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Chicago Tue Sep 01 2009
That former Inspector General David Hoffman is working with AKPD Media, the political consulting shop of David Axelrod, which counts the Mayor as a client, in his bid for the Democratic Senate nomination raised questions about just why he chose now to leave the IG's office and run for the US Senate. Such speculation is going to happen--"promote him out of here" is a perceived modus operandi of the Cook County Democrats. The last thing the Daleys and Madigans and Strogers of the world want is a local politician with a wide base outside of party auspices. There is rarely much evidence to prove that such "promote them out" schemes were intended or orchestrated.
Let's wish him well and appreciate the fact that he raised the stature and importance of a critical government office. And look to the future.
The sensitivity many may feel to Hoffman's departure is that, given his public disputes with powerful City Council factions and the Mayor himself, attacks on his budget or independence would have been politically risky. Hoffman seemed uniquely positioned to take on the powerful precisely because he had so publicly taken them on. This makes accusations of limelight-seeking easy, though perhaps paradoxical. High-level criticisms are what was needed, and would earn high-level attention. That very attention is what would have protected his office. Undermining his office would have been seen, quite rightly, as political retribution and would have outed those undermining him as being opposed to good and ethical government.
That is why it's up to "us"--the media, new and old, and the activists, left and right, and the people--to make sure that the Office of Inspector General, which clearly has enormous potential to be a force for local democracy and transparency, doesn't lose its increasing relevance simply because it lost its temporary caretaker.
So let's take a look at some of the potential replacements:
Mary Hodge is the first deputy and the acting IG. Whether or not she stays on we don't know. Looking at her bio, you've got to hope she's interested:
For 23 years, Hodge was a Chicago Police Officer, and for the last 13 of those years, Hodge worked on federal law enforcement task forces that prosecuted Chicago gang leaders and organized crime leaders. Hodge retired from the Chicago Police Department in 2000 and became Chief of Investigations and Intelligence for the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC).
Woah. If you are or know any long-time Chicago cops, you know that surviving 23 years, including over a decade dealing not only with the local bureaucracy but the federal bureaucracy, speaks to your political survival instincts as well as your talents.
From 1995 to 2000, Hodge worked as a special liaison to the U.S. Attorney's Office helping to prepare the Gangster Disciple cases for trial. Among other things, Hodge traveled around the country interviewing witnesses in the witness protection program to prepare them for trial.
Given the recent revelation that Ald. Isaac "Ike" Carothers (29th) wore a wire for the G, this ability to understand and work with potential witnesses could go along way in the IG's office.
Among other awards, Hodge has received the Chicago Crime Commission's Star of Distinction; the Leadership Award from the National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice; the Chicago Chamber of Commerce's Award for Excellence in Law Enforcement, and awards from the U.S. Attorney's Office and the Cook County State's Attorney's Office for her investigations. Hodge is a veteran of the United States Air Force.
So we can deduce that Hodge is a bad ass. Will Mayor Daley appoint her? And does she want the job?
Well, let's look at the next in line, Director of Investigations David Grossman.
Grossman retired from the FBI in 1999 after over 21 years of service. Prior to his FBI career, Grossman served for five years with the Internal Revenue Service as a Revenue Officer and Estate and Gift Tax Attorney. During his FBI career Grossman served undercover for over three years in Operation Greylord, the investigation of the Cook County judicial system that led to the conviction of 93 persons, including over 40 attorneys, 10 law enforcement officers and 15 corrupt Cook County judges, among them the chief judge of the First Municipal Division (Chicago courts). Following his undercover assignment, Grossman became the case agent for this investigation, directing the activities of approximately 15 other agents.
Later, Grossman supervised the FBI's public corruption squad, continuing the Greylord investigation as well as overseeing the Gambat investigation, which exposed the First Ward and its connection to organized crime. Among those convicted in Gambat were an alderman, a state senator and the chief judge of the Chancery Division of the Circuit Court of Cook County. In both Greylord and Gambat the FBI placed a microphone inside a judge's chambers. The placement of a microphone in a judge's chambers in Greylord was the first time this had ever been done.
No offense to David Hoffman, but it looks to me like his greatest achievement at the Inspector General's office, besides retaining its independence and raising its profile, would be hiring these two people to work there.
Grossman's record looks pretty impeccable. Greylord and Gambat are two critical moments in Chicago's political history. The disruption of judicial corruption and severing of organized crime's firmest link to city government represented the transition from an old style city Machine to the more modern, pinstripe patronage, identity politics model we live under now. Machine-lite. That Grossman played an important role in both would make him an ideal candidate.
So we know the IG's office won't be set adrift, lost to us forever. What Hoffman was able to put together there was much greater than just himself, and what we're seeing from that office is still the momentum from the Hired Truck and Sorich hiring scandals. It's that momentum, not any individual, that we can't risk losing.