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The Mechanics
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Chicagoland Fri May 07 2010

Telling No Tales

The Northwest Herald has reported that troubled Metra chief Phil Pagano killed himself this morning -- by walking in front of a Metra train. The apparent suicide follows a number of actions taken by the commuter rail transit agency against its director, who made more than a quarter-million dollars salary, following reports that he padded that amount without authorization, and the launch of a criminal investigation by the Cook County State's Attorney.

Pagano's death makes the third suicide by a Top Player Under Investigation in the past 8 months. In September, top Blagojevich advisor Christopher Kelly overdosed before commencing a prison term for tax fraud, and a week after pleading guilty to a separate multi-million dollar O'Hare contracting fraud, with an additional June, 2010 corruption trial still pending. In November, the body of Chicago schools chief Michael Scott was pulled from the Chicago River. Scott had been subpoenaed in a federal investigation of clout-based admissions practices at elite Chicago magnet high schools, and earlier in the year had been revealed as having bought up real estate around a proposed Chicago Olympics venue while serving as a member of the 2016 Olympic committee.

Any death is of course a human tragedy. It's hard to ponder the forces that drive a person to commit such an ultimate act without visiting a region of the psyche so dark and sad that, to most, it's something to avoid rather than confront. For surviving friends and family, it's a shock and a trauma, engendering deserved sympathy regardless of the circumstances.

But it is also a public tragedy and loss. "Dead men tell no tales." Neither do they testify, or cast any light on the darker maneuverings in our body politic, the pressures brought to bear, and by whom. It would be a double blessing if, instead of self-destruction, those caught up in webs from which they see no escape in this life, would instead help the living, and perhaps their own sense of guilt, by revealing how and why things go so bad. In confession there is good. When one is a public official, perpetuating a code of silence by silencing oneself, forever, commits a final public disservice.

 
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Feature

Parents Still Steaming, but About More Than Just Boilers

By Phil Huckelberry / 2 Comments

It's now been 11 days since the carbon monoxide leak which sent over 80 Prussing Elementary School students and staff to the hospital. While officials from Chicago Public Schools have partially answered some questions, and CPS CEO Forrest Claypool has informed that he will be visiting the school to field more questions on Nov. 16, many parents remain irate at the CPS response to date. More...

Civics

Substance, Not Style, the Source of Rahm's Woes

By Ramsin Canon / 2 Comments

It's not surprising that some of Mayor Emanuel's sympathizers and supporters are confusing people's substantive disputes with the mayor as the effect of poor marketing on his part. It's exactly this insular worldview that has gotten the mayor in hot... More...

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Mechanics is the politics section of Gapers Block, reflecting the diversity of viewpoints and beliefs of Chicagoans and Illinoisans. More...
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