Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Alderman Stone fails to eliminate Inspector General

This particular scandal started with some election-related illegalities. Here's the gist from the press release from the Cook County State's Attorney on January 29, 2008:

State’s Attorney Richard A. Devine announced charges today against a Department of Streets and Sanitation ward superintendent, who allegedly targeted voters of the 50th ward, misled them to vote by absentee ballot and collected ballots. In some cases, he marked ballots for voters and watched them cast their vote during both the February and April 2007 elections.

Anish Eapen, 37, 7505 N. California, 50th Ward Superintendent, with the Bureau of Streets and Sanitation is charged with 2 counts of Official Misconduct, a class 3 felony, 3 counts of Absentee Ballot Violations, a class 3 felony and 1 count of Mutilation of Election materials, a class 4 felony. If convicted, Eapen faces up to 5 years in prison.

Also charged was Armando Ramos, 34, 6419 N. Fairfield, with 2 counts of Absentee Ballot Violations, and 2 counts of Mutilation of Election Materials. If convicted, Ramos faces up to 5 years in prison.
So what do you do with a corruption scandal? Some folks might think the solution is to clean it up. But here, you get rid of the guy who's trying to clean it up - figuratively, that is. Clout Street continues the saga:
"Ald. Bernie Stone (50th) tried today to make good on his threat to eliminate the city's inspector general office, but his colleagues quickly sidelined the effort.

Nine months ago, an inspector general’s probe resulted in the indictment of Stone’s Streets and Sanitation superintendent. Stone responded by threatening to remove funding for Inspector General David Hoffman’s office from the budget.

'He’s come after me and my staff, and I’m going after him, and the only way I have to go after him is to cut his funds,' Stone said Monday at a Budget Committee meeting."
So there. But the aldermen voted to table Stone's budget amendment. Maybe they thought that "eliminating" Inspector General David Hoffman might not look so good, what with the FBI's continued interest in Chicago corruption, and one of their own figuring so prominently in the public eye. Or maybe not.

Based statements like Stone's forthright declaration about "going after" Hoffman to punish him - I get the feeling that some of these Democrat players really don't believe that corruption is wrong. If your definition of what is right pivots on party loyalty and paybacks, instead of responsibility to the people you represent, you don't have to think about how "outsiders" are harmed by corruption, or the cost to them as taxpayers. If that's true, then outsiders are pretty much the only hope for clean government in Chicago. (And yes, I did use the words "clean government" and "Chicago" in the same sentence. Dream with me ...)

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