Sunday, October 18, 2015

A FIRST: With Proposal To Block Freedom Of Speech, Local Alderman Reaches New Low

Hey, do you know about the U.S.A.?
Do you know about the government?
Can you tell me about the Constitution?
Hey, learn about the U.S.A.

Chicago politicians' efforts to stifle public discourse and transparency hit a new low this week when 44th Ward Alderman Tom Tunney tried to strip away his constituents' First Amendment right to criticize him, each other, and a proposed local business.

Tunney's stunningly bold and laughably unconstitutional move came in the form of a "Good Neighbor Agreement" that he hoped would be adopted by neighbors, himself, and operators of a proposed recovery center called Rosecrance Lakeview:
Rosecrance, the Alderman, Community Contact Person and the neighbors will refrain from making derogatory public statements regarding one another, which may include but not be limited to linking crime or safety issues in the Lakeview area to Rosecrance and its participants. 
The alderman seems to have forgotten the very first right of all Americans as laid out by our Founding Fathers: The right to unabridged freedoms of speech and press, the right to peaceable assembly and—gird your loins, alderman—the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

One Of Many

Tunney's proposal to silence his constituents is only the latest effort to impede public discourse and transparency.

Other recent examples of Chicago's new, twisted idea of open government include:

• The formation of a secret "advisory group" to plan and measure efforts to reform the Chicago Pride Parade.

Not surprisingly, the group—whose members have never been publicly identified and who have been instructed not to speak publicly about their meetings—has determined that the minimal changes that they proposed this year were a smashing success.

A "success" despite the fact that by every quantifiable metric, the 2015 parade was worse than recent years. It was longer, tied up streets later, resulted in more stabbings and more aggravated batteries and generated more arrests than any recent year.

The removal of reporters and all non-approved citizens from community meetings that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel promoted as being "part of [an] effort of building trust and relationships that are essential part of community policing."

But reporters and many citizens who went to the "listening tour" meetings found themselves being escorted out. Only pre-approved "community representatives" were allowed to actually attend the not-so-open forums.

DNAInfo Chicago documented the ejections in Uptown and WBEZ reported on similar actions in other neighborhoods.

Tunney's steadfast refusal to respond to a Boystown resident's respectful letter about crime and safety concerns in our neighborhood. Even when 333 people co-signed a follow-up letter, the alderman remains silent.

The alderman's unwillingness to engage in an open conversation about policing even extends to his Facebook page, where his staff recently began removing comments and questions about the topic until their efforts were exposed here.

A Question

So, a question. Why should we believe him? 

He hides respectful, yet critical comments about public safety—which he says is his #1 priority.

He doesn't answer constituents who reach out to him in a respectful manner.

He forms secret committees and then expects us to believe that the people he choose to participate will fairly represent the community. And he expects us to believe him when he tell us what his secret committee says. 

He conducts an unscientific online survey about an important community issue, then he misleads the public about its results.

Police "listening tours" turn out to be highly selective listening tours.

And, now, he has actually written a proposal to suspend First Amendment rights.

Why should we believe him?

Top image: School House Rock
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  1. The Brave New World flourishes unabashed in Chicagoland.

  2. I went to my dictionary and looked up "douchebag" and was disappointed Tunneys photo wasn't there. This is indeed a new low, even for a sniveling screeching whiney spineless politican. National news media needs to get a hold of this. How can this be done? Not that anyone else may or may not necessarily be any more effective, but how can we in Ward 44 absolutely positively make sure this alderpuss is not re-elected?

    1. You first have to convince the progressive "hipsters" who live in the ward that socialism isn't uber cool.

    2. You also have to convince them that being gay us not a job qualification.

    3. ^ Dude, if being gay were a career move, I'd be, like, REALLY successful.

  3. If the media had any courage, ambition, and appreciation for investigative reporting, they would all camp out by his office and hound him until he answers to the people that were dumb enough to put him into office yet again. He has to get the biggest laugh over being able to be a complete moron and get paid over $100,000 from the taxpayers.

    1. The question is why are there still aldermen in Chicago? It's an old XIXth century system created at a time when there was no internet, no web pages and not even telephones, so City Hall could have outposts in the communities. But now there is absolutely nothing an alderman can do that a Chicago resident cannot implement by calling 311 or visiting the City of Chicago web page. Alderman Pawar's suggestion that the number of alderidiots could be reduced to 25 should be take rather seriously. It would probably be the best way to reduce the budget deficit without really giving up anything in return.

    2. And lets not forget that over $100,000 is for a part time job! Must be nice!

      My bet is that he will NEVER respond to Ted's letter - or any letter for that matter that demands real answers to tough questions. He has no answers. As a rubber-stamping minion of Rahm, he will never vote for a budget that includes additional money for more cops.....he will continue to vote for whatever Rahm wants, and we all know it's not more's giving public land to George Lucas.


    3. For a part time job, too.

  4. The spirit of your First Amendment concern is off-base and hyperbolic. Yes, the one quoted paragraph includes "and the neighbors", but the agreement is not for anyone other than Rosecrance and Tunney. They're not forcing, or even asking, any neighbor to sign this agreement. Read the first line:

    This Agreement (the “Agreement”) is made and entered into by and between Rosecrance Health
    Network (“Rosecrance”) and Alderman Tom Tunney (“Alderman”).

    At worst, it's a poorly written, unenforceable clause in a PR-focused contract that is intended to calm critics. It's efficacy or ulterior intentions have plenty of room for criticism, rather than screaming about its constitutionality.

    1. What's hyperbolic is saying that linking crime to Rosencrance would be "derogatory." Crime is a matter of public interest and concern.

      The clause was in the complaint procedure between the community and Rosencrance. Issues of privity aside, it may imply that speaking publicly about links between Rosencrance and crime would void a complaint from the community as a violation of that clause.

    2. Not to worry. Rosencrance gave Tunney the finger and said they would not abide with the "Good Neighbor" agreement. Tunney then turned around and voted to let them move in. Nice work Tom.

    3. hyperbolic is writing a 3-paragraph response without having read the original post!!

    4. @12:49PM
      I disagree completely. The 3-paragraph response fair criticism. And all of what 09:25 says is true. It is unenforceable and it does not include neighbors as signatories. That's not the point.
      What is true is that Tunney proposed a side agreement in which he states that he will not criticize this business (non-profit or not, it's still a business), for problems which may be their fault.
      Why would anyone do such a thing?
      Why give up a element of your power? What's the quid-pro-quo? What's in it for Tommy?
      I'd bet anybody a LOT of money that the conversation went something like this....
      "I will do everything in my power to make sure that things go smoothly for you. And if the neighbors get unruly, I will not join them simply for political expediency. Hell, I'll go one further, I'll put it in writing. But....I'm going to need to know that you're willing to help me out too.....(extends right hand, palm up, or similar gesture).
      That is the ONLY reason you'd ever do something as blatantly stupid as this.

  5. Obviously if we linked crime to Rosencrance, we are --ist of some sorts and despite having the most progressive and diverse neighborhood in the city, But we all should shut up because we are bigots and Tunney knows what's best for us.

    1. don't forget, you are contractually bound to shut it as well!

  6. I think Tunney should stick with what he does best - bussing tables and washing dishes at Ann Sathers. That $100K plus salary could be put to better use.

  7. Seriously, can we not get him REMOVED from office? I am one of the 333 and am willing to help get more people involved. If we all approached our neighbors, asked then to read the blog, follow this situation specifically, can we not get momentum and find a SOLUTION for this??? Complaining is one thing but getting active is the better side.

  8. Funny -- not a word about Rosecrance on his Facebook page ;)

  9. And shockingly, he continues to remove comments from his Facebook page that were made in response to his posts about the community alert and home run pizza.

    1. Yes, he does. We're thinking about starting a gallery.

  10. Tunney's feeling the heat. Nice work, CWB.

  11. Feeling the heat? The on;y heat he feels is from the oven with the cinnamon buns in it.

  12. Tunney has NEVER embraced the first amendment, the second he was first elected he began quashing the first amendment rights of citizens to benefit the Cubs but no one cared because it was "just" peanut vendors." Now it's you.