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LAMBRO: Chicago ‘fire’
Democratic misrule is disaster piled atop calamity
Chicago’s steep, jobless economic decline is certainly a factor. The city is overtaxed. Its inefficient, overweight government is drowning in political patronage, corruption and bureaucracy. The larger social problem cries out for no-holds-barred law enforcement, putting criminals behind bars, taking control of the streets and making its neighborhoods safe again.
The role model for that kind of change was seen in the 1990s under then-New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, a tough, confident, no-nonsense former criminal prosecutor who cleaned up the streets, put the bad guys in prison and made Manhattan livable again.
When Mr. Giuliani became mayor in January 1994, the city was losing on average about 1,700 private-sector jobs a week. The homicide rate had soared to more than 2,000 a year, and more than 1 million New Yorkers were on welfare.
“The city was, in the oft-used word of the day, ungovernable. Unsalvageable. The economy was a wreck. Nothing the city did seemed to work. Social indicators were uniformly bleak. In 1993, for the first time, a majority of births in the city were delivered to unmarried mothers,” wrote Michael Tomasky in New York magazine.
By the end of Mr. Giuliani’s first year in office, the crime rate had plunged by 12 percent, by 16 percent in 1995 and by 16 percent in 1996. Annual homicides, which had skyrocketed to 2,262 in 1992, fell well below 1,000 for the first time in decades in 1996.
He put more cops on the street, cut budgets and taxes, slashed welfare rolls, showed he could not be pushed around by the unions, and improved the schools.
There’s little if any difference between the problems that confronted Mr. Giuliani and those that now face Mr. Emanuel in Chicago. There’s a big difference between the way they approached them, however.
Mr. Emanuel, a life-long pol, is no reformer. His party has run and owned City Hall for as long as anyone can remember (since 1931) and it remains a one-party, Democratic-encrusted fiefdom to this day, resistant to needed political and operational changes.
The result is a crime-ridden city that is rapidly decaying inside and out, economically, socially and politically. It is likely to get worse in the years to come.
It’s too bad we can’t send Mr. Giuliani to Chicago, like the paladins of old, to clean up the town, puts its economy back on track, and go after the bad guys with both guns blazing. If asked, I think he’d take the job in a New York minute.
Donald Lambro is a syndicated columnist and contributor to The Washington Times.
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