Hot Air: Burke’s Law

I never cared much at all for Ald. Eddie Burke, whose law offices were quarantined yesterday by FBI agents. The feds seized some pieces of evidence — but of what? No one knows at this moment whether the raid has to do with Burke’s work for the Trump Org. or is related to everyday Chicago graft. It could be just a coincidence that Burke helped Trump negotiate the foul waters of the city’s real estate, building permit, and planning cesspools.

Those of us dying to see President Gag go down in flames are itching for the raid to be perhaps the coup de grace in Robert Mueller’s investigation into Li’l Duce‘s dirty dealings. For my part, I’ve always suspected Trump’s house of cards would collapse when Mueller et al came close to his financial records. And if anybody’s got any damning Trump records it’d be the lawyers who helped him build his 1389-foot silver-clad phallic symbol on the Chicago River.

Trump’s Junk.

The FBI is mum thus far, confirming only that its agents raided Burke’s lair. I know this, though: Should the raid be part of a purely local investigation into mundane Windy City shenanigans, a lot o’folks — me included — will be sorely disappointed.

On the positive side, the agents were observed taking only a few cardboard legal file boxes, a computer, and a couple of monitors from Burke’s main downtown office. (His South Side office also was raided at the same time.) That means they had a narrow, extremely focused aim when they entered the place. If Burke’s firm was being rifled because the feds were looking only for Chicago dirt, they’d have emptied the joint because Burke’s operation has had its fingers in local affairs for some 50 goddamned years.

A word of caution. I noticed one or two observers saying yesterday that P. Gag ain’t gonna finish his term. Maybe. But keep in mind if The Incurious One becomes the second American president to quit, our Dear Leader will be none other than former radio talk show host and charter member of the Woman Haters Club, Mike Pence.

As always, be careful what you wish for.

Anyway, back to Eddie Burke. The long-time 14th Ward alderman was a leader in the cabal of white city council members who actively opposed everything Chicago Mayor Harold Washington did from 1983 through ’87, the year the city’s first black mayor collapsed and died at his desk. Dubbed “Council Wars” (a reference to Star Wars) by comedian Aaron Freeman, the standoff between Chicago’s white and black legislators preceded by a decade the similar toe-to-toe that has stymied the US Congress since the Newt Gingrich Republican Revolution of 1994.

A couple of guys I knew were certain Eddie Burke was an unapologetic racist. They swore up and down that Burke was the kind of guy who’d happily drop N‘s when speaking in private about Harold. Then it was revealed that Burke and his wife Ann, a then-rising attorney in her own right who’d go on to become a jurist on the Illinois Supreme Court, adopted a black infant. I can’t imagine an unabashed racist welcoming a dark-skinned scion into his family.

In any case, N-dropper or not, Burke et al did a hell of a lot more damage than simply offending the sensibilities of people who didn’t want to be referred to by the two-syllable pejorative.

An aside about Ann Burke, Eddie’s wife. In 1985, she was part of the defense team for Kelvyn Park High School principal James Moffat, who was convicted of multiple sex crimes. I covered that trial. Acc’d’g to prosecutors, Moffat hand-picked troubled and desperate students and had them enter and leave his office through a private door so he could have his way sexually with them. Truth is, the trial made me sick to my stomach. Moffat was the worst of the worst when it comes to sexual abusers in positions of power. I don’t hold anything against Ann Burke for defending him; all people deserve a good, solid defense in our criminal justice system. Nevertheless, judging by the looks on their faces and their body language, I sensed that both she and lead attorney Larry O’Gara knew Moffat was as guilty as sin. In fact, the day Moffat was found guilty, he tearfully and loudly begged Cook County Circuit Court Judge Francis Mahon, who issued his bench verdict like a man wiping dog shit off his shoes, for a second chance, another trial. It was a bizarre outburst not based on any realistic judicial options. Then Moffat’s wife essentially shoved his overcoat at him, spun on her heels, and stomped off after the erstwhile principal finished his groveling. The conventional wisdom in the press gallery was that Moffat had subjected both his wife and his children to the same type of sexual abuse he visited upon too many Kelvyn Park HS students.

Defense attorneys in a lot of cases must need to put themselves through all sorts of gymnastic rationalizations to do what they do.

I wonder if Eddie Burke grappled with his conscience to do whatever work he did for the man who would become the unlikeliest president this holy land has ever had.

Big Talk: This Week & Next

Here’s the podcast link for yesterday’s Big Talk featuring Vauhxx Booker, the public face of Bloomington Black Lives Matter chapter. And here’s the link to my Limestone Post feature on him for this month’s edition of Big Mike’s B-town.

Next week’s guest will be George Pinney, professor emeritus at Indiana University’s Department of Theatre, Dram, and Contemporary Dance. Pinney’s invariably described as “beloved” so you can bet I’ll grill him as to what’s so lovable about him. In any case, Pinney’s the director/choreographer the current Bloomington Playwright’s Project production, “Tuning In,” running through December 15th. That Big Talk will air Thursday, December 6, at 5:30pm on WFHB, 91.3 FM.

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