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Chicago Aldermen Dismayed Not by Corruption, but by One of Their Own Cooperating With the Feds

A retiring member of the Chicago City Council wore a wire to record conversations. He's being treated like a snitch…by city leaders.

Ed BurkeBrian Cassella/TNS/NewscomMembers of Chicago's City Council are absolutely aghast to discover a snitch among their own—an alderman who was secretly wearing a wire to help the feds investigate corruption. And they appear to be angrier about the recordings than the actual corruption.

Earlier in the month, Chicago Alderman Ed Burke was charged with trying to extort legal work and campaign donations from a Burger King franchise operator. Yesterday, the Chicago Sun Times broke the news that another alderman, Danny Solis, had been secretly recording his conversations with Burke in order to assist federal law enforcement.

The responses to this news from other aldermen in Chicago provides a fascinating look into the mindset of city leaders. They are shocked and horrified that Solis was recording them, and seem much less concerned by the idea that Burke was doing something wrong. Here are some choice quotes from the Chicago Tribune:

One longtime colleague of Solis' said she might cry about his wearing a wire because "you don't do that." Another alderman said that in his Southwest Side ward, "if you wear a wire someone's going to kick your ass." …

Black Caucus Chairman Ald. Roderick Sawyer, 6th, said he wouldn't wear a wire against fellow council members. Sawyer said the situation could cause distrust, with aldermen thinking twice when dealing with their colleagues.

"You would like to think someone would just take their punishment like they should take their punishment and not try to spread it to other people. It could be entrapment. It could be ensnaring somebody in something they would not normally do," Sawyer said. …

Ald. Carrie Austin, 34th, who's been on the council with Solis for more than two decades, said she didn't want to talk about Solis "because I might cry." Asked why she might cry, Austin responded, "You don't do that, you just don't."

There were other aldermen, though, who did note that the corruption scandals indicate they should maybe put the brakes on some things, and figure out whether or not some plans being put in place were in fact tainted by Burke's corruption.

Solis announced in November that he was retiring and would not be seeking re-election, and the Sun Times notes that in a previous television interview where he talked about his pending retirement (before Burke's indictment), he also suggested that Burke should consider retiring as well, perhaps hinting at what was to come.

These corruption scandals are nothing new for Chicago's ruling class. Solis was originally named alderman in 1996 to replace Ambrosio Medrano, who had been caught up in a FBI corruption investigation called Operation Silver Shovel. Medrano pleaded guilty to taking thousands of dollars in bribes. He has subsequently been convicted again and sent to prison, this time for paying bribes to try to secure government medical contracts and getting kickbacks.

But Medrano refused to wear a wire and assist the feds in Operation Silver Shovel, and for that, some aldermen hailed him as a stand-up guy. And while it might be admirable in private life for people to refrain from assisting the government in arresting people (particularly for vice-related crimes for which there are no victims), these are people who have tremendous control in Chicago over who is allowed to set up business in the city.

This corruption is not harmless. It prevents people from engaging in economic activity and building their own businesses in Chicago without first paying, or agreeing to pay, these alleged "stand-up guys" on the city council. While the reactions of Chicago's City Council members is entertaining in a horrifying way, it also downplays the very real effects of this corruption on citizens' lives. Eric Boehm previously noted Burke's extensive political reach and how much he wanted to control and ban any number of products and services. To what extent did financial considerations, rather than moral ones, play into Burke's policy-making? And who was harmed because of it?

Photo Credit: Brian Cassella/TNS/Newscom

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  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    A retiring member of the Chicago City Council wore a wire to record conversations. He's being treated like a snitch…by city leaders.

    This is Chicago. Assume everyone in Chicago is corrupt and/or on the take. Therefore, he's a snitch.

  • ||

    Yeah. It's only a fascinating look into the mindset of city leaders if you only have a vague notion of where Chicago is on a map and very little awareness about the city otherwise.

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    Makes me glad I live in Jersey. We don't go in for these kinds of shenanigans in Atlantic City
    Camden
    Newark
    Trenton

    Where was I going with this?

  • Crusty Juggler||

    You like living in Jersey.

  • Still Curmudgeoned (Nunya)||

    Is that really you Crusty?

  • Fats of Fury||

    Ed Burke has been a crooked corrupt thief for 50 years. Why are the Feds just noticing now? Could be.

  • Mickey Rat||

    I, for one, am deeply shocked that Chicago politicians have the ethics of gangsters.

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    I really wouldn't go around insulting gangsters like that.

  • RoyMo||

    He is objectively a snitch, but then so were Roger Casement and Frank Serpico.

  • Rich||

    Operation Silver Shovel

    LOL

  • Uncle Jay||

    You have to love Chicago.
    It is the most corrupt city in the most corrupt state.
    Massive "misappropriation of funds," one of the highest gun murder rates in the country, suffocating gun control laws, and where the ruling elites get away with anything and everything.
    Even Somalia is jealous.

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    I guess you can say that because DC isn't a state...

  • Juice||

    Why would they be upset by their own corruption?

  • Just Say'n||

    Anyone who has lived in Chicago is not surprised by alderman being more upset about a snitch than the underlying crime. It's a City of tribes and the aldermanic class is its own class.

  • zombietimeshare||

    I'm shocked! Shocked I tell ya. You mean there is no honor among thieves? What about the politicians Law of Omerta? How sad to find it all means nothing.

  • ||

    This is definitely a "let them eat cake" moment for the Alderman in the history of out of touch comments.

  • polijunkie100||

    Remember, the Chicago Way is how our Federal Government was ruled for 8 years. Absolutely nothing of a corrupt nature that happened during that time should be shocking to anyone. However, whatever you think of Trump, it is instructive to note just how big of a bullet we dodged in 2016.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    "Snitches Get Stitches" -- 1% Motorcycle Club motto

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