by Chicago police [Coyote, Radley Balko on investigator in that city fired for resisting pressure to exonerate cops]

Children and schools roundup

  • L.A.: “school police estimated they would need 80 new officers to protect students walking home from school with iPads.” [Annie Gilbertson/KPCC]
  • “Md. officials: Letting ‘free range’ kids walk or play alone is not neglect” [Donna St. George/Washington Post, earlier]
  • Foes of education vouchers turn to argument that private schools not obliged to accommodate disabled kids, but it’s complicated [Rick Esenberg]
  • U.K.: “Children banned from doing handstands and cartwheels at Plymouth primary school” [Plymouth Herald]
  • Florida officials remove kids from home after 11 year old found playing alone in yard [Lenore Skenazy posts one, two, three, plus a Chicago case (“Family Defense Center”) and overview]
  • In left-meets-right campaign to beat up on “deadbeat dads,” right seems more gung-ho at the moment [Connor Wolf/Daily Caller, my earlier Cato]
  • North Carolina high schoolers’ alarm-clocks-go-off-in-lockers prank annoyed school administrators. Felony-level annoyance? [Uproxx]

Medical roundup

  • Med mal something of a regional problem: nearly half of payouts are in Northeast, with New York alone paying out more than the entire Midwest [New Jersey Civil Justice Institute on Diederich Healthcare analysis] “Neurosurgeons were 50% more likely to practice defensive medicine in high-risk states compared with low-risk states” [Smith et al., Neurosurgery via NJCJI]
  • New Paul Nolette book on state attorneys general Federalism On Trial includes history of suits led by New York’s Eliot Spitzer to redefine as “fraud” widely known drug-pricing practices that Congress had declined to ban or otherwise address. The resulting lucrative settlements also earmarked money to fund private critics of the pharmaceutical industry;
  • City of Chicago signs on to one of the trial bar’s big current recruitment campaigns, suits seeking recoupment of costs of dealing with prescription opioid abuse [Drug & Device Law; earlier here, here, here]
  • We here in Washington, D.C. take very seriously any violations of HIPAA, the health privacy law. Just kidding! If a union supporter pulls information from an employee medical database to help in an organizing drive, that might be overlooked [Jon Hyman on National Labor Relations Board administrative law judge decision in Rocky Mountain Eye Center]
  • “Preferred Care defendants respond to New Mexico Attorney General’s lawsuit, argue it was filed at urging of Cohen Milstein law firm” [Legal NewsLine]
  • Philadelphia police run warrant checks of hospital visitor lists, and as a result many persons with outstanding warrants avoid going to hospitals. So asserts sociologist Alice Goffman in her book On the Run, but the evidence is disputed [Sara Mayeux last August, Steven Lubet in review challenging the book more broadly on ethical and factual grounds, Goffman’s response]
  • Making contraceptive pill available over the counter without prescription should please supporters of birth control access, right? Funny you should ask [Elizabeth Nolan Brown, Reason, earlier]