One More Time With Jayne Byrne

With a fascinating and pivotal election for mayor underway in Chicago, I walked back in time last night and pulled up this documentary on Jayne Byrne. Excellent fast-paced narrative with the faces and names many love from Chicago politics. I grew up in central Wisconsin and WBBM and WGN radio were stations that I found to my liking, so as a teenager I started to be intrigued with the Windy City pols and elections. This film was a great series of nostalgic memories.

I recall the blizzard that played out for radio listeners in 1979 far from Chicago which ended the role of mayor for Michael Bilandic and that allowed for the dazzling election victory of Bryne. As I noted on CP in 2010 one of her harsh and strident opponents, a man I summed up as having “less morals and ethics than almost any other Chicago politician I have followed over the years’, ‘Fast Eddy’ Vrdolyak, was sentenced to prison for real estate schemes. “Prison and stripes are not exactly the future for ‘Fast Eddy’ but there will at least be the public humiliation that comes with work release and home detention”.

It is those types of bookends to the faces in this documentary that make it so rewarding for lovers of Chicago politics.

Another Reason Newspapers Matter: Jim Frost And The Mirage Tavern Bribes

UPDATE: I learned since posting this story that Jim Frost was the uncle of one of my high school classmates, Mike Frost. Small world for sure.

Last night while reading the digital edition of the Chicago Sun-Times I learned news photographer Jim Frost had died on March 1 at the age of 79. His fame is one I have come to know over the decades of listening to WGN radio and having a love affair with the Windy City. One who loves politics must also love the place where it is an art form. It was the darker side of politics that Frost helped uncover as a journalist, and with the power of a newspaper, he became a legend. A legend, it needs noting, that’s recounted in journalism textbooks to this day. As such, his story lands on Caffeinated Politics.

Sun-Times photographers Jim Frost (left) and Gene Pesek in their hideaway at the Mirage tavern.
Sun-Times file

His most famous images came while perched in what amounted to a journalistic deer blind at a dive bar on the Near North Side.

The game he was hunting: crooked city of Chicago inspectors.

It was all part of what came to be known as the Mirage tavern sting.

It took place inside a bar the Sun-Times bought in 1977, staffing it with reporters posing as workers in order to blow the lid off the culture of corruption involving city inspections.

In a lofted space in a back room at the bar, Mr. Frost cut a hole in the wall and covered it with a vent. From there, he and another Sun-Times photographer, the late Gene Pesek, secretly documented it all with their photos. The vent was new. But that wouldn’t work, Mr. Frost realized.

A cutaway illustration of the Mirage tavern showing undercover Sun-Times photographers Jim Frost and Gene Pesek ready to capture images of bribery and corruption that Chicago bar owners faced.
Jack Jordan / Sun-Times

“I took it home, and I beat it all up because it was not a pretty place, and a shiny vent would have been out of place,” he told the Sun-Times last year in an interview for his fellow photographer’s obituary. “The whole thing was hanging on me and Gene in a big way.”

Posing as a repairman, Mr. Frost would carry his camera equipment in a toolbox. He’d walk in and say something like “that fuse box again?” and disappear into the back, he recalled for the book “Chicago Exposed” that was published last year.

He kept the ruse alive when a plumbing inspector nearly discovered his secret spot.

The inspector was fumbling for a light switch in a back room when an undercover colleague yelled for him to stop because it would blow a fuse. The ploy gave Mr. Frost time to scramble up a ladder and hide the equipment beneath a tarp under the guise of searching for a flashlight. 

“My heart was in my throat,” said former Sun-Times reporter Pam Zekman, who played the role of a young bar owner. “Jim saved the day. The whole thing could have been blown.”

Mr. Frost would make sure the jukebox was turned up loud so the click of his camera’s shutter wouldn’t be heard.

He was a recent hire from the Daily Herald when his Sun-Times bosses called him in for a hush-hush meeting and offered him a yes-or-no choice on an important assignment that they would say nothing more about until he committed.

“I was chosen because I was the new kid in town, and none of the City Hall types would recognize me,” Mr. Frost recalled for the book.

“Not even my mom knew,” said his son Robert Frost. “He couldn’t tell her. He was so new at the time, he would have done anything. It was his dream job.”

The sting produced a 25-part series that ran for weeks and birthed a legend that’s recounted in journalism textbooks to this day.

“My favorite headline was ‘The envelope please . . .’ and showed an inspector holding the envelope,” Zekman said.

Working on the Mirage tavern investigation, Sun-Times photographer Jim Frost captured this memorable image of a Chicago fire inspector picking up a bribe. Jim Frost / Sun-Times

Wisconsin’s Role in Chicago Gun Violence Where One Zip Code Has 1,277 Homicides Per 100,000 People

Chicago Police Department on Dec. 4, 2022, posted a picture of the guns they confiscated in a single day in a single district.

Chicago mayoral elections are always a frothy affair, but this year’s primary season has taken on a far more sobering mood for many voters. The primary field is large and the verbal punches are given and replied to in equal measure. But for the voters what matters is not the campaign tactics of the contenders, but rather, the gun violence and mounting death toll in a city that seems at war with itself.

This weekend the Chicago Sun-Times reported sobering findings that will very much be a part of the closing weeks of a race that matters, perhaps more so than any in recent memory, for those who live in the Windy City. While many of us watch the politics of the city and follow those politicians who either merit attention based on skills (Paul Vallas), or are entertaining due to more bombast than actual gravitas (Willie Wilson) there must also be recognition of the role our state plays in the gun violence that plague parts of Chicago.

The risk of a man 18 to 29 years old dying in a shooting in the most violent ZIP code in Chicago — 60624, a swath of the West Side that includes Garfield Park — was higher than the death rate for U.S. soldiers in the Afghanistan war or for soldiers in an Army combat brigade that fought in Iraq, according to a study published in the medical journal JAMA Network Open.

Among men ages 18 to 29, the annual rate of firearm homicides in that ZIP code was 1,277 per 100,000 people in 2021 and 2022, the study found, compared with an annual death rate for U.S. troops in a heavily engaged combat brigade in Iraq of 675 per 100,000.

There is a term called “time to crime” which is defined as the period between the purchase of a gun and its recovery by the police in a crime. In Chicago, law enforcement is most concerned as data shows the time is far shorter than in New York or Los Angeles, according to a new report from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.  The Justice Department considers this a strong indicator of illegal trafficking.

The statistics from data regarding guns confiscated on the streets of Chicago continue to be most troubling. In Chicago, most of the traced guns, about 16,500 of them, were bought from somewhere within Illinois, with about 8,200 more coming from Indiana. Wisconsin, Kentucky, and Mississippi, each being the source of fewer than 2,000 guns.

Not for the first time does Wisconsin get put into the mix of how guns from our state find their way to the crimes we read about from Chicago, and then many of our citizens (shockingly) decry the violence they then find so alarming.  Lax gun laws in states near those with more restrictive laws have statistically proven negative outcomes. We simply must be far more aware of how Wisconsin plays a role in that gun violence. I am not suggesting our state has a more pronounced need to act than other bordering states, but the fact gun violence has ramped up and knowing we play a role mandates we act as moral people. 

A 2021 newspaper story about a gun dealer in Superior and a recovered weapon in Chicago is but one glaring example of why we must have tougher gun laws in our state, in this case with gun sellers.

It was a few hours past midnight on New Year’s Day 2016, a time when the working-class northern Wisconsin town of Superior keeps the bars open especially late.

Police were tied up with two bar fights, one of them a 30-person brawl at a local saloon called the Ugly Stick.

With no cops in sight, the burglar was ready to make his move on Superior Shooters Supply, a gun shop frequented by hunters and hobbyists.

It was just 12 days later, authorities believewhen one of those (stolen) pistols was fired from a car in the southbound lanes of the Chicago Skyway around 97th Street, killing a 25-year-old road manager for a rap group who was driving his new BMW coupe.

The ease with which anyone with a disturbed mind or cruel intentions can make an easy entrance to gun stores and steal deadly armaments is very concerning. In the above robbery, the store owner in Superior noted that the handguns were “stolen from one of her glass display cases”. The consequences of such brazen thefts are noted in the data. In 2019, of more than 11,000 guns confiscated by Illinois authorities, 460 were traced back to Wisconsin, which ranked third for states with the most gun traces outside of Illinois, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.

We need to re-examine the issues at play that allow for hundreds of guns to leave our state and cause injury and death.  The reason is most obvious. While mayoral hopefuls will press the issue with voters about ways to stem gun violence in their city those who look in on the campaigns from this side of the Illinois border must share in the blame for not pressing our legislature to be more mindful of the harm guns crossing into Chicago are causing.

Chicago Sun-Times Reporter Lynn Sweet At Highland Park, “Worst Mass Attack In Recent Illinois History”

When it comes to news reporting from the Windy City along with political insight few come better than Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times. To say I have respected this reporter for decades would be an understatement. When it comes to solid writing and a tenaciousness for getting information Sweet is the type of journalist who always gets praised on this blog.

While I enjoy newspapers between my fingers after they land on my front stoop the decades-long appreciation I have for the Sun-Times makes it the only digital paper to be read daily at our home.

So very early this morning—or very late last night–I read a most impressive article by Sweet, who was at the Highland Park parade when hell opened up. One that I will post below in its entirety, something I seldom do. But given a paywall and the power of her words, I take this exception and simply ask that you read the following.

You know why I’m writing this.

I was at the Highland Park Fourth of July parade.

Not as the Sun-Times Washington bureau chief. As a civilian. I’m staying with my sister over this holiday. She lives in Highland Park, which is approximately 25 miles north of Chicago’s downtown. More than 30,000 people live there.

I just wanted to go to this parade and enjoy the day. Hang out with friends. Maybe after the parade, go to one of the stunning Lake Michigan beaches that hug this North Shore suburb. Or maybe have a swim at the Highland Park pool, next to the fire station. That fire station transformed into an emergency operations center after the unimaginable — is this a cliché? — happened.

In a matter of seconds, a sniper — using a high-powered, rapid-fire weapon — slaughtered six people and wounded dozens of others as the parade made its way down Central Avenue in downtown Highland Park.

The parade started about 10 a.m. I’m at the start of the route.

Leading off the parade were fire engines from Highland Park, sirens blaring in a good way — before the world changed in this suburban city at 10:14 a.m., when the sniper started shooting from a rooftop.

There was a color guard — four sailors, two with rifles on their shoulders. Soon after that, the Highland Park City Council marched, led by Mayor Nancy Rotering — who a few minutes after she passed me would be dealing with a massacre on what was supposed to be a day of celebration.

The blue-shirted members of the Highland Park High School band stepped off playing “It’s a Grand Old Flag.” Then the marchers from the League of Women Voters from Highland Park and Highwood.

It was all so delightfully normal.

Then it wasn’t.

I was watching and listening to the Maxwell Street Klezmer Band perform on top of a flatbed truck when I saw people running away from Central Avenue. “A shooter,” someone said. I saw terrified people run into an underground garage, looking for safety from the bullets.

As people were fleeing the scene, I hustled toward it. Please don’t make a big deal that I did it. I’m a reporter.

I saw, frozen in time, what people left when they fled. So many baby carriages. Folding chairs. Backpacks. Water bottles. Towels. Blankets. Police were asking people to leave the active shooting scene.

As I approached Port Clinton Square, by the reviewing stand, I saw a woman down. I don’t know if she was dead or alive. Two people were leaning over her. I saw another woman on the ground.

Then, near a bench in the square, I came upon a pool of blood, ruby red blood. There was so much blood, that the blood puddle was lumpy because so much already coagulated. The shape of the blood — was this a twisted Rorschach test? — looked like a handgun to me.

I’m going into this gruesome detail because this is what gun violence from a rapid-fire weapon with an apparent high capacity magazine looks like. My sister, Neesa, on Central near the railroad tracks, heard two sequences of rapid fire. The pause is likely when the shooter switched out magazines.

I saw my first body of the day. A blanket covered the top of the man. His shorts were soaked with blood. His legs were bloody and blood was still flowing out of him. Two more bodies were on the steps leading into Port Clinton. Thankfully, someone threw blankets over their torsos.

We know that a “person of interest” has been apprehended. He’s local, 22 years old, grew up here. We all wonder about his motive.

As I’m writing this, a friend just sent me a note from his rabbi about a member of North Shore Congregation Israel who was murdered Monday.

Both President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris spoke about the horror in Highland Park. Harris will be in Chicago on Tuesday and it’s likely she will further address gun violence. Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Sen. Tammy Duckworth, with Rotering and many law enforcement officials, gave a press briefing from that firehouse — the one next to the city’s pool, where we were supposed to be celebrating our nation’s independence.

The Highland Park mass shooting is getting global attention, as it should: It’s the worst mass attack in recent Illinois history.

As we mourn the Highland Park victims, let’s not forget the chronic loss of life in Chicago happening almost every day from gun violence.

On Chicago’s South and West sides, nine people were killed and at least 52 others were wounded by gunfire in Chicago as of Monday evening on this Fourth of July weekend.

In May, the massacres in Buffalo and Uvalde were added to the tragically growing list of mass shootings in the U.S.

And now Highland Park.

I’ve been reporting on gun massacres for years — since the 1999 Columbine school shootings. But always from a distance. I wasn’t there when the killing happened.

Until this July Fourth.

When I was.


Donald Trump’s Operation Legend In Chicago Regarding Guns Did Work

I believe one needs to head back to April 2018 on this blog to find the last time I was able to find something in which I could agree with Donald Trump. At that time it was the decision by the United States to send missiles into Syria for that nation’s use of chemical weapons. Though a limited and symbolic rebuke to President Assad’s putrid behavior at breaking international law, it was nonetheless the correct response to the dictator.

Today, with data to back me up, I can agree with another action that was the result of Trump’s four years in office. The Chicago Sun-Times best known as “the hardest-working paper in America,” reported the following about Operation Legend, a short-lived effort looking to make people arrested for crimes involving guns face tougher federal penalties than they might if prosecuted in this case–by Cook County courts.

We all should be able to agree on policies designed to rein in gun violence.

Authorities have said that at least 170 people were arrested in the Chicago area in Operation Legend, including 130 on gun charges and 40 on drug charges.

For context, Chicago recorded more than 770 killings that year and thousands of nonfatal shootings.

The average federal sentence of nearly four years in the cases the Chicago Sun-Times reviewed was far higher than what’s typically seen in the Cook County courts.

To determine that, the Sun-Times examined a decade of Cook County sentences in cases in which the most serious charge was illegal gun possession. The average prison sentence was less than a year — 254 days — in the approximately 4,000 cases filed between 2011 and the end of 2021. About 2,300 other cases resulted in probation, according to a Cook County database.

What one can absolutely disagree with, however, was the political timing of the larger plan by the Trump White House. Using law and order for election purposes Trump trotted out Operation Legend after a year of growing social pressure on police tactics in the nation. But we know the need to curtail guns was raging in places like Chicago in 2017 when Trump was inaugurated. And St. Loius. And Baltimore. And…

What riled so many at the time Trump sent federal agents to cities in July 202o was that it fit into the larger narrative about his autocratic moves. It did provoke deep concern when sending in federal forces to major cities with Democratic mayors—in an election year. And after the attempted insurrection with Trump’s support and backing on January 6th at the nation’s Capitol, the federal move in hindsight by Trump that summer seems even darker.

Now I certainly understand how in many presidential election years the GOP has spasms and urgings to show how tough they are and how patriotic they can be.  George H.W. Bush, who often gets respect for international policy on this blog, was nonetheless going for the gutter when he used the flag for his bid for the Oval Office, just as Richard Nixon is to be harangued for stoking the middle-class angst over cultural discord in the 1968 election.

So, it is clear that Trump was playing to his election base of white male voters in mid-2020 and was not truly interested in curtailing gun violence. The desire to look tough and act autocratically has long been the default for Trump. That he hungered and slavishly sought the favorable nods and ‘love letters’ from dictators worldwide was not lost on a swath of the nation.

But having said all of that there is no way to not recognize the bold type steps–such as Operation Legend–that will be required to stem the gun culture which creates daily death and bloodshed in the nation.

I would have advised the Biden White House to not have ended the program, but rather tweaked the policy so ‘the locals’ did not feel like the ‘the feds’ were running roughshod. There is much, much merit in getting as many guns…and the misfits who carry them–off the streets. Who can deny that fact?

What probably goes without saying is that even at the time Trump was correct he was so inept that he bungled that, too.

I can not fathom a third Trump action or policy that I will be able to agree with. After all, even a broken clock can be right only twice, come morning and night.

And so it goes.

Pat Cassidy Steps Away From Chicago Radio Microphone

When I was a youngster my brother had a yellow car that at times we would drive to one of the local towns for this or that errand. I recall the car radio was tuned to WMAQ from Chicago and country music would play over the speakers. But what most caught my attention was the voice of a broadcaster who would often be behind the microphone.

Pat Cassidy.

Over my life, there have been certain voices from broadcasters that resonated and impressed me so much that there is a vocal recall that can be quickly brought to mind when thinking of them. Orion Samuelson, Earl Nightingale, the legendary Paul Harvey, and my personal favorite as a teenager, “Chicago Ed” Eddie Schwartz.

The perfect tonal quality of Pat Cassidy stayed for many years at the NBC powerhouse in Chicago, until it was sold. WMAQ (AM 670) was the oldest station in the city, and I would argue simply iconic. In 1922, Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover created the station’s call letters to WMAQ. The calls originally had no meaning, but went on to form the motto: We Must Ask Questions.


The ‘voice’ then moved to WBBM (AM 780), the famed all-news radio station from Chicago. My dad would listen to that station while mom shopped in Steven Point stores. It does amuse me how the touchstones of my life often are the radio stations and broadcasters who made such fond memories.

Cassidy not only worked at WBBM for 21 years as part of the morning team but he was a driving force that allowed the time slot to reign in the ratings. He was akin to a rock star of the radio world.

The broadcaster ended his career at the end of 2021 and noted that “On January first I’ll hold a private ceremony to destroy my alarm clock!

Pat Cassidy is part of a long list of Chicago broadcasters and famed announcers who impacted my life such as Wally Phillips, a professional I so admired and respected, and when a young man wanted to emulate. There is also on the list Bob Collins, Spike O’DellMilt Rosenberg, Steve and Johnnie, and Roy Leonard. These were heavy-hitters that drove the ratings.

So much in radio has changed over the years. Walking into a broadcast studio today is a far cry from WDOR, where I worked in Sturgeon Bay.  The age of digital broadcasting has taken over.  And I know that is progress.  But I also know there is something missing.   No more albums and turntables.  No more cart machines that might eat the tape.  No more splicing reel-to-reel tape.  Granted things are easier and faster with the modern conveniences of better equipment. But still…

Here is a photo of how I looked in those heady days of radio broadcasting at ‘The Big 94-FM’ in the 1980s. ‘Let’s get to that live remote and help open the new supermarket!’

We can be heartened with our memories of the many radio friends we felt so comfortable with that we continually invited them into our homes and cars. Early in the morning or late a night they were our sources of news and entertainment.

With the end of Pat Cassidy’s career, we now have one more voice that will be heard only in our fond recollections.

Caffeinated Politics wishes Pat a memorable retirement. But do broadcasters ever really stop doing what they love? There is always an outlet called podcasting….just saying!

And so it goes.

Wisconsin Guns, Chicago Crimes

Gun violence in Chicago is often the topic of headlines around the nation. Too often Monday morning newscasts will report on the number of shootings and homicides from the weekend. Even more tragic to learn are the reports which deal with children in the city who are struck by bullets and killed. We do not know the kids personally, but such news rips at us deeply.

Chicago, often based on such news, gets a negative backhand from many who hear of the gun violence tallies. But the Windy City is, of course, not alone in dealing with the gun culture that has totally gotten out of hand. In Philadelphia, as an example, officials are fearing this could be the deadliest year in the city’s history.

But while learning of what is happening in Chicago neighborhoods there must also be an awareness of how Wisconsin plays a role in that gun violence. Recently data was examined which connects the dots of a Glock stolen from a smashed glass case in Superior, Wisconsin, to its recovery during a street stop in Chicago. 

The movement of guns from Wisconsin to Chicago, and the tragic outcomes caused by such weapons, has triggered a likely journalism prize-worthy series in the Chicago Tribune. It truly deserves attention from Wisconsin residents as we are clearly part of the problem.

It was a few hours past midnight on New Year’s Day 2016, a time when the working-class northern Wisconsin town of Superior keeps the bars open especially late.

Police were tied up with two bar fights, one of them a 30-person brawl at a local saloon called the Ugly Stick.

With no cops in sight, the burglar was ready to make his move on Superior Shooters Supply, a gun shop frequented by hunters and hobbyists.

It was just 12 days later, authorities believewhen one of those (stolen) pistols was fired from a car in the southbound lanes of the Chicago Skyway around 97th Street, killing a 25-year-old road manager for a rap group who was driving his new BMW coupe.

The ease with which anyone with a disturbed mind or cruel intentions can make entrance to gun stores and steal deadly armaments is very concerning. In the above robbery, the store owner in Superior noted that the handguns were “stolen from one of her glass display cases”.

The consequences of such brazen thefts are noted in the data.

Guns that end up on Chicago’s streets often come from Indiana and Wisconsin. In 2019, of more than 11,000 guns confiscated by Illinois authorities, 460 were traced back to Wisconsin, which ranked third for states with the most gun traces outside of Illinois, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.

We need to re-examine the issues at play that allow for hundreds of guns to leave our state and cause injury and death. Wisconsin needs to implement stricter standards for gun dealers. The reason why is most obvious. 

At the present time, ATF does recommend that all commercial dealers install an alarm system, high-definition security cameras with audio, place bars on all windows, plus sturdy doors with multiple locks at each entrance.

But that is not enough.  Advising such common-sense recommendations is far different from demanding under law the stores act responsibly.  So let us be clear as to what Wisconsin should require.

Simply put, all gun stores need to place all firearms in a safe or vault after business hours to prevent theft.  I also have long felt that these stores would be best served with burglar alarms connected directly to the local police department. These ideas would in no way impede on those who seek to buy and own guns but would make those who sell weapons more responsible members of society.  If stores do not abide we then need to hold gun store owners accountable for shoddy security practices.

Chicago records show that aside from the above Glock linked to 27 shootings in Chicago, the three other guns from that one burglary were tied to more shootings in the city, striking at least 10 people and killing one of them.

In one case a 9 mm Glock 26 was confiscated by Chicago police from a teenager six months after the break-in, and in another, a 9 mm Glock was linked to the shootings of at least eight people including the slaying of Elliott Brown and wounding of his girlfriend.

The burglary at the Wisconsin shop was another episode in what police said is an established connection between Chicago and towns along the western tip of Lake Superior. Drugs often move north from Chicago, officials said, and sometimes firearms head south.

The reasons for the epidemic of gun crimes have long been studied. At this time in the nation, there is a soaring number of gun sales, the ever-more harsh political rhetoric against gun-control measures, and a deep distrust among some towards law enforcement. The list of contributing factors also includes economic forces which ramped up during the COVID crisis, and the long-running federal drug policy which desperately calls for reform.

Stealing deadly weapons from a gun store is also a proven problem which demands a public policy solution.

And so it goes.

Choices in Life: Former Madison Resident Took The Wrong Path, In Vehicle When Police Officer Killed

There are many times we can ponder a newspaper story and try to walk backwards from the events in the article. Whatever the article is reporting we can try to consider what might have happened if one of the subjects in the story had taken only one alternate path in life.

Such was the case this week regarding the tragic shooting of two police officers in Chicago. One of them, 29-year-old officer Ella French was killed almost instantly. The other officer remains in critical condition at the time of this posting.

Emonte Morgan, 21, pulled the trigger last weekend and for all practical purposes ended his life, too. He will spend the rest of his life in prison as a result of first-degree murder. Of a police officer. Perhaps two.

Alongside the shooter was his brother. They were both seated in a vehicle during a traffic stop. Eric Morgan, 22, had resided in Madison until 2018, He is now facing a raft of criminal charges ranging from unlawful use of a weapon by a felon, aggravated unlawful use of a weapon with a prior conviction, and obstruction of justice.

The gun that was used for the Chicago murder was bought by Jamel Danzy, from Indiana, in what is termed a ‘straw purchase’. Such gun sales are a topic that concerns all those who understand the need for better gun control laws.

In such a transaction paperwork is used with lying on a form so to buy a gun for someone who could make the purchase themselves. And it comes with some irony, too. Straw purchasers have clean criminal records by nature, as that is the point since they are the front person in such crimes. They use their clean records to commit a crime.

Danzy, used his clean public record to so violate federal firearm laws and gain the purchase of a weapon for a felon. A judge released him from custody with a slap on his wrist, terms that included a $4,500 unsecured bond, and supervision by court personnel. During this process, it was reported Danzy admitted he also purchased a gun for his cousin, who he knew was a convicted felon.

So many stand-up characters in this news story.

But is it Eric Morgan my mind keeps returning to, again and again.

Eric Morgan was sentenced in Dane County to three years of probation in June 2019 after pleading guilty to theft as a party to a crime. He was skirting so close to real legal pitfalls and potential problems that would surely pull him down if he did not take corrective measures. Yes, he was initially arrested for armed robbery, and that is a most serious matter, indeed.

But he was young, the world awaited with promises of better days and success if he chose to track in that direction. Was there no one who sternly took his arm and had that ‘come to Jesus’ meeting where it was spelled out in stark terms that the end of the dangerous and reckless behavior had to occur? No one with the force of character or the means to force some changes?

How did Eric wind up alongside someone with a gun that should never have been obtained and then used to kill a police officer, and shoot another one?

We all know in any life there are off-ramps, course changes that can be taken. How is it that this young man did not take any, or have a guiding hand of an adult to prod him–or otherwise–down a new path? There were clear reasons to have headed to the side of the road, and take the turn to something better in life.

That did not happen. It is very sad.