The [Thursday] Papers
"One of the city's most persistent and troubling scandals reaches federal court Thursday when jury selection begins in the trial of Jon Burge, the former Chicago police detective accused of overseeing the torture of suspects," the Tribune reports.
"For nearly two decades, Burge and his detectives allegedly sent dozens of men to prison on the basis of coerced confessions, deepening bitterness between police and minorities and helping inspire former Gov. George Ryan to reject capital punishment and empty the state's death row."
"Kenneth Austin Jr., 21, was paid about $18,500 last year as a legislative aide for his grandmother, Ald. Carrie Austin, 34th, chairwoman of the Budget Committee."
And by Austin's logic, we should make it a priority to hire relatives of public officials.
"In the past, Austin defended the employment of her grandson, who first surfaced on her expense-account payroll in December 2008, by saying she holds him to 'a higher standard . . . I can ask of him what I can't ask of other people as well.'"
Like what, pick up her dry cleaning?
"Austin, who is currently ill, was unavailable to answer questions about her grandson's arrest, and staff members said they could not address the issue for her."
Perhaps because they've never seen Kenneth Austin actually perform any work.
"In August 2008, Kenneth Austin was charged with felony theft for allegedly teaming up with an in-home nurse to steal more than $2,000 from an elderly woman the nurse was caring for, court records show. The case is pending. He declined to comment."
Commenting isn't in his job description.
"[Kenneth Austin is] just one of the relatives whom aldermen paid through their annual expense allowance of $73,280, according to a Tribune review of the 2009 accounts. Others are Angela Moore, the daughter of Ald. Willie Cochran, 20th, and Dorothy Burnett, the mother of Ald. Walter Burnett, 27th. (See the database by clicking here).
"Aldermen are given wide discretion over how to use their expense allowances, which were increased from $33,280 by Mayor Richard Daley in 2008. The Tribune last August documented how the 2008 money was used to hire relatives, lease expensive automobiles and pay public relations professionals. New city data show that those practices continued last year."
"Cochran paid his daughter about $19,000 from his expense account between January and August of last year to work as an aldermanic aide in his ward office. She was later moved from the expense account to the city's regular payroll, according to city officials.
"Cochran's daughter is a college graduate who previously ran a coin laundry owned by her father.
"'In this job, it is very important that you surround yourself with people you can trust,' Cochran said."
Is that what they taught you at the Illinois Institute of Technology, Willie, when you were earning your master's degree in public administration there?
"Also being paid out of aldermanic expense accounts was Thomas Sadzak, a legislative aide in the 10th Ward to Ald. John Pope. Sadzak, a Democratic precinct captain, resigned from the Department of Streets and Sanitation in 2005 after being accused of sexual harassment, and he appears on a city do-not-hire list, documents show."
Well, the guy is named Pope.
University of Madigan
But Michael Madigan ain't talking.
"Last summer, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, was asked to testify before a panel investigating the University of Illinois' secret admissions track for applicants with powerful friends. He refused."
Madigan's Mouth, Steve Brown, has said that his boss was merely performing constituent service - even though the Tribune reported that "Only five of the 28 applicants helped in three recent years by the state's most powerful lawmaker lived in Madigan's district, and many would not have been admitted on their own merit."
Madigan has also refused to answer questions from Tribune reporters, because that's not how Madigan thinks democracy ought to work.
The way it works in his office is for Brown to go onto websites such as The Capitol Fax Blog and complain that the Trib's reporting is a "tortured attempt to smear someone."
Not nearly as tortured as getting unqualified relatives of cronies into a public university that would otherwise reject them.
Lisa Madigan's Compartments
Lisa Madigan also strongly criticized her father's efforts to lock in unjustified admissions at the U of I. Oh wait, that didn't happen.
Suck It, Medill
Renaming Navy Pier
The Beachwood Tip Line: Your move.
Posted on May 6, 2010
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