Sunday, February 26, 2006

Alderman Ed Burke...

You may have heard his name in the news. He is an alderman of the 14th ward and also he is the chairman of the city council's finance committee. When city clerk Jim Laski was indicted for corruption his name came up because he had bodyguards just like Laski and some wondered why he even had them. He did have them for a time because of his role in the Council Wars during the administration of Mayor Harold Washington. Also he was involved in a custody battle over a black child he adopted which was mentioned in this latest "Meet the Alderman" column.

Alderman Burke represents a ward that is 80% Hispanic and ran unnopposed in the last election. He declares that he isn't leaving until he is kicked out. He once threated former 5th ward Alderman Leon Depres that he was going to punch him in his mouth while at the same time he was definitely a pain to Mayor Harold Washington.

Let me go to his adopted black boy this is what he says about him...
"He was Superman for Halloween and is doing just great in 4th grade," says Burke.
So I'm close out this post with the last portion of this column this in on the subject of corruption...

In his many years in the City Council he has seen any number of colleagues give in to temptation and wind up in jail.

"Wasn't it Lord Acton who said, 'Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely?' " he asks rhetorically. "Do we have to look any further than the scandals in the Catholic Church? Horrendous. Do we have to look any further than Enron or Arthur Andersen? There is corruption everywhere. Human nature is what it is. We are all prone to make mistakes."

Burke is a partner in the Klafter & Burke law firm and has, on numerous occasions, felt it necessary to invoke City Council Rule 14, which requires aldermen to abstain from voting on matters that might present a conflict of interest.

"The law business is good," he says. "I have been fortunate to have the best of both worlds. I have enjoyed the political side of it and also enjoyed my private legal practice. Yes, there have been temptations, [but] if you try to conduct yourself under the rules, in the long run you are better off. But sometimes those rules are changed in the middle of the game."

For example?

"I see some of that in the Ryan case. Frankly I don't see that what George Ryan did was a great deal different than what every other governor has done for the last 100 years."

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