Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

A Chip Off the Old Burke

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Edward M. Burke | 14th Ward
    A Chicago political legend, Burke has held political office since 1969. He is chairman of the ever-powerful Finance Committee and opposed Mayor Harold Washington during the Council Wars of the 1980s. | Read Full Bio

    It’s almost St. Patrick’s Day, so why is the Sun-Times begrudging one Irishman giving another Irishman a job?
        
    In a front-page investigative story, reporters Steve Warmbir and Fran Spielman tell the story of Thomas Rowan, who was hired by Ald. Edward Burke’s Finance Committee to investigate workers’ compensation claims. A former Chicago cop who was most recently police superintedent of Cicero (where he was hired by Betty Loren-Maltese), Rowan ...

    ... took the Fifth 29 times when questioned under oath about whether he took part in setting up a Cook County commissioner for a bogus arrest — once the focus of an FBI investigation.
    Rowan has been accused of threatening an officer with the loss of his job for cooperating with that FBI investigation.
    In another matter, Rowan allegedly retaliated against a different cop by pulling back-up officers from her after she was sent out on a potentially violent call.
    For another Cicero cop, though, Rowan was quite helpful.
    Rowan wrote a letter to a federal judge on behalf of a violent Cicero officer, allegedly on the mob’s payroll, who is now in federal prison.

    On the other hand, Rowan donated $10,000 to Burke’s $8 million campaign fund, which makes up for all the above infractions. Rowan was as leader of an effort by Burke and Mayor Rahm Emanuel to save $15 million from the city’s $100 million a year workmens’ compensation bill. Looking for reasons not to give benefits to workers who say they’ve been injured at work is an a-hole job. Burke may have found a guy with the right qualifications. 

    Buy this book! Ward Room blogger Edward McClelland's book, Young Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President , is available Amazon. Young Mr. Obama includes reporting on President Obama's earliest days in the Windy City, covering how a presumptuous young man transformed himself into presidential material. Buy it now!