Aldermen question Burge payments

The City of Chicago's Law Department today came out against a proposal forcing settlement of police torture lawsuits filed by victims of former Commander John Burge.

The city has been fighting a number of lawsuits brought in the wake of the 1980s torture scandal involving Burge, an Area 2 police supervisor.

The resolution, proposed by members of the City Council's finance committee, would bring a speedy end to those cases.

The delay in settling the claims "gives an impression that it is okay to do this," said, Ald. Ed Smith (D-28th Ward).

Smith called the Burge situation one of the worst criminal cases in the city's history and questioned the city's chief labor negotiator, David Johnson, about why so many of the cases are still pending.

Johnson said the city Law Department has been reluctant to settle in some instances because the plaintiffs are asking for too much money.

Meanwhile, the city has been paying outside attorneys $295 an hour to defend the Burge cases, said Karen Simons, of the city's Law Department.

Johnson and Simons said they were able to discuss few details of the cases during a public meeting, so the committee adjourned to a closed session.

The closed session concluded with no decision on the Burge matter.