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Pack consequences

Thursday, Dec 20, 2012

* One thing that happens when a high-profile person gets in a spot of trouble is that the media pack tends to start kicking over rocks in the hopes of finding a new scandal. Ergo

State Sen. Donne Trotter, the 2nd Congressional District candidate facing a felony gun charge, tried to thwart state efforts in 2010 to recoup a $1.25 million state grant after a now-indicted ex-south suburban police chief allegedly was caught skimming the public funds to pay herself rent and to hire her brother.

The case in question surrounds job-training money Trotter helped arrange as a top Senate budget negotiator to We Are Our Brother’s Keeper, a nonprofit organization once run by former Country Club Hills Police Chief Regina Evans. She sought state help to fix up the historic New Regal Theater on the South Side, which had fallen into disrepair. […]

“Miss Evans and her husband both came to my office and said they felt they were being harassed, that there was no merit to the issues that they’d brought up,” Trotter told the Sun-Times in an interview before his arrest earlier this month on a felony weapons charge for allegedly trying to take a handgun through a security checkpoint at O’Hare Airport.

“They had not shown me any documentation and had just asked whether I’d try to intervene and find out if there are problems, and if they were just technical ones,” Trotter said. “She seemed very sincere in wanting to do something positive in the community, not a for-profit venture, but one that was also giving back to the community and having this job-readiness program. It wasn’t just like, ‘Enrich me.’ ” […]

“I was surprised when I saw details of some of the things she’d done. I don’t know when she got off track. That wasn’t the track that they were on. I didn’t look at them as con people,” he said. “I thought they were — and still think they are — decent people, but somehow [they] have just gone someplace else, got in over their heads.”

There are two different schools of thought about this phenomenon as relates specifically to Trotter’s campaign: 1) The media may eventually succeed in hounding Trotter out of the race; or 2) When the “white” media attacks a black candidate, black voters often tend to rally around that candidate.

* And you gotta wonder whether this story would’ve emerged had it not been for Trotter’s arrest

It might surprise some citizens that, in addition to being Chicago’s most powerful alderman, Ed Burke is a private eye.

Ald. Burke (14th), who chairs the influential City Council Finance Committee is, according to state records, a licensed private detective, trained and authorized to carry a semiautomatic weapon.

Burke also is a licensed private security contractor.

He is approved by Illinois statute to carry a gun while “in the performance of his . . . duties” and carry it “to and from” his place of employment.

Where is that place of employment?

Burke’s application is silent on that except to say that Ed Burke employs Ed Burke.

* Related…

* Gun Violence Plays Heavily in Illinois Special

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* Democrat says congressional hopefuls should back gun limits: Her agenda includes refusing campaign contributions from “organizations that oppose reasonable gun-safety legislation.”

* Robin Kelly’s Open Letter To Fellow Candidates On Gun Violence

* Robin Kelly Adds Alderman Will Burns To Her List Of Endorsements

* Toi Hutchinson campaign team: Illinois 2nd c.d. special election

* Jonathan Jackson Won’t Run in Illinois’s 2nd District Special Election

- Posted by Rich Miller        


22 Comments
  1. - Loop Lady - Thursday, Dec 20, 12 @ 10:10 am:

    It doesn’t surprise me that Burke is packing heat…at least he found a legal way to do it…


  2. - OneMan - Thursday, Dec 20, 12 @ 10:17 am:

    Figure Burke provides PI services to Sneed….

    Get it, Forget It.


  3. - dupage dan - Thursday, Dec 20, 12 @ 10:23 am:

    An Alderman massaging state law to secure a right he would rather others not have.

    Surprise surprise.


  4. - so... - Thursday, Dec 20, 12 @ 10:25 am:

    And Dianne Feinstein, she of the federal assault weapons ban, had a concealed carry permit at one point. What is it about anti-gun politicians thinking they’re the only ones who can be trusted?


  5. - Cheryl44 - Thursday, Dec 20, 12 @ 10:31 am:

    Did Dianne Feinstein conceal carry an assault weapon?

    That’s what I thought.


  6. - Abe - Thursday, Dec 20, 12 @ 10:42 am:

    I like Senator Trotter, but I am still trying to come to terms with him having a security job, with no compensation, and working a midnight shift. Who works a mid-night shift for no pay!


  7. - schwartzee - Thursday, Dec 20, 12 @ 10:46 am:

    Assault weapons for some, miniature American flags for others.


  8. - Nieva - Thursday, Dec 20, 12 @ 10:53 am:

    I have yet to see one of these grants or feel good programs not end up with somebody in charge stealing the money. They hire family that do nothing, pay their rent or credit cards with money that was meant for something else. He made excuses for theft of government funds. Look and see if she donated to his campaign. How much did she steal and has she been convicted?


  9. - Carl Nyberg - Thursday, Dec 20, 12 @ 11:08 am:

    What are the examples of the “White” media attacking a Black candidate and having the Black community rally around said candidate?

    I think people tend to rally around people they know know, especially people they know who are close in age and have similar life experiences.

    Politician gives himself “conceal carry” through a squirrely deal. Politician abuses “conceal carry” in multiple ways. Politician gets caught doing something nobody would get away with. Politician only gets charged on one or two of the laws he violated, not on all of them. Media reports story.

    I’m having a hard time seeing the angle where Trotter succeeds in spinning his situation as being victimized by the media.

    LaShawn Ford has a case that the Justice Department has passed on prosecuting bigger financial and real estate crimes because the perps were either too rich to prosecute or too connected to prosecute. Henry Hyde is a specific example. But there are thousands of people who committed fraud who were the proximate causes of the financial crisis and the Justice Department has decided that prosecuting the people who crashed the economy would be too disruptive to the economy.

    LaShawn Ford has an ironclad case that no one would dispute, the Justice Department knows about more serious crimes and simply isn’t prosecuting.

    What’s Trotter’s spin?

    I don’t see an argument that’s gonna work. If Trotter and Halvorson were #1 & #2 and there were no other strong Black candidates, maybe some appeal based on ethnicity would help spin that Trotter was victimized.

    But I think Toi Hutchinson, Robin Kelly and Debbie Halvorson are the top three candidates with Napolean Harris as the candidate who might be able to gain traction as the fresh face, young, accomplished outsider.

    That is, even without the firearms conviction, Trotter’s only path to victory was getting the party endorsement and winning a low turnout election on the strength of the party endorsement.

    I will admit I haven’t read polling on this race, although I’ve been told Hutchinson and Halvorson poll the strongest.

    Trotter is as free to be out there campaigning as anyone else. But I’m having a hard time thinking of an example where someone road a wave of hostile media to victory. Any politician I can think of Derek Smith, Todd Stroger, Rod Blagojevich, Huey Long prevailed in spite of the hostile media b/c other factors were more important.

    There’s another problem with the theory Black voters will rally to Donne Trotter: liberal money.

    I highly doubt Donne Trotter has the money to run a substantially self-financed campaign for Congress. I don’t see liberal money flowing to Trotter. I assume Trotter has relationships with unions and interest groups that care about state and federal issues. But I see these interest groups as being slow to give to a candidate with so many problems unless the polling shows he’s likely to win.

    What interest group that gives money is going to strongly prefer Trotter over Halvorson, Hutchinson, Kelly and Harris?

    This circles back to the original reason I thought Trotter was a bad fit: he’s too old at 63. Nobody in Illinois’ recent history has been elected so old. What’s the point of having Trotter in Congress and owning you a favor? By the time he gets enough seniority to do something for you one of three things is probably going to have happened: 1. he’s gonna retire after he qualifies for the pension, 2. he’s going to become senile, 3. he’s going to die.

    So, even if Trotter could spin the victim of the “White” media narrative in a focus group (a dubious proposition), he’s not going to have the money to get his message out, unless he has personal wealth he can tap for at least $400K.

    I checked Trotter’s donation history to see how willing he is to part with his own money.

    Largest contribution: $2,000 to Todd Stroger in March, 2006.

    Other contributions:

    Donald Betts, $500, in 2008.
    Donne Trotter, $180, in 2012.
    Thomas for Illinois, $500, in 1998.

    That’s not a contribution history that suggests Trotter is going to spend big out of his own money.

    BTW, Trotter gave $300 to Joyce Washington in August, 2003. So, I think it’s safe to say that Trotter and Obama didn’t have a particularly warm relationship in the Illinois Senate.


  10. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Dec 20, 12 @ 11:16 am:

    To be fair to Ald. Burke, he is a former policeman. Granted, his CPD days were 40 some years ago, but at least he has some training in firearm use.


  11. - dupage dan - Thursday, Dec 20, 12 @ 11:21 am:

    Isn’t it the contradiction re Burke that is the issue? Sure he had the training - citizens can get that too, can’t they? It’s a legal dodge that he can exploit but Granny Ella can’t. Is that fair?


  12. - Holloway - Thursday, Dec 20, 12 @ 11:31 am:

    “The laws are for thee, not for me”


  13. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Dec 20, 12 @ 11:34 am:

    ===“The laws are for thee, not for me” ===

    That’s a fundamental misread of the Burke story. He got his permit legally. You could get one, too.


  14. - Anyone Remember? - Thursday, Dec 20, 12 @ 11:48 am:

    When did Feinstein have her permit? Aftermath of Dan White?


  15. - so... - Thursday, Dec 20, 12 @ 12:01 pm:

    ==That’s a fundamental misread of the Burke story. He got his permit legally. You could get one, too. ==

    C’mon Rich, it’s not that simple and you know it.

    The tan card is supposed to be for working, practicing private detectives/security personnel, and even then it’s only good for traveling to and from your place of business.

    Ed Burke IS NOT a practicing private detective or security guard. It’s a legal fiction so he can carry a concealed weapon while denying the same privilege to the plebs.

    This is like when Dick Mell forgot to renew his gun license and suddenly decided that there should be an amnesty for Chicago gun owners who forgot to renew their registrations.


  16. - Boone Logan Square - Thursday, Dec 20, 12 @ 12:08 pm:

    The important thing to take away from these developments is we need some new noir fiction about Chicago pol/private dicks.

    (If Ed Burke is Sam Spade, does that make Rahm Mr. Cairo?)


  17. - wordslinger - Thursday, Dec 20, 12 @ 12:12 pm:

    I wouldn’t draw too many conclusions, from a public policy standpoint, on the actions of Ald. Burke.

    He is unique. He’s the ultimate playa. Very guarded, very focused.

    No one lays a glove on him because he knows everything; where every dollar comes from, where every dollar goes, who gets every contract and why.

    And he knows where you’re weak and how to put you down if you cause him trouble. That goes for everyone — politics, media, business.

    When I worked in the financial press, I talked with him often. It was a fascinating ritual.

    I’d call his office. His secretary would take my name and ask what I wanted to talk about.

    Within a couple of hours, Burke would call back and we would chat. He would pointedly let me know that he knew who I had already talked to, what they had said, and how my story was going down. He always, always checked me out before he talked.

    Many years ago, a top aide of his went down as a ghost payroller. He got time, but a reduced sentence because he was cooperating with the federales.

    Who do you think he was talking about?

    Yet Burke has been untouched. But there have been a number of federal investigations — Hired Truck comes to mind — where the federales zeroed in on a few pieces of paper in the millions generated by city government to bring corruption charges.

    That’s needle-in-a-haystack stuff. I wonder how they knew where to look?


  18. - Loop Lady - Thursday, Dec 20, 12 @ 12:23 pm:

    Word: Despite all his advantages, he still thinks he’s vulnerable…that says it all for me…


  19. - The Captain - Thursday, Dec 20, 12 @ 12:49 pm:

    Looks like both the Kelly and Hutchinson campaigns have assembled good teams.


  20. - Smitty Irving - Thursday, Dec 20, 12 @ 1:59 pm:

    Two things on Ald. Burke.

    First, does the timing on this coincide with the reduction of his CPD bodyguard detail to retired officers?

    Second, as a former police officer, does he have the sufficient time as an officer to qualify for the federal law permitting certain retired officers to carry concealed weapons?


  21. - bored now - Thursday, Dec 20, 12 @ 2:31 pm:

    Anyone Remember? asks: “When did Feinstein have her permit? Aftermath of Dan White?”

    nope. about a decade later, when she was being stalked by a california cult, iirc. i believe they tried to fire bomb her house or something..


  22. - John Parnell - Friday, Dec 21, 12 @ 9:32 am:

    The comparison of Burke to Trotter’s situation doesn’t make sense. Burke has paid bodyguards (paid by taxpayers) to protect him. Heck, there are supposed to be fewer bodyguards since Emmanuel got elected, so let him protect himself, and take one of the bodyguards off the payroll.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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