Tight Ethics Rules Are 'Comforting,' to Candidate Burns

By Janota, Laura; Allen, Jim | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), October 19, 1997 | Go to article overview

Tight Ethics Rules Are 'Comforting,' to Candidate Burns


Janota, Laura, Allen, Jim, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Laura Janota & Jim Allen

Former U.S. Attorney Jim Burns, who's now running as a Democrat for governor, said tighter ethics rules would make it easier for state and local lawmakers to refuse lobbyist gifts, meals, and other perks.

"I liked being in the federal government, because I hadn't been there very long and I had a couple of guys who were attorneys ... and they were doing business over in the (federal) building. And they're calling me, saying, 'Would you like to go to the Blackhawks game or to a Bulls game' or whatever. And I felt it was very comforting to know that what the rules were and I could say, 'I can't do that, I'm sorry.' So I could say no to them and be polite about it."

Concern for being polite must be why so many pols took free Bulls playoff tickets last spring.

* * *

Un-amusing tax: Medieval Times, the Schaumburg castle famous for jousting, has voluntarily withdrawn its lawsuit challenging the Cook County amusement tax. After negotiations with the county, the dinner playhouse nixed the possibility of a court joust over the year-old tax.

A lawsuit filed by a moviegoer who paid the tax on a movie ticket still is pending in Cook County court, officials said.

* * *

Flood relief: Chicago and Cook County residents deluged by heavy rains Aug. 16 and 17 are getting, on average, about $1,400 each from the federal government.

The funds are being used mostly to repair furnaces and water heaters and to remodel destroyed basement living space.

So far, $24.2 million in grants have been awarded to 14,300 residents. The lion's share live on Chicago's West Side. More than 29,000 have filed claims.

Another $3.8 million in low-interest, disaster-assistance loans have been awarded to 404 residents and business owners, federal authorities say. In all, there have been about 13,000 applications for the loans.

Help is still available from the Federal Emergency Management Agency by calling (800) 462-9029 or (800) 525-0321. Applications will be taken until mid-November.

* * *

Death-penalty plea: It isn't only former Death Row inmates and their surrogates who want a moratorium on executions.

During a hearing in Chicago last week, one of the more heart-wrenching requests came from Jeanne Bishop. She lost a sibling when Nancy and Richard Langert of Winnetka were slain in 1990 by David Biro.

Bishop, founder of Murder Victims' Families for Reconciliation, believes loved ones are used too often by politicians to justify the death penalty.

"Don't speak for me," Bishop told a House panel considering a moratorium.

Bishop says her family sleeps well knowing Biro will remain in prison for life without possibility of parole. "All we want is our family members back, and the death penalty won't bring them back," she said.

So far, five Illinois families living with the murder of loved ones have become active in the reconciliation movement, she said.

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