No relief for Chicago

Illinois governor Bruce Rauner rules out sending the National Guard to restore order in the nation’s most notorious open-air shooting gallery:

Gov. Bruce Rauner says he will not dispatch the Illinois National Guard to Chicago to stem gun violence.

The Republican said Wednesday that “the National Guard is not for neighborhood policing.”

He dismissed suggestions that he call up the Guard after more than 70 people were shot in the city last weekend. At least 11 were killed.

Chicago police have said 600 additional officers will be patrolling the affected neighborhoods.

Rauner told reporters in Peoria that “the violence in Chicago is heartbreaking, it’s got to end.”

But he says state troops would only be appropriate for “a riot or some issue like that.”

Rauner says improving economic opportunities will help end the violence.

Economic opportunities! That’s the ticket.

In the meantime, a Chicago pastor asks Trump to mobilize (federalize) the National Guard to relieve the Second City. Here’s a Chicago Tribune op-ed from last year demanding intervention by the Illinois National Guard:

What in the world is wrong with us in Chicago? How many lives must be lost before we mobilize to end the insane carnage in our streets? A thousand deaths a year? Two thousand? […]

Most Chicagoans, particularly those who live in killing fields like Englewood and North Lawndale, may be unaware of an experiment that virtually stopped the bleeding for one blessed weekend in November 2016.

On those amazing few days, Chicago police, Cook County sheriffs, state police and federal agents saturated the three most dangerous police districts in the city. Shooters were silenced. Open-air drug markets closed. Gangs couldn’t loiter at liquor stores, vacant lots and viaducts.

The strategy worked. The killing ceased. That weekend there was exactly one shooting — one — in the area under patrol.

If we are truly serious about ending gun violence, we need this kind of bold action. We have to unpack the plan created by Robert Milan, former first assistant state’s attorney in the Cook County state’s attorney’s office, and former deputy U.S. Marshal Jim Smith.

The mission: crush the violence with a six-month saturation deployment of law enforcement that mirrors the November 2016 weekend experiment.

But we live in a city that is broke. We don’t have the money or the manpower to repeat the tactic, let alone sustain it.

Worse, perhaps, we don’t seem to have the courage to swallow our pride and our politics to keep our people alive. Why else would Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the City Council reject the idea of seeking assistance from the Illinois National Guard?

In fact, the city should ask that guardsmen be deployed, along with local police, to the South and West sides, not to militarize them, but to restore public safety and save lives.

When living in Chicago, I was amazed at the lack of beat cops in the downtown. You could go a week without seeing a single police officer or cop car.

It’s rather astonishing that America is incapable of maintaining basic law and order in its third-largest city. Serious countries do not allow large swaths of their major cities to descend into anarchy, while citing budget problems as an excuse for failing to take appropriate law enforcement action.

Mingtiandi cited in the Chicago Tribune

CNice to have an article of mine cited in the Chicago Tribune (emphasis added):

A Chicago developer said construction of the 98-story Vista Tower, which will be the third-tallest building in the city once completed, is unaffected despite major changes to the Chinese company that is backing the condominium and hotel project.

Magellan Development Group’s $1 billion East Wacker Drive skyscraper is one of several commercial real estate properties caught up in a Chinese government crackdown on high-leverage investments overseas.

Billionaire Wang Jianlin’s Dalian Wanda Group, Magellan’s equity investor in the Chicago tower, is in the midst of a major company restructuring as the result of heavy pressure from the Chinese government over its investments in the U.S. and other countries.

On Wednesday, Wanda Hotel Development Co. — which is publicly traded in Hong Kong — disclosed that it is selling stakes in real estate projects including the Chicago tower to a privately held company controlled by Wang’s family. That company is called Dalian Wanda Commercial Properties Co.

While the sale simply amounts to shifting ownership stakes from one Wanda Group affiliate to another, it could signal more changes are ahead. Mingtiandi, a newsletter and website that covers the Asian commercial real estate market, said it could be a step toward Wanda eventually selling ownership stakes of properties in cities including Chicago, London and Sydney.

But Magellan President David Carlins said he’s had no discussions about a potential sale from Wanda Group.

“We have not heard anything about (a sale), and there would have to be conversations about that, because it would require our consent,” Carlins said.

Wanda Group representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Here’s the Mingtiandi article referred to above:

Dalian Wanda Group is selling stakes in nearly $4.5 billion in real estate projects across the UK, US, China and Australia to a privately held company controlled by its chairman Wang Jianlin, according to an announcement to the Hong Kong stock exchange on Thursday.

The asset sale is part of what the company says is a $1 billion restructuring after the property and entertainment conglomerate became a focal point for a Chinese government crackdown on cross-border deals and excessive leverage over the past few months.

Analysts believe that the restructuring is likely to be an intermediate step in Wanda ultimately selling off its interests in property projects in London, Chicago, Sydney and other locations, that made it into one of China’s best known players during the country’s 2012 to 2016 “go global” spree.

Chicago in one sentence?

Paul Graham on the subtle messages that great cities send:

Great cities attract ambitious people. You can sense it when you walk around one. In a hundred subtle ways, the city sends you a message: you could do more; you should try harder.

The surprising thing is how different these messages can be. New York tells you, above all: you should make more money. There are other messages too, of course. You should be hipper. You should be better looking. But the clearest message is that you should be richer.

What I like about Boston (or rather Cambridge) is that the message there is: you should be smarter. You really should get around to reading all those books you’ve been meaning to.

When you ask what message a city sends, you sometimes get surprising answers. As much as they respect brains in Silicon Valley, the message the Valley sends is: you should be more powerful. […]

The big thing in LA seems to be fame. […]

In DC the message seems to be that the most important thing is who you know. You want to be an insider.

As a resident of Chicago, this naturally made me wonder what message the Windy City sends to people. A couple of excellent candidates are proposed on the Y Combinator message board:

Chicago: You went to the wrong fraternity

And:

Chicago: There’s nothing wrong with second place.

But seriously, folks. Chicago is a great global city, it’s just hard to sum it up in one sentence because it’s such a mixed bag of industries. Chicago is said to have the most diversified economy in the US; its “industry mix most closely matches the nation’s, with no single industry employing more than 14% of the workforce,” according to World Business Chicago. Top industries in Chicago range from finance and insurance, to food processing and manufacturing, to publishing and biotech. The city is also a major logistics and transportation hub, as well as a cultural and academic powerhouse.

Chicago has a protean quality that makes it somewhat hard to pin down. There may be no tidy way to summarize the city’s “message.” Part of the issue is that Chicago is a regional magnet for talent, but not a national one. People don’t flock to Chicago from across the country. (That has a lot to do with the weather, among other things.) Thus, while Chicago is a great city, it may not be a true hub of ambition in the way Graham is talking about.

This comment gets the last word:

As a cartoonist covering life in the Chicago area for the past 20 or so years, here is what Chicago says; “You really need to be successful here, but if not, someone just might help you.”

Photos: Chicago architecture

Chicago is one of the world’s great cities for architecture. Below are some photos of the downtown landscape that I took with my Samsung phone in Sept-Dec 2016:

 

And some more from 2017:

 

And a few more from the Nikon (the better to take night shots with):