At a time when it’s generally dying, some enterprising entrepreneur really oughtta revive the reality show genre with ‘The Real City Councilmen of Chicago, Illinois.” Can you imagine the cameras following that captivating “cast” virtually everywhere they go – including those sacrosanct City Hall lavatories? I guarantee it would be a ratings coup along the lines of that last ‘M.A.S.H.’ episode.
Of course, the star would be none other than 50-year alderman Ed Burke, who’s facing federal attempted extortion charges for doing his damndest to shake down a Burger King restaurateur. Please note I didn’t use the word “alleged” because it’s all on tape – the Alderman’s stern denial notwithstanding.
Please also note that, while his former peers and protégés are distancing themselves from him faster than Virginia Democrats can abandon Governor Ralph Northam’s rapidly sinking ship, none but the bravest city councilmen dare speak ill of the master.
Despite the recent damage done to both of them, the abject fear Burke and Illinois Speaker Michael Madigan strike into Illinois Democratic hearts has them continuing to toe the line.
And all reality shows need a generous dose of irony, too, right? Thanks to the once-powerful Chicago 25th Ward Alderman Danny Solis, there’s plenty of that literary heavy metal to go around.
You see, prior to Burke, the feds were listening into Solis’ cellphone conversations regarding receiving free sex acts, acquiring free Viagra to engage in those sex acts, free weekend use of an Indiana farm once owned by Oprah, and a slew of campaign contributions to ensure that zoning decisions went the contributors’ way.
At the time, the retiring Solis was Chairman of the influential City Council Zoning Committee.
But my favorite lines from those Solis conversations are, “I want to get a good massage, with a nice ending. Do you know any good places?”
First, I’m appalled that any God-fearing Chicago alderman had to ask that kind of question. Hasn’t he been paying attention? If you want a “nice” ending, simply avail yourself of any massage establishment that:
- Bears an Asian name
- Perpetually obstructs their windows
- Requires clients to be buzzed in
- Is open till two in the morning
And second, I would’ve fiercely fought the FBI on that one! My rebuttal would’ve gone something like this:
But my fine federal friends! Please note that I asked for a “nice” and not a “happy” ending. Of course, I know what a “happy” ending is, and I would never sully the Second City’s sterling civic reputation in that egregious manner. Never! A “nice” ending is one in which the fully licensed – and fully clothed – massage therapist gives you a gentle peck on the cheek!
I’m thinking the FBI would’ve bought it too, because no self-respecting Chicago City Councilman would be reckless enough to make that kind of salacious suggestion on a cellphone.
Caught with his pants down, Solis folded like a cheap suit, and even before the search warrants could be served, he turned on Burke like Donald Trump on one of his Intelligence chiefs. In short, he cooperated with the feds for two long years in which he recorded all sorts of conversations with his tall silver-haired compatriot.
And there’s no indication that Burke was the only one he taped, either.
But while Burke has, so far, has circumvented his cronies’ public condemnation, Solis has not nearly been as fortunate. It’s not that they’re aghast at his sexual or financial proclivities. Oh, no! They’re perturbed that he had the precipitancy to turn snitch.
It’s just more reality show gold!
A plurality of his council compatriots indignantly pounded their fists on the table as they declared, “We’re a family! And families don’t do this to each other!” They’ve never watched an episode of ‘Cops,’ have they? And if by “family” they mean the Kardashians, Gosselins, Addams, or my calamitous clan, then they might be onto something.
Sixth Ward Alderman Rod Sawyer said Solis NEVER should’ve have cooperated adding:
You would like to think someone would just take their punishment like they should take their punishment and not try to spread it to other people. It could be entrapment. It could be ensnaring somebody in something they would not normally do.
Apparently, the good alderman hasn’t been paying attention because ratting out your peers to save your own political posterior is as Chicago as the Cubs, the Bean, Buckingham Fountain, and weekend homicides.
Nineteenth Ward Alderman, Matt O’Shea, went a wee bit further! “Where I come from, if you wear a wire someone’s going to kick your ass.” Now, that’s s a statement I would expect from a certain brand of “family,” but it would probably be Italian and not Irish.
O’Shea later apologized, claiming he didn’t realize he was speaking out loud and not simply thinking it. Well…that may be what he meant, but what he actually told the Chicago Tribune was his statement was “An ill-advised and poorly timed attempt at humor.”
I don’t know about you, but considering that infamous ‘Goodfellas’ scene, I’m not gonna be telling the Alderman he’s funny any time soon.
An anonymous councilman said this:
The City Council is so scary right now. Because anytime you have a colleague selling you up the river — if people are trying to set you up, you could say something in passing and it gets taken as the basis for something illegal.”
“Sell you up the river?” Are we talking about a governing body here or an episode of ‘The Sopranos?
No! That’s not the way it works. Simply referring to an illegal act isn’t illegal. It’s when you’ve committed the act and you start talking about it on tape that your problems tend to start. It’s not as if Burke and Solis were beating around the bush – well maybe Solis was, but that’s up to the feds to determine.
Furthermore, while they were bitching about snitching, not a single one of ‘em said, “I haven’t done anything wrong, so I have nothing to worry about!”
Clearly, there’s a whole bunch of City Councilmen doing their damdest to recount every conversation they’ve had with Solis over the past two years. Again! It’s reality show gold! They could even bring in a professional hypnotist.
As for that esteemed body being a little more worried about fair and ethical government and a lot less worried about snitches, let’s harken back to something the late, great Mike Royko wrote in his December 21, 1976 column:
On the other hand, there were financial vices. And if somebody in City Hall saw a chance to make a fast bundle or two, [Richard J.] Daley wasn’t given to preaching. His advice amounted to: ‘Don’t get caught.’
But that’s Chicago, too. The question has never been how you made it, but if you made it. This town was built by great men who demanded that drunkards and harlots be arrested, while charging them rent until the cops arrived.
I don’t know about you, but I’m somewhat heartened that some Chicago traditions never go out of style! Pizza for example!
The late Paddy Bauler notwithstanding, it would behoove our illustrious aldermen to remember something comedian D. L. Hughley once said, “Snitches don’t get stitches, they get immunity from prosecution. Snitches come home for Christmas.”
Danny Solis ain’t under indictment, is he?