Don't search me, aldermen warn
Hearings chief told to cut it out or face possible budget cut
Chicago aldermen with their noses out of joint Friday demanded to know why they are searched along with the masses at the city's central headquarters for administrative hearings.
Scott Bruner, director of Administrative Hearings --the department Chicagoans love to hate -- was put through the wringer again during City Council budget hearings, but for different reasons.
Normally, Bruner gets pummeled for presiding over a "kangaroo court" of rude, cavalier and predominantly white hearing officers who don't give the accused a fair shake, critics say.
This time, he was ambushed by aldermen, some of them attorneys, who show up at 400 W. Superior and are searched and put through metal detectors like everyone else.
Ald. Freddrenna Lyle (6th) noted that aldermen are shown far more courtesy at the Daley Center and the State of Illinois building.
"If I present my attorney identification card and the sheriff's ID, I don't get searched [in those buildings] as an officer of the court. I am offended that you would think that this administrative hearing process is superior to or has a greater security risk than the Circuit Court of Cook County or the Appellate Court of the state of Illinois," Lyle said.
Budget Committee Chair Carrie Austin (34th) was so "offended," she warned Bruner what might happen if he fails to "take another look at your policy."
"It's not a matter of giving anybody any preference. But us that are aldermen -- we are the ones who set your budget. If we're the ones setting your budget maybe we'll take an adjustment" downward, if the policy is not rescinded, Austin warned.
Bruner initially defended the policy, telling aldermen, "It's not my intention to offend anyone. It's only our intention to make sure that people coming through are searched. . . . We're trying to treat everyone equally."
But by the time the hearing ended, he had clearly gotten the message.
"We will go back and look at the policy. We'll talk to the vendor about what they are comfortable with, and we'll see what, if anything, we can do to address it," Bruner said.