Daley 'sorry' about hiring abuses

March 24, 2009 3:23:29 PM PDT
Mayor Daley is apologizing for corruption in his administration. He is reacting to the conviction of former Streets and Sanitation commissioner Al Sanchez, who was found guilty of trading city jobs for political favors Monday. Sanchez is the highest-ranking former city official to be convicted in the federal investigation into city hiring.

The apology was part an amended public statement that Mayor Daley read in front of an unrelated morning news conference. The problem is that the statement did not include any details and the mayor would not provide any when questioned.

"I think my statement speaks for itself," the mayor said.

Most of the statement that the mayor insisted "spoke for itself" was issued Monday. It said that Sanchez, convicted for giving hiring preference to pro-Daley campaign workers, was a hardworking employee. And it said the guilty verdicts were "based on allegations from years ago."

"I understand this is a disappointment and that this conviction does not reflect well on our administration or the city. For that, I am sorry," said Mayor Daley.

One of the questions hizzoner would not answer: Did he know what Sanchez was up to and when did he know it?

"The statement speaks for itself. Any other questions?" said the mayor.

It wasn't the first time Daley had faced such a situation. Donald Tomczak, his former deputy water commissioner -- convicted in the Hired Truck scandal -- was also accused of running a pro-Daley political army. And Robert Sorich, the mayor's former intergovernmental affairs director, is still in prison for a patronage scandal.

In the Sanchez conviction, as in the others, the mayor would not say he knew anything. Former city clerk Jim Laski, a one-time Daley ally who did prison time in his own corruption case, told ABC7's Karen Jordan not to believe the mayor for a minute.

"Rich Daley says he doesn't know anything about what Sorich did, what Tomczak did and now Al Sanchez -- and Daley told me, he said, 'Jim, the one thing you have to learn in this business is to have a lot of buffers.' And Rich Daley has a lot of buffers," said Jim Laski, former city clerk.

Bill "Dock" Walls, a 2007 mayoral candidate, says Daley's illegal patronage system is what keeps the six-times-elected mayor in power.

"Everybody in city government is sworn allegiance to him because they've gotten their jobs through political means," said walls.

And, with not much more to say about patronage hiring Tuesday morning, the mayor focused on keeping his cool.

"Any other questions? I don't want to get mad or upset. You'll write that in your article," said Mayor Daley.

After the news conference, Daley's press secretary said she told the mayor to stick to the statement and not answer any questions.

Earlier this month a monitor assigned to Chicago City Hall by the federal courts reported that patronage continues in the Streets and Sanitation department and that the city was not cooperating with her efforts. The mayor Tuesday said the monitor was wrong in her assessment.

Daley made his remarks at an unrelated news conference on Tuesday morning at Daley College on the city's Southwest Side.