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Editorial: ‘Do you know who I am?’ Not yet, but the people of Cook County deserve to find out.

Thursday, July 18, 2019
Chicago Tribune
by Editorial Board

Cook County forest preserves police Chief Kelvin Pope resigned Tuesday, quick on the heels of a scathing inspector general report that said an official helped a county commissioner quash a $250 parking ticket for a political associate.

According to the county inspector general, the original offender illegally parked in a space for the disabled, then reached out to the unnamed commissioner for help dodging the fine. Pope, a 30-year law officer and former bodyguard to County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, improperly intervened, an internal review by the forest preserve district found.

Who is the county commissioner? Who is the political ally? The citizens of Cook County deserve to know. The shenanigans these two evidently initiated have now caused a respected county official to resign. The two should come forward. The commissioner owes taxpayers an explanation — and should clear the 16 other Cook County Board members from suspicion as the public is left to guess whodunit. The strings-pulling associate owes citizens an apology for wasting county resources.

The telling quote from Inspector General Patrick Blanchard’s report is one that will feel familiar to political watchers in Chicago.

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“And a FPPD trainee started his career observing what it can mean to issue a citation to someone … who utters the words, ‘do you know who I am?’ as was the case here,” Blanchard’s report says.

“Do you know who I am?” Those words represent one of the main pillars of corruption: the idea that someone can be above the law because of supposed VIP status. Chicago and Cook County run on clout, right? When a conflict arises, whip out the real or fake badges and see whose gleams the brightest.

People who puff themselves up with this type of statement surely know the other party won’t literally recognize them. But they figure the implication — that there’ll be hell to pay if they are hassled — might be enough to deter a conflict-averse person from doing his or her job.

Their message is clear, even the source of the weasel’s alleged renown isn’t: Following the law is for suckers. If you try to hold me to it, I’ll jam you and I’ll jam up the system. I’ll make trouble for you.

Blanchard’s report found fault in two areas: The commissioner improperly attempted to use authority on behalf of a political ally, and a police official failed by allowing the commissioner to do so.

A police official has now taken a fall. The public deserves to hear from the county commissioner next. The crony too.

One way or another, these names will become public. Count on it.

Editorials reflect the opinion of the Editorial Board, as determined by the members of the board, the editorial page editor and the publisher.

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