As if the city of Chicago doesn’t have enough problems, The Chicago Tribune has unearthed some shocking emails sent by a Chicago Water Department official.
Their original investigation by the news outlet involved district water superintendent Paul Hansen, who used his official government email to conduct dubious personal business, including the purchasing of firearms and vehicles. That scandal also involved the sending of sexually explicit pictures and emails and the breathtaking hypocrisy of a Chicago government official illegally purchasing firearms. It also led to the uncovering of a series of emails between Hansen and the son of a former Chicago alderman.
The emails from Hansen – who is white – were sent to multiple water department officials and joked about a “Chicago Safari” package.
It cited the number of shootings during a July Fourth weekend and guaranteed tourists would observe “at least one kill and five crime scenes” and also see “lots of animals in their natural habitat.”
Hansen’s racially charged emails included messages to fellow workers purported to be in “Ebonics,” sometimes called American black English, and a picture describing a swimming pool for a small African-American child who sits in a bucket filled with water while holding a slice of watermelon, the report found.
The emails are detailed in a quarterly report from Inspector General Joseph Ferguson.
“Remember all Chicago Safari packages include 3 deluxe ‘Harold’s Chicken’ meals a day,” the report quoted Hansen’s email as saying. “We guarantee that you will see at least one kill and five crime scenes per three day tour. You’ll also see lots and lots of animals in their natural habitat. Call and book your Chicago Safari today.”
Four white people in safari gear are depicted as taking pictures of several black people who are trying to break into a car, the report said.
The Tribune’s report outlines a series of bigotry scandals originating in the Chicago Water Department, and it also lays out the pressure being levied against Mayor Rahm Emmanuel in regards to race relations, police brutality and gun violence on Chicago’s south side.
However, what is most notable about these revelations isn’t that the City of Chicago employs people like Hansen but that these are the same people who purport to tell the rest of the unwashed masses what is and isn’t in their best interests. Chicago has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the nation and yet is riddled with gun violence. While the elites in city and state government use their positions to enrich themselves and engage in the very activities they’ve outlawed for others, citizens of Chicago have been left defenseless against the scourge of high crime and low accountability in their neighborhoods.
While Emmanuel has taken some action to address the scandals – including appointing an African-American water department commissioner -it doesn’t do much to address the crux of the problem. Hansen is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to government corruption in Chicago. He is by no means the only reprobate employed by the city, as detailed in the Tribune’s investigations. These people don’t appear out of nowhere and it would be grossly naive to believe even officials of color haven’t long known of (and endorsed, tacitly or otherwise) the disturbing culture of bigotry and elitism within their own government.
Are these the people the average citizen are supposed to trust to tell them how to live their lives every day? Should these people be empowered to continually skirt the American Constitution in the name of “public safety”?
The real issue here isn’t the contempt any one person employed by that city has for people of color, or of a certain religion or sexuality.
The real issue is the contempt the elected officials of Chicago have for the very citizens they claim to serve. It is not a person…it is a culture.