Old-time corruption in Chicago

The man pictured here is 86 years old. Many people don’t even get to live eighty-six years (only one of my grandparents did), and the ones that do should count themselves lucky. But–and I’m sorry if you or a loved one is 86 years old–there are just some things that 86 year-olds can’t do. And protecting an airport and the people who use it is one of them.

The Chicago Sun-Times told the story of one such person. He’s not the same man as the one shown here, but it’s reasonable to assume that even the fittest 86 year-old has lost a number of proverbial steps over the course of his or her lifetime. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just nature. The man in this picture uses a cane, and he’s probably lucky that he can even get around on two legs in the first place.

The man in the story probably didn’t want anybody to know that he was collecting a $56,000 yearly paycheck for working security at an airport. I wonder if he’s allowed to wear a gun. I hope not.

This octagenarian security guard (and doesn’t that sound awkward?) has been suspended four different times from his job, including a 29-day stint for leaving his post to go to the bathroom last year. Perhaps that should have been an indication that something wasn’t right. Most people, after the second or third suspension from a job, don’t even have a post that they can leave anymore. But he was somehow allowed to keep his job after all those suspensions. Something really stinks here.

There’s another issue with whether this man is even supposed to have the job in the first place, since he lives in a suburb and claims a made-up address in Chicago as his residence. I’m not really taking issue with that claim here, but it is in character with this guy who thinks he can protect an airport at his age, and also for whoever knew of these suspensions and still allowed him to show up for work. There’s simply no defense for it, that I can see.

I applaud the newspaper for ferreting out this story, and holding it up for the public to see. This man is a retired police officer, and he gets a pension check for the work that he did long ago on the city’s streets. That’s fine, let him get by on that amount (it’s a shade under $33,000 a year, according to the article). But to more than double that amount by putting him in a job that even I’m not capable of doing (and I’m half his age) is just wrong.

There must be many more cases like this out there, and exposing them is the best work that a newspaper can do. I trust that it will bring these abuses to a swift end. In this sense, one old man’s loss would be an entire city’s gain.

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