January 21, 2012
When G8 leaders convene in Chicago this May to discuss managing the global economy, they’ll be meeting in a city that has botched its own finances so thoroughly, even its morgue is overcrowded.
The Chicago Sun-Times recently reported that backlogged bodies are being stacked like Lincoln Logs in a cooler at the Cook County Medical Center. According to an unnamed source, 500 bodies—including the corpses of an estimated 100 babies—were crammed into a storage unit designed for 300. In some cases, infants’ remains were being placed alongside the cadavers of the “thinnest adults” due to the cramped space. “There are so many bodies in there now, they can’t keep it cool enough. The stench is like nothing I’ve ever seen,” said another source (who apparently suffers from synesthesia), adding that the entire situation is “sacrilegious.”
The excess inventory of adult corpses is being blamed on last summer’s suspension of a program that paid private funeral homes $1,600 per body to bury Chicago’s indigent deceased. Although the program has been reinstated, many funeral homes now refuse to continue accepting such cases.
The overstocked county meat locker’s surplus of infant remains is partially due to an ordinance last year that banned the interment of fetuses and infants in “communal wooden coffins” and instead required individual burial containers. According to one source, the medical examiner’s office has failed to cough up the funds to pay the company that builds the tiny individual baby coffins. But according to Medical Examiner Nancy Jones, these legally mandated mini-caskets have yet to even be designed, much less built—all while an estimated 100 infant corpses are sharing refrigerator space alongside adults.
Although it accounts for less than two percent of the state’s land mass, Cook County, AKA Crook County, is home to two of every five Illinois residents. Its county seat is Chicago, so legendarily corrupt that one suspects even Mrs. O’Leary’s cow was on the take. The city has held corruption trials dating back to 1869. In Chicago, politics and criminality have been entangled since prostitution and gambling scandals of the late 1800s all the way up to the recent guilty plea of a Water Department engineer who managed a heroin-distribution ring. Since 1972, at least 26 Cook County officials—19 of them judges—have been convicted of crimes.