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The [Alfred Sanchez] Papers

"Convicted ex-Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Alfred 'Al' Sanchez's political comeback hit a major roadblock Thursday: an elections board kicked him off the Cook County ballot because he's not done with his parole," the Tribune reports.

(For some reason, the Tribune felt it was important to use Sanchez's full legal name in this article for the first time since 2005; it has done so only 11 times dating back to what appears to be his first mention in the paper in 1986.)

"State law allows convicted felons to run for County Board, but Sanchez was on supervised release stemming from a city hiring fraud conviction when he filed his paperwork to secure a spot on the March 18 Democratic primary ballot.

"Sanchez attorney Dan Johnson argued that state law only required Sanchez to be finished serving his sentence by the time he would take office Dec. 1. Johnson argued Sanchez was eligible to ask to have his parole terminated in July, and the elections board should err on his side.

"In baseball, there's a rule, the tie goes to the runner, and here the rule is similar," Johnson argued via speaker phone in a basement hearing room at the George W. Dunne Cook County Office Building.

Sanchez's lawyer not only got the law wrong, but he got baseball rules wrong too.

"But an attorney representing a resident of the South Side and south suburban district who was challenging Sanchez's ballot spot contended state law required Sanchez to be eligible when he filed papers to run.

"There is no tie to the runner in this case. There are no extra innings," election lawyer Adam Lasker said. "We have shut out Mr. Sanchez."



"Donald Pechous, an elections board member representing the state's attorney's office, said the decision was easy.

"The candidate was not qualified when he filed his statement of candidacy," Pechous said. "And it is wholly speculative that he will be eligible on the day of the election or when he would take office if elected."

Game, set, match.


"I'm not a legal beagle, but I thought I was eligible," Sanchez said. "They didn't want to see me on this ballot. That's what it's about."

Are you saying the selection process is rigged, Al?

To wit:

"Sanchez was convicted of rigging City Hall hiring to benefit political foot soldiers under then-Mayor Richard M. Daley. In addition to running Streets and Sanitation, Sanchez also headed the once-powerful pro-Daley Hispanic Democratic Organization and was the highest-ranking Daley appointee sent to prison following a federal investigation into hiring."


Sanchez remains unrepentant, which makes him unfit for office - though there are certainly worse currently holding down public jobs. Still, it's amazing to see just how far back Sanchez goes as a political mope who has always played dirty. Let's take a look.


"When Ald. Edward Vrdolyak (10th) announced Monday that he would run for mayor on the Solidarity Party ticket, he also introduced two of his friends as running mates for city clerk and treasurer," the Tribune reported in 1986.

"The men - one black, the other Hispanic - have held city jobs or contracts and say they are not satisfied with Mayor Harold Washington's administration. They are John J. Thomas, Jr., 55, candidate for city clerk, and Alfred Sanchez, 39, candidate for treasurer."

Sanchez was also a Vrdolyak precinct captain. And:

"Sanchez, also a resident of the 10th Ward, is a former Department of Human Services employee and has worked for the last two years in the research office of the city council finance committee."

Chaired by Ed Burke.


Sanchez, of course, lost that election. But he rose to the top of the Daley-created Hispanic Democratic Organization patronage machine and eventually got his reward.

"[I]n a surprise announcement that generated controversy of its own, Daley appointed Alfred Sanchez, a veteran political operative, as the new Streets and Sanitation commissioner," the Tribune reported in 1999.

Sanchez, tabbed to replace Eileen Carey - who Daley announced was his choice to head the Public Building Commission - has been the subject of a recent investigation by the city's inspector general into allegations that he did political work on city time. Two employees also allege that he tried to force them to do political work.

And earlier this year he was involved in an off-duty accident in which a city car was demolished.

Sanchez denied any wrongdoing, attributed some of the allegations against him to ill will generated by the rough-and-tumble politics played in his native 10th Ward.

Here's the funny part:

Sanchez acknowledged that representatives of the city's Office of Inspector General have questioned him about doing political work while on the city clock, "but I know everything has been unfounded . . . I have done this too long to cross that gray line.



"As for the auto accident last winter, Sanchez said he was returning home from a political function when he was cut off by another vehicle and slammed into a guardrail.

"Sanchez acknowledged that he had consumed 'a beer or two' and submitted to a field sobriety test, 'but I was not intoxicated.' No charges were filed."


Two weeks later, the Tribune reported this gem:

In other action Tuesday, Alfred Sanchez, Daley's choice to become the new commissioner of the Department of Streets and Sanitation, won approval of the council's Committee on Budget and Government Operations.

Sanchez, a longtime political operative and a leader of the Hispanic Democratic Organization, "will be a good commissioner," Daley asserted.

Asked by reporters if he will cease his political activities, Daley said first that Sanchez will "lessen" them. Pressed, the mayor said, "He will stop it" and will "separate himself" from the Hispanic Democratic Organization.

Six years later, Daley forced Sanchez out ahead of his indictment and eventual conviction for doing Daley's dirty work.

"Al Sanchez, the former commissioner of Chicago's Streets and Sanitation Department, was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison today for rigging city hiring as part of a political patronage scheme," the Tribune reported in 2011.

"Sanchez continued to deny wrongdoing before U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman imposed the prison sentence.

"They had to get Al Sanchez," he told the judge. "That's what this has been all about."

Gee, that sounds familiar.

Sanchez denied knowing the hiring practices were illegal, saying, "I didn't create this system. Had I known it was corrupt, I wouldn't get involved in it."

In 1999, he had been at it too long to "cross that gray line." Twelve years later, he didn't know where the line was.

After all, he's no legal beagle.


From the Beachwood vault.

March 26, 2007:

On Week in Review, Channel 2's Mike Flannery once again complained that federal investigators found no quid pro quo in the Robert Sorich trial - as if Sorich wasn't rewarded with job security, a cushy salary, clout, and a future in return for his fraudulent hiring scheme. Looking only for a cash exchange exhibits a stunning naivete for such an often sharp political observer.

Likewise, pundit John McCarron complained that the City Hall hiring scandals looked like the business-as-usual he grew up with. "Now we're informed that this was all illegal," he says.

Besides the fact that fraud has always been illegal, Michael Shakman filed the lawsuit that led to the Shakman Decree prohibiting political hiring in 1969. I'm pretty sure everybody got the news.

Tribune sports editor Dan McGrath opined that indicted former Streets and San commissioner Al Sanchez "was a good administrator" because the streets got plowed. (Not everyone in many South Side neighborhoods would agree.) Apparently McGrath is under the impression that the streets don't get plowed in cities without massively fraudulent hiring.

"He demanded that his guys do their city jobs!" Flannery screamed.

March 11, 2009:

"Authorities say Sanchez and other HDO leaders rigged city hiring in favor of campaign workers who helped Daley and the mayor's endorsed candidates in elections for more than a decade," the Tribune reports.

"Raymond Gamboa, a deputy commissioner in the city's General Services Department and a former HDO operative, testified Monday that top Daley political strategist Timothy Degnan promised city jobs in exchange for political support in Daley's first successful run for mayor in 1989.

"In his first news conference since the trial began last week, Daley cut off a question Tuesday about that testimony, saying, 'I don't know.'

"He also was asked about testimony that a former city truck driver got her job due to political connections to Sanchez despite her inexperience. The Tribune reported in 2006 that the driver, Denise Alcantar, crushed another city worker against a pole.

"'Let the trial go on,' the mayor said. 'You can't comment on [a] pending trial'."

Of course you can. (And, of course, the trial is no longer "pending" but actually, you know, happening.)

You can comment to your heart's delight. But whatever you said wouldn't likely be true anyway, so whatever.

See also from this month: 'It Happens,' Convicted Pol Says Of City Worker's Death Tied To Clout.

March 19, 2009:

Is it just me, or is it odd that the federal corruption trial of the former Streets and San Commissioner, particularly placed within the context of the conviction of Robert Sorich, the mayor's former patronage chief, has basically been buried by not only the newspapers but local TV news?

Seems to me that this is sort of a big deal - some might even say "front-page news."

After all, the crimes that Sorich was convicted of, like those alleged against Al Sanchez, were for the benefit of one man: Mayor Richard M. Daley.

In fact, the defense in each case has as much as said so.

On Wednesday, Sanchez's lawyer, Thomas Breen, said his client was merely a dupe used by political powers greater than he. What powers might he be speaking of?

* Trash Man Trial Goes To Jury. My summary of closing arguments.

March 24, 2009: Mystery Sanchez Theater.

March 26, 2009:

"The 2006 trial and conviction of Daley patronage chief Robert Sorich revealed that the generations-old Chicago tradition of patronage hiring had continued to thrive in secret since virtually the beginning of the mayor's reign," the Trib reported.

And actually before the mayor's reign; testimony in the trial showed that HDO was formed while Daley was still the Cook County State's Attorney for the express purpose of getting him elected mayor - and keeping him there.

March 27, 2009:

I saw an excerpt on Chicago Tonight last night of John Callaway's interview with Ron Huberman to be aired tonight. Very interesting - but not in a way that I think Callaway realized.

Huberman is now the CEO of Chicago Public Schools; he was previously the president of the CTA and for two years was Mayor Daley's chief of staff. Before that, he was in the Chicago Police Department for nine years. He has an MBA as well as a Master's of Social Service Administration from the University of Chicago. Few know the city's operations as well as he does, and he is so trusted by the mayor that some think Daley is grooming him to be his successor.

Ron knows Rich.

So Callaway asks Huberman about Daley, and Huberman describes the mayor as someone who continues to surprise him with how much he knows about what is going on in every city department - things not even the department leaders sometimes know. The quality and quantity of information the mayor has, Huberman says, is stunning.

Do you see where I'm going with this?

Now, as an expert interviewer, you might think Callaway's next question would have been, "Then how could he have not known what was going on in Al Sanchez's Department of Streets and Sanitation and Robert Sorich's Office of Intergovernmental Affairs? In fact, how can he repeatedly profess ignorance to the stream of scandals that have come out of City Hall for 20 years under his nose?"

But no. Callaway, giddily, asked for examples of this wonderful quality that Daley has that would show us the mayor's managerial mettle; Callaway even framed the question as if he was ghost-writing a manual on management.

July 12, 2010 (during Sanchez's second trial):

"Later Thursday, Jack Drumgould, [Al] Sanchez's personnel director from the late 1990s to 2004 testified how he'd hand Sanchez a list of folks who'd applied for Street and Sanitation jobs, and how his boss would highlight those people he wanted hired," the Sun-Times reports.

"Testifying under a grant of immunity, Drumgould said he would take the list to Mayor Daley's Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, which essentially controlled city hiring despite strict rules against hiring based on political clout. Drumgould said Sanchez showed no interest in interviews conducted with candidates he hadn't personally recommended."

January 8, 2014: Sanchez an innocent victim.


Comments welcome.


Posted on January 17, 2014

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