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Not only did police superintendent Garry McCarthy skip a Chatham community meeting where at least 250 people were waiting for him Saturday, but his spokespeople never offered organizers a clear explanation, saying only that he'd encountered a scheduling conflict.
McCarthy spokeswoman Maureen Biggane wasn't any more specific when I got in touch soon after, telling me it was "a scheduling error that should not have happened."
But Biggane did offer an explanation to the Trib's Eric Zorn yesterday: McCarthy was at another event that was canceled about the time he got there.
"The 5th Annual Hoops in the Hood Cross-City Tournament was held at Seward Park (on the Near North Side, starting at 11 a.m.)," Biggane e-mailed Zorn. "The Superintendent attended this Youth Basketball Tournament in support of Chicago's neighborhood children going for the cross-city basketball title. Twelve community basketball leagues from across Chicago were scheduled to participate. As it turned out, the event was canceled after the Superintendent's arrival because of the rain. The Superintendent remained on site and visited with youth, organizers and others in the Seward Park field house."
After I saw Zorn's post I called Roosevelt Vonil, president of the Greater Chatham Alliance. The information was news to him, but he took the high road and declined to comment further.
—In June the Greater Chatham Alliance booked McCarthy for the organization's 11 a.m. meeting last Saturday.
—Last week Vonil confirmed it with McCarthy's staff.
—Somehow McCarthy was also scheduled to visit the Seward Park basketball tournament at the same time as the Chatham meeting on the other side of town.
—Once McCarthy arrived at the tournament, he and his staff found out it had been canceled due to rain.
—Around the same time, Vonil received word that McCarthy was running late but on his way to the meeting in Chatham.
—McCarthy decided to stay at Seward Park and interact with people there.
—Residents in Chatham continued to wait for the chance to talk with McCarthy.
—An hour later, another police official finally announced to the Chatham group that McCarthy wasn't coming. They weren't told where he was instead.
—Five days later, the explanation came out in Eric Zorn's blog.
—The chief organizer of the Chatham event learned about it when I called to let him know.
Something tells me this isn't going to go over well with people in Chatham like the one who offered this thought on the Reader's site:
"I totally take issue with the fact that he cared that little for us to not show up. I was busy and had a host of running around to do to prepare my children for school and I took out the time from my busy weekend to attend. While we could see the leaders that came out and the Commander cared about us and wanted to hear our thoughts, our new Superintendent did not. The majority of the folks in the room had never met the guy. I guess we are the group that is on the wrong side of the rail road tracks."