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 My Scary Encounter With Chicago's Mayor Richard Daley Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2011/02/01/scary-encounter-chicagos-mayor-richard-daley/#ixzz1CkwwVqPI

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PostSubject: My Scary Encounter With Chicago's Mayor Richard Daley Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2011/02/01/scary-encounter-chicagos-mayor-richard-daley/#ixzz1CkwwVqPI   Tue Feb 01, 2011 5:21 pm

My Scary Encounter With Chicago's Mayor Richard Daley


Chicago-style politics is infamous for
kickbacks, dead people voting, and thuggery. Alas, it is not just a
relic of the past. In fact, witness recent stories of Chicago city
workers being hired or promoted based on how well they got voters to the polls and not how well they did their official jobs, children getting admitted to prestigious city schools based on political connections, and the granting of city contracts.


Unfortunately, I know first hand more than I
would like about Chicago politics. A decade ago, I was working at the
University of Chicago Law School as an Olin Fellow, doing research and
some teaching, when I happened to cross paths with Mayor Richard Daley. As he is now about to retire from office, it is time for the facts to come out.


As the author of the book "More Guns, Less
Crime" and someone living and working on Daley's home turf in Chicago, I
was not one of his favorite people.


Daley has long been one of the nation's strongest gun control proponents, and his behavior has sometimes bordered on the irrational.


This past spring he attacked a reporter who asked:
"since guns are readily available in Chicago even with a ban in place,
do you really think it’s been effective?" Daley shouted in front of
stunned reporters: “Oh, it's been very effective. If I put this up your butt, you’ll find out how effective it is.”


The University of Chicago is one of the
nation's top private universities, and, despite its name, it does not
have any formal links with the city of Chicago or any other government
entity. Yet, one day, I was suddenly faced with immediate removal from
my position at the university. What had happened?


On December 15, 1998, I learned from Dan
Fischel, the law school's Dean, that Mayor Daley had called up the
president of the University of Chicago, Hugo Sonnenschein. Mayor Daley
reportedly had told Sonnenschein that he had great plans for the
relationship between the city and the school but that my continued
presence at the university was going to do “irreparable harm” to that
relationship.


I was then faced with two different
termination options: immediately resign from the university or stay
until July and promise not to talk to the press any more while I was
there.


What had I done? On December 10, 1998, Daley
had organized a conference with four other mayors to discuss suing the
gun makers. Because of my book, “More Guns, Less Crime,” which argued
that Daley’s gun laws did more harm than good, reporters from the local
CBS and Fox stations who were already at the conference asked me to meet
them to talk about the lawsuits.


I had originally planned to arrive after the
mayors had made their presentations, but when I arrived, the mayors
were behind schedule. I met then CBS reporter Mike Flannery
outside the auditorium where the mayors' presentation was about to take
place, and he suggested that I attend the meeting so that I could
better answer any questions that he might have. Mayor Daley went first
and then other mayors made statements.


When the audience started yelling questions,
I raised my hand in an attempt to get called on. At that point a woman
walked over to me and asked me if I was John Lott from the University of
Chicago. I said that I was, and she informed me that I was not allowed
to ask any questions -- no additional explanation was offered.


This appeared awfully strange, and it
bothered me that someone would be singled out in the entire crowd. So
after about 10 minutes, I decided to raise my hand again to ask a
question. The same woman reappeared, this time signaling to two
plainclothes men to come up behind me where I was seated. The woman
stated that only the press were allowed to ask questions and that I
would have to leave. While she was speaking to me, one of the men gave
me a couple of solid hits in my back and then pushed me hard on my
shoulder, almost knocking me out of my chair. I told her that I wasn't
leaving, but that I wouldn't raise my hand again.


Some in the audience noticed. A reporter
from the Baltimore Sun (Joe Mathews) had been seated next to me and gave
me his card, stating that he thought the whole thing looked
surprising.


After the Mayors’ presentation, Mike
Flannery suggested that it would be better to do the interview outside.
However, after the interview, I still needed to contact the reporter
from the local Fox station so I tried re-entering the building to use a
pay phone. One of the men who had come up behind me earlier in the
auditorium was at the door and said that I was not allowed to enter and
that I had "lied" to get in to begin with. He claimed that I had lied
about being a member of the press to get in. He also told me that I was
not a real university professor and that in my public criticism of Mayor
Daley's gun policies I was abusing the University of Chicago's name and
using it for my own political purposes.


I told him that I would like to reenter to
make a telephone call and that I had not lied to get in -- I told him
that he could check the log book and see that I signed in as being with
the University of Chicago. At this time the female guard locked the door
into the facility and said to the plainclothes man that it was now
impossible for me to enter. The man appeared to have no interest in
checking the log and told me to leave or he was going to call the
police.


All of this was quite unsettling, but still I
had no inkling of what was yet to come. In a few days, I got an e-mail
from the Dean of the Law School, Dan Fischel, where I was a fellow: "I
received a disturbing call last Friday concerning alleged events
involving you at the mayor's press conference the previous day. I need a
memo from you describing in detail what happened."


Thus, I e-mailed the Dean describing the
above details. A few days later, I was given an ultimatum. I had to
either: 1) immediately resign from the university and I would receive
the money that I would have gotten through the end of the year or 2)
Stay on through the end of my contract in July but promise not to talk
to the press any more while I was there.


I wrote back to Dean Fischel -- with whom I
believe I had been on good terms with -- that I was "stunned and shocked
at being requested to resign" and pointed out that I had gone to the
conference to answer questions about my research at reporters’ requests,
not to cause trouble. And I asked him whether, if I took option 2, I
could still talk about my book that had been released that year and my
other research.


He responded: "I cannot give you a specific
answer to your questions," and noted, "With respect t[o] damage to your
reputation, many think you have only yourself to blame by winding up in a
public confrontation at the mayor's press conference."


In a later e-mail, he added: "If you cannot
make yourself for all practical purposes invisible (at least in terms of
any mention of the university), you should resign."


I ended up taking the second option, and
completely stopped talking to the media for about 4 months. Only in
March with just a couple months left at the University of Chicago did I
again start accepting requests to write op-ed pieces and do radio and TV
interviews on my book.


In retrospect, I probably should have gone
to the press immediately. But, at the time, I worried that doing so
would make life difficult for others who caught in the middle of all
this, such as Dean Fischel.


I was also worried that telling these almost
unbelievable events would be harmful for myself because academia frowns
on people who generate controversy.


Chicago magazine ran a story on this
incident in August, 2006, and described the events this way: "a man in
the audience, a fierce defender of the right to carry a gun, tried to
interrupt the mayor with pointed questions. That was John R. Lott . . .
stories made the rounds that he had heckled the mayor until police took
him from the room. Lott denies this account vigorously."


It should have been easy to check whether I
had left the event with reporter Mike Flannery or whether I heckled the
mayor and was removed by police. I had provided the author of the
Chicago magazine piece, James Merrier, all the material presented here.
After the piece ran, Merrier responded to an e-mail by me, noting: "I
did talk with Mike Flannery and his memory of the incident largely
squared with yours. Largely for that reason, I did not go into more
detail about who was there and why. Had I done so, I doubt it would have
survived the editing process."


Unfortunately, Chicago magazine was more
interested in repeating the more sensational, false charges against me
than in letting readers know whether they were correct. Alas, despite my
request, not even the University of Chicago checked whether my version
of events was true and they never contacted the reporters that I had
cited. Presumably it just would have been too inconvenient to obtain
information that contradicted Mayor Daley's version of events.


In any case, the desire to avoid the whole
issue has remained more than a decade after the original events. Even
the University of Chicago Press, publisher of "More Guns, Less Crime,"
refused to allow me to discuss the events about the mayor in the third
edition, which came out in 2010.


With Daley about to leave office, there will
be a lot of retrospectives in the media about his tenure as mayor.
Daley obviously feels passionately about gun control, but using
government threats to stop academics from taking positions that he
disagrees with goes too far. Who knows how extensive these methods of
chilling speech were? It's unlikely that my unfortunate experience was
the only instance of Mayor Daley silencing his opposition.


John R. Lott, Jr. is a FoxNews.com contributor. He is an economist and author of the just released revised edition of "More Guns, Less Crime" (University of Chicago Press, 2010).
Read more: [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

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My Scary Encounter With Chicago's Mayor Richard Daley Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2011/02/01/scary-encounter-chicagos-mayor-richard-daley/#ixzz1CkwwVqPI
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