The [Friday] Papers
More on school closings to come. For now, let's catch up with parking privatization for a change of pace.
Meter Madness, Money And Mara
"Former Mayor Richard M. Daley's staff was aware of major problems with the city's parking-meter privatization deal in 2010 - a year and a half before the costly issues publicly surfaced, according to hundreds of pages of documents released Wednesday by Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration," the Sun-Times reported on Thursday.
"The documents detail behind-the-scenes sparring between City Hall - under Daley and Emanuel - and Chicago Parking Meters LLC before Emanuel struck a deal last month with the meter company."
The fight was over those with disability placards parking for free at meters. But the biggest eye-opener in the documents to me was this:
The newly released documents also show the meter company paid former Daley press secretary Avis LaVelle's public relations firm $518,246 between 2009 and 2012.
Also, this reminder:
The law firm of Katten Muchin Rosenman, where Daley now is employed, worked for the city on drafting the parking-meter deal.
And as expected:
A spokeswoman for Daley could not be reached Wednesday for comment.
Meanwhile, Crain's ran a puffball interview with former Daley consigliere Mara Georges earlier this month in which she stated "It was a good decision in that I think it was the responsible way to raise much-needed revenue."
And where does Georges work now? Daley & Georges.
I bet she gets free parking.
Meanwhile, in other privatization matters . . .
"Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration went to court Thursday to try to knock tens of millions of dollars off the nearly $58 million tab it owes to the private company that operates four city-owned parking garages," the Sun-Times reports today.
"A panel of independent arbitrators found earlier this year that former Mayor Richard M. Daley 's administration violated the city's 99-year, $563 million deal with Chicago Loop Parking LLC when it allowed a competing public garage to open in the new Aqua building downtown on North Columbus Drive.
"Now, in a lawsuit filed in Cook County Circuit Court, the Emanuel administration argues that the parking-garage company is no longer entitled to the entire $57.8 million arbitration award, even though the 2006 privatization deal says such rulings 'shall be final and binding.'"
Maybe Rahm should sue Katten Muchin Rosenman, Daley and Georges for damages instead.
The [Mara Georges] Papers:
June 15, 2006:
Not a good day for Mara Georges, who as corporation counsel is the city's top lawyer. Georges is also a Mayor Daley loyalist who has been on the stand for a couple days in the ongoing City Hall job-rigging corruption trial. On Wednesday, defense lawyer Thomas Anthony Durkin questioned her about the city's hiring of Andy Ryan, a 19-year-old son of a union official, as a building inspector.
"During cross-examination on Wednesday, Georges did not directly respond when Durkin asked whether she knew if Intergovernmental Affairs played a role in Ryan's hiring," the Tribune's account reports.
"'It would depend on what you mean by 'played a role,' she said."
Georges has frustrated reporters for years with this kind of slipperiness in service of her see-no-evil routine.
Now it's on display in a federal courtroom.
"Also Wednesday," the Sun-Times reported, "Georges finished testimony but revised a critical element under defense questioning.
"On Tuesday, Georges said she was unaware of allegations of irregularities in city hiring until the FBI raided IGA offices last year.
"But she grudgingly acknowledged she was aware of possible irregularities in the 2004 hiring of [Ryan].
"'Perhaps I was aware there was an allegation, yes,' she said."
July 10, 2006:
Sifting through the aftermath of the City Hall hiring fraud verdict is a bit like traversing California in the 1840s - you can't help but stumble upon some golden nuggets. (See also The [Patronage] Papers.)
For example, how deliciously telling is it that jurors found Mara Georges to be the least credible witness put on the stand? Not the old-school machine hacks that the defense tried to dirty up by suggesting their testimony was skewed by their immunity deals, but the corporation counsel - the city's lawyer-in-chief (though she's shown that her chief loyalty is to the mayor, not the city).
U.S. District Court judge David Coar also found Georges performance on the stand wanting, and another regrets taking her representations at face value of the city's compliance with a federal hiring decree.
July 31, 2006:
Here's what the chief assistant to corporation counsel Mara Georges wrote to her in an e-mail upon hearing that Edward Egan and Robert Boyle had been appointed as special prosecutors in the Burge inquiry, according to the Sun-Times today:
"They will likely be fair to the city and the CPD and our guess is that they will not be inclined to turn their investigation into the kind of unfocused witchhunt . . . that the [People's Law Office] and their ilk would ideally push for."
As opposed to Jon Burge, and his ilk.
March 22, 2007:
Georges, who as the Tribune points out, "for years swore in court that the city was abiding by hiring restrictions." Right up to the time federal prosecutors unveiled what they called "massive fraud" emanating from officials in the mayor's office and winning four guilty verdicts - including the mayor's patronage chief.
October 3, 2007:
Mara Georges is at it again.
Georges is the city's corporation counsel and a favorite of Mayor Daley's. And it's no wonder why.
"The City of Chicago's top lawyer has denied at least one alderman's written request to see a list of Chicago police officers who have the most excessive force complaints during the last five years, a move that critics say contradicts what the lawyer told federal judges this summer," the Tribune reports this morning.
"Corporation Counsel Mara Georges recently sent a letter to Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th), denying her Aug. 23 request for an unredacted list of Office of Professional Standards complaints.
"In July, when the city was arguing in federal court to keep the documents secret, Georges assured the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals that aldermen would have access to the confidential records.
"'We have agreed to make the confidential documents available to any City Council member who requests them,' Georges declared in the city's July 13 emergency motion seeking a stay of U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow's order to unseal the records and make them available to the general public."
Now, Georges is arguing that the very stay that was granted when she made that promise prevents her from . . . keeping her promise.
"It is disappointing, but not surprising," Preckwinkle said. "It is sort of consistent with bad behavior by the corporation counsel all the way along."
Just last week, for example, John Conroy reminded us in the Reader of Georges' blatant disingenuousness.
"Georges received stunningly bad reviews for her testimony in last year's trial of Robert Sorich, the mayor's longtime patronage chief," Conroy wrote. "Georges testified that she was unaware of political influence in hiring. Jury foreman Jay Olshansky, a professor of public health at the University of Illinois at Chicago, told the Tribune she was the prosecution's least credible witness, and federal judge David Coar, who presided over the trial, said, 'I found the Mara Georges position in all of this incredible.'
"But Mayor Daley likes her. After Sorich was convicted he was quoted in the Tribune saying Georges has been a 'very, very good corporation counsel . . . full of integrity, honesty, dedication.'"
November 3, 2008:
Though the city's inspector general figures Chicago is wasting millions of dollars a year on garbage-collection crews 'paid to do nothing' for 25 percent of their time on the job, no one has been disciplined for slacking off," the Sun-Times reports.
"City Corporation Counsel Mara Georges said Friday it would be tough to justify the firings promised by Mayor Daley and city Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Michael Picardi in the wake of Inspector General David Hoffman's report last month, let alone suspensions."
See, those promises had an expiration date of one news cycle.
November 13, 2009:
"Testifying later at a City Council budget hearing, Corporation Counsel Mara Georges said if the court orders her to turn over the documents [sought by the city inspector general's office], she would ask the City Council to amend the municipal code 'to say my privilege is sacred'," the Sun-Times reports.
"I do not think I can do my job and do it effectively for you if my client, including those people [aldermen] in this room, think that whatever they tell me is going to be turned over to the IG," Georges said.
Wait - isn't Georges' client us?
Stupid question. Withdrawn.
Obama Has Lost Jon Stewart
Daily Show host absolutely eviscerating the president these days.
The Week In Chicago Rock
Including: Marina and the Diamonds, Halestorm, Charli XCX, and the Secret Chiefs.
Inside the 2013 Sweets & Snacks Expo.
The Beachwood Tip Line: Short, sweet.
Posted on May 24, 2013