Tuesday, April 28, 2015

What Gets Protected

We've all seen the cop movie where the line between the law and the lawless is practically indistinguishable. The kind which illuminate just how thin the veneer of civilization can be. 

Former Chicago police commander Jon Burge, if he didn't inspire such movies, certainly lived them.

Burge was a detective who repeatedly crossed that line when he employed torture as a means of extracting confessions from suspects, padding his district's statistics and speeding his presumed ascent to the top of the tree. 

Burge and his henchmen weren't picky: electrical cords, phone books, rubber hoses, guns. Anything would do. Machiavelli would have been proud. 

But a funny thing happened in the midst of Burge's two decade reign of blood-soaked lawlessness. He got caught. He got convicted. And eventually he went to jail.

Mind you, it wasn't a regular jail full of regular bad guys. It was a minimum security one in beautiful North Carolina, full of white-collar guys who cooked books and wrote bad checks. It seems the powers that be just couldn't bear the thought of Jon running into some former acquaintances.

And despite the prosecution demanding a sentence of thirty years, Jon received just four and-a-half (of which he served three and-a-half) for his wholesale and violent abuse of authority.

If that isn't offensive enough, know that Burge is currently living the good life in Florida, courtesy of a $36,000 dollar a year pension despite costing the cash-strapped City of Chicago one-hundred million-dollars in reparations, legal fees and court costs, with many millions more to come.

Despite the cruelty and lawlessness Burge showered his victims with, the Illinois Supreme Court declared it illegal to withhold Burge's pension, saying that to do so would constitute a “fundamental change” of the state's pension code.

And who wants that?

Chicago is desperately seeking revenue enhancements, and has closed four-dozen public schools to cut costs. Aid for the mentally ill, the poor, the elderly, kids with autism and public transportation subsidies—among other things—have been terminated in Illinois.

But Jon Burge's pension? God forbid.

It's good to know that something is sacrosanct in Illinois.

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