Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Sleeping on the job? Now that’s a major offense to our city's political mindset

The Summer of ’86 was the year I was close to finishing college, and also had a job on the Cook County government payroll. A low-level clerical job with the county Recorder of Deeds office.
Officers too fatigued to work in this Facebook-provided photo
I was one of the minions working in the basement who took copies of land transactions and recorded them, by hand, into huge ledger books where one could literally look up who owned every single piece of property in Cook County.

I COULD TELL you horror stories of the people I worked with who didn’t have a clue what they were doing (which means those books that were an official record likely were a mess). There also was the time a batch of us ditched the job for an afternoon to watch an official city parade along LaSalle Street paying a long-overdue tribute to Vietnam War veterans.

But the memory I most have of that job was the very first day – when my supervisor took us around the basement, pointed out all the spots where one could think they could sleep or goof off on the job without being noticed, then told us not to try to do that.
23-year-old Green hopes to gain campaign attention

You might want to think this supervisor was being high-minded and expressing concern that work on behalf of the taxpayers was being performed properly.

But I remember his biggest concern was the idea of public disclosure. Because not long before I started working there, a camera crew managed to get video of workers taking a nap on the job.

THAT VIDEO WOUND up in the hands of Walter Jacobson, the famed broadcaster then still with WBBM-TV, and the county became the subject of one of his "Perspectives." We were warned of the consequences to ourselves if we publicly embarrassed county government in any way with our behavior.
Will Emanuel figure out way to turn issue to his favor?

I couldn’t help but remember that moment on Monday when I learned of Ja’Mal Green, one of the many people with delusions of becoming mayor of Chicago following next year’s election cycle.

He came up with photographs of Chicago Police officers sitting in a squadrol, and from the looks of it catching up on their sleep.

Green, like many other people these days, has a Facebook account. He has to come up with things with which to fill up his page. Which means he posted an item on Sunday with the picture of sleeping police officers.

ALONG WITH AN explanation saying why this is evidence of the failure of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s efforts to have police officers working overtime to help patrol streets in hazardous neighborhoods.

“Officers get fatigued, which will prevent them from reacting to crime,” Green wrote. “Militarizing communities does not reduce violence.”

Many people have seen these images (including the one I felt compelled to copy and publish here) and are now passing them along. There’s also news coverage. City workers, cops nonetheless, asleep at the switch – so to speak.

The ultimate sin for those who receive a paycheck at the expense of taxpayers – insofar as the powers that be are concerned.

THE SAD PART is that Green’s intended point is likely to get ignored. The well-being of the officers and their ability to do the job without putting themselves in harm’s way? Not so important.

Sinclair's book had unintended effect
What we’re going to get are a lot of crackpots complaining about goof-off cops, and probably a few wisecracks about how they needed their naps in between coffee-and-donut breaks.

Just like author Upton Sinclair’s famed book “The Jungle” that was meant to warn people of the horrific working conditions inside meatpacking plants, but instead merely grossed people out about the conditions of what it was they were eating.

Just like I think many cops are now going to think of Green as “the enemy” out to make them look bad, instead of someone concerned about their welfare. With the intended target, Emanuel himself, somehow managing to find a way to spin this to his re-election campaign’s benefit.


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