End­ing res­i­dency a sticky sub­ject for gen­er­a­tions

Chicago Sun-Times - - FRONT PAGE - DAN MIHALOPOULOS Email: dmi­halopou­los@ sun­times. com Fol­low Dan Mihalopoulos on Twit­ter: @dmi­halopou­los

For­mer Mayor Richard M. Da­ley had only his usual, blunt words for city em­ploy­ees who didn’t think they should have to live in Chicago.

“If I’m mayor, should I live in Waukegan?” Da­ley once said of the city’s res­i­dency re­quire­ment. “If it’s good enough to work and earn your salary, it’s good enough to live.”

Chicago Po­lice Of­fi­cer Kevin Gra­ham— who’s forced a runoff elec­tion for pres­i­dent of the city’s largest em­ployee union— has a dif­fer­ent view, one that’s shared by many fel­low cops and other city work­ers.

“Whether you’re em­ployed by the city or a pri­vate cit­i­zen, you should be al­lowed to live wher­ever you want,” Gra­ham says.

Gra­ham says he fully re­al­izes that’s an es­pe­cially “in­ter­est­ing po­si­tion” for him to take— given ques­tions about his own ad­her­ence to the rule.

My Chicago Sun- Times col­leagues found Gra­ham and his wife own a house they bought for $ 617,000 nearly four years ago in Lin­colnshire. The Gra­hams re­ceive a home­stead ex­emp­tion on their big prop­erty tax bill from Lake County. And Gra­ham’s name is on the wa­ter bill for the north subur­ban house, records show.

It’s enough to make you won­der whether Gra­ham wants to re­scind the res­i­dency rule as a sort of amnesty for him­self.

Not so, he says. His wife lives in the four- bed­room house with the in- ground pool in Lake County, Gra­ham told me. He says he puts his head down each night in a condo in Lake­view, which he’s been rent­ing from his sis­ter for about a year.

Breaking the res­i­dency rule has led to dire con­se­quences for quite a few mem­bers of Chicago’s po­lice force and other pub­lic em­ploy­ees.

Two top aides to Chicago Pub­lic Schools CEO For­rest Clay­pool were forced to quit re­cently over res­i­dency ques­tions.

Records show 63 cops have re­signed be­cause of com­plaints about res­i­dency since 1981. An­other five of­fi­cers were fired, with 23 more sus­pended and four rep­ri­manded.

This FOP elec­tion— pit­ting Gra­ham against in­cum­bent Pres­i­dent Dean An­gelo — is an es­pe­cially im­por­tant one. Af­ter the re­lease of the Laquan McDon­ald video and other po­lice bru­tal­ity scan­dals, crit­ics say the FOP has been too re­sis­tant to ac­count­abil­ity for cops who mis­be­have.

Gra­ham says the union hasn’t held tough enough.

“The pub­lic wants to fo­cus on one or two in­ci­dents,” he says. “That’s not fair to lump ev­ery­body to­gether. If we did that, we’d be called be­ing bi­ased.”

Hav­ing all of­fi­cers wear body cam­eras, Gra­ham says, is “silly” and “a waste of money.”

If they have to do that, cops should be al­lowed to take home a flash drive with all the data the cam­eras recorded dur­ing their shifts, he says. That way, Gra­ham says, when­ever an un­flat­ter­ing snip­pet makes its way into the me­dia, the flash drive could be down­loaded onto the FOP’s web­site to pro­vide full con­text.

Such talk surely ap­peals to the cops he’s try­ing to win over in the runoff. But Gra­ham ac­knowl­edges the res­i­dency is­sue is di­vi­sive even among cops.

Some long­time pub­lic em­ploy­ees have built up eq­uity in city homes and would fear a drop in prop­erty val­ues in the ab­sence of the res­i­dency re­quire­ment.

Gra­ham staunchly de­fends his own fam­ily’s big in­vest­ment in the sub­urbs.

“I look at that house in Lin­colnshire no dif­fer­ent than a cabin in Wis­con­sin,” he says.


For­mer Mayor Richard M. Da­ley

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