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Editorial: A better way to dig into future snow scandals

Ald. Edward Burke's house on West 51st Street and the condo he developed next to it in February 2015 after a heavy snowstorm. | Dan Mihalopoulos/Sun-Times

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A little something — actually a big something — is missing from the City Hall inspector general’s new report on Chicago snow removal.

On Monday, IG Joe Ferguson said Streets and Sanitation plows deviated from their normal course after a big snowstorm in 20115 to clear the way to the home of powerful Ald. Edward Burke (14th) and his wife, Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke.

What the report didn’t say was whether Ald. Burke had any influence in that decision. That’s because at the time of the investigation, the IG was barred from investigating aldermen and their staffs, something that since has been remedied.

But Ferguson is barred no longer, and so we urge him to ask Burke a few questions. Let’s learn how snow really falls in this town.

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Chicago’s political history being what it is, it’s plausible crews decided on their own to plow the Burke’s block 46 times in five days after the fifth-largest snowstorm in Chicago history. Sometimes a quiet phone call is unnecessary. Even though the 3900 block of West 51st Street has only two lanes of traffic and dead-ends before Pulaski and the CTA’s Orange Line tracks.

It’s also possible this has been going on for years. The city’s Plow Tracker app, which shows where trucks are working, was released just four years ago. But snow removal scandals date back at least to 1907, when workers conspired to get paid more than once for filling the same horse-drawn wagons with snow.

No word on how 51st Street fared back then.

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