'Had I but served my God half so well as I have served my King, He would not have left me naked to mine enemies...' (Attributed to Cardinal Wolsey in a drama studied by college students at most Jesuit colleges and universities in the USA)

Michael Scott presiding over the Chicago Board of Education meeting on October 28, 2009. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Michael Scott (1949 - 2009). President, Chicago Board of Education, 2001 - 2007; 2009.

Relevant articles begin below here.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE. NOVEMBER 18, 2009. Michael Scott suicide ruling defended. Medical examiner stands by autopsy; police continue their probe

By Annie Sweeney and Angie Leventis Lourgos )Tribune reporters, November 18, 2009)

As the Cook County medical examiner underscored in a rare news conference her certainty that Michael Scott killed himself, Chicago police continued working to form a clearer picture of what led to his death.

Cook County Chief Medical Examiner Nancy Lynne Jones told reporters there was "no evidence" to indicate the Chicago school board president's death was anything but a suicide.

But police officials said Tuesday they still had not made an official ruling on Scott's death, saying there were "loose ends" that needed to be tied up, including an examination of his activities in the hours leading up to the discovery of his body Monday morning.

"We are conducting interviews, looking for video evidence and want to retrace his steps," said Roderick Drew, a spokesman for the department.

Chicago Board of Education President Michael Scott (above, second from right) presided over the September 23, 2009, meeting of the Chicago Board of Education with a lighter hand than during the August meeting. In August, he had cut off speakers before all those signed up for public participation had spoken. In September, he ordered that those who had been cut off the month before be allowed to speak first, apologizing for the slight of the previous month. Left to right above: Board Vice President Clare Muñana, the CPS "shadow student" for September 2009, Scott, Board attorney Patrick Rocks. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.The investigation into Scott's death has caused an unusual public rift between the medical examiner's office and Chicago police. On Monday, the medical examiner quickly ruled that Scott had killed himself, but at a news conference later that day Police Superintendent Jody Weis said that it was too early to draw conclusions about the cause of his death.

Typically, the medical examiner's office and police agree early on the direction of the police investigation.

The seeming confusion came as family members and some friends questioned why Scott, known by friends for his problem-solving skills and upbeat personality, would kill himself.

Phil Krone, a longtime political consultant and friend of Scott's, didn't dispute the medical examiner's suicide finding but wondered whether a murder "was masked to look like a suicide."

Mayor Richard Daley said that the death deserves a thorough investigation and that it would be a disservice to his longtime friend to imply he was a victim of foul play.

Above, Chicago Board of Education President Michael Scott (center) listens to the remarks by CORE co-chairman (and King High School teacher) Karen Lewis during the Board's October 28, 2009 meeting. Scott and all of the members of the Chicago Board of Education (called "The Chicago School Reform Board of Trustees" from 1995 to 1999) were appointed by Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley following the passage of the Amendatory Act of 1995, which began mayoral control of large urban school districts in 1995. Left to right (above) are Board members Roxanne Ward, Clare Muñana, the "shadow student" monthly Board member, Michael Scott, Tariq Butt, and Alberto Carrero. Not in the photograph are the other two of the seven Board members. Norman Bobins (retired President of Chicago's LaSalle Bank) did not attend the October meeting of the Board. Peggy Davis was seated to the side of Carrero and was not visible when the above photograph was taken. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Daley agreed that suicide was out of character for Scott.

"You're right, this is not Michael," said Daley, his voice at times breaking with emotion. "But you know people where, unfortunately, a suicide has taken place. It's not who you think they are. It's something that we don't know why. I wish we could find out. It's a very serious illness that takes over people."

Scott was among officials subpoenaed this summer in a federal investigation of admissions practices at Chicago's selective enrollment high schools. He also was the subject of a Tribune investigation into a land deal and his key role on Chicago's Olympics committee.

"A federal (subpoena) is bad -- it's a big deal and it's a concerning thing," said Rufus Williams, a former board president and close friend of Scott's. "But did it appear to weigh on him at a level that was extraordinary? No. Did it appear to weigh on him in any way that seemed to be driving him toward something? No."

Scott was last seen about 6:30 p.m. Sunday. He never contacted his family after that -- something that was highly unusual for a man said to be a creature of habit. His body was found early Monday at the edge of the Chicago River behind the Chicago Apparel Center at 350 N. Orleans Ave.

He had a gunshot wound on his left temple and a .380-caliber gun was found under his body, authorities said.

Sources said video evidence so far has not yielded much information about the shooting.

Detectives on Tuesday continued to review phone records. Ballistics tests also were pending.

But an autopsy conducted Monday showed that Scott died of a single "contact-range, through-and-through gunshot wound to his head," which is common in suicides and not homicides, Jones told reporters Tuesday.

"The gun was held directly against the head and actually pressed against the head, which is something we see in suicides," she said. "Physical evidence on the body as well as the physical evidence at the scene leads us to these conclusions."

She added that there were no defensive wounds or marks that would indicate he'd been involved in a struggle. Authorities have not found a suicide note, but Jones said that is fairly common.

"It is far more frequent for us to not have a suicide note than for there to be a suicide note," she said.

Jones said two police detectives were present during her office's examination and concurred with the suicide findings. No one from the Police Department raised questions or offered new information to her office, she said.

She also complained that police had moved his body from the river without her office's permission, which she said is a violation of a state law.

Drew said that police often remove bodies from scenes.

Tribune reporters John Byrne and Azam Ahmed contributed to this report. asweeney; 

"If lies and broken promises were a bridge, Michael Scott could have walked across Lake Michigan without getting his feet wet..."

By George N. Schmidt

Everyone, it seems, has a Michael Scott story, some going back decades, some as recent as "last week." It seemed that Michael was Chicago's universal smiling Networker in Chief, a walking handshake and "What's wrong..." smile.

But a canvass of those who knew Michael well (as I did for decades) and who had any disagreement with Richard M. Daley and the policies of Chicago's ruling class will tell another story about Michael Scott, one that might serve as an interesting lesson in political science, but which wouldn't burnish the image being burnished to keep investigations and questions off the trail.

Because of the smile and the pseudo-sincerity, Michael Scott was able to gain access to people and places -- almost always on the business of his master, Richard M. Daley -- that others couldn't. It wasn't always a bad deal, but as people dredge through their memories with a little more than the sorrow that comes from a sudden death of a tragic sort, we'll be hearing a lot more about why Michael remained so useful to the Daleys for so long...

And how Michael's last job for Richard M. Daley -- basically, to give legitimacy to the most corrupt schools chief in Chicago history, Ron Huberman -- went off the tracks from the beginning and was causing Michael a great deal of grief

From the beginning.

Michael was indeed the Great Communicator, and the skills he developed from his days as a child on the West Side served him well throughout his career. But when those communications skills were in the service of lies (some would say, in reference to the vicious attacks on public schools of "Renaissance 2010" -- "evil), even Michael's smile would turn.

And everyone who worked in public education over the years has many Michael Scott stories.

And since this is a tragedy of fairly serious proportions, I think a few historical and political allusions -- beyond the one that comes with the quotation that heads this column -- are appropriate.

Michael Scott's adversaries, of whom I became one by the early days of the 21st Century, didn't kill him. As some of us joked with him, in a world where he was surrounded by back stabbers, he could take comfort in the fact that some of us were front stabbers. If we were going to fight him (meaning, really, some policy of corporate Chicago he had been assigned to front for) he would see us coming, and we could sign our names. The handful of people who did Michael that favor (as opposed to the hundreds who smiled to his face and either ignored him or stabbed him in the back) were people, ironically, that he could trust more than his legions of "friends."

So I'll begin here by telling my last Michael Scott communications story. That story will appear first in the print edition of Substance for December 2009 and will be mailed to all paid Substance subscribers on December 8, 2009. 

Final edited version of this article posted at November 16, 2009, 5:00 p.m. CDT. If you choose to reproduce this article in whole or in part, or any of the graphical material included with it, please give full credit to SubstanceNews as follows: Copyright © 2009 Substance, Inc., Please provide Substance with a copy of any reproductions of this material and we will let you know our terms — or you can take out a subscription to Substance (see red button to the right) and make a donation. We are asking all of our readers to either subscribe to the print edition of Substance (a bargain at $16 per year) or make a donation. Both options are available on the right side of our Home Page. For further information, feel free to call us at our office at 773-725-7502.


November 16, 2009 at 2:18 PM

By: Vinicius

Word Right on target!

The same can be said of the rest of the Chicago School Board and top administration and CAO's. They forget they serve the children and not their Mayor and vested interests.

November 16, 2009 at 2:50 PM

By: Teacher

Michael Scott Was Well Aware...

They don't forget they serve the children. They are well aware they don't, and that they do serve the mayor and his corporate crony interests. That is why MS was always so belittling and snide to public participation at board meetings.

November 16, 2009 at 9:53 PM

By: to mayor daley

MS rip

god bless MICHAEL Scott-Jehovah, Buddha, Yahweh, et al. Anyone and everyone. I cry out: Why did you do this? So many would have helped you, supported you. Oh, Michael, our valiant angel, RIP. Feds need to be involved! NOW. The conspiracy theories are all around. Lord Daley, the CPS king or your Olympics, you must resign NOW! (Put Orr in as mayor.) And Alderman Solis—your nasty letter to Michael Scott this September was absolutely horrible and uncalled for—you CYA with that letter on his back! T'is why we need the Feds!

Ron—you have no idea what you have missed as a mentor and leader. And Crisis Intervention—did Ron even tell you the CPS employees were given your number? Hey Women of CPS CI=Voice mail does not work here y’all.

We are lucky to have known you Michael—for you to have given your all to us. Thank you. God bless you and your family.

I know of Kuglar and his work in CPS first hand. He has a right to express—he is angry, but he displaces his anger. Even MS would understand this—he would challenge this, but he would accept it. What a dark day for Chicago:

Smart lad, to slip betimes away

From fields where glory does not stay,

And early though the laurel grows

It withers quicker than the rose.

Oh, king Daley, dost thou know what ye lost?

Ye owe him a pound of flesh.

November 17, 2009 at 8:34 AM

By: Margaret Wilson

Retired Teacher

I, too, am saddened by the death of Michael Scott. I had my disagreements with him esp. with the closings of so many schools and his realestate dealings which may have been a conflict of interest however I also respected him. Compared to many members of the Board, he always seemed willing to listen to everyone and show them respect. He had the ability to disagree with you but still clearly let you know that he respected you and was not closed to other ideas. He will be a loss to the city.

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