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The [Vanecko] Papers II: Basically A Good Kid?

Bill Daley described his nephew, R. J. Vanecko, as "basically a good kid" on Wednesday, and you know what? That isn't exactly a ringing endorsement.

It's also hard to square with the fact that Vanecko fled the scene after throwing the punch that killed David Koschman - and refused from day one to speak to police.

That's not what a "good" kid does, even on the advice of a lawyer - not when a mother is grieving the death of her son.

He's also not a kid - he's 38. That means he was somewhere around 30 when he killed Koschman.

Look, accidents happen, and so do bar fights. It wasn't a fair fight, given the respective sizes of each combatant, but so be it. No one is suggesting that Vanecko meant to do anything but punch Koschman in the face; the charge against him isn't homicide.

But one thing we know Vanecko is clearly guilty of already is not being a stand-up guy willing to accept responsibility and accountability. Maybe it's genetic.


"The death of the young man was a terrible tragedy eight years ago," Bill Daley told the Sun-Times. "The pain which his family has felt over those years, anyone who has lost a child knows that. It's an irreplaceable pain."

Given that, Bill, did your family ever reach out to the Koschmans? Did family members ever urge R.J. to cooperate with police - you know, the way the family admonishes poor black people in gang neighborhoods to cooperate with police? Did any family member ever have contact with police or prosecutors? Was the incident ever discussed at the dinner table, say over Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner?


"Once, not long ago, Richard J. 'R.J.' Vanecko worked for a Chicago investment company that financed Hollywood movies starring Robert De Niro and Cameron Diaz," the Sun-Times reports. "He went to parties at the Sundance Film Festival. He tried his hand at television."

But . . .

"Sneed is told that Vanecko, who returns to Chicago from his home in California for his arraignment Monday, has intermittently sought and held jobs on movie sets but 'is kind of a bust-out, unable to make enough money to support himself,' according to a Sneed source familiar with him."


The "R.J." stands for "Richard J." as in "Richard J. Daley."


"Vanecko grew up in Sauganash, the pricey, tree-lined neighborhood on the city's Far Northwest Side," the Sun-Times notes.

"He is the youngest son of Mary Carol Daley and her husband Dr. Robert M. Vanecko , a surgeon and former chief of staff at Northwestern Memorial Hospital."


"Vanecko is particularly close to his cousin Patrick Daley, son of the second Mayor Daley . . . When they were in high school, Vanecko , then 17, and Patrick Daley, then 16, made headlines when they threw a drinking party on Feb. 29, 1992, at Mayor Daley's second home, in Grand Beach. The party ended when Vanecko held a 20-gauge shotgun as one of Patrick Daley's classmates, Mark Lawler, clubbed an Indiana teen in the head with a baseball bat, according to police reports and a civil lawsuit that was settled in 1995 for undisclosed terms."

But he's basically a good kid.


"The Indiana teen suffered a skull fracture and underwent brain surgery, just as Koschman would years later. Unlike Koschman, he recovered after 10 days in the hospital.

"Vanecko pleaded guilty to aiming a firearm without malice and possession of alcohol, both misdemeanors, and Patrick Daley pleaded guilty to furnishing alcohol to minors and disturbing the peace. Each was given probation. Lawler, who has since died, was found guilty of aggravated assault."


How he got to Hollywood:

Vanecko was 24 and living in an apartment in Uptown when he first registered to vote in Chicago, for the February 1999 mayoral election. By 2001, he had become a salesman for Taft Contracting, a machinery-moving company that was once represented by his uncle's law firm.

While at Taft, Vanecko met actor Matt Walsh, whose father, Richard Walsh, owned the company. Vanecko left Taft, which is no longer in business, in 2005.

Matt Walsh, who lives in Los Angeles, has appeared in movies including The Hangover, Ted and Old School and co-starred in the HBO TV series Veep.

Vanecko assisted Walsh with Players, a Spike TV sitcom that Walsh created and produced, and has been a panelist in Walsh's Bear Down: Chicago Bears Podcast, which airs weekly from Los Angeles during football season.


And then there's R.J.'s brother, Robert.

"The onetime business partner of former Mayor Richard Daley's son who was ensnared in a federal minority contract investigation has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his failure to disclose two key investors in a sewer company that got city work," the Tribune reported earlier this year.

"The undisclosed investors previously have been identified by the Tribune as the former mayor's son, Patrick Daley, and the former mayor's nephew, Robert Vanecko."


"After years of a free ride courtesy of a clout-laden deal, Lollapalooza might have to start paying Cook County taxes," the Tribune also reported earlier this year.

"Commissioners voted Wednesday to require organizers of events such as the giant summer lakefront music festival to come to the County Board for approval of a long-running tax break.

"The organizers have had county and city amusement taxes waived since relaunching Lollapalooza in Grant Park in 2005. It was part of a deal brokered with the help of lobbyist Robert Vanecko - a nephew of then-Mayor Richard Daley."


And then there's brother Mark.

"Chicago Mayor Richard Daley's nephew is hoping to cash in on the coming video gambling market in bars and clubs across Illinois," the Tribune reported last year.

"Mark Vanecko, who's been an attorney for Chicago bars and the Lollapalooza concert, is a partner in Lattner Entertainment Group Illinois, which has applied for a state license to operate slot machines in liquor-serving establishments."

I'm sure they're all basically good kids.


* The [Vanecko] Papers I: Alvarez


Comments welcome.


Posted on December 6, 2012

MUSIC - They Flirted With Disaster.
TV - A Quincy Top 10.
POLITICS - Private Equity Comes For Janesville.
SPORTS - Big Leagues Blow Vaccinations.

BOOKS - You Think You Know What's Good For You?

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - A People's History Of Uptown.

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