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The [Wednesday] Papers

Megan McDonald, revealed Tuesday as the high-ranking city official who resigned in May after allegedly refusing to cooperate in a criminal inquiry, finally spoke up when she returned Carol Marin's phone call and gave "her side of the story," but her side is still entirely unsatisfying.

A man is dead, Megan. Do you care?

Or is loyalty to the Daleys - sort of like loyalty to a gang that demands no snitching - more important?

Let's take a look.


"Former Mayor Richard M. Daley's director of special events resigned her City Hall job while facing the prospect of being fired for refusing to cooperate in the city inspector general's investigation into the Chicago Police Department's handling of a homicide case involving Daley's nephew Richard J. 'R.J.' Vanecko, according to a report Tuesday," the Sun-Times reports.

"That explosive allegation about former Special Events Director Megan McDonald is included in Inspector General Joe Ferguson's latest quarterly report."


"That was even though McDonald was repeatedly reminded that city employees are compelled to cooperate with investigators from the inspector general's office, according to the report.

"McDonald resigned May 12. That was two weeks after being questioned by Ferguson's investigators about the police department's handling of the case involving the death of 21-year-old David Koschman of Mount Prospect after Vanecko punched him in the face during an argument on Division Street in the early-morning hours of April 25, 2004. It was also 'days ahead' of the inspector general's summary report to the newly merged department where she worked. Ferguson left little doubt that he believes McDonald jumped to avoid being pushed."


McDonald hung up on Fran Spielman on Tuesday, but she did return Carol Marin's phone call.

"McDonald resigned shortly after the meetings with Ferguson, but she firmly disputes that she did so to avoid termination.

"'I didn't quit because of the IG,' she said.

"She left, she says, because a new administration was coming in."

The timing was just a coincidence.

Unsatisfying answer No. 1.


"On the scene that night seven years ago were young friends of the Daley family, including Bridget and Kevin McCarthy, who at first lied to police about even knowing Vanecko," Marin writes. "And who claimed they were simply in the area to meet another young Daley friend, Megan McDonald.

"McDonald, who until recently was Mayor Daley's director of special events, said she had no idea her name was ever part of a police report until the Chicago Sun-Times reported it.

"'I had no clue how my name got brought into this entire situation,' she told me.

"Ferguson, who is investigating how Chicago Police handled the case seven years ago, sought to question McDonald about her memories of the incident.

"'I would disagree that I did not cooperate,' McDonald said."I went in once by myself, once with an attorney. I chose not to respond to questions about the incident because I wasn't there. Was not a witness. I have nothing to hide. I had nothing to do with it."

McDonald chose not to answer Ferguson's questions but disagrees that she did not cooperate.

Unsatisfying answer No. 2.


Marin asked McDonald why she didn't just tell Ferguson she wasn't there and had no idea how her name got dragged into it.

"Because, said McDonald, 'You are treated like a criminal, guilty until proven innocent . . . At a basic level, I didn't trust the IG. I was so stunned. . . . I needed to get my bearings.'"

Even with her attorney present.

Unsatisfying answer No. 3.


Again, city employees are required to cooperate with the inspector general or risk losing their jobs - and being put on a list making them ineligible to ever work for the city again. McDonald, a 16-year veteran of city government in charge of one of the city's most visible offices, surely knew that.



"Why would Kevin McCarthy and his wife tell police they were meeting her in the vicinity of the Koschman-Vanecko altercation if it wasn't true? Has she asked them about that?

"'I have not,' she said. 'I'll just leave it at that.'"

Why? You're implying there's more to the story. A man is dead, Megan. Do you care?

Unsatisfying answer No. 4.



"What conversations has this group of Daley friends had about this case?

"'It has never been spoken about, discussed. It's not a topic of conversation. It doesn't get brought up. Do I know the four people involved? I do,' she said.

"She doesn't intend, she said, to talk about anyone else."

So she wasn't there that night and didn't know she was named in the police report and does know the people involved but doesn't intend to talk to anyone about it. Still hasn't gotten her bearings.

Unsatisfying answer No. 5.

But there's more.


"The notion that I have gotten any job, or stayed in any job because of who I know instead of what I know, is so incredibly insulting," McDonald fumed in a response to a blog post by rock critic Jim DeRogatis, who had written about the city's efforts to privatize its summer festivals.


On March 28, 2003, the Sun-Times did a little interview with the city's 27-year-old lakefront director for the Chicago Park District, Megan McDonald, who was then managing a $1.1 million budget.

"McDonald was born and reared on the South Side, where her parents ran the family business, Midland Metal Products. After St. Ignatius High, she majored in English at Fairfield University, a Jesuit school in Connecticut 45 minutes from New York City. She was the one who helped plan the parties. 'I cannot sit still,' she says. 'I feel like I always have to be doing something.'

"After college, she worked for a miserable year near New York City, but 'was looking for anything that would get me back to Chicago.'

"She got a call from James Sheahan in the Mayor's Office of Special Events about a job at McCormick Place and 'within 24 hours, had packed up my car.'"

Anyone who knows anything about Chicago knows that James ("Skinny," as he is known) Sheahan doesn't want nobody nobody sent. McDonald could hardly have known a more connected person.

("A number of individuals with political connections also are exiting [McCormick Place]," the Tribune reported in 2010. "Perhaps the most well-known is James 'Skinny' Sheahan, chief of external relations, who is the brother of former Cook County Sheriff Michael Sheahan. Formerly head of Mayor Richard Daley's Office of Special Events, Jim Sheahan is a key figure at McPier and earns $165,470 a year.

("'If you ever want to get anything done at McPier, you should go see this person: Skinny Sheahan,' Jay Doherty, president of the City Club of Chicago, said by way of acknowledging Sheahan at a luncheon last week. Sheahan declined to comment for this article.")


"Starting out as an intern, McDonald got the chance early on to work on the Chicago Marathon, the 1996 Democratic Convention and a championship celebration for the Bulls. She also helped coordinate the second-to-second timing for the Olympic Torch relay.

"She drives her territory with notepad and a recorder to note problems. From Calumet to Evanston, from Grant Park to Cotton Tail in the South Loop to Goudy playlot on Astor, McDonald scans her 12 parks and lakefront for overfilled garbage cans, graffiti attacks or burned-out light bulbs. 'I'm a stickler,' she says.

"It's the details that create the challenge for her more than the excitement of high-profile events."

Some details, though, she apparently doesn't want to know. Like why she was named in a police report in a high-profile case involving the Daley family.



"[T]he Mayor's Office of Special Events has been run since March 2007 by Megan McDonald. Now in her early 30s, she landed this prestigious and lucrative gig with seemingly few professional credentials, and it wasn't the first time she'd plucked such a ripe plum: In her mid-20s, McDonald served as the director of Lakefront Operations for the Park District. But she has some other qualifications that might not be so obvious.

"McDonald is extremely close to Mayor Daley and his family. Like his daughter, Nora, she attended St. Ignatius College Prep on the South Side and Fairfield College in Connecticut. She also is close to several of the mayor's nieces and nephews - including Mark Vanecko, the mayor's relative who served as an attorney and registered lobbyist helping Lollapalooza craft its deal with the city."

Note in McDonald's response to DeRogatis that she doesn't deny being close to the Daleys, she just elides the point:

"First and foremost - there are literally thousands of people who have gone to St. Ignatius and Fairfield UNIVERSITY (not College, just so you know) who may have passed a Daley, Vanecko or Thompson in the hallway who don't go on to work for the City and then there are some that do. However, where I went to high school or college and who I may or may not have interacted with there were not requirements of any job I have ever had.

"Secondly, who I choose to surround myself in my personal life is absolutely none of your business, or anyone else's for that matter. It has no effect on how I perform my job."

Of course, it had just such an effect. She refused to cooperate with the city's inspector general because of it.


From her DeRogatis missive:

"I find it amusing that you reference yet another journalist who wrote a story that was also blatantly misrepresentative of the truth to make your point. The only difference is that Fran at least had the decency to call me and speak to me first so that she got 'both sides of the story.'"

Of course, when Spielman called about the inspector general's report, McDonald hung up. To be fair, McDonald may have not trusted Spielman based on a previous story referenced by DeRogatis in which she said she "only reported what made story 'juicy'" instead of what she thought was a fair appraisal, even though her explanation was represented by another city official.

Maybe that's why Marin got the call. But that doesn't explain why she stiffed Ferguson.


Will Rahm Emanuel call on McDonald - and Vanecko - to talk to authorities? Will Richard M. Daley extend his crusade against the no-snitch culture from gang-ridden neighborhoods to his ethically challenged cohorts?

Doubtful. That's not the way Chicago works. Surely Megan McDonald knows that.

Water Under The Bridge
"A former high-ranking city of Chicago employee . . . continues to cash in on city contracts even after testifying in federal court about his role in a scheme to rig hiring and promotions at City Hall," the Sun-Times also reports from the inspector general's report.

"In 2006, [former city water management commissioner John] Kosiba was the highest-ranking city official to testify at the corruption trial that culminated with the conviction of Robert Sorich, who was Mayor Richard M. Daley's patronage chief.

"Ferguson noted that Kosiba acknowledged under oath that he 'falsified interview ratings forms and requests to hire' as part of a long-running scheme to rig city hiring and promotions to reward the Hispanic Democratic Organization and other pro-Daley armies of political workers.

"Ferguson said he recommended that Kosiba be declared 'ineligible to do business with the city' but that didn't happen and his office 'is taking steps to seek a further review of this matter.'

"Kosiba - who couldn't be reached for comment - is now chief operating officer of Span Tech, a city contractor that manages O'Hare Airport's international terminal."

Organized Crime Unit
"The Chicago Outfit's top cop, former Chicago Police Chief of Detectives William Hanhardt, left federal prison Tuesday after a decade behind bars," John Kass writes.

"Years ago, there was a going-away party there for a Hanhardt friend, former Chicago detective Fred Pascente, convicted of insurance fraud in 1995 in connection with a series of phony traffic accidents. My sources, including law enforcement, remember that the place was jammed with what seemed to be the entire CPD detective division.

"Back then, [Joey] Lombardo's brother, Rocky, was a manager of the Crazy Horse Too club in Las Vegas. Chicago and Vegas were kind of like suburbs of each other. More recently, the Sun-Times has reported that for the past 18 years, while City Hall has ostensibly tried to shut down the bar, an amazing thing has happened: The bar has changed names, but continues to sell hard liquor and naked or near-naked girls dancing on poles."

In fact, that Sun-Times story was just two days ago.

And now you know a little bit more.

What's Up With Boystown?
In case you missed it over the weekend.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Chiefly detecting.


Posted on July 20, 2011

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