I find that we can divide people into two categories: those who are political and those who are not. Unfortunately, there are more of the “are not” than those of us who really get into the politics. Right now the biggest emphasis I’ve seen in terms of politics has been in the presidential race. But as the late speaker of the House of Representatives, Tip O’Neill, once truthfully stated, “All politics is local.” And there is one local race that can affect many of us more over the next four years than who becomes the president of the United States.
That office was once held by our current mayor, Richard M. Daley. While he held the office, a certain CPD lieutenant by the name of Jon Burge tortured a number of suspects. Some of those individuals recently settled with the city (that means you and I paid) and will receive a $20 million settlement. So as we listen to the mayor talk about tax increases for libraries and schools, remember the $20 million going out of the city’s coffers from our pockets to pay those torture victims.
We also had a case back in 1999 involving five Cook County sheriffs. Those sheriffs were off duty and in a SUV. They had been drinking and got into a traffic altercation with a young black couple. For 12 miles, that couple was chased through the south suburbs by the SUV with one of the sheriffs shooting at them. If you want to imagine the distance, it would be like driving from State/Madison in downtown Chicago to 1st Avenue/Madison in Maywood. All the while someone is shooting at you.
Of the five officers, one resigned shortly after the incident. Three years later after being called “Bozos” and then being acquitted of the charges, two of them resigned while the remaining two were told they would be fired. The politician in office at the time, who could have pressed a “hate crime” charge against those officers, choose not to so do. Several of those officers had family members who were high up in political circles, so shooting at a black couple could have never been “racial.”
Not too long ago, we had the case of Howard Morgan. You all remember Mr. Morgan. He was shot over 25 times by the CPD and even though he was a police officer for the railroad and authorized to carry a weapon, he was charged with attempted murder of the police officers, none of whom suffered any life-threatening injuries. Even though the trial of Mr. Morgan ended with a mistrial, he could still be brought up on charges because the politician who holds this particular office has that authority. A point of interest: the judge in both the sheriff shooting case and in the case of Howard Morgan was Judge Clayton Crane-a name you will surely want to vote to not retain
By now I hope most of you know what office I’m speaking about. It’s the office of the Cook County state’s attorney. It’s also the one where, out of all the candidates who are now on the ballot for it, only Ald. Howard Brookins announced he would seek it months before the current State’s Attorney Dick Devine announced he wouldn’t run again. The rest of the Democrats are all Johnny-come-lately(s) who didn’t have the gall or gumption to challenge Devine until he decided not to run.
The job of the Cook County state’s attorney is to “secure justice, promote the public health and safety, and serve as the legal representatives of the nation’s second largest county. The state’s attorney pursues these goals by enforcing the criminal laws, promoting civil protection for the disabled, the elderly, consumers and the environment, and acting as general counsel for county government.”
The state’s attorney can also decide not to press charges as well. Like the case of Anu Solanki, the Des Plaines woman who feigned being kidnapped or drowned and cost taxpayers a quarter of a million dollars in resources after she ran off with her boyfriend. The state’s attorney decided not to charge her with any criminal offense.
“All politics is local.” The state’s attorney race is the most important local race for anyone who wants to see fairness, justice and competency in the justice system. Whoever occupies that office can set precedence for what gets prosecuted and what doesn’t. I’ve given four examples of what the current holder of that office has done. Make sure the next person who gets that job does the job and not become another benchwarmer for the status quo.
The Democratic candidates are: Tom Allen, Anita Alvarez, Tommy Brewer, Howard B. Brookins Jr., Robert J. Milan and Larry Suffredin. A debate between those candidates can be viewed this Sunday, Jan. 20 at 4 p.m. on Channel 7.