My preeminent intention was to stay out of this one in the fervent hope that cooler heads would prevail and it would all work out exactly as it should. Silly me! Though no one could ever accuse me of harboring idealist tendencies, wouldn’t you think after thirteen years at the keyboard I’d finally realize the opportunity to pander to your political constituency is an even more powerful proposition than the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy?
Still, hope does spring eternal.
Most of my beloved Aurorans are well aware of the ongoing kerfuffle between Mayor Richard Irvin and the fine folks at the Wayside Cross Ministries at 215 E. New York Street. For those who aren’t, it started back in February when, according to the Mayor, the City opened a “conversation” with Wayside regarding the 19 child sex offenders residing at the facility.
You see, employing a cell phone app, some of the neighborhood rabble discovered the Wayside building fell within the 500-foot radius of McCarty Park, which means those 19 residents are in violation of a state law prohibiting sex offenders from living that close to a school, park, or daycare.
But that not-quite public dispute didn’t reach a fever pitch until paroled Ripper Crew member, Thomas Kokoraleis, was admitted into Wayside. That’s when the bovine excrement hit the rotating air-propulsion device and the rabble immediately resorted to their social media torches and pitchforks in an effort to get Aurora to remove the sex offenders.
Never one to miss an opportunity to pander to the loudest of those City of Lights voices, on June 26, Mayor Irvin, through the Aurora Police, ordered Wayside to remove those 19 men within 30 days. “Our effort and priority is the protection of our children,” Irvin told the media, “Especially in proximity to the park where the children regularly play.”
First, despite the Mayor’s personal assurances to the contrary, my sources tell me McCarty Park ain’t exactly the kind of place where young children regularly frolic. But for argument’s sake, let’s say the Mayor is right, and the park isn’t a haven for drug dealers, drug users and hookers. That doesn’t mean this misguided move will make Aurora’s children any safer. In fact, it will do just the opposite.
Please allow me to explain.
In their unrelenting pursuit of more votes, Illinois politicians created the previously mentioned ridiculous 500-foot rule fully understanding it was nothing more than a feel-good maneuver. Anyone with half a brain knows no sexual predator would be stupid enough to show up at a playground or school, grab a child, and abuse them – particularly one in close proximity to their residence.
C’mon! Where would the police go first?
The problem is, because the press tends to hyper-cover those eminently rare child kidnappings, the rabble tends to believe that’s how it works. So, the stranger-danger myth persists.
But the truth is, in 85 to 95 percent of child sexual abuse cases, the predator, a family member or someone known to the family, first gains the trust of the parents and then starts “grooming” the child before they finally strike. If “successful,” the abuse can go on for years.
So, when the Mayor finally kicks these men out of a religious institution that truly keeps tabs on them – individuals who were 90 percent likely to have been sexually abused as children themselves – where will they go? Small group homes and seedy apartments where they’ll have little or no supervision? And they won’t have each other as a de facto support group anymore, either.
Instead of residing in one very manageable location, those 19 individuals will simply scatter into the wind putting the children of Aurora at a far greater risk. And Mayor Irvin damn well knows this, but doing the right thing doesn’t always get you votes, now does it?
Though he refused to give me an on-the-record quote, Mayor Irvin argued the City had no choice but to follow the letter of the law. Really? Because when it comes to any potential local ICE raids, the Mayor made it abundantly clear that the APD would not cooperate with that agency in any way, shape, or form.
Why? Because it would be political suicide to support ICE in municipality that’s 43 percent Hispanic. Ironically, the only positive thing Donald Trump has managed to accomplish is getting our Latino brothers and sisters to finally vote.
Put more simply, Mayor Irvin follows the letter of the law only when it falls in line with his ambitions.
Some other sources told me the City and Mayor may have their eye on the Wayside building and they want to force the group out for financial reasons. Wouldn’t it be fascinating if the building inspectors started showing on a more than usual basis?
I also reached out to APD Chief Kristen Ziman in this regard, someone I generally hold in the highest esteem, but she refused to respond. I reminded her that, as far as letter-of-the-law arguments go, a plethora of statutes remain on the books that, if enforced, would make being gay patently illegal. But those statutes are generally ignored because our police departments correctly apply a more-than-reasonable discretion.
And that’s exactly what the APD should be doing here.
But here the real kick in the fricken’ kiester! In an era of artificial and convenient Christianity that somehow allows the “faithful” to support a bleep like Donald Trump, Wayside Cross Ministries is actually doing their best to adhere to what truly is a tough standard.
When Jesus said, “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers,” I don’t recall him adding caveats like “unless we’re talking about child molesters or murderers.” He made no exceptions because there are none. So, when the folks at Wayside take in these difficult individuals, they truly are doing God’s work, which is a lot more than I can say for the Mayor, the Chief, and the Aurorans who would so casually throw these men out.