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December 1, 2015 by Chris Kite
I have lots of opinions on the firing of Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy. Some of them conflict with each other. I’m certainly not one that knows it all and I don’t claim to. But these are my thoughts on this issue.
I think this was done to appease the masses and I’m guessing Rahm Emanuel always knew he had this in his back pocket as political cover. After all. Say what you will about Rahm Emanuel. Love him, hate him, or don’t have an opinion about him, we all know he is a political animal with very powerful political instincts.
There is also little doubt in my mind he fired McCarthy to try to save himself. I’m guessing he and his advisors talked about this when debating about releasing the video voluntarily months ago. He is politically savvy enough to realize he could always fire McCarthy and claim to be taking action that way. Alvarez may be next, but I’m not sure what power he has to take her down. I don’t see many scenarios where he resigns. I hate to even think of how awful things would have to get before he would step down. I truly would not want to see that happen in our great city!
There is no doubt in my mind that Emanuel is just as guilty as McCarthy at not taking quick decisive action and instead, hoping it would just go away. He should be held accountable. But he won’t. At least not until the next election.
And there are tons of people within the police department that should also be held accountable. Was the Burger King surveillance video erased? Who was responsible. Who knew about it? It sure sounds fishy. But unless someone comes forward that was directly involved, this one will probably remain unsettled with 100% assuredness. I can’t help but think of the Nixon tapes, and how they were mysteriously blank.
Why did it take a year? Was it really a thorough investigation, or was it really an attempt to wait for it to go away. I don’t see how we ever know this with 100% certainty either. But again, it sure smells fishy.
I don’t mean to minimize the tragedy because this is an awful, awful event that should have never happened. But looking at it in hindsight, I’m thinking Eamanuel could have minimized political damage by acting quickly, dismissing McCarthy, settling with the family, putting oversight into place, and pushing for charges against the cop. Of course there is no way to know for sure, and avoiding it seeing the light of day until after the election sure made the election easier for him. Which in itself is horrendous and repulsive. But Rahm Emanuel is not alone in putting his own personal political success before anything and everything else.
And while the $5M settlement with the family may have been designed to sweep it under the rug, I think that was a smart “business” move by the city. I’m not saying it was the right thing to do. And I’m not saying it isn’t cold and calculating. But purely from a business perspective (again, I’m not saying it is right, but there is a certain reality to the cost of things like this even though there is no settlement that makes up for the death of a child), settling with the family before charges were brought was a smart move for the city from a cost perspective. I would bet heavily that a settlement after a guilty murder verdict would be much higher than $5M. Plus, by avoiding a suit in court, it saved the city tons of legal costs.
I think there will be fallout for years. I’m not sure what it means for Emanuel’s political future. People have pretty short memories when it comes to politics (anyone remember George W Bush getting re-elected because “he kept us safe?”). But I suspect this will be studied in political science for years to come.
I think I have a pretty good moral compass. I know the difference between right and wrong and try to take the right path all the time. But perhaps a boss of mine put it best when he told me, “Think long and deep about what you do. Put your moral compass to work to help guide you. But when in doubt, picture the action you’re about to take as headlines in a major newspaper. Would you still do it?”
The answer to this awful event is clearly, no!