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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 12/2/15

An Accountability Moment for Chicago

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Reprinted from The Nation

Evidence of police misconduct demands federal oversight. And citizens need tools for holding Mayor Rahm Emanuel and others to account.

Chicago Police Chief Garry McCarthy fired by Mayor Rahm Emanuel
Chicago Police Chief Garry McCarthy fired by Mayor Rahm Emanuel
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Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is facing calls for inquiries, shakeups and even his resignation as he tries to address what a Chicago Sun-Times analysis on Tuesday described as "racial tensions brought to a boil by the Laquan McDonald shooting video."

So what are citizens to do?

Unlike many cities, where voters can petition for a recall election and remove a mayor, neither the city of Chicago nor the state of Illinois has established clear provisions for dismissing a mayor before the end of his or her term. That's a notable omission, as Chicago Tribune cartoonist Scott Stantis illustrated by showing Emanuel at a Thanksgiving table announcing "...and I'm thankful Chicago doesn't have mayoral recall."

"Seriously, a state that is corrupt and seemingly proud of it has no laws to impeach or recall crooked pols," Stantis notes with regard to local officials.

Stantis makes a key point. The website Ballotpedia explains that, with the exception of a narrow provision for recalling governors, enacted in 2010 after officials and citizens had struggled to figure out how to remove scandal-plagued Governor Rod Blagojevich, "the Illinois Constitution does not specifically address recall of local officials." While one Illinois city, Buffalo Grove, has experimented with a local recall provision, Chicago lacks an adequate toolkit for holding mayors and city council members to account -- just as it lacks term limits for Emanuel and other top officials.

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