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Tuesday, April 23

Gapers Block

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-- Richard M. Daley, Mayor, on allegations that he helped mobsters while State's Attorney.

Sometimes the best parents aren't the most supportive parents. My parents, for example, while eminently lovable and excellent, were not necessarily the most supportive. This is because if I messed up, I was expected to take the fall and pay the consequences. This taught me a very valuable lesson: Doing wrong means you can't complain when you get caught.

This is why Mayor Daley is an excellent parent to the municipal government of the City of Chicago. This is also why I tend to believe him when scents of scandal waft up from one of the very many top-heavy city departments and he claims he had no idea anything was rotting. I don't think Mayor Daley is corrupt. I think he's a good parent.

He lets them make their own mistakes. You can't always blame the parents for the children's misdeeds.

This recent business with Tony Pucillo at the Department of Transportation allegedly accepting thousands of dollars in bribes is a perfect example. Try as they may, the newspapers have not been able to make this thing into a scandal -- yet, anyway. Nobody seems to care. The press and good government types have been hoisted on the petard of years of overzealous, borderline unethical prosecutors and sensationalist, over-the-top reporting. Chicagoans have "scandal fatigue," and are quick to forget something even as major as the Hired Truck Scandal within a matter of months.

Besides, it is not our mayor who is corrupt, and I firmly believe that he is genuinely upset when some new corruption scandal breaks out -- not because he is upset at getting caught but because people fail to understand his relationship with city government.

Richard M. Daley, Mayor, like any good parent, sets guidelines. Follow these, he says, but if you don't, I'm not going to be there to go to bat for you. If you mess up, you're taking the fall, and you'll end up stronger because of it. So, he doesn't go to extremes to make sure his government is running free and clear of corruption and graft. What good would that do? What would those bureaucrats and apparatchiks learn then? Come on, now. That's not love. That's smothering.

During Mayor Daley's first run for mayor, opponents time and time again brought up tapes played during the trial of one James "Jimmy I" Inendino, in which he bragged that he and other mobsters had arranged for huge donations to Richie M., then State's Attorney, in exchange for getting charges against various mobster thrown out.

When asked about it, Mayor Daley, as always, got sweaty and high-pitched and uttered the most vulgar word he'd ever said in public. "Complete bullshit."

This was the first of his many public denials, and why shouldn't we believe him? Are any of us stupid enough to believe that Mayor Daley prefers money or surreptitious influence to the blunt power of being Mayor of the City of Chicago? What the hell would he have to gain by pissing off the populace by encouraging bribery or even turning a blind eye to it?

And when the Austin Seven Scandal broke, and Mayor Daley was accused of letting his police department run wild, what did he say?

I didn't know. Now I do: Do with them what you will.

And when it was revealed that GF Structures, a Daley campaign contributor, had put in a false low bid to win a city contract to install iron fencing all over the city, the mayor pledged more transparency in contract bidding and bid a few bureaucrats adieu. He just didn't know; thanks for bringing it to his attention.

And when in 1991, Daley's running mate for city clerk, Walter Kozubowski, came under indictment for ghost payrolling, Mayor Daley shrugged his shoulders.

When the city inspector informed him that almost 40 First Ward Streets N' Sans workers were playing the horses on city time in ghost payrolling jobs, Mayor Daley thanked him for his due diligence and tried to fire the ghost workers, only to find labor unions blocking his very spirited effort.

And the Duffs. Let's not forget the Duffs, including John Duff III, who once threatened a cop in Miami by telling him he was "connected to Chicago." The Duffs, major Daley contributors and fundraisers, have alleged organized crime connections stretching back to the Sixties. Various Duffs have held various city jobs (including, ironically enough, city inspector) and profited into the hundreds of millions from city contracts often awarded through the city's Office of Special Events, at the time headed by Kathy Osterman. When pressed on his friendship with the Duffs, the mayor gets high pitched: "I know them. That doesn't mean we're friends, you use that word. Are you friends with everyone you know?"

And then there's the Hired Truck Scandal. The apogee of the mayor's pattern of denial and swift, overwhelming, ineffective action. We all know the details; more telling is the mayor's response:

"I am embarrassed. This will be handled. I assure you it will be. I'm very, very upset... This could have been solved at any time and any place."

You can imagine the knowing shrug:

"Kids. What're you gonna do?"

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Peter / July 1, 2004 9:34 AM

Yeah, I'm sure that Daley has known nothing about the scandals during his reign. At some point you have to blame the parent for not keeping his house in order.


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