Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Why Every Alderman Should Be Surrounded By Cops

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Ald. Edward Burke is adamant about hanging on to his police security.

    Burke has been chauffeured and protected by Chicago cops since the 1980s, when his opposition to Mayor Harold Washington during Council Wars made him the subject of violent threats. A judge upheld Burke’s right to security, and as far as he’s concerned, that’s the end of the matter.

    “A court order is a court order and, in order to change it, there would have to be a hearing,” Burke told the Sun-Times.

    I’m all in favor of Burke keeping his security detail. In fact, I think the city should extend police protection to every alderman. Here’s why: Burke has been in office for 42 years, a Chicago record. For most of that time, he’s been surrounded by cops. Not once during that time has Burke been charged with a crime. For a Chicago alderman, that’s also a record.

    During Burke’s tenure on the City Council, 31 aldermen have been convicted of crimes ranging from bribery to embezzlement to racketeering to extortion. What did these aldermen have in common? They didn’t have cops watching them around the clock, as Burke does. Everyone suspected Ald. Edward Vrdolyak was a shady character, but he also had six cops keeping an eye on him. He didn’t land in prison until after leaving the City Council, when there was no one around to stop him from committing real-estate fraud.

    Instead of trying to pull Burke’s security, Mayor Rahm Emanuel should introduce the “Taxpayer Protection Act of 2011,” which would assign at least one full-time police officer to every alderman. Committee chairmen would get three. My prediction: corruption on the City Council will be reduced to nil. If the police can keep a sharpie like Ed Burke honest, they can keep any politician honest.

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