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Monday, June 28, 2010

THE CHICAGO WAY

NEW YORK TIMES
Court Rules; Patronage May Benefit
By DAN MIHALOPOULOS
  • City Hall was literally abuzz most of the week with talk of dozens of new Wal-Mart stores across Chicago, with demonstrators blowing World Cup-style vuvuzela horns to express their desire for jobs.
  • On Thursday, as a City Council panel at last approved plans for Chicago’s second Wal-Mart, many city workers and politicians ignored the din and chatted about news from Washington, where the Supreme Court handed down a ruling that could have far-ranging political consequences in Chicago’s wards.
  • A few feet away from the chanting Wal-Mart supporters, a police officer asked a colleague if the court’s decision to severely limit the federal “honest services” law might revive the Hispanic Democratic Organization. The political group was the biggest of the patronage armies that Mayor Richard M. Daley’s aides cultivated by steering city jobs to loyal and effective campaign workers.
  • The practice thrived despite decades-old civil court agreements intended to ensure fairness in city hiring, and it was the lifeblood of a machine that helped Mr. Daley dominate local politics. It ended only when federal prosecutors charged some Daley aides, including Robert A. Sorich, his former patronage chief, with corrupting the hiring process in one of many honest-services cases that federal prosecutors here have pressed successfully.
  • Lawyers for Mr. Sorich and his co-defendants argued that they were not corrupt because they did not take a dime. The Supreme Court justices echoed that on Thursday, ruling that prosecutors have to prove that the alleged crimes involved bribes or kickbacks.
  • Since Mr. Sorich’s arrest and conviction, the political playing field has become more level. Mavericks no longer have to face huge pro-Daley patronage armies, a change that contributed heavily to the defeat of several mayoral loyalists in the 2007 City Council elections.
  • Kitty Kurth, a Democratic consultant who had been called St. Jude for her fervent backing of many long-shot candidates, found herself on the side of the successful, independent challengers in five council races in 2007.
  • “I guess Chicago and the rest of the country ain’t ready for reform,” Ms. Kurth said of the Supreme Court ruling. “I would think this would make it tempting for the machine to go back to its old ways.”
  • While the local political establishment had no qualms about violating a civil court decree, going to jail for patronage hiring did not seem possible until the Sorich case.
  • “The threat of criminal prosecution was a deterrent, and this ruling reduces the deterrent," said Michael L. Shakman, the lawyer who for four decades has fought a civil court battle for apolitical hiring at City Hall.
  • In the City Council chambers Thursday, as Steven Restivo, the Wal-Mart spokesman, talked to reporters about the Zoning Committee vote, a former Daley aide who recently got a job with Wal-Mart stood next to him. Mr. Restivo would not say whether anyone in local politics had recommended the former aide, Gyata Kimmons, to the company, saying instead that Mr. Kimmons was most likely hired the same way he and many other Wal-Mart employees had been.

 Does this mean we are going back to the old ways of doing business? I guess so. If they practiced patronage hiring and promoting when it was illegal, why wouldn't they do it after a ruling that makes it at least less illegal. I presume there are still laws against it but now it will be harder to press charges. The federal monitor is scheduled for a showdown with the city in August. The judge who mandated her presence is retiring. My guess is that as long as Daley keeps playing along he will get out from under federal scrutiny at that time. With Obama in the White House I can't see the Feds continuing to investigate him. Looks like if you want a city job or promotion in Chicago you better be ready to knock on doors and buy fundraising tickets again.


2 comments:

  1. check out the mtgreenwoodprotection.blogspot.com ... there is a whole thread on there about a call that took place and a questionable call taker from oemc... im a police officer and I dont go on this site but there are some that are questioning weather or not a call taker can know if cars are availible or not while taking 911 calls.. some say yes, some say no.. i dont know cause i dont know what the call takers do.. anyone wants to throw there two cents in and call b.s. on it or knock the call taker check it out

    ReplyDelete
  2. A call taker wouldn't normally know if there are cars available, but the shortage of cars is common knowledge. He or she should not have said that regardless of the truth; that's not his or her job to screen calls for service.

    The call taker should have made that a high priority with DTF for the dispatcher and at least got the call out regardless of how many cars were up.

    If that's true a head should roll.

    ReplyDelete

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