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A Crime of Arrogance

By Kevin Robinson in News on Jun 15, 2007 4:30PM

The unfortunate world of Arenda Troutman came crashing down around her like so much broken glass the day the FBI came and took her off to jail. And it came crashing down around her the night she lost, fairly definitively, her re-election bid for alderman of the 20th Ward. That's not to say that she didn't give the police plenty of rocks to throw at her fragile world.

2007_6_troutman.jpgYou may remember that her drama has been going on for a few years now, with her formal indictment Wednesday simply adding a new chapter to the book. The indictment charges her with accepting a bribe of $5000 cash and a check for $5000, made out to the "Twentieth Ward Women's Auxiliary," a quid pro quo for writing a letter to city departments urging them to give a developer access to a South Side alley (which may or may not have actually been in her ward). Of course, it turned out that the developer was a government mole, sent to collect evidence of corruption in her Ward organization.

We have little patience for corruption here at Chicagoist, although we are secretly fans of playing dirty. (It's what makes writing about the Game so much fun in this town!) The perplexing thing about Troutman isn't that she is proclaiming her innocence; proclaiming her innocence is a given. It's that after she made sure she gave the police plenty of reasons to keep an eye on her, she went about and flaunted the law anyway. It's no shocker that they found an unregistered handgun in her possession when they raided her home. And it's not that stunning that she (allegedly) took the bribes that she took. Power corrupts, and often in ways that we don't always consider. It's no stretch to believe that an alderman, convinced she is untouchable, would keep playing the games that she played. But it is stunning that she wasn't more careful about what she did. Who takes a check for a bribe? And who allows their gang-member boyfriend use their car when they are so obviously under suspicion by the police? If the allegations against her are proven to be true, Arenda Troutman will be convicted in a court of law, and the sentence leveled against her may or may not be just. Regardless, it seems that her more glaring crime in this instance is stupidity.