The Uriah Heep of Cook County Politics, Cook County Commissioner Mike Quigley gamely pumps his stumpy legs ever upward. Like Mark Twain's Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,* Cook County can count on Quigley to climb under any door jamb, if the height of the transom above the doors of power are inaccessible, to height and ethics challenge Mike, with the help of mighty clever friends in the think-tanks at University of Chicago to charge his gizzards with buck shot to see how low he can go. Whew, that prosing got me all winded.
Sheriff Tom Dart and The Cook County Jail took a 98 page study ( prepared, indexed, rolled and greased with warmed up left-overs from the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board, University of Chicago MacArthur Center for Justice, Chicago Magazine, and the usual assortment of lawsuit addicted lefty lawyers and, it seems Commissioner Quigley) from Federal Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald in the shorts this past week.
A few years back, The Chicago Tribune and the usual suspects listed above took a long sprint at Sheriff Michael Sheehan with a series of 'heart-tugging tales' from prisoners and diappointed Correctional Employees and had their efforts tossed by a jury in about twenty minutes.
The Tribune's 'investigative' efforts were laughed out of court by the jury and the lawyer most linked to the case against Sheehan was a nano-second away from charges of impropriety for tipping prison gangs about finding just the right time to riot and cry foul.
The Tribune, with Progressive aplomb tossed the saga into the memory hole.
Now, it sure seems to me that Mike 'I can not get a vote from anyone 300 yards west of Lake Michigan' Quigley has tossed the old MacArthur Center for Justice 'facts' on the front burner and re-heated the leftovers for Fitzy!
When the story broke - and it will break down as it did the last time -this week, my Quigley radar went on DefCon Six. Never disappointed in the wee man's energy and ambition, I was treated to Quigley popping up like the Whacka-Weasel that he is in the Tribune Editorial - Harrumphing that Cook County Jail is a dangerous and unhealthy place leading with the warmed up leftovers spooned to Fitzy:
• A federal judge has monitored the jail for a quarter-century, the result of a lawsuit aimed at overcrowding.
• In 2002 the Tribune reported that, since 1998, lawyers for the county sheriff's office had recommended settling at least 35 lawsuits that accused deputies of brutality; the lawyers cited convincing evidence that the beatings had occurred. In declining to endorse then-Sheriff Michael Sheahan for re-election in 2002, this page said: "Sheahan has to spend less time defending thuggery in his office and more time getting rid of it."
• In 2004, a special county grand jury lambasted county government's handling of a 1999 mass beating in which an elite squad of jail officers assaulted dozens of inmates.
And now this Justice report, delivered by U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald, along with a federal threat of legal action if inmates' constitutional rights aren't protected.
You don't have to wear your heart on your sleeve to see what Cook County's failed oversight has wrought: If the denial of basic dignity to prisoners for some reason doesn't bother you, the cost of damage payments to settle legal claims from inmates should.
If you live in Cook County, consider: County Board President Todd Stroger has surrendered control of the abusive and neglectful juvenile detention center. And now a supposedly independent board is taking control of the financially moribund county health system. Even the county's golf courses are performing better now that a private outfit manages them.
As county commissioner Michael Quigley argues, "What we do least we do best. Our Chicago Botanic Garden and Brookfield Zoo thrive because the county doesn't meddle."
Sheriff Tom Dart is in his second year of responsibility for the jail. He says the feds ignored the reforms he's instituted. Dart deserves a chance to finish what he's started.
If Dart doesn't succeed, Cook County should relinquish control of its jail too. Several states with populations smaller than Cook County's have prison systems run by independent boards of corrections.
But throwing more tax money at Cook County is a proven recipe for yesterday's failure at tomorrow's higher price.
It's time to fix jail management for good—or strip Cook County government of one more crucial job it has bungled for too many years.
There is not crack in government that Quigley will not use as bolt hole, or window of opportunity! The Uriah Heep of Cook County is nothing if not energetic. If one can not get elected, became a Progressive and allow litigation and 40 Watt Editorial Board Members do your heavy lifting.
Note to Patrick Fitzgerald:
Cook County Jail overflows with violently dangerous people who were put there at the request of the people of Cook County.
Mike Quigley has been working for ten years to be President of Cook County Board - sad in itself that.
Mike Quigley has massaged many of Chicago's lazier and dumber columnists at the Trib and Sun Times. If you plan to run for public office in Illinois, close on the the heels of this less than ground breaking slam at Sheriff Dart and the people who attempt to manage the thug thick Cook County Jail, Mike Quigley will be in the front of the line to stick one in your kidneys, it sure seems to me.