Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Daley machine screws taxpayers

Ah, the glorious "Hired Truck" scandal, so huge it's got its own Web site, featuring corruption so blatant it shocks even Chicago, land of "ethics reformer" Rahm Emanuel. And the taxpayers paid for all of it:
Mayor Daley's political organization got free labor and services from people hoping for city jobs or promotions -- at the expense of taxpayers, a federal prosecutor charged Monday.

The allegation by Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Collins came during his opening statement in the corruption trial of Daley's former patronage chief and three colleagues. It's the closest prosecutors have come to laying the hiring scandal at Daley's doorstep. ...

"The mayor's political organization wants people to knock on doors, it should go out and hire them," Collins said, rather than relying on people hoping for a job.

Former patronage chief Robert Sorich, his friend and right-hand man, Tim McCarthy, and two former high-ranking Streets and Sanitation employees, John Sullivan and Patrick Slattery, are charged with taking part in a scheme to reward city jobs and promotions to people ringing doorbells or canvassing neighborhoods for candidates supported by the mayor.

Sorich, a top official in the mayor's Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, and the three others allegedly did this by faking city job interviews and test results.
One of the key witnesses in the case testified Wednesday:
Mayor Richard Daley's office stopped dictating hires for coveted union jobs and the city began choosing applicants based on merit only after it became clear that authorities were investigating City Hall corruption, a former city official testified today.

Mary Jo Falcon, who resigned last year as personnel director for the Water Management Department, said the federal probe of the city's Hired Truck Program prompted a change in personnel practices in the Daley administration. ...

Falcon said Sorich had instructed her to lead a group of Asian-American city workers on election campaigns for Daley, U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), Illinois Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan, 2000 Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore and several aldermen whose wards have heavily Asian precincts.

Sorich's orders to work for Daley in 1999, when the mayor was re-elected, came at a meeting at the mayor's Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, where Sorich and McCarthy worked, Falcon said.
Understand that Rahm Emanuel is head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which is loudly proclaiming that Republicans have a "culture of corruption." Yet Emanuel owes his election to the corrupt Daley machine.

In DONKEY CONS, we chronicle the historic, rampant and pervasive corruption of Chicago Democrats, up to and including the "Hired Truck" scandal (pages 80-81, 137-138). The mobster heyday of Frank Nitti and his successors (pages 68-72), the stolen election of 1960 (pages 45-48), Mel Reynolds, Dan Rostenkowski, Dorothy Rivers — Chicago has produced a never-ending parade of Democratic scoundrels.

The systemic nature of Democratic corruption in Chicago provides an ironic alibi for Emanuel. Because crooked politics is routine in Daley's Chicago, Emanuel can protest his innocence: He never requested, nor was he aware of, the illegal assistance provided to his campaign by the Daley machine.

Exactly. If you are a Chicago Democrat, you automatically benefit from the corruption — it's just that you are never held legally or politically responsible for it. More than 20 people have been convicted or pleaded guilty in the "Hired Truck" scandal — none of them the Democratic officials whose re-elections were the primary objects of the scam. So the little guys take the fall, and the Democratic bigwigs just walk away.

Linked by VP Cheney

Previous CHICAGO SCANDAL reports

4/17: Chicago Scandal Keeps On Truckin'
3/22: Resurrection Day for Chicago Dems
3/21: Chicago Corruption Hall of Fame
3/21: "Hired Truck" update
2/18: Hire 'em all!
2/4: Rahm's "Culture of Corruption"


The "Hired Truck" scandal has gotten little press attention from the national media or the blogosphere. Much the same has been true of the corruption investigations surrounding former Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell, former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, and Philadelphia Mayor John Street.

This is the bright side to Democrats' loss of power in Washington: Most corruption scandals surrounding Democrats now occur at the local level — the Democrats have always been a powerhouse in terms of big-city corruption, a subject which gets its own chapter in DONKEY CONS. So while the national media goes gaga over the Abramoff scandal, nobody outside the Chicago area knows anything about how the Daley machine was ripping off the taxpayers.

If the Democrats win in November, of course, these minor-league crooks will take their corruption to Washington with them, and the ultimate result -- this is a promise, not a prediction -- will be a series of scandals that makes Jack Abramoff look like a saint.

DONKEY CONS: Rave review
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DONKEY CONS: About the book

DONKEY CONS: On Capitol Hill
DONKEY CONS: About the authors