The Chicago Machine may not be the dynamo it once was. But don't kid yourselves - its influence is still very much alive in the fabric of Illinois Politics. As a matter of fact, the Machine has done very well in the fifty plus years I have followed it and no doubt will continue to do well long after my death. Let's face it, nearly every politician around here is beholden to someone. And that includes numerous judges who managed to land on the bench after giving up a political position or two along the way. It is what is and arrangements such as those are nothing new in Chicago and/or Illinois politics. Still, I have to wonder about what the cost of that is in the long run?
Now, I am sure most Cook County Judges will say that they are impartial and that there is no cost. But, that would probably contradict some pretty strange decisions handed down over the decades after politicians were caught red-handed with their hands in the public till. However, there is no reason to rehash the volumes of those old fuzzy decisions as the only judicial decision on my mind these days is the one where it appears that political favoritism was bestowed upon former Mayor Daley's nephew, R.J. Vanecko, in the David Koschman homicide investigation.
There have been far too many irregularities surrounding this case. I find it particularly disturbing that the Chicago Sun-Times Investigative Reporters have shown that some of these irregularities are not only blatant, but egregious. Sadly, these irregularities appear to have run the full gambit - from the initial Chicago Police Department investigation all the way up to the office of Cook County State's Attorney, Anita Alvarez. As such, it gives me no pleasure to say that I think Anita Alvarez should not only be removed from this investigation and a special prosecutor be appointed, but that she herself be investigated. Her repeated attempts to quash the appointment of a special prosecutor just leads me to believe that there are even more questions which need answering.
Never the less, Nanci Koschman, as well as all Cook County residents, deserve the answers to every question surrounding the death of her son David. And I will say this too - this is obviously not a women who is hellbent on vengeance or even filled with hate. This is simply a matter where a mother wants closure in order to move on with her own life. At least that is how I view her after reading the comments attributed to her in the Chicago Sun-Times:
"I lived in Chicago . . . was born and raised in Chicago . . . worked downtown, loved the city. I’m not mad at Daley, not even mad at R.J. . . . He didn’t intend to hurt my son. But Vanecko ran, his friends lied to police, who took 25 days to even bring him in for questioning, files went missing and the Cook County state’s attorney’s office even today can’t locate a single document reflecting its own involvement."
Also according to the Sun-Times; "people often ask Mrs. Koschman why she never sued. “How do I put a price on David’s life?” she asks. Instead, to pay for his funeral, she refinanced her house. She’s still paying on the loan. “It isn’t about being greedy. It’s about justice.”"
Well, let us all hope and pray she finally gets that justice because it sure seems to me as if certain people beholden to the system have gone to extraordinary lengths to deny her that. And the way I see it, raises the question if there has been any official misconduct and/or malfeasance? Whatever the case, after seven years of hee-hawing the time has come where we need to say that enough is enough already.
Now please take what I am about to say next very seriously. The "unconnected common man," especially a Black one, would still be sitting in a slammer somewhere while authorities completed a "thorough investigation" if they had been the one to do what R.J. Vanecko is alleged to have done. And trust me a regular stiff like you or I would never have been given a "25 day after the fact police lineup" either. I am sure that if the aspects of this case were reversed and it was R.J. Vanecko who had died, then David Koschman would probably have been indicted immediately. Hell, not only would he have been indicted, but R.J. would have had a park named after him by now.
But hey, Chicago is what it has been for as long as I have known her. And despite all her other positives, she has been a city divided between the have's and have-not's. The politically connected and their offspring have routinely been given special considerations, especially the relatives of the so-called political blue-bloods. So whether it be prosecutors, judges or even an ordinary, but very alert, beat cop - someone is always looking out for the favored few. After all, I am sure that that vigilance often leads to people moving up the ladder. Yes-siree, just as that old saying goes - one hand washes the other.
Naturally, not every prosecutor, Inspector General or Chicago cop is looking to make their bones with the political elite. But there have been plenty of them just the same. Meanwhile, I also believe that Chicago's Inspector General, Joe Ferguson, has worked very hard to do the right thing even though stone walls were put up by the former mayoral administration (and I suspect even the current one). I also have to give a lot of credit to that cop who nailed State Senate President John Cullerton's son after he used a state vehicle during one of his drinking and driving episodes. It's just too bad the judge in that case felt that a slap on the hand was deemed sufficient. Hmm....
Now we have another situation to watch. However this one is far more serious than a DUI charge. Cook County Judge Michael Toomin must decide whether or not the kin of a powerful political family gets to walk away without taking full responsibility for his alleged actions. And even though I was encouraged by some of Judge Toomin's comments during last week's hearing, I am still smart enough to know that that could amount to nothing but a smoke screen given the city's history.
In fairness, though, I have no reason to suspect that Judge Toomin will not render a fair decision. But until he renders that decision on Friday, we really won't know if he is just another a political pawn in a rigged system or whether he will actually do the right thing here by allowing a special prosecutor to investigate the David Koschman homocide.
And trust me, given the bizarre manner in which this case has been handled up until this point, his decision bears a very close watch.
Especially by us everyday stiffs.
Tags: Anita Alvarez, Chicago, Chicago Machine, Cook County, Cook County Judge Michael Toomin, Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez, Cook County States Attorney's Office, Crime, David Koschman, David Koschman Homocide, Justice Michael Toomin, Politics, R.J. Vanecko, R.J. Vanecko and David Koschman