THE BLOG
08/28/2010 09:27 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

In Third World America Expect to Be Investigated, as Lt. John Andrews Is Being Investigated, for Speaking Up

My first post about Arianna Huffington's new book, Third World America: How Our Politicians are Abandoning the Middle Class and Betraying the American Dream talked about the Great Recession, the Great Bailout, and the Great Cover-up of financial crimes, including massive and widespread predatory lending fueled by phony securities and derivatives. My second post talked about corruption and mismanagement that led to local fiscal problems and problems in city services. I used the Chicago Police Department's problems as an example and mentioned an essay by Lt. John Andrews, a 25-year CPD veteran, which was posted on his personal blog.

Yesterday's Chicago Tribune reported that Internal Affairs Department is investigating Lt. Andrews because of his essay. (The investigation was initiated before my August 25 post, but I was unaware of the investigation at the time I posted.)

According to the Tribune:

The charge against Andrews points to a comment he made regarding recently promoted Cmdr. Anthony Carothers. Carothers' brother Isaac is a former alderman who was sentenced to 28 months in federal prison this summer on bribery and tax charges.

Andrews referred to Carothers' promotion as a "recent example of alleged political corruption ties to top tier leadership." He said his promotion less than a month after his influential brother's sentencing gave the appearance of impropriety.

Police Superintendent Jody Weis wouldn't comment specifically on Andrews' case this week but spoke about how leaders are people who "look to inspire, motivate and look for solutions to challenges."

Lt. Andrews took a courageous step when he made his concerns about the Chicago Police Department public. He's an adult, and he knew there could be serious repercussions. He stepped forward anyway. The Chicago Tribune points out that if Lt. Andrews was speaking up as a matter of public interest as a concerned citizen, and not airing a private grievance, his essay should enjoy First Amendment protection:

There is a serious First Amendment issue here," said Sheldon Nahmod, a constitutional law and civil rights professor at Chicago-Kent College of Law.

Nahmod said free speech law should permit Andrews to post his comments without discipline as long as he's speaking as a public citizen and out of public concern, rather than simply airing personal grievances.

"(Andrews) was griping about the morale of the Police Department in general, the support it's getting from its supervisors, superiors and from politicians, and that's not the same thing as a personal gripe," Nahmod said.

After re-reading the essay, it seems to me it should enjoy First Amendment protection. You can decide for yourself, since his essay, "A City at War with Itself : Chicago -- Fast Tracking to Anarchy Understanding the Organizational Paralysis of the CPD and the Mission to Recovery," is still posted.