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The [Tuesday] Papers

From CSI: City Hall to As The Cook County Board Presidency Turns, it's John Daley Day in the papers this morning, a proclamation of sorts about the role the mayoral brother plays in local politics on your dime.

It is not a day that John Daley is celebrating. There will be no parade.

In the ongoing job-rigging trial of Mayor Richard M. Daley's former patronage chief, Robert Sorich, and three other aides, a former Buildings Department official testified Monday that the FBI questioned him three times about John Daley, leading Sorich defense attorney Thomas Anthony Durkin to conclude that prosecutors "want to try to indict Mayor Daley and his brother John."

Even worse, Durkin called John Daley "a mooch."


John Daley is apparently that guy who always happens to be leaving work when you are and asks if you are going "straight home," which is his way of asking if he can have a ride.

Here's some advice: Don't do it.

Robert Sorich used to give John Daley rides, and now he's on trial. Soon he'll need his own ride to the federal pokey.

Former city buildings official Christopher Kozicki used to give Daley rides too. On Monday, he found himself in the uncomfortable position of being called to testify by the prosecution and declared a hostile witness. Prosecutors say he backed down on the stand last week from statements given previously to investigators about who was responsible for hiring the 19-year-old son of a union official as a building inspector.

And then there were those questions posed to Kozicki about John Daley.

Now, the Sun-Times reports that "a source with knowledge of Kozicki's government interviews said their questions about John Daley were innocuous."

But I'm not sure the feds ask innocuous questions. I suspect the source is one friendly to the Daleys. But that's just me.

Be that as it may, the most important piece of testimony might have been this nuggert, which appeared at the end of the Tribune's story: "[A] former city computer technician testified that he removed a program from Sorich's laptop computer in 2002. The program tracked city job seekers by their race and political affiliation, according to witness Ben Campney.

"He said he created the program after Daley was elected mayor in 1989 at the request of top Daley political aide Timothy Degnan. Campney said that during a 2002 meeting in Sorich's office, he deleted the program and its files.

"'Robert joked that after this was over, we would throw the hard drives in Lake Michigan,' Campney said."

The larger significance of Campney's testimony is that it links a list of job-seekers kinky enough that Sorich wanted to keep it from federal investigators to the very beginning of the Daley Administration, and to Degnan, a man often referred to as "the mayor's brain."

That's not good for the mayor.

The Sun-Times account of the proceedings focuses on the allegation that a Daley press aide told Kozicki to lie to the media about the circumstances surrouding the hiring of the teenage building inspector.

In an alleged damage control meeting, a handful of top Daley aides, including his chief of staff and press secretary, decided to tell the media that the city didn't know who the teenager's father was. (The press aide named by Kozicki denies the allegation.)

The mayor's aides apparently thought the city would look better if the public thought it was routine business for the city to hire 19-year-old building inspectors, rather than admit what the public already knows: That clout exists in Chicago politics.

Sometimes it's not that the cover-up is worse than the crime, it's that the cover-up is stupider.

The prosecution also put on the stand a man passed over for one of those $50,000-a-year building inspector jobs, despite his 17 years of experience in the building trades.

To all the patronage apologists out there, consider the words of that man, Jeffrey Harness, whom the Tribune quotes as saying he was "a little angry" for being passed over in favor of a teenager.

"At that age, you're not really qualified to be in a position where people's lives are at stake," Harness told reporters.

But back to John Daley. At the same time his name was being bandied about a federal courtrooom as a possible indictment target, he stepped forward to say he would consider accepting the Cook County Board presidency on an interim basis while the family of current but ailing president John Stroger and the Democratic ward committeemen decided who their nominee for the job would be in the fall.

John Daley said he would not be that nominee "under any circumstance." And while those kind of statements have a way of proving malleable in the political world, I believe him. John Daley is in his comfort zone out of the spotlight, managing his little political fiefdom in peace and leveraging a lucrative insurance business from his seat as head of county board's finance committee. The last thing he needs is for people to start paying attention to him.

Still, the news tossed another weird twist into the incredibly ridiculous saga of an elected office being held hostage by the political interests of a power-hungry cabal.

If John Stroger is as lucid as his supporters say he is, his performance during this soap opera proves him unworthy of retaining his position. If he is as sick as the media seems to think he is, those who are secretly colluding to take his job while publicly propping Stroger up are unworthy of the position.

Ald. Bill Beavers has quickly ascended to the top of that list. There is no reason to think a County Board President Beavers would be any more respectful of the media and the citizenry and any more honest a leader than he is being right now. In fact, once in power, we should expect even less from Beavers.

Shortly after Beavers assured us all that Stroger was walking, talking, and giving him secret hand signals about how to run the government, Stroger was readmitted to the hospital last Thursday.

Beavers has not seen him since, despite stepping over John Stroger's son, Todd, to become the family's new spokesman.

That hasn't stopped Beavers from speaking out of his ass. "'I just know he's doing well,' Beavers said, citing conversations with Stroger's family," the Tribune reports.

I'm not sure, but I think Beavers might have then given John Daley a ride home.

Cheering Section
Does everything the mayor says in public qualify as news, no matter how trivial?

Aunt Ann in the Attic
I wouldn't be the first to ask why Ann Coulter hates Americans, but I'll ask it anyway. Why, Ann? Why?

I don't believe for a second she writes and says the things she does just to sell books. That's an easy out for pundits who won't come to terms with who this woman is. She is neither a satirist, an astute cultural observer, nor a political analyst of any sort. She is nuts, and somehow she has finagled her way into the world of political punditry by snookering a bunch of old white male TV producers so desperate for heated commentary that they've turned to the last drunken mess in the bar at closing time.

She may sell a lot of books, but it looks like her time is up. One of the cable news shows the other day actually had a discussion titled "Is Ann Coulter Crazy?"

The answer is Yes. She's clearly acting out against some childhood or young adult trauma that remains unresolved, most likely involving a pattern of rejection, self-loathing, and body image issues. She ought to pay a visit to Dr. Phil. And I'm not even joking.

In fact, I'm going to send a note to Dr. Phil right now suggesting they ask her on for a full week to sort out her problems. Air it during sweeps. You should do the same.

And, by the way, it would be nice to see President 9/11 show some character and defend the honor of the 9/11 widows and denounce Coulter.

The Beachwood Tip Line: On a frequency your boss can't hear.


Posted on June 13, 2006

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