Sunday, September 25, 2016
Morgan Finley: "A monument to corruption"
I tried to discuss Finley's legacy with him when he was still alive, drawing the poignant quote at the end of this obituary. I also called his son Patrick, who hung up on me when I explained that his obituary had to include his father being the highest ranking public official to go to prison in the Operation Incubator Probe. So if any of Finley's good works were overlooked in this, it was not for lack of trying to find them on my part.
He was “the mayor’s boy.”
As a child, Bud Finley, who came from a poor Irish family, ran errands for Richard J. Daley in their Bridgeport neighborhood. The future mayor would reward him with a quarter.
As an adult, Morgan Finley, who died Tuesday at age 91, lived on South Lowe, five houses down from the mayor. His wife Becky would babysit the Daley children.
On such connections were political careers made, once upon a time in Chicago, and Finley rose through the ranks, first as secretary of Daley’s 11th Ward Democrats, then state senator from Daley’s 9th district—“the mayor’s senator”—then serving as clerk of the Cook County Circuit Court, where he met disaster.
“Never take a nickel,” his mentor had advised him. “Just hand ‘em your insurance card.”
Finley did not take that sensible advice, and so became the highest ranking public official swept up in the Operation Incubator Probe in the mid-1980s, convicted of racketeering and attempted extortion, “a monument to corruption” in the words of the judge who sent him to prison.
Morgan Martin Finley was born the son of a railroad switchman. For seven years, the slight, red-haired boy was mascot of the White Sox. He later called Bridgeport “the greatest neighborhood in the world.”
To continue reading, click here.