This should fix things | Bleader

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

This should fix things

Posted By on 09.09.08 at 01:35 PM

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I'd like to correct an ongoing mistake I've been making.

For the past several months I've criticized Mayor Daley's oversight boards--the Park District, the Plan Commission, the Community Development Commission, etc--for being rubber stamps.

But thanks to an eye-opening investigation by the Sun-Times I realize that's not the complete story.

Apparently, there's one board in Chicago that stands up to the mayor--or at least to one of his departments--every once in awhile. The Chicago Police Board, a nine-member civilian panel appointed by Mayor Daley, occasionally overturns police department recommendations in hearings involving accusations of roguish, incompetent, or questionable police behavior, according to an article by Annie Sweeney and Frank Main in Sunday's Bright One.

To cite just one example from the story, the police department wanted to fire an alcoholic, manic-depressive police officer who had handcuffed a bartender who refused to serve him. Instead the police board suspended the officer for 17 months without pay.

While this seems like an outrageous decision, I appreciate the board's attempts to give each case a fair shake -- I wish the mayor's Human Resources Board [scroll down] exhibited the same sort of independence. But it makes me wonder: you've got one group of oversight boards routinely approving every dumb idea that pops into the mayor's brain, while another board actually overturns the mayor's police department when it looks like it's making some sense.

Upon reflection, I suggest we put the Plan Commission in charge of police hearings and the police board in charge of planning decisions.

I know, it would be dreadfully unfair to police officers who have been wrongly accused. But on the other hand, it might kill the Michael Reese deal before the mayor can waste any more of our money. 

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