That Whole Rigamarole

Monday, February 17, 2003

The Chicago Way

The big news in Chicago today is of course the night club stampede. It is proving to be another fine example of how Chicago has a government suitable for a Third World capital. The premises had no occupancy permit for the second floor, that having been denied by court order in July 2002. Yet, somehow, the business owners continued to operate it as a location for large parties. They went so far as to purchase radio advertising.

All the King's horses and all the King's men could not manage to enforce the City's building codes. Even someone like me who has never lived in Chicago and is pretty new to the region is savvy enough to suspect that someone influential is involved. One of the club owners (separate from the building owners) is a former Cook County Sheriff's Deputy (purported by WLS this afternoon to have been removed from the department pursuant to a shooting) who has had dealings in the past with figures as colorful as Mr. T and Mike Tyson. So he has some connections, apparently. And then there is this, from the linked story:
Records in the Illinois secretary of state's office list Dwain Kyles as the owner and principal officer of Le Mirage. Civil rights leader Jesse Jackson, a close friend of Kyles' father, said the younger Kyles voluntarily submitted to police questioning for several hours Monday afternoon.

So that explains Rev. Jackson's quick transition from London peace creepery on Sunday to South Side pastor on Monday. I thought it was just particularly obvious ambulance-chasing, but there may be more to it. Jackson is a pretty heavy hitter in Chicago, with one son a Congressman and another a Budweiser distributor (I know who got the better gig.) So these club owners may have benefited from the Jackson clout, helping to keep the Police, Sheriff, building inspectors, liquor control, and the alderman at bay. With 21 corpses to answer for, some serious damage control was in order.

But hey, it's The City that Works. They've got a $400M Millenium Park (open Real Soon Now) and a $600M stadium for the wealthy people who own the Bears, but some kind of inability to padlock an unsafe night club and keep it shut down. Oh, and a Soviet-style mayoral election in a couple of weeks.


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