Monday, November 20, 2023

C’mon guys, read the ethics code

“No official or employee shall make or participate in the making of any governmental decision with respect to any matter in which he has any financial interest distinguishable from that of the general public ...”

     The city of Chicago has an ethics code — a quite extensive one, 50 pages long. It makes for interesting reading. Public officials are forbidden from using the city seal in photos on their personal Christmas cards, since they mustn’t include its weird symbolism — why is that naked baby on a clamshell? — in snapshots “not related to official City business.”
     Given its excruciating detail, you’d think we must have the most upright officials anywhere. Government officials can’t have any financial involvement with those having business with the city, as quoted above, in section 2-156-080, “Conflicts of interest; appearance of impropriety.”

And yet they do. In 2019, when then-Mayor Lori Lightfoot suggested perhaps Chicago City Council members should be banned from “side hustles” and just do their flippin’ jobs, full time, a WTTW survey found that 10 alderfolk — 20% of the City Council — derived significant income from second gigs, the king being Ed Burke, now on trial for allegedly connecting patronage of his law firm with performing his official duties.
     Follow the ethics ordinance, guys. You’ll save us all a lot of time and bother.
     I, of course, cannot comment on the guilt or innocence of Burke. He’s charged with extortion — not merely violating the local code by profiting from those having business before the city but demanding a quid pro quo — patronize my law firm or I’ll block your zoning.
     This is not a victimless crime. The city itself suffers in a real and significant way. Here Chicago is behind the eight ball, reeling from the double hammer blows of spiking fear of crime and COVID-stoked downtown depletion, struggling to create a strong business environment so the whole place doesn’t crater. Meanwhile, in the 14th Ward, a Burger King can’t get a permit to move a driveway, allegedly, unless they do business at Burke’s law firm?

To continue reading, click here.


  1. Burke has always been known as a total sleaze.
    He made sure that his street was always the first to be plowed, even though he lives on a dead end street next to a railroad embankment & I believe is the sole home on that street.
    He helped that rotten T**** get a huge real estate tax break on his tower that has his ugly name in 20 foot tall letters on the side.
    Then there's his appalling arrogance.
    All city council members sit in numerical order, except Burke from the 14th Ward should've been in row 2, but he was in row 1, right in the middle, until he was indicted.
    On top of that, there are two doors behind the Mayor's podium in the council chambers, one was for the mayor, the other was for Burke & only Burke!
    How he got on the city council is also rotten, as he was a nobody cop, who got that job because his father was alderman, so when his father croaked, he was picked for it & stayed there for over 50 years.
    He also managed to score himself a city limo to take him everywhere, along with a large detail of cops to protect his oh so precious body!

    1. I knew that he was a Chicago cop who got the job when father died, after being an alderman for 15 years. But I didn't know most of the rest of the story. You barely scraped the tip of the iceberg.

      Went to Wikipedia to read Burke's profile, and I was appalled to see how long it was. It reads like a rap sheet. A half-century of sleaze, graft, fraud, and various forms of underhanded chicanery that probably make him the biggest political dirtbag ever, in a city infamous for its corruption since Day One.

      I'm a lifelong Chicago history buff, and I've also seen some pretty sketchy alderpersons, in my time on this planet, but Ed Burke is king of the list, top of the heap. When you've spent a lifetime as a thief, and snarfing feed from the public trough, it's probably impossible to break the habit. Why else would he keep on grafting right into his seventies? Only one answer...because he could. Is Ed Burke the Donald Trump of Chicago? Discuss.

    2. At the risk of disagreeing, I'd suggest that Ed Vrdolyak is perhaps the bigger sleaze, though Burke gives him a run for his money. Though Harold Washington did observe that Vrdolyak was inspired by power, as opposed to Burke, who is motivated by prejudice.

    3. I was skimming a list of convicted alderpersons that went back to 1970, and somehow skipped right over Fast Eddie. Vrdolyak earned the nickname "Fast Eddie" for a reason...because of his skill in back-room deal-making. And he did do a stretch (in 2011) in a Federal pen. Would have done even more time, a decade later, but he was released because of the Plague. Don't know how the hell I could have overlooked Fast Eddie.

    4. I always thought that Fast Eddie V got the nickname because he was the #1 ambulance chaser in the state.
      My dad was a cab driver & some idiot threw a big bar of soap out of a room at the Palmer House & damaged the hood of his cab. A day later, some creep from Vrdolyak's office calling him to file a lawsuit!

  2. Good but sad posters in the pic above. Hope it sends a message to those griping about Israel.

  3. Maybe 50 pages is too long — how about keeping it simple, as in do the right thing in serving the needs of the citizens of Chicago with integrity, transparency, and care, period. And then hiw about voters raising their standards regarding voting and paying attention to the candidates’ qualifications. What’s the saying, you get the government you deserve? Why do we voters settle for such incompetency and doshonesty!

    1. Who you calling "we," Dianne? ; )

      I never voted for Burke; I'm guessing you never did, either. Seems to me those that vote for a guy like him, or the Biggest Loser, for that matter, are attracted to powerful leaders, whether or not they might be criminals, charlatans or (to quote Clark St.) total sleazes.

      It's largely what has been responsible for the return of the gilded age economy we're now saddled with in this country. "We voters" couldn't wait to get rid of the notably ethical, down-to-Earth Jimmy Carter because he suggested wearing a sweater if it was cold in the house, to usher in the cowboy actor and seasoned bullshit artist Reagan, whose main goal was to make rich people richer. Republicans have only doubled, tripled and quadrupled down on that goal ever since.

      Full disclosure: My first and second presidential votes were for Carter, so I may be biased!

      Is this a rather offbeat comment for a column about an indicted alderman? Indeed.

    2. Burke stgayed in power because of his celebrity to his ward voters and their fear of retribution if they weren't loyal members of the Burke Club. Having served under both Daley's, he understood power and how to use it. We can only take pleasure now in that his reputation is tarnished forever....another "big-wig" who thought he could do whatever he wished and finally ran out of leash.

  4. 🚶🏽‍♀️Trans John/Karen 3/22November 20, 2023 at 9:40 AM

    I was going to say that the 30 you referred to were just the ones who got caught. But sooner or later, they DO get caught, even the people like Burke who seem to be ‘untouchable’. Even if it takes 50 years.
    Obviously, the ‘quid pro quo’ isn’t limited to local political operatives, nor is it anything new to either Chicago, Illinois, nor the highest, most ‘respected’ levels of our national government, as we are discovering. Doesn’t keep a lot of us from voting for them, unfortunately.
    Doesn’t seem to matter if they’re progressive or old-school pols, either.
    Which should NOT be used as the traditional lazy ass excuse for not voting: “Aww, they’re all a bunch of crooks anyway” or “One’s the same as the other, so why bother?” gets us, as an old friend pointed out to me years ago, “the kind of government we deserve”. Ewww!

    1. “Aldercreatures”…lol

    2. I believe among the 30 convicted are two father/son pairs of aldermen!
      A true family trait, criminality.

  5. I feel almost all criminals from the highest(read in here Former President) to the lowest(pickpocket for example) are similar in their thought processes. They know other people have been caught doing what they do. However they believe those “others “ were dumb. They consider themselves so smart they wouldn’t get caught. So when they are it is a big surprise.

  6. Does that ethics code have any provisions for enforcement?

    Because you can have the most elaborate, detailed, high-minded "ethics code" in the world, but unless it spells out specific consequences for violations, none of it means a damn thing.

  7. Love "aldercreatures". Would you please promote this to Eric Zorn, who insists on calling them by the name of a variety of tree.


Comments are vetted and posted at the discretion of the proprietor.