Thursday, March 21, 2013

Castrating “the Hog?”

Looking at the Cook County Board when they met Wednesday was almost like watching a kid with a missing tooth – the gap in his or her smile is notable.

Commissioner William Beavers' empty seat and desk at the County Building. Not that he was any more vocal at the Federal Building. Photograph by Gregory Tejeda

Because that front-row seat where Commissioner William Beavers usually sits was empty – creating a gap both in appearance and in volume. He wasn’t on hand to badger his colleagues every time they did something he thought was wrong.

BEAVERS, OF COURSE, was missing because he had to be at the Dirksen Building – the U.S. District courthouse in Chicago where he is on trial these days on charges that he cheated the federal government of income tax revenue.

It was long expected, largely because he kept shooting his mouth off, that Beavers would eventually take the witness stand and testify on his own behalf and go on the attack against everybody he thinks is out to get him these days.

Yet in the end, it didn’t happen!

Beavers let it be known Wednesday in the courtroom of U.S. District Judge James Zagel that he would not testify in his own case.


This particular criminal trial that purports to be the latest chapter in the ongoing saga of Chicago political corruption is really so deadly dull. The only thing that was going to make it interesting was the sight and sound of Beavers trying to stir things up.

Let’s not forget that this was the guy who proclaimed his prosecutors to be “capons” (a castrated male chicken, for those of who you didn’t know). He’s also the guy who once described himself as the “hog with the big nuts” – as a way of proclaiming himself to be all-powerful.

Yet on Wednesday, it would appear the hog is the one who has been castrated. He piped down. He didn’t do or say anything that would have dug himself into a deeper hole.

THIS MOMENT WILL be an important one to remember, because I don’t doubt that Beavers will insist on recalling his story as having stood up to the “G-men” with their “Gestapo-like tactics” (his words, not mine) and taken the toughest shot they could dish out.

He’ll try to forget how when he had the chance to fight back and throw a couple of verbal and legal punches, he became meek. I suspect Pepe LePew could have whomped the “Hog” on this day.

The problem is that there really isn’t a defense that can be offered in this particular case. Beavers’ attorneys (who probably deserve combat pay for the struggle they had to go through to get their client to shut up!) wound up having only one person testify on his behalf – a financial expert who talked about how open to interpretation the federal tax laws truly are.

Meaning that anyone who claims that it’s a mere “yes” or “no” answer that Beavers is a tax cheat is someone who is taking a hardline approach that likely is being influenced by a personal dislike for the county commissioner, former alderman and one-time Chicago cop.

WAY TOO MUCH of the testimony in this particular case centered around the amount of time that Beavers spent gambling at casinos. Prosecutors tried to build up the image of a politico literally gambling away the peoples’ money when he used cash from his personal campaign fund to cover his financial losses.

Although if he had acknowledged the use of the cash and reported it as income early on, instead of amending his tax returns at a later date, it could have been construed as legitimate.

Yet most people are glossing over that element of the case. They just want to think of Beavers as a degenerate gambler of sorts – and put him away accordingly.

So when you think about it, what could Beavers really say? He gambled. He lost. That’s all most people are going to want to hear before they proclaim him “guilty.”


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