Wednesday, April 16, 2014

He did his time. But will critics “let it go” with regards to Vanecko’s offense?

VANECKO: Debt paid to society?
Time passes. Eventually, it will quit snowing.

Although evidence that all things come to an end may well be Richard Vanecko, the nephew and grandson of Chicago mayors who earlier this year pleaded guilty to criminal charges that said he was involved in a drunken brawl that left another man dead.

VANECKO GOT A 60-day jail sentence, and even was able to make arrangements so that he didn’t have to do his time in Cook County Jail (where he would have had the perpetual bulls-eye on his back). Earlier this week, that sentence ran its course.

Vanecko is a free man. He still has a period of home confinement to complete – he’ll be wearing one of those ankle bracelets – along with a couple of years of probation.

He’s still going to have the eyes of law enforcement and the court system on him for a bit. But the hard part is over – in one sense.

But just like the snowfall that doesn’t seem to want to stop even though the calendar says winter ended several weeks ago, there’s no way that some people will let things go with regard to this case.

THIS IS ONE that Vanecko truly is going to have to live down for the rest of his life, and that some people are going to forevermore be convinced that he got off lightly. They’re the ones who are going to want to believe that we should find ways to hound the man for years to come.

Which means we have to figure out for ourselves when to let things go. How long should we continue to be obsessed with Vanecko himself? When do those of us who are upset need to just get over it?

Now before you accuse me of being a Daley family apologist (although I’m sure some of you are going to do so regardless), I’ll be the first to admit I’m disgusted by the fact that Chicago police and the state’s attorney’s office in this case seemed little interested in figuring out early on (when a prosecution might have actually meant something) what actually happened in the April 25, 2004 incident on Division Street that resulted in the death of David Koschman.
Will it ever all melt away? Photograph by Gregory Tejeda

I sympathize with Koschman’s mother, who had to endure several years of knowing the system cared less about her son – and considered “justice” to be the protection of Vanecko.

BUT SHE HAS a personal stake in this case. It is the other people – the ones who are looking to score political points for their own ideological beliefs – who have the potential to bother me in coming years.

Because they’re going to obsess over every minute detail to the point where we all get sick of hearing of this case. They have the potential to turn this into something that we shouldn’t have to ever hear.

I’ll be the first to say that getting a 60-day jail sentence for an incident where a man was killed does sound a bit light. Perhaps if this had been prosecuted in a timely manner, a more legitimate penalty could have been reached.

But it wasn’t. What we got was ultimately the ruling of the legal system we have – which despite its flaws at least has the potential to correct itself. A truly unjust system would have prosecuted Koschman’s mother for not letting the issue go all those years ago.

WHICH IS WHY I’m inclined to accept that Vanecko has done his time. Or at least as much time as the system will ever ask of him.

What was that old cliché – he paid his debt to society? He has a clean slate with “the state.”

Those people who are going to continue to rage about this case come across as the equivalent of the collection agency whose computer has made a glitch and is trying to overcharge someone. They need to let it go, already.
Maybe then, it will finally stop snowing for this winter season.

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