Written by Denny Johnson
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Wednesday, 14 January 2004

It’s no offense to be felon in Chicago.

When it comes to crime, corruption, and clout, Illinois, and particularly Cook County has always been on the cutting edge of the crooked side of payday. There’s plenty of ways to make money in the big city Bud -- the easiest way has always been to steal it from someone else.

But, the rub there is you got to find a big pile of it worth stealing unless you’re just a grub into stick’n up gas stations and mini-marts. In that case you go right on down to Joliet and serve your time, and then you’ll be on your way lookn’ for work as an ex-con.

Now a job in politics is just about as close as you can get to stealn’ and still staying out of the hoosegow, part of the time anyway. And, any penny-ante thief knows it, if you could legally be a politician, and a felon, you’d surely have about the most perfect set-up ever next to having a law degree that is.

Well, now you can. A Cook County judge ruled last week that just because an alderman is convicted of taking a bribe doesn't mean he can't become an alderman again. This of course was great news for current and former alderman, judges, police chiefs, toll-way collectors, lawyers, governors and precinct captains and all those who have proceeded them on the long lines to state and federal prisons throughout the country. Finally these people will have something to do when they get out – it’s like a sort of rehabilitation..

In Chicago this was not totally unexpected and came as a surprise only to the public who were under the impression that you couldn’t steal and suck at the public teat at the same time. Most of the alderman have always been known to be crooks, or at the least, a good number have aspired to be. It used to be a prerequisite to the job back in the day. You didn’t get yourself nominated by the Democratic committeemen in your ward if you were poised to deconstruct a system that has been feeding dishonest mouths since some loony came up with the idea of making beer illegal.

Now the thing is this former alderman/felon/guy is probably best considered a “screw-up” anyway and not likely to go much further up the political ladder to success because most nobody can trust him. And nobody has any need for a crook they can’t trust. For one thing he got caught -- that doesn’t say much for his talents and of course you’ve got to consider his track-record here too. See, he talks with the feds so he can get a space at a healthier prison, maybe one with tennis courts instead of road-gangs. They tell him, “O.K. go do your time, when you get out, here’s our phone number. When you see somebody doing something crooked, just call us, it saves everybody a lot of time.”

Never mind that “Land of Lincoln” on the license plate Buddy, try the “Shoe-Box-State,” or, “Dillinger Was Shot Here!” We’re known for our out-front corruption and murders and our politicians do everything they can to live up to their unsavory reputation. The one thing they don’t do is talk to the feds, that’s political suicide in this state – there’s a code-of-honor to live up to, it’s about their reputations. Where do you thing the term cement-galoshes come from? Phoenix?

For the last 50 years in Illinois we’ve usually sent every other Governor to jail, just to show the new guy that they can’t get away with being crooks, but it doesn’t seem to make too much of an impression and somebody from the next administration always ends up in prison, it’s just the way we do things around here. And, these are the Governors we’re talking about, no telling what their cronies are up to?

This Alderman pleaded guilty to taking $31,000 in bribes in the Operation Silver Shovel probe (OSSP). He refused to wear a transmitting wire to help snare fellow aldermen, so he wasn’t that honest, and ended up serving 21 months in prison. That’s about two years, like a finishing school, or an apprenticeship at McDonald’s. He took $31-G’s. That’s not hardly groceries for the year. He was a piker, pure and simple. He most likely could have made that much in one year on the legit if he decided to be a teacher instead of a crook, which everyone knows is the second best job next to stealn’. One former Illinois Secretary of State had at least that much stuffed in a shoe box in his closet, and there were hundreds more of matching shoe boxes stashed throughout his apartments downstate.

Maybe you don’t live in a big city, so now, I can’t say how it is in your town, or county or state, I just know about Chicago, and that’s how it’s always been here. We’ve got bone orchards stuffed with people who are still voting long after their own funerals – that’s why they call it “The City That Works”.

"[Yes] I made a mistake," the former alderman/felon/guy said perhaps with aspirations for the White House. "Did I betray the public trust? Yes, I did. I have learned my lesson.” If we were to turn our backs on every single individual who made a mistake, we would be in a sorry state. Bill Clinton made a mistake and I think he became more popular than ever."

It’s guys like this that give Illinois/politicians/felons a bad name. “It's the very people I represented before who would like me to get another opportunity,” the former felon tells anyone who may be listening.

How he knows that I can’t say. Perhaps he got a lot of fan mail from his constituents while he was learning how to make baskets and studying up on perfecting his art of the particulars of pervasive persuasion: “Dear Alderman, thanks for stealing our money, betraying our public trust and taking bribes to fund your vacation with Ms. Bimbo in Barbados. Wish we were there, your blind, deaf, dumb, clueless and stupid voter.”

Hell, I might even vote for him. Here’s a guy that’s convinced himself the people want him back – that it’s his destiny. He’s obviously not without his faults and lying and pride seem to be two of his best. Who are we say we don’t deserve him?

Besides Buddy, where you going to learn anything, if not in jail?

The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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