Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Angelo Silent As Anti-Police Myths Unravel

Blue Voice Candidate For President Kevin Graham Vows To Take Up Evidence Of False Allegations Against Police...

Saying that the criminal justice system itself is on trial and that he “can’t imagine a more important criminal case,” a federal Magistrate Judge ruled last week that a vast body of evidence detailing the controversial investigative tactics of wrongful conviction activists must be turned over.

The ruling by Judge David Weisman came in the lawsuit by Alstory Simon against Northwestern University, a former professor at the school, and a private investigator. Simon is suing all three, claiming he was coerced in 1999 into confessing to a 1982 double murder as part of a plan by Northwestern investigators to exonerate Anthony Porter from death row.

Simon was released from prison in 2014 by Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez after a year-long review of his conviction. Alvarez assailed the conduct of Protess and Ciolino when she released Simon.

Porter’s release in 1999 paved the way for a litany of other exonerations from death row.

Now Simon’s federal lawsuit is challenging the thirty-year mythology about wrongful convictions and the claims of police misconduct. Simon’s lawsuit alleges a pattern of misconduct against former professor David Protess and private investigator Paul Ciolino spanning many cases over a long period of time.

Judge Weisman granted the vast majority of Simon’s demands for evidence in the case.

Corruption in the Anthony Porter case first surfaced through the writings of FOP Blue Voice candidate Martin Preib and retired Tribune journalist Bill Crawford.

Despite Judge Weismann’s statement about the magnitude of Simon’s lawsuit and his decision to compel defendants to fork over so much evidence, there was not one single Chicago journalist attending the hearing. Nor has any media outlet announced it since.

Tribune “journalists” Steve Mills, Jeremy Gorner, and Dave Heinzmann were not there, nor was Sun Times reporter Frank Main. Columnists like Eric Zorn couldn’t be found. Not even John Kass.

How ironic.

The slightest whisper of an allegation by the Department of Justice alleging police misconduct is echoed by the Chicago media in a kind of hysteria. It is cited in almost every article about the police thereafter with some caveat about a “pattern” of police misconduct. But a case in the federal courts contradicting the anti-police mythology of Chicago’s activist media­­—even one a judge says puts the entire criminal justice system on trial—can’t even generate a stringer reporter working part time.

It’s no mystery. Alstory Simon’s claims about being framed for a double murder also puts the Chicago media on trial, a trial the media clearly does not want to face. If Simon prevails in his lawsuit, how will the newspapers explain their conduct, their failure to adequately investigate his case and others?

Here’s a question none of the media want to face: If they got the Anthony Porter exoneration wrong, how many others did they get wrong? So the media simply ignores the story.

Talk about a “code of silence.”

But for how long can they do so?

In the hearing, it was discussed that attorneys may even depose the prosecutor, Dick Devine, who released Porter from custody and convicted Simon in 1999.

A former prosecutor deposed in a case that asserts a conspiracy in the wrongful conviction movement? That isn’t newsworthy to Chicago’s activist media?  

But the Simon lawsuit—and the evidence it may reveal—poses a giant burden to the FOP under Dean Angelo as well. The reason is that Angelo has been confronted with the evidence time and again that FOP members, current and retired, have been falsely accused. Yet Angelo has done nothing with the evidence, either with the media, the political establishment, or as legal strategy.

One would think that such evidence for a FOP president was a gift from heaven, a powerful tool to combat the incessant media hype vilifying his members.

But not for Angelo. Throughout the three years of his administration, Angelo let the media attack his members over and over as he ignored the evidence that these attacks are baseless.

In contrast, Blue Voice presidential candidate Kevin Graham has made fighting the corrupt media and their false allegations a top priority of his administration, taking on Preib as candidate for vice president on his slate.  

Three more years of an administration that stands on the sidelines while the members get burned, or a new administration that will dig for the facts speak out for the members?

Ballots go out February 15.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Blue Voice Candidates Win On Issues Angelo Ignored

Bob Bartlett and Joe Ferenzi face a decision everyone who wants to fight for the membership eventually must make: What slate to run with.

The two SWAT officers had already proved themselves able fighters for FOP members by winning key lawsuits against the city.

These are the three lawsuits Ferenzi and Bartlett have filed on behalf of their members.

As SWAT members, the city required that officers transport their city-issued gear and weapons to and from work when responding to emergency situations. The city was requiring the officers to do this without compensation even though the responsibility of doing so restricted their movement while off duty.

So they filed a lawsuit about it. When Ferenzi and Bartlett let the current union board know about our “SWAT Suit,” President Dean Angelo and the union's attorney wanted them to file a grievance instead, Bartlett said. But filing a grievance would have nullified their lawsuit, which is still in litigation.

The two men are confident they will prevail. 

In a second legal action on behalf of members, the two SWAT officers set their sights on the Fair Labor Standard Act (FLSA) governing wages. They discovered a lesser-known law that says that any retroactive raise on salary must also be paid on overtime worked. It further stated that the retroactive pay cannot be negotiated away.

According to labor law, overtime raises must be paid retroactively on a new contract.

The two men realized the contract negotiated by President Dean Angelo did not include this overtime pay, so they filed a lawsuit, which was settled without any fight.

According to the terms of the settlement, the city ended up paying not only the two percent retro on the overtime during the first year of the contract, but also an added penalty, thereby giving every affected member approximately 165 percent of what they would have received if the original contract negotiated by the city and union had included these payments, as the FSLA requires.

One has to wonder. How did both the city's labor attorneys and FOP President Dean Angelo’s labor attorneys negotiate a contract that defied the law, and defied it in a way that benefited the city?

We did not feel confident in our union,” Bartlett said. “We do not believe our union would have achieved the same results if we brought the lawsuit to them, rather than us going at it alone. We strongly believe we never would have received the penalties and interest, since they negotiated the retro pay away in the first place. At no time did the union ever inquire about this law suit, which was affecting the membership the union was supposed to be fighting for.”

But that’s not all Bartlett and Ferenzi did. Ferenzi kept researching FSLA. He found a statute requiring bonuses must also include overtime. The city, he discovered, was not doing so on the physical fitness award, which is a bonus. 

So once again, they filed a lawsuit. The city admitted the bonus was not being pad. But in the city’s settlement offer, the city only wanted to pay Ferenzi and their attorneys, not fix the problem.

Ferenzi refused, demanding that all officers and detectives get paid.

It was these legal victories that played a pivotal role for both Bartlett and Ferenzi to run for office at the FOP in the upcoming election. In their experience, the two men came to believe that Angelo was more concerned with stifling their lawsuit than fighting to get the back pay for the officers.

“It was obvious that the Angelo administration is only interested in making the city happy,” Bartlett said.

As the campaigning for the election begins, some anonymous critics, quite possibly Angelo supporters, are hurling accusations against the slate Bartlett and Ferenzi are running on, called the Blue Voice. They are saying the Blue Voice slate has too many members from the former Citywide team that ran the union for three terms.

But if, as some critics suggest, the Blue Voice is just a bunch of old Citywide guys, why is the slate taking such aggressive fighters like Bartlett and Ferenzi onto their slate?

The truth is that the Blue Voice is comprised of new and old FOP members, a crucial mix of knowledge, new ideas, and aggressive fighters.

The Angelo team, the team that has little to show for the last three years of running the union, is also laden with former Citywide guys. One of them is Greg Bella, running against Ferenzi.

Compare the two. Ferenzi has shown himself to be a creative fighter for the members. Bella has sat idly by while Angelo has steadily weakened the FOP on every front, including contracts that are not even within the scope of federal labor law.     

So the members can decide: Which candidate would better represent working members?

Monday, January 23, 2017

Angelo Ignores Renegade Commission Targeting Police

Blue Voice Presidential Candidate Kevin Graham Will Fight Back... 

In a decision that could have a profound effect on the welfare of Chicago Police officers for decades to come, the Chicago City Council is reportedly weighing a massive payout to a convicted killer exonerated through the efforts of a controversial state torture commission.

The claims by convicted killer Shawn Whirl that he was abused during his arrest for the 1990 robbery and murder of a cab driver never went anywhere in court.

But criminal convictions in Chicago are no longer settled in the courts, thanks to a state-funded agency created in 2009, called the Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission (TIRC). The unelected members of this commission have virtually unlimited power to resurrect long settled convictions, just like Whirl’s.

Here’s how it happened.

Whirl’s attorneys were unable to convince a court that Whirl was innocent. So Whirl’s attorneys from the law firm of Loevy and Loevy appealed the case to TIRC.

TIRC, comprised of members with powerful ties to the wrongful conviction movement, not surprisingly voted for a new evidentiary hearing. Even then the courts rejected Whirl’s claims.

Chicago Tribune:

Last year, [Circuit Court] Judge Jorge Alonso… denied Whirl a new trial, ruling that he didn't find him credible…

Not credible? In other words, the judge thought Whirl committed the murder. Undaunted, Loevy and Loevy appealed. The appeals court called for a retrial.

Chicago Tribune:

…A Cook County special prosecutor handling Burge-related cases decided Tuesday not to retry Whirl, leading to his release.

So, by Loevy and Loevy getting the case moved out of the courts to the torture commission, comprised of their sympathetic activists and attorneys, Whirl’s claims were manipulated back into the courts.

How’s that for the corruption of a criminal justice system?

Loevy and Loevy has powerful allies in Chicago’s media, who devoutly trumpeted Whirl’s release as another “wrongful conviction,” even though ruling after ruling rejected Whirl’s innocence claims. What freed Whirl was the fact that prosecutors merely declined the nearly impossible task of retrying a case more than twenty years old.

The media served Loevy and Loevy in another crucial way. In covering the Whirl story, the media, particularly the Chicago Tribune, obediently refused to acknowledge the growing evidence of corruption in the movement to exonerate killers. This evidence includes false affidavits and bribed witnesses in other cases, all of which might compel some members of the public to doubt Whirl’s claims even more.

And now the city is contemplating making Whirl a millionaire.

But that’s not the worst of it.

What makes the torture commission victory even more ominous for police officers is the fact that last year the state legislature expanded the power of TIRC by passing a new bill.

Chicago Law Bulletin:

The bill would effectively expand the definition to include all police torture claims occurring in Cook County.

What this means is that the board members of the TIRC now have the authority to regenerate any settled conviction, even one that has lost all appeals, like Whirl’s.

In effect, it means that there is really no such thing as retirement for a Chicago Police Officer, for even in their retirement years, officers can start getting subpoena after subpoena for some long-buried arrest merely by the whims of a crooked state agency who arbitrarily decides, in defiance of all court proceedings, to reopen the case.

Doubt it?

Ask retired Sgt. Kenny Boudreau, a legend on the police force for his ability to investigate gangs and gang crime. He has become a target of the commission, which is trying to build a narrative of abuse against him despite his sterling resume.

How could this happen? Well, for one, the FOP was asleep at the wheel.

TIRC’s unprecedented power took shape in roughly the same time period as President Dean Angelo’s administration. The growth of TIRC is, in many ways, a telling sign of Angelo’s representation. Try finding one act, one statement by Angelo to confront this ominous threat to FOP members and the citizens of the city.

Good luck.

And just how bad are the people TIRC is trying to release from prison? Whirl is one example, but consider the fact that TIRC came within just a few votes of taking up the case of Jerry Mahaffey. Mahaffey and his brother Reginald Mahaffey were convicted on overwhelming evidence of a 1983 double murder on Chicago’s far north side.

These news films tell readers all they need to know.

So will Angelo stand by and let the city pay out millions to Whirl, another highly questionable civil settlement that throws Chicago Police under the bus, or will Angelo stand tall and begin to confront the anti-police movement in the city? Will Angelo at least write a letter to the City Counsel explaining why the city should take this case to court and not settle?

If the past can illuminate the future, the answer is no.

In contrast, Blue Voice candidate for president, Kevin Graham, has made fighting the wrongful conviction movement, including the power of TIRC, a central theme of his campaign.

The upcoming election, then, offers FOP members a clear choice: Do members want an administration that will fight the anti-police movement or not? 

Can the FOP begin this fight before the ink is on Whirl’s check?