Tuesday, February 07, 2006

With friends like these....

James Laski has resigned as Chicago City Clerk, just three weeks after being indicted in the ongoing Hired Truck scandal.

At one time Laski, a former alderman, viewed the City Clerk's post as the next rung on the cursus honorum and he clearly harbored hopes of ascending still further.

True goo-goos (irreverent Chicago slang for devotees of 'good government') would protest strenuously, but one can imagine a politician exerting influence in order to obtain work or contracts on behalf of a friend. (Goo-goo's can afford to posture this way, since they are seldom in a position to dispense or withhold favors to anyone, friends or not.) Depending on how this influence was exerted, such conduct might be legal or illegal.

And one can also imagine a venal, cynical pol demanding a quid pro quo for assisting a supplicant. The criminality of this conduct would not be open to debate: A public employee has no right to ask for anything other than the posted salary for discharging the people's business.

But Laski is accused of something particularly low: Laski is accused of demanding -- and getting -- monthly payoffs from long-time friends in exchange for getting them business in the city's Hired Truck program. This is friendship? What the heck happened to this guy?

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