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Michael Scott RIP

Thomas F. Roeser 18 November 2009 No Comment

I knew and liked Michael Scott intensely…knew him from the City Club and found his gregariousness catching. So, along with everyone else I am disturbed by the strange earmarks of his suicide-if it WAS suicide as my good friend Phil Krone speculated in The Chicago Daily Observer. The only other person I knew reasonably well who committed suicide was Steve Neal of the Sun-Times. But all the while, the symptoms were there: Neal was a very-very heavy drinker, an indication that he turned to it to fight depression. In addition to depression, there were anxiety demons…real and fancied… torturing Neal which the drinking seemed to blot out for a time-until the intoxication failed to work.

Even then, Neal took the exit route in a rather commodious way…getting middling drunk, then going to the garage, starting the car and sitting there until he drifted away. The thing that bothers me about Michael is…as John Kass discusses in a brilliant column… that he chose the world’s most disadvantageous route for one determined to do himself in: going at midnight to a spot behind the Merchandise Mart to the place where the ancient railroad bridge stands erect (rusting to pieces in an upright attitude it has held since I was a kid)…skittering between the empty whiskey bottles and syringes to the water’s edge…running the risk of being mugged by any derelict who happened to stumble along (and no, I don’t care what anyone says, a potential suicide usually wouldn’t venture to a spot where bums might botch the job he wanted to reserve for himself), then firing one shot into his brain and falling into the shallow water. Given that suicide is an attitude of despondency, going to that amount of discomfort and physical endangerment before you get to the exact spot where you want to end it all is difficult to understand.

Along with others, I’ve considered the possibility that the Feds came to Scott and told him one of his aldermanic contacts carried a wire for a long time and have him on tape-something that is reasonable given the nature of realty development in this town…and Scott was involved (so far as we know blemish-free)…in development in the 29th ward and dealt extensively with its alderman Ike Carothers, a federal indictee who wore a wire and recorded everyone of importance he visited with or talked to on the phone. No prejudgment here and everything I know about Michael Scott is that he is a fighter and would be dedicated to angrily prove his innocence.

Frankly, as I see Mayor Daley try to shunt aside any suggestion of foul play, I hope the cops maintain independence and not exclude the possibility.

Where murder is a possibility, I don’t like to see political powerbrokers try to brush aside the need for thorough investigation.

Tom Roeser is the Chairman of the Editorial Board of the Chicago Daily Observer and the Chairman of the City Club of Chicago

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