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The [Wednesday] Papers

The early-going in the Robert Sorich trial does not look good for either the current defendants or a potential future one - the mayor.

To wit:

* The former personnel director for the sewer and water departments, Mary Jo Falcon, testified Tuesday "that Mayor Richard Daley's aides dictated which job applicants were to be hired before openings were posted or interviews were held," the Tribune reports.

* When Falcon took the job in 1994, she says, she was told "My boss was the mayor's office," the Sun-Times reports.

* "She also recounted dozens of times she had walked out of Sorich's office with a list of which political workers to hire before she fudged documents and doctored the ratings of job candidates," John Kass writes.

But most devastating of all is Carol Marin's telling of the story of Andy Ryan, the son of a union boss who, at 19, got a $50,000-a-year building inspector job with the city. Lead prosecutor Patrick Collins "prominently featured Andy's employment saga" in his opening statement, Marin writes.

"According to a recent government filing, a top Daley administrator complained that a 'Carpenters Official was busting my balls to hire' Andy Ryan," Marin writes. "And also hire Kevin Sexton, the son of Carpenters Union President Mike Sexton. Just like Ryan, the Sexton kid wasn't remotely qualified.

"As the story unfolded in the fall of 2004, just about every city official I talked to obfuscated, backtracked, or outright lied about what really happened. That included Stan Kaderbek, who was the city building commissioner at the time."

Those who consider patronage not only harmless but necessary ought to consider what the potential consequences might be of loading up the city payroll with 19-year-old building inspectors and other connected but otherwise unqualified workers.

In the case of former governor George Ryan, for example, the scandal wasn't just that taxpayer money went into the pockets of his friends; it was, particularly at first, that unqualified truckers were set loose on our highways because they bought their drivers licenses with bribes that went into Ryan's campaign fund.

It's not hard to see a corollary in the Sorich affair.

"What made [Andy Ryan's] hiring even more shocking was it came just a year after a fatal porch collapse and a nightclub disaster," Marin writes. "Those tragedies had, in the starkest terms, established the life-and-death significance of city inspections."

And of a meritorious hiring system unsoiled by politics.

The Union Label
Gov. Rod Blagojevich's office kept a clout list of its own early in its administration. Unsurprisingly, confidantes Tony Rezko and Chris Kelly show up on the document, obtained by the Sun-Times, as top political sponsors.

More striking to me, at this stage of what could be a developing story, is the rationalization put forth by Illinois AFL-CIO President Margaret Blackshere for sponsoring her son for a $69,684-a-year job with the state Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

"I gave my son an opportunity by saying, 'OK, here's an opportunity. You'll have to earn it. You'll have to do the interview, the application, that's all. Everything else is up to you, young man," Blackshere told the Sun-Times. "With his degree, with his experience, all of that, he earned the job."

As opposed to those who applied for the job without a political heavyweight as mother and sponsor.

Daley Dose
"I'm very accessible to the Chicago press, more than any public official," the mayor said Tuesday from China, where he declined to comment on the opening of the Sorich trial.

Council Bores
Aldermen are upset that the U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald insists on upholding the law.

Pickett Punditry
How much is Chicago Tonight paying Debra Pickett to deliver commentaries like her "thoughts about political corruption" last night that included a joke in which she pretended to confuse former Chicago Bear Chris Zorich with real-world City Hall defendant Robert Sorich and her confessions that, like many transplants to Chicago, she doesn't know what a ward boss is or where Lakeview ends and Lincoln Park starts or what the "old way" of practicing Chicago politics is anyway? Because I'm pretty sure I would be at least twice as good for less than half the pay.

Grace Note
In a case that he called odd because of its confusing and complicated set of circumstances, Cook County judge Vincent Gaughan found George Thompson guilty of involuntary manslaughter - instead of first-degree murder - in the death of Chicago-based Time magazine reporter Julie Grace.

Air Daley
Boondoggle.

NSA Today
So did they or didn't they? BellSouth and Verizon now say they didn't supply phone records of their customers to the National Security Agency. But several news reports note the careful wording of their denials. USA Today says it is "confident in our coverage of the database story" but will "look closely into the issues raised by the BellSouth and Verizon statements."

Roger and Me
According to the marketing piece I received in the mail yesterday encouraging me not to give up my quest to win The New Yorker's cartoon caption contest, Roger Ebert has also been an entrant.

In Today's Reporter
Our report on Jobs Americans Won't Do. Including reviving America.

Also including Jobs Americans Will Do. Including managing the Cubs.

Unfortunately, Americans named Dusty Baker don't do that job very well.

And Jobs You Can Help The Beachwood Reporter Do. With donation opportunities available to all, regardless of legal status.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Get on our clout list.



Permalink

Posted on May 17, 2006


MUSIC - The Weekend In Chicago Rock.
TV - Cricket vs. Brexit.
POLITICS - An Odd Call From Bermuda.
SPORTS - All Is Not Forgiven, Bears.

BOOKS - Turning Points Of The Civil War.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Baxter's IV Bag Shortages.


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