Thursday, March 12, 2009

A DAY IN THE LIFE (of Chicago): Second City provides unique cop tales

What does it say that a former chairman of the Cook County Republican Party allegedly gets caught by his wife while cavorting with two prostitutes in his house, yet it’s the wife who winds up spending a couple of days in a jail cell?

It makes me wonder if GOP official Gary Skoien is at least partially telling the truth when he says he did not have any hookers in his suburban Chicago home. Either that, or the local police have their priorities skewed.

THE CHICAGO SUN-Times newspaper reported about the incident at the Skoien residence. Police for Barrington and Inverness have a report provided by Skoien’s wife, Eni, that says she found him with two women in the playroom of their home.

Reportedly, she smacked him a bit, and hit him with a toy guitar. That’s what the police insist Eni told them, and that Gary agreed with.

Yet Eni Skoien is the one facing a criminal charge – domestic battery as a misdemeanor. She had to spend two nights in a police lockup, before a judge finally decided her misdemeanor offense was minor enough that she could be released on her own recognizance. Eni didn’t have to post any money to get out of jail.

Meanwhile, Gary (the guy whom police say was cavorting with prostitutes) faces no criminal charges. And he’s now telling reporter-types that his wife filed the police report “in anger.”

SO WHAT SHOULD we think about this incident? It is not unheard of for men involved in prostitution incidents to have their legal misconduct downplayed, while law-and-order types focus on the women.

But the idea that the wife is considered to be the offender in this incident strikes me as either being ridiculously unfair, or evidence that the police report’s details aren’t worth squat. It’s not like Gary Skoien has enough political clout for anyone to want to cover for him – his stint as GOP head ended two years ago, and he’s no longer with the Metra governing board either.

This incident reeks of no logic. It (,gary-skokien-prostitutes-toy-guitar-031109.article) would have been like the Republicans a decade ago trying to impeach Hillary for Bill’s misdeeds.

So what other incidents off the Chicago area’s police blotters are worth noting these days?

DELAYED PLEASURE FOR THE POLICE?: Reading about the guilty plea submitted by the son of late Chicago newspaper columnist Mike Royko reminded me of an incident some two decades ago when I was with the now-defunct City News Bureau.

I was working the overnight shift one early Sunday when police at the Jefferson Park district called us and asked us to call them back on a special internal phone line at police headquarters – all so they could “give you guys a story.”

The story was that Royko’s son was arrested for drunk driving and being abusive to the arresting officer. The only problem is that after checking into the incident further, it turned out the guy wasn’t a Royko relative at all. Some cop was too eager to spill some dirt. We didn’t run the story.

So now that Royko’s real son, Rob, pleaded guilty to charges related to a 2005 bank robbery attempt, I can’t help but wonder if some now-retired or veteran officer is deriving too much pleasure from the news. Considering that he’s likely to get about five years (,robert-royko-mike-son-rob-bank-admit-031109.article) in a federal prison, it can’t be said that anybody’s paying Robert Royko special consideration because of his father’s fame.

GIVE US THE DETAILS: It was but a two-paragraph item in the Chicago Tribune, telling the sordid-sounding tale of a suburban man who got arrested at the Hooters restaurant in Oak Lawn after he used his video camera to take pictures of the scantily-clad waitresses.

The item gives the impression of a Melrose Park man whose behavior borders on perverted. Yet an impression is all that it gives – details are sorely lacking. I would guess the Tribune thinks it is sparing our sensibilities. Instead, they’re allowing people with overactive imaginations to run wild.

He was arrested after a waitress (one of the ones in a halter top and orange shorts that constitutes the Hooters uniform) noticed the camera in his lap. Was he doing something else that also caught the waitress’ attention? Was he (,0,774068.story) being abusive to people around him? Or is this a gross over-reaction?

The cynical part of me can’t help but think that the real “crime,” insofar as the Hooters chain is concerned, is that he was taking his own pictures of the girls. The company would rather you purchase one of their calendars (only $12.95) if you want to look at images of Hooters girls.

BLOOD & GORE (Not Al Gore): Suburban Oak Park prefers to think of itself as the town with ties to Ernest Hemingway AND Frank Lloyd Wright. An urbane community that can’t sink to the level of urban grit.

But for those of you who can’t handle a string of police stories without body parts being involved, Oak Park was the place to be on Wednesday. The local cops spent the day checking out a report about trash bags in an alley filled with feet and other human parts.

The Chicago Sun-Times found the obligatory local resident who doesn’t want to believe (,body-parts-bags-oak-park-alley-found-031109.article) that such things can happen in their neighborhood.

Yet all the years of being a Chicagoan (even when I lived elsewhere, my heart was on the Sout’ Side) taught me that anything can happen anywhere. I still remember a neighborhood that was relatively safe when I lived there as a teenager, yet could claim to have a rape occur inside an apartment while police waited outside AND once had a decapitated head discovered in the storeroom of the local convenience store.


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