James Laski did not return home from prison last year empty-handed. He had a manuscript--now published in book form. It is the memoir of another crooked Chicago politician that names the people with whom he allegedly dealt, including Mayor Richard M. Daley.
"Everything I wrote in that book is the truth," said Laski.
The 54-year-old Southwest Sider handwrote his book in a West Virginia federal penitentiary. He served 11 months for accepting $48,000 in bribes while city clerk in exchange for steering Hired Truck business to personal and political friends.
"I put friendship before my family and my job, and that was the problem," Laski said.
In My Fall from Grace: City Hall to Prison Walls, Laski listed other Daley administration officials with whom he brokered Hired Truck deals. They include the mayor's then-council floor leader Alderman Patrick Huels, former intergovernmental affairs director Victor Reyes, convicted patronage chief Robert Sorich, and convicted deputy water commissioner Donald Tomczak.
Laski insists there is no way the detail-oriented Daley could not have known about so many Hired Truck deals.
"This is a guy who...prides himself on detail. And he doesn't know certain things? Selective amnesia," said Laski.
But the mayor has insisted for the past four years he knew nothing of the scandal, or for that matter who hired Angelo Torres, the Hired Truck program's boss.
"He got the job. I don't know how he got the job," Mayor Daley said in February 2005.
"The fact you can't say I didn't know who hired this person or didn't know about this or that, you can't seep saying that," said Laski.
In the book, Laski writes that as the feds were closing in on him, he was actually approached by the mayor, who Laski speculated seemed to know something was amiss.
"He asked me if I heard anything. And I, 'Heard from who?' And he said, 'The guys down the street.' I assume that he was talking about the US attorney or the Feds," said Laski.
In a published report, the mayor's press secretary Jacqueline Heard questioned Laski's motivation for including the alleged encounter with the mayor. She dismissed the charge, saying she believed the former city clerk is just trying to sell books.
The book is not in the stores yet, but it is on Amazon.com.