Chicago Doesn’t Have Enough Police to Respond to 911 Calls
August 1, 2022
The Chicago Police Department is spread so thin that in 2021 more than half of high-priority emergency service calls were not responded to.
Wirepoints blog reported this astounding figure, uncovering data through public records requests to the Chicago Police Department, showing that there were 406,829 incidents of high-priority emergency service calls where no police responded.
That’s 52 percent of the 788,000 high-priority 911 service calls dispatched in 2021, Wirepoints reported.
High priority calls include “Priority Level 1 incidents,” which represent “an imminent threat to life, bodily injury, or major property damage/loss,” and “Priority Level 2 incidents” are when “timely police action…has the potential to affect the outcome of an incident.”
Responding to 911 calls in a timely manner is one of law enforcement’s most basic functions, but the police force shrunk so much that it can’t function properly.
Before George Floyd’s police-involved death set off riots, and before the Covid-19 pandemic wreaked havoc, there were only 156,016 instances where dispatchers had no police available to send, Wirepoints reported. That’s 19 percent of high priority 911 service calls made in 2019.
In 2021, the average base pay for police officers was about $84,000, with an average of $10,500 in overtime.
While Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she’s opposed to defunding police, she cut their budget by $80 million in 2021, with about $34 million of that coming from cuts in vacant positions.
As police left the force, Lightfoot didn’t replace them even as crime continued to surge.
So far this year, Chicago Police lost 300 officers, its staffing hitting a new low as hundreds have resigned while the city faces a crime wave and cut funding, The Daily Mail reported.
Over the past three decades, the number of police hadn’t dropped below 12,000 but numbers from March 30 this year show only 11,669 officers.
In 2021, 965 uniformed personnel resigned or retired, with 100 non-uniformed members also leaving the department, the Daily Mail reported.
After cutting $80 million in 2021, Lightfoot “refunded” the police following the shooting death of Chicago Officer Ella French. Lightfoot’s 2022 spending plan increased the Chicago Police Department's annual budget to $1.9 billion, up from $1.7 billion in 2021.
For the residents of Chicago whose 911 calls went unanswered, it’s too little, too late.
Oregon School Funds Lack Oversight, Despite $1.7B in Pandemic Money
August 2, 2022
State auditors in the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office recently issued a damning report that found state officials have sat by for years and not held the state education agency accountable as it has neglected the state’s students, while spending billions of dollars.
The audit found that the state’s governor, lawmakers and board of education ignored the state education agency’s hand-offs approach, as it “did little to set meaningfully high standards for schools or districts and did little to intervene when some of them vastly underdelivered for their students, particularly students of color and those living in poverty,” The Oregonian reported.
The audit found five risks based on their reviews of Oregon’s K-12 system over the past six years, including “a lack of intervention by [Oregon Department of Education], despite significant problems at the school and district level, has been a larger problem than infringement on local control.”
This lax oversight comes as Oregon schools has been flush with cash, including receiving $1 billion each year since the 2020-21 school year from a corporate tax for education.
Oregon schools have also collected more than $1.7 billion in federal pandemic funds since March 2020, the newspaper reported.
But the state officials tasked with making sure the schools are functioning well haven’t asked school leaders to show that the money is being well spent in teaching children, the audit said.
A Data Quality Campaign report found that Oregon’s 2021-22 report card was missing important stats about student academic performance, including data on chronic absenteeism and performance on assessments, the newspaper reported.
Oregon didn’t administer standardized tests in 2020 and had less testing in 2021 due to the pandemic. But the report also noted that in previous years, Oregon’s report cards were also missing information on students broken down by gender, foster-care status, homelessness status, migrant status and affiliation with the military, causing concern that poor children are being overlooked.
Auditors said Oregon’s education department’s role in holding school districts accountable for improving student learning outcomes is crucial, and without action from the governor, state board, and legislature that is unlikely to happen.
Former NYC Mayor De Blasio Hid Ferry Costs
August 3, 2022
Former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio fudged the numbers to hide that his administration poured almost $225 million into the city’s costly ferry system, while taxpayers subsidized $14.57 for each ride as passengers paid just $2.75 each.
The New York Post reported on those key findings from a recent audit released by city Comptroller Brad Lander.
De Blasio also wasted $66 million — including $34 million in “questionable vessel acquisition costs” — due to bad decisions by the officials in charge of the city’s Economic Development Corp., the 50-page report said.
While the EDC said it spent $534 million to operate the ferries for six and a half years ending last year, auditors found at least $758.5 million in ferry-related expenditures — a $224.5 million difference, Lander said.
The hidden spending, which included personnel costs and payments to vendors and, used $181 million in capital spending and $43.5 million in operating expenses, “obfuscating the actual cost of the NYC Ferry system,” according to the audit.
“If you just magically put your capital expenses below the line, you don’t have to show them — even though effectively it’s the same total set of costs in the system,” Lander said during a news conference at the NYC Ferry terminal in Manhattan’s Financial District, The Post reported.
De Blasio’s accounting gimmicks are the taxpayers’ loss, as they continue to pay for his administration’s ill-fated projects.
In 1975, Energy Czar Wastes Energy While Urging to Stop Wasting Energy
August 4, 2022
In November 1975, Sen. William Proxmire gave bureaucrat Frank Zarb a Golden Fleece award for wasting energy during an energy crisis — as he was urging people not to waste energy.
Proxmire gave the award to Zarb, administrator of what was then the Federal Energy Administration. It was created in 1974 to address the 1970s energy crisis, and in 1977, merged with the Energy Research and Development Administration into the newly-created U.S. Department of Energy.
Proxmire, a Democrat from Wisconsin, gave awards to wasteful and nonsensical spending, eventually handing out 168 Golden Fleece Awards between 1975 and 1988.
“Since Jan. 1, 1975, this winged wastrel of energy, fuel and taxpayers’ money has used chartered Air Force and private aircraft on 13 trips to places such as New Orleans, Louisiana, Jackson, Mississippi, Little Rock, Arkansas and New York City,” the senator said of Zarb.
He spent $25,000 — $137,690 in 2022 dollars — and used almost 19,000 gallons of fuel in 1975 “jetting around the county in chartered aircraft urging businessmen and civic groups to economize on energy and fuel.”
“In half or more of the total cases, Mr. Zarb flew in a plush four-engine Air Force jet, which burned enough fuel in an hour to supply the average American driver with enough gasoline to drive for an entire year,” Proxmire said.
While he called Zarb a “hardworking, conscientious administrator,” he should be able to see the “supreme irony” of his actions.
Proxmire noted that on occasions where Zarb charted the Air Force jet, a commercial flight was also flying from his originating point to his destination — at 1/20th of the cost.
The private plane he flew to Little Rock used more than 2,500 gallons of jet fuel and the flight cost the government $3,053. When he arrived, he urged residents to end their “romance with the chrome-plated gunboat,” a luxury car that had been an American status symbol.
Zarb should have received two awards, one for wasting taxpayer money and another for his laughable hypocrisy.
VP Harris Spends Up To $6M on Staff
August 5, 2022
While the Freedom of Information Act requires federal agencies to give the public access to records, the Office of the Vice President says it’s not considered an agencyso it’s not subject to FOIA. It refuses to provide requested figures on total spending or staff salaries.
Even without the cooperation of the OVP, OpentheBooks.com was able to see the spending from the U.S. Senate’s semi-annual report for Oct. 1, 2020, to March 31, 2021, which gives a partial list of staff names and pay.
While the 2021 salaries for VP Harris’s 28 staff listed in the Senate report added up to $2,334, 223.97, when estimated for the year, the president’s congressional budget submission shows the OVP got $5 million for 23 full time staff in 2021 and requested $6,039,000 for 27 full time staff in 2022.
We don’t know why the discrepancy exists because the OVP won’t answer our questions.
We do know that Harris named Tina Flournoy as her chief of staff in December 2020, a leader who been criticized for her rough management style that some say has led to dysfunction and frustration in Harris’ office.
Symone D. Sanders, Harris senior advisor/chief spokesperson, initially defended Flournoy but became one of many to leave her high-profile job there at the end of 2021.
Sanders left two weeks after communications director Ashley Etienne resigned, which renewed speculation of chaos and dysfunction within the vice-president’s office.
The Freedom of Information Act is a vital piece of our democracy, ensuring the governed can see what the government is doing with their money. Without it, politicians run free with taxpayer funds and with no one to answer to.
The #WasteOfTheDay is presented by the forensic auditors at OpenTheBooks.com.