Friday, July 21, 2006

John Kass

When I look for articles I rarely look at the Tribune. If there's an obvious pattern here it's almost always the Chicago Sun-Times. When I read a column it is often Mary Mitchell, or it could be Mark Brown or Laura Washington. Then I found a link to a recent John Kass column with regards to the current Cook County Board drama. Then I looked at other columns pertaining to local and countywide politics within the last couple of months or so.

They've been pretty good. I've heard of John Kass, I do recall that he's been seen on TV programs such as the O'Reilly Factor. I've probably read some other of his columns online within the past three years. Particularly I printed off an old column in the past (and I'll get my hands on it when I get the chance) which talked about Bridgeport and how it has changed or indeed there probably has been a column on Bridgeport without Mayor Daley.

Reading these recent columns I've seen a lot of what I have missed. I really liked the column published today with regards to the torture by the Chicago Police in the 1980s. In it he even had a good paragraph about Ald. Todd Stroger...
...He just installed pliant Ald. Todd Stroger (8th) as the Democratic Party's candidate for Cook County Board president, without appearing to pull any strings for Todd, now referred to openly as Urkel.
Wow that might hurt won't it. Except at least Urkel had some personality that Todd doesn't seem to have. But this was a good column. Check out some of this stuff about Commander John Burge...

They investigated the torture of suspected criminals by former Chicago Police Cmdr. Jon Burge in the 1980s. The victims were minorities, some confessed under torture and were later sentenced to death, prosecuted by a Cook County state's attorney who had big political ambitions.

And the conclusions?

Mayor Richard Daley was not to blame for not investigating, though he was Cook County state's attorney for much of the period. Back then, he campaigned for mayor as the law-and-order candidate. But don't blame him, said special prosecutors Edward Egan and Robert Boyle.

"We accept his explanation, but would not do it the same way he did," Boyle said.
...
Black votes are vitally important to white Democratic bosses like Daley, as important as water to a man alone in the desert, because without black votes, there's nothing. So in the white paper, blame was not applied to the mayor. The authors found others to blame, including former Chicago Police Supt. Richard Brzeczek.

"They spent four years and almost $7 million to say it's Brzeczek's fault," Brzeczek told me Wednesday. "Years ago, when they appointed Democratic sycophants to investigate this, I said they'd blame me, and they did. I'm not a Daley guy. This whole thing is about covering Daley's [posterior]."

Flynt Taylor is director of the People's Law Office, which fights wrongful convictions. He's no fan of Brzeczek's. But on this point, Taylor agrees.

"I'm not absolving Brzeczek," Taylor told me. "He was superintendent when Jon Burge was active. But he at least passed on the information about Burge to Daley, and Daley, as state's attorney, did nothing. This paper is nothing but a major effort to deflect blame from where it belongs. The man who should be blamed is Daley."
...
Back in 1982, Wilson was taken to Area 2 detective headquarters on the South Side for interrogation under Burge. Dr. John Raba, director of Cermak Hospital, later examined Wilson, determined his patient had been tortured, and quickly complained to then-Supt. Brzeczek in a letter:

"I examined Mr. Andrew Wilson on Feb. 15 & 16, 1982. He had multiple bruises, swellings and abrasions on his face and head. His right eye was battered and had a superficial laceration. Andrew Wilson had several linear blisters on his right thigh, right cheek and anterior chest which were consistent with radiator burns. He stated he'd been cuffed to a radiator and pushed into it. He also stated that electrical shocks had been administered to his gums, lips and genitals. All these injuries occurred prior to his arrival at the Jail. There must be a thorough investigation of this alleged brutality."

Brzeczek forwarded that letter to then-Cook County State's Atty. Daley. And what did Daley do with it?

Not much.

He passed it along. Maybe. He really doesn't know what happened, according to the report. The mayor echoed a mantra he's used repeatedly, namely, that he can't remember.

"He assumes the letter directed to him by Brzeczek with the enclosed letter from Dr. Raba was directed to his First Assistant Richard Devine [now Cook County state's attorney] ... It was probably discussed with him and Devine. He has no current memory of how the letter was processed," the report said.
Too bad the statute of limitations are such that the police involved in this will not be charged. Well in any event I want to point you toward other interesting Kass columns that I've just read. I'd like to write about them at some point even if they are old by a few months.

All Stroger signatures point to Todd
Peraica's foes have race card up sleeve
Boss' son rebuilt machine in own image

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