Chicago Sun-Times
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October 2010 Archives

It's hard to argue against having police officers on the streets of Chicago who have the maturity and life experience to deal with high-stress situations in a level-headed, responsible way.

So the Chicago Police Department's decision to raise the minimum age for applying to be an officer by four years sounds like a good idea in theory.

But we're concerned about the unintended consequences the change might have for the city's police force.

IRS backs off - wrongfully convicted man gets a break

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It seems like a pretty obvious concept: If the government pays you money in compensation for harming you, it shouldn't be able to take most of it back.

That was the issue at the heart of a case by the IRS, which was trying to snag more than $70,000 in taxes, interest and penalties from the $120,000 that Darby Tillis was paid for nine years of wrongful imprisonment.

Fortunately, the Center on Wrongful Convictions at the Northwestern University School of Law is reporting that the IRS last week agreed to back off.

Frankencreatures - a future Halloween surprise?

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A debate over genetically modified food - so-called Frankenfood - has been going on for years, but now some Chicago area authors are looking farther into the future at what kind of Frankencreatures might be headed our way.

Stephen Asma, a Columbia College Chicago philosophy professor and author of On Monsters: An Unnatural History of Our Worst Fears, has traced the evolving concept of monsters over the ages and wonders where we are headed.

"What are the monsters that the new kinds of biotechnology are bringing to us?" Asma asks. "The old Frankenstein story everybody knows, but the sort of application of this Frankenstein syndrome today is something that I don't think any generation before has had any experience with. The fact that you can get into the genome and manipulate it in such incredible ways makes us very frightened about what kind of God-playing we might be doing."

Voting for an independent doesn't create a new party

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Joseph Berrios, who's both a candidate for Cook County assessor and chairman of the Cook County Democratic Party, has expressed this worry about Forrest Claypool's independent campaign for county assessor: It will create a new party that won't go away.

"We will have an independent party on the ballot from now on, because [it will] get enough votes to become an official party here in Cook County," Berrios told the Sun-Times Editorial Board.

What makes (or made) Fast Eddie go?

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Now that former Ald. Ed Vrdolyak finally looks destined to see the inside of a prison cell -- and not just while visiting old pals -- I find that one quip he once made to our columnist Mike Sneed keeps coming back to me:

"Hey, not even fishing is on the square."

Vrdolyak is a fascination, always has been. He's rich. He's powerful. He's got his health. So why has he lived a life of looking for the angles, cutting corners, dealing from the bottom of the deck?

In his own effort to explain what makes Fast Eddie tick, a federal prosecutor in court ruminated that Vrdolyak went for the easy money, in the scam he cooked up with fellow conspirator Stuart Levine, just because "he could." But that hardly gets to the man's apparent comfort with playing loose with legal niceties.

My guess is that the sarcastic remark to Sneed says it all. Vrydolyak's world view -- honed from growing up above a tavern in a tough neighborhood, watching his old man scrape to get by, seeing the rich swells on Lake Shore Drive with their privileged pedigrees -- is that a regular guy has to hustle a little harder and a little more in the shadows in order to compete.

It's a view that says only a chump believes the world is on the up-and-up, that the wealthy society crowd strung like pearls along the lakefront cut plenty of corners, too -- that's how they got to where they are. Their scams are just more sophisticated, involving more powerful contacts, better accountants and better lawyers.

Does that explain Vrdolyak? You tell me.

Better yet, tell me whether he's wrong.

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This page is an archive of entries from October 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

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