No, I do not know Jon Burge. No, I was not tortured by Jon Burge. But I did have a connection to that torture situation that I will explain later.
In 1995, the state legislature, in its wisdom, decided to place the Chicago Public School system under the sole authority of the mayor of the City of Chicago. Some people refer to it as a dictatorship. In any event, the Mayor apparently decided that the business of education was too important to trust to educators, so he appointed a hack politician from city hall, Paul Vallas, to serve as CEO of the system. The head of the system is now referred to as a CEO rather than General Superintendent because the system supposedly is being run like a business. When did Paul Vallas or his successor ever run a business?
I had never heard of Paul Vallas, but he seemed to have a real problem with me. After drumming me out of the system, he attempted to prevent me from getting my full pension. Imagine, after working almost 40 years, a political hack from city hall shows up and attempts to do you out of your pension. I had to get a lawyer, James Montgomery, to deal with the problem that Vallas created.
Once that was resolved, Vallas began having me investigated. At one point I was accused, along with a member of my staff, of having signed a contract to do something illegal in the Virgin Islands. I had never heard of criminals signing a contract to commit a crime. An outside investigator who had been retained by the Law Department of the Board of Education, claimed that the U.S. attorney in the Virgin Islands had the contract with my signature.
Believe me (this was in the dead of winter), I would have loved to have a contract to do something in the Virgin Islands. I finally got them off my back by demanding that they produce a copy of this contract with my signature or take their investigation and shove it.
I recall reading an item in the newspaper that Vallas had gotten the Board of Education to approve a sum of $750,000 to retain an investigative unit of the State’s Attorney’s office to monitor the construction program that the Board of Education had begun. This is the unit that Vallas sent after me. They went around the city questioning people and telling them they were conducting a criminal investigation of Grady Jordan. I wrote a letter to State’s Attorney Richard Devine asking what probable cause did they have to investigate me. Months went by without an answer. I sent him a second copy of the letter with a copy to the Westside Ministers Coalition. I then received a letter from someone in Devine’s office. The letter contained a lot of irreverent mumbo-jumbo. It did not address my question, “what probable cause is there for an investigation of me by the State’s Attorney’s office?”
Eventually, the investigator (two of them) came to my house, twice. This was in February 1998. One of them told me he had retired from the Chicago Police Department where he had served as a homicide detective. I jokingly told people that Vallas had sent a murder detective to my house. This particular detective treated me with respect. I have no complaint about that. On Aug. 18, 1998, a date I shall never forget, I went to 26th and California and met with the State’s Attorney’s staff. I was told that the investigation, after about three years, was over and no wrongdoing was found. None was found because none had occurred. Normally, a criminal investigation begins with a crime and authorities begin to look for the perpetrators. In my case, the investigation began with a person, me, and investigators were sent out again and again over a three-year period to try to find a crime.
Now back to Jon Burge. As is well known, Cook County retained two persons (I believe they were former judges) to investigate the charges that Jon Burge and other police under his command had routinely tortured black male prisoners for two decades. The special prosecutors found that the charges were true but that Burge could not be prosecuted because too much time had lapsed. Some people call it a “whitewash.” I read in the newspaper that some of the police involved in the torture were given immunity to testify against Jon Burge. Imagine my chagrin when one of the policemen listed for immunity was the former homicide detective that Vallas had sent to my house.
It has been reported in the media that the police superintendent at the time sent a letter to then State’s Attorney Richard M. Daley, informing him about this torture. The top deputy in the State’s Attorney’s office at the time was Richard Devine. Remember, some of these black men ended up on death row. Not only did the states attorney do nothing, but Devine’s office hired one of them as an investigator, and Paul Vallas sent him to my house.