Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sunday Reading: Chicago, Still Corrupt to the Core

If you need any reminders that Chicago remains a feudalist state, here they are:

The Chicago Sun-Times' Mark Brown documents the shady dealings of "For a Better Chicago" a group that's used a loophole in Illinois Campaign Law to keep secret the source of the nearly $1 million dollars they're spreading around to aldermanic candidates in the upcoming election.  And who's the chairman of this august group?  None other than one Greg Goldner, a former Daley administration official who was an aide to Victor Reyes, former head of the HDO, organized by various Daley political hacks to keep the city's Hispanic population in the machine fold and make sure only the docile and supine got elected.  Goldner also ran Richard M. Daley's 2003 re-election campaign, as well as Rahm Emanuel's first campaign for Congress.  Oh, and most recently he's "been leading  a campaign to bring legalized video gambling to Chicago."  Rahm Emanuel, of course, is our anointed next mayor-for-life, about to waltz into office with no real accountability to anyone but the usual good old boys network.  In Chicago, the city of sheep, we get the government we deserve.

In the New York Times,  Don Terry offers another account of the outrageous eavesdropping law that makes it a Class 1 felony with a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison - "just one step below attempted murder" as one victim notes - for recording non-violent encounters with the police.  The police, of course, can record anyone, at any time, with impunity.  Tiawanda Moore has been charged with violation of the statute for using her Blackberry to record her interview by two internal affairs officers,  Christopher Drew for creating a video of his arrest for selling art without a license. 

The cases are being vigorously prosecuted by Cook County States Attorney Anita Alvarez, elected as a vaguely reformist candidate, whose tenure so far has been most notable for soiling her office with these cases and for using her power to harass Northwestern University students who committed the outrages of  rescuing a number of wrongfully convicted inmates.  Also fighting tooth and nail to defend the eavesdropping law is Chicago's Fraternal Order of Police, for whom there is no such thing as a crooked cop - the FOP picked up much of the tab for the defense of the recently convicted serial torturer Jon Burge. 

In 2009, Chicago police officer Anthony Abbate was found guilty of beating the crap out a female bartender.  In the best Chicago tradition, he received probation.  He was convicted because of a videotape documenting the graphic violence. a tape that shamed Chicago as it was broadcast repeatedly all across the nation.  If that video came, not from a security camera, but from the diminutive bartender's cell phone, you can bet she would have been charged under our state's draconian eavesdropping statute, and probably been much more likely to wind up in prison than her attacker.  In Chicago, the city of sheep, no one has the guts to do anything about it.

Chicago is a great city, but it requires a strong stomach.

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