CN July 26, 2012

Does the president of a chain of privately-held chicken restaurants have the right to express his opinion that gay marriage is not in conformity with his understanding of Biblical teaching? Should a Chicago alderman then have the right to deny him the legal documents to build a new restaurant in a thriving commercial district based on that alderman’s disagreement with the owner’s religious beliefs?

There was some hot-headed rhetoric flowing in Wednesday’s City Council meeting about Chick-fil-A, and it appeared that, for a while, even Mayor Emanuel seemed to favor denying the permits. But as Tribune City Hall correspondent Hal Dardick points out this week, there are serious First Amendment issues here, and denying zoning could be difficult since the requested site in front of the Elston Home Depot is already home to dozens of restaurants, retail and commercial businesses.

(Here’s Eric Zorn’s take on it, along with related links)

Lots of firefighters and police officers – perhaps hundreds of them – receive endless disability benefits from the City for injuries they incurred, either on or off the job, during their careers. While many are truly disabled, a large number are simply taking advantage of a system that the Sun-Times’  Tim Novak says is “set up to be abused”. In his recent series he and Chris Fusco unearth a police officer who had a medical issue on his tenth day in the training academy and his been on disability ever since.

Some of the people he profiled are in line to receive well over a million dollars in payouts during their lifetimes, all the while holding full-time jobs elsewhere, often in the suburbs or in other states.  That includes “one officer whose injury is described as having slipped on a pencil.”

A major issue, according to Novak, is why many of these individuals can’t come back to the City to work, even in another Department, in a different capacity.  After the series ran, Mayor Emanuel appointed someone to look into these concerns.

We also talk about food trucks, the Koschman case and the settlement in the Burge case.

“Why did the City settle the Burge case, offering Michael Tillman over 5 million dollars in compensation for the 23 years he spent in prison for a rape and murder he didn’t commit?” Dardick asks. “Had they gone to trial, could a jury have given him twenty million? Did the City settle this strictly because they thought they were going to lose more money if they went to trial? I think you could conclude that.” In addition, the settlement releases Richard M. Daley from deposition in the case, something neither he nor presumably Mayor Emanuel relished.

And Novak, speaking about the Koschman case that he and his newspaper doggedly kept in the public eye, says the Grand Jury that Dan Webb has impaneled will be operating in Webb’s law office rather than at the Criminal Courts building as is customary. That’s because his investigation has to be done way from the States Attorney’s office, which will likely be investigated for wrongdoing in the case.

As Novak explains, “There’s an overriding question of how is it that the police couldn’t determine eight years ago that Daley’s nephew did this, but then they could do it last year without any additional evidence. So at what point did they decide – we’ll just say that he did it – and why did you do that if you couldn’t do it eight years earlier?


About Ken

Ken's the host of Chicago Newsroom. A former news director, reporter and radio program host, he's also a past Vice President of the Chicago Headline Club.
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