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October 31, 2007

More Trench Safety Classes for Chicago Department of Water Management Employees

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On October 30, 2007 at 4:30 p.m., Chicago Department of Water Management had some additional instructions on Trench Safety. Prior to the meeting, I discussed trench safety with Jesse Canet, a foremen in the North District. Jesse was concerned about "Production". As we all know, trench safety has been one of my most major concerns at the Chicago Water Department. It took years to update this department into the new century. I had many spirited conversations with Foreman, District Foreman, and Superintendents, demanding Job-site safety for Chicago City Workers. I was alone and called a "Troublemaker", but in the end, declared victory. Many people in the meeting brought up many concerns, but I am happy to report, Arnold Coleman made it clear by saying, " YOU ARE GOING TO MAKE IT SAFE". The meeting was given by Water's Safety Department employees, Mark Holder, Alice Carter, and William Coclanes. Chicago has a one year agreement with the State of Illinois Department of Labor, to get the Water Department in compliance. I was proud to be the only "Competent Person" at the meeting, so I think we better get all employees certified A.S.A.P. Remember, in the long run, Chicago Taxpayers will benefit by saving millions in workman comp claims. Special thanks to Fran Spielman for making this a public issue at the Chicago Sun-Times. Also thanks to James LoVerde for sending me to the classes. Photo by Patrick McDonough.

Chicago Homeless Update

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While Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. and other politicians were pouring water into the Chicago River to protest Mayor Daley's proposed tax increases, a homeless person in the street takes a nap. Mayor Daley's Administration has greatly underestimated the homeless problem in Chicago. I really wish all the bottled water the politicians poured into the Chicago River, would have been given to a Homeless Shelter instead. Remember it is getting colder every day in Chicago, please donate to the Homeless and Voiceless. Photo by Patrick McDonough

October 28, 2007

Todd Lighty and laurie Cohen Hit 11th Ward Goldmine

Remember if you continue to investigate the 11th Ward Corruption and insider deals, you will find Mayor Daley's pals cleaning up on the Taxpayer's dime. A Chicago boat-ride turned a mighty profit for Daley's pals. Read this article, this is real reporting. Patrick McDonough


For insider, park a gold mine
City buys contaminated riverfront property from prominent Daley ally, who pockets more than $1 million in sale
By Laurie Cohen and Todd Lighty | Tribune staff reporters
Mayor Richard Daley took an hourlong boat ride on the Chicago River in fall 1997 and came back with a vision of improving the riverfront in the city's neighborhoods.

Just about that time, Thomas DiPiazza, an ally of Daley's, also took an interest in the riverfront, buying a highly contaminated piece of land that was slated to become a public park under the mayor's plan.

DiPiazza and a partner bought the vacant, odd-shaped property in Daley's native Bridgeport neighborhood for $50,000 in 1998. Six years later, the city paid them $1.2 million for the land.

The investors benefited from ever-escalating appraisals. The final one tripled the land's estimated value after the city broke from its usual practice of valuing land at its current zoning.

DiPiazza's good fortune is a familiar tale of how insiders profit from even the most public-minded projects undertaken by the Daley administration, from wrought-iron fencing to blue-bag recycling.

DiPiazza is a prominent Bridgeport developer whose company sits in the shadows of the White Sox ballpark. He has known Timothy Degnan, a political adviser to the mayor, for 40 years, and the two have teamed up on real estate projects.

It is unclear how or when DiPiazza learned that the land was being eyed by the city for a park.

City officials said they did not tip off DiPiazza about their plans. The Daley administration refused to make city officials available for interviews and insisted that the Tribune submit all questions in writing.

DiPiazza declined to discuss the park. His lawyer, Michael Kralovec, said DiPiazza profited from rising real estate prices in Bridgeport and that the city paid a fair price for the land. Kralovec said it is "silliness" to suggest that DiPiazza was helped by his political connections.

DiPiazza's ties to the Daley administration have come under increasing scrutiny since early this year, when another developer disclosed in a federal lawsuit that DiPiazza was a $1.3 million consultant to the Bridgeport Village housing development. In the suit, Thomas Snitzer alleged that he was punished by City Hall for refusing DiPiazza's demands for more money.

DiPiazza, 58, is a former city sewer worker who now owns a late-model Bentley and a Ferrari convertible. He has done real estate deals with Daley's friend Fred Barbara, who has made millions hauling garbage for the city. Barbara is a nephew of the late 1st Ward Ald. Fred Roti, long reputed to be organized crime's representative in the City Council. DiPiazza and business partner Richard Ferro are related to the Roti family by marriage.

DiPiazza and Ferro have been frequent contributors to Daley. In February's municipal elections, they pitched in $25,000 to a political fund created by some of the mayor's closest allies to help pro-Daley aldermen.

Though the Bridgeport park is not expected to be ready for visitors for at least two years, the idea originated a decade ago with Daley's boat ride.

After the trip, Daley ordered his staff to come up with a sweeping plan for riverfront improvements. By April 1998, city planners were telling neighbors that the property was destined to be a park.

By then, DiPiazza and Ferro were already working to buy the land. They began negotiating with the packaging company Jefferson Smurfit at the end of 1997, according to Kralovec. They closed the $50,000 deal in May 1998, acquiring the property as an investment.

Snitzer charged in his lawsuit that DiPiazza was tipped off by Degnan, but Kralovec denied the allegation, and a lawyer for Degnan declined to comment.

A month after DiPiazza and Ferro acquired the property, the city asked for a state grant to help buy the land. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources approved the park plan, which included a playground, fishing access and a pedestrian bridge across the river to Canal Origins Park, at the site of the historic starting point of the Illinois & Michigan Canal.

The park property is a 1.8-acre triangular plot located at the mouth of one of the river's most notoriously polluted sections. Bubbly Creek still bubbles because of decaying livestock waste dumped by the long-gone Union Stockyards.
The land also had well-known environmental problems. For years the plot and neighboring properties housed a plant that turned coal into gas used to light and heat Chicago homes.

The Daley administration did not buy the land until June 2004, after Peoples Gas agreed to clean up the site. Peoples already has dug down as deep as 30 feet to remove contaminated soil but might have to do more work on the property under a recent agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

In the meantime, City Hall hired four appraisers to determine how much it should pay for the land. The first, in 1999, turned in an estimate of $220,000. In 2002 another appraisal report put the value at $520,000.

Two other appraisers reviewed and approved the $520,000 estimate, including Francis Lorenz Jr., who told the city in July 2003 that he agreed with the figure. DiPiazza and Ferro said they would sell their land for $520,000 at that time, but the city did not respond to the offer, Kralovec said.

Eight months later, in March 2004, Lorenz submitted another estimate, tripling the value to $1.6 million.

Unlike all of the previous appraisals, which had assumed that the property would continue to be zoned for industrial use, Lorenz's report said the land would be more valuable if it were used for homes. In an interview, Lorenz said city officials directed him to take a second look at the property and base his new appraisal on residential zoning.

Lorenz is a longtime city contractor whose father was a key figure in the Cook County Democratic Organization under the late Mayor Richard J. Daley, the current mayor's father. But Lorenz said he was not pressured to change the appraisal. He said the city's request made sense because of the boom in residential development along the river.

The city had decided to buy the land for $1.2 million even before it saw Lorenz's appraisal, said Constance Buscemi, a spokeswoman for the city. The new appraisal was required because the original one was more than six months old, she said.

City Hall decided to use the higher-valued residential zoning for the park appraisal even though it typically tells appraisers to base estimates on current zoning.

The city adhered to that policy in 2000 when it was selling city-owned industrial land cheaply to a favored developer. In that case the land sale involved the Bridgeport Village housing project, where DiPiazza was a consultant.

City buys neighboring parcel

By the time the city bought the DiPiazza property, it had decided to expand the proposed park to include a bigger, neighboring parcel used since the 1960s by Speedway Wrecking. The family-owned company, which demolished the old Comiskey Park to make way for the Sox's current home at U.S. Cellular Field, employed about 15 people and operated its offices and garages on the site.

Speedway did not want to move but had little choice because the city said it would go to court and seize the land, said owner Irving Kolko.

The city also valued the Speedway property using residential zoning. Still, Kolko and his brother received less for their land than DiPiazza got for his, even though appraisers thought Speedway was worth more.

The city paid him and his brother $1.15 million for their 2.3-acre parcel -- about a half-acre larger than DiPiazza's plot -- and added another $500,000 to cover the costs of moving their business papers, cranes and trucks, records show.

Told that DiPiazza and Ferro received $1.2 million for their smaller property, Kolko said: "They got more than we did. They must have fought a little harder than we did. They did very well."



Chicago Parking Signs for the "Good Neighborhoods"

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Please enjoy a picture of a Chicago Parking sign. This is a permanent sign that clearly shows the parking policy in this pricey, clout and connected Chicago neighborhood. While Mayor Daley want to increase the parking fines to astronomical levels, the signs like these can help you avoid the ticket. These signs also have lights which flash red if "No Parking" is in effect. Wow, flashing lights for the Chicago Gentry. In the poor and west-side Chicago wards, the parking signs are paper attached to the trees with string. This costs taxpayers more money because Streets and Sanitation crews need to put them up and take them down. I hope Mayor Daley hides the West Side of Chicago from the Olympic Committee, they might tell Daley he has far greater problems. I think the parking signs in Chicago are discriminatory. Photo by Patrick McDonough

Feds raid Chicago Little Village Update

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The Foto-Munoz Sign came down last week. Alderman Munoz's father was alledgely part of a Chicago Mexican Mafia that produced false I.D.s. Many people blame Mayor Daley for the immigration issue in Chicago. Some say Mayor Daley allows these illegal immigrants in Chicago, as he is able to shake them down with parking tickets and numerous fees. Also the money brought into Chicago Coffers from 26th Street is massive. 26th street shops in Chicago ring up massive sales. More on the prior post about the Feds raiding Foto-Munoz click here: http://www.chicagoclout.com/weblog/archives/2007/04/feds_raid_chicagos_little_vill.html Photo by Patrick McDonough

Mayor Daley's Chicago Homeless Citizens

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This is a picture repeated every night for many of Chicago's Homeless. This person put a large sheet over their body and changed their pants on a street corner in Chicago's West Side. Right out in public. To listen to Mayor Daley, you will get grossly underestimated homeless statistics. Chicago Citizens were told only 24 homeless downtown and 958 citywide. This is nowhere near my estimate of over ten thousand homeless in Chicago. Unlike the Daley Administration, I am underestimating these numbers. I hope you when you see Daley's friends pilfering millions from taxpayers, while living like royalty, you demand better conditions for the homeless. It is going to be very cold in Chicago this year, please donate money to help our poorest citizens. Forget the Olympics in Chicago, lets tackle this issue first. Photo by Patrick McDonough.

October 22, 2007

Chicago Marathon Video Update Channel 2 CBS Chicago

I told you a while ago about the Chicago Marathon and the disaster it caused many people. I do not blame Daley for the mess, but Daley seems to twist the story to incredible lengths. Chicago Taxpayers have given up hope, when will the Mayor will tell the truth? Dave Savini, is an excellent Investigative Reporter and I hope you take the time to watch the video. Click here: http://cbs2chicago.com/investigations/chicago.marathon.meltdown.2.411213.html I also ask everyone to send some money to this family that suffered tragedy at this Marathon. Patrick McDonough

Chicago Department of Water Management Honor-Guard Busted

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For quite some time, the Department of Water Management has used a lousy choice for Security Guards to protect the Drinking water of Chicagoland. Chicago choose a company that is not even located in Chicago. I know the Chicago Inspector General was aware of this company because I reported them as just another form of "Hired Trucks". If you read the contract they promise some top guards, but the workers on site were never on certain posts. The "officers" guarding the entrance of the 3901 S. Ashland post was never in the post because, "there is no heat".
The two ladies would chat in the front entryway all night. The guard in the back would watch t.v. all night and had nothing to do except guard a pile of dirt at the transfer station. These guards are paid about $10.00 - $10.50 per hour and they do not receive any health and welfare benefits. In the contract with the city Honor-Guard promised benefits and health employees with a military background. They also subcontracted to two "Minority" subcontractors to have a minority presence. The guard at 39th and Iron, in the middle of the street was doing nothing for months and nobody in management noticed? I say fire more of the management. Excellent job Sun-times and star journalist Fran Spielman. According to the story, Jan Pestka actually did a good job? Also the guards never received paid training according to two of the guards. Read story below. Photo by Patrick McDonough

Gulp! How safe is our water?
CITY HALL | Private security company gets flushed after guards found sleeping on the job

October 22, 2007
BY FRAN SPIELMAN AND FRANK MAIN Staff Reporters/fspielman@suntimes.com fmain@suntimes.com
A private security company's unarmed guards have been yanked out of the city's two water filtration plants amid concerns about safeguarding Chicago's drinking water.

Honor Guard Security was hired last December to protect the Jardine and South water filtration plants, 12 pumping stations and Department of Water Management repair and maintenance facilities. The $13.3 million contract was to expire in 2011 but is now being rebid.

Honor Guard Security was hired last year to protect the Jardine Water Filtration Plant at 1000 E. Ohio, among other sites.

Water Management employees found gaping holes in the company's performance, City Hall sources said.

"They were sleeping. They weren't where they were supposed to be. The change really was necessary to protect the integrity of the plants. It's not like guarding salt piles. This is one of the highest terrorist targets in the country," said a source familiar with the review.

The firm was hired to provide security for several city departments, even though Water Management officials ranked it "dead last" among a handful of finalists.

Water Management's $117,720-a-year security chief Janet Pestka, a retired Chicago Police assistant deputy superintendent, was outspoken about what she viewed as Honor Guard's inability to handle such a sensitive assignment. After writing a letter of protest, she was reassigned to the job of director of internal audits. Two months later, she resigned.

Pestka could not be reached for comment.

Now City Hall has done an about-face. Last month, Honor Guard's unarmed employees were removed from the Jardine and South filtration plants and replaced with city employees serving as watchmen.

Honor Guard -- whose bid documents stated that 75 percent of its security officers are military veterans and 5 percent are "current or prior law enforcement officers" -- continues to secure Water Management's less-sensitive facilities.

Courtnai McCurdy, a vice president of the company, said the criticism of the employees is not fair.

"We have not been given a clear reason" for why the employees were pulled from the Jardine and South filtration plants, McCurdy said. "We have been told that, contractually, they can reassess their needs at any time and make changes."

The company received only a few days' notice of the changes, McCurdy said. "They did not give us a 30-day notice."

"It was very clear from day one that they did not want the contract to go to us," McCurdy added.

Water Management spokesman Tom LaPorte would only say, "The city reserves the right to solicit bids, based on our changing needs. ... We use both watchmen who are city workers and private security firms."

Lake Michigan water purified and pumped through Water Management facilities supplies drinking water to Chicago and 125 suburbs.

Concern about the vulnerability of Chicago's water system goes back to Sept. 11, 2001. Shortly after the attacks, City Hall temporarily evicted all private contractors from Water Management facilities. The ban continued for several weeks, long enough for criminal background checks on more than 2,200 people with access to secure areas.

Water Management also replaced a former fork-lift driver with Pestka as in-house security chief, hired Aargus Security to assist Chicago Police officers stationed at Jardine and hired a private consultant.

At the time, Pestka talked about banning private vehicles from Jardine, 1000 E. Ohio, and using bomb-sniffing dogs and mirrors to inspect beneath employee vehicles. One secret report concluded that an attack on a chlorine truck entering the Jardine facility could create a catastrophe downtown.

The possibility of opening a police station on the Jardine grounds was also discussed, along with no longer allowing city employees to park at the plant when they go to nearby Navy Pier. It was not known whether any of these changes had been implemented.

"It's not like guarding salt piles. This is one of the highest terrorist targets in the country.

October 21, 2007

Sun-Times Column a Gambling Nightmare

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Please read a editorial from the Chicago Sun-Times allowing gambling in Chicago. I cannot believe the Sun-Times could even fathom this. The suckers and the poor pour millions into the Illinois Lotto with lousy returns. The Illinois Lotto is a chump bet to clean out the poor. People get wealthy on the lotto by providing "Legal and sub-contracting" services to the Lotto. Does Mayor Daley's cousin still have access to the 68 million dollars. Wake up Chicago, you are being fleeced alive. Chicago Taxpayers should demand a full scale investigation into Daley now. Daley is refusing to give David Hoffman enough power to combat corruption, so why give Daley and his mafia friends the Gambling? Photo by Patrick McDonough.

City needs gambling -- and rules to keep out organized crime

October 21, 2007
We've always thought Chicago deserves a casino -- why should the city miss out on all that revenue from riverboats that surround us? But if Chicago wins a betting palace, it should get one the right way. And there's plenty wrong with the bill now pending in Springfield, mainly because it doesn't do enough to keep out the mob or beef up state regulators.

The Chicago Crime Commission opposes any new gambling in the city. On that point, we disagree. But James W. Wagner, the commission president, wages several good arguments about weaknesses in the gaming proposal, which cleared the Senate last month and is now pending in the House. Wagner, a former FBI agent and former investigator for the Illinois Gaming Board, is most concerned about the bill allowing the city to own a mega-casino, the location of which hasn't been decided -- that we know of. With 4,000 stations, the proposed Chicago gambling arena would be nearly four times that of Elgin. Not only would a Chicago casino be one of the largest in the country, it also would be the first city-owned casino in the United States.

Wagner thinks it's inevitable that organized crime will be drawn to the casino, making offers that can't be refused. "Organized crime still exists in Chicago. It was intricately involved in building casinos in Las Vegas," he said during a meeting with the Sun-Times editorial board. He points to our mobbed up history, the recent "Family Secrets" trial of Chicago organized crime figures, mob influence in the city's Hired Truck scandal, and the police department's scaled-down Organized Crime unit as evidence that the mob is still healthy and that the city is ill-equipped to combat it.

"How in the world can you even talk about the city owning something like this?" he asked. "They don't have a track record to trust them."

The other problem, argues the crime commission, is that the pending bill would award an irrevocable gambling license to Chicago. The state's other gaming licenses, awarded to the companies that run the nine riverboats, can be yanked in the event of management problems and corruption. Wagner thinks that's an essential tool to keep casino operators in line, and regulators should be allowed to wield that against Chicago, too.

And speaking of regulators. The casino bill calls for a massive expansion of gambling in Illinois in order to fund a public works program and other state needs. In addition to the Chicago complex, two smaller casinos would be authorized somewhere in the state. And the existing boats would be allowed to get bigger. The Illinois Gaming Board estimates it would need to expand its staff to police the casino operations. But the legislation is silent on the matter.

Wagner also complains that the gaming board should have the power to regulate non-gambling operations of the city casino. Without it, the board can't review contracts such as supplies and garbage pickup, which are vulnerable to mob influence.

Gambling is all about risk. But if the Legislature is going to approve a casino in Chicago, it needs to do more to make sure the casino is as safe a bet as possible.

Chicago can't risk mobbed-up casino

Mayor Daley's 11th Ward Massage/Olympic Bid Update Video

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Mayor Daley is trying his damndest to convince the Olympic Committee, Chicago is the best Site for the 2016 Olympics. Please enjoy this video, as a Chicago 11th Warder and Daley man talks about Bridgeport. Click here: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-7438447024847100504 Many officials from the Olympic Committee might want to travel to 2519 S. Archer, the Daley's know a good full body oil massage from Xindy might tip the balance in Chicago's favor. Also, if the young Olympians hurt their muscles, or miss their wives, can get some relaxation at Xindy. This might be Chicago's start to corporate support. Photo by Patrick McDonough.

October 17, 2007

Mayor Daley Arrested and Humiliated Downtown?

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Mayor Daley was walked downtown Chicago, in a humiliating display on October 16, 2007. Daley was walked in handcuffs and dressed in Department of Corrections jumpsuit to the Old Inspector Generals Office, the Department of Human Resources, the Richard J. Daley Center, and various downtown buildings to jog his memory on the many crimes he has committed against the Citizens of Chicago. Many people were laughing hysterically. Some people were aghast in horror at the thought of Mayor "Gravy Train" Daley taken away in handcuffs. I could not believe this Mayor Daley could be brought to justice. Photo by Patrick McDonough.

October 16, 2007

Patrick "Phat" Levar Explain this O'Hare Scandal

Patrick J. Levar is currently serving his sixth full four-Year term as Alderman of the 45th' Ward in the City of Chicago. As Alderman, he also is Chairman of the City Council Aviation Committee which has responsibility for the oversight of Chicago's Airport System, including O'Hare International Airport, and Midway "This is From Levar's website. "I know nothing". Patrick McDonough

Inspector probes O'Hare terminal deal
AIRPORT | Chief's son worked for company hired to manage it

October 15, 2007
BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter fspielman@suntimes.com
Chicago's inspector general has launched a sweeping investigation to determine whether the company that manages O'Hare Airport's international terminal got favored treatment because the city's terminal operations chief had an ethical conflict.

Assistant Aviation Commissioner Jim Sachay abruptly resigned his $96,216-a-year job earlier this month after an audit of the contractor's August invoices showed Sachay's son worked for Airport Property Management Group.

The city's ethics ordinance prohibits city employees from exercising contract management authority over a company that employs a relative.

Sachay not only rode herd over APMG while his son was working for the contractor -- a fact he failed to disclose to his superiors -- he also served on the evaluation committee that reviewed rival bidders and recommended APMG in March for a new, five-year, $45.2 million contract, officials said.

Sachay's name appears on the secret clout list kept by Robert Sorich, Mayor Daley's convicted former patronage chief. According to the list, Sachay was sponsored for the job he has held since 1990 by former state Rep. Ralph Capparelli (D-Chicago).

After discovering the alleged ethics violation in an audit, Aviation Commissioner Nuria Fernandez asked Inspector General David Hoffman to conduct "a full investigation into the selection process that led to the award to APMG," Aviation Department spokeswoman Karen Pride wrote in an e-mail to the Sun-Times.

The probe also is aimed at determining how Sachay's son got the job and whether co-workers may have similar conflicts. Sources said Hoffman will look to see if Sachay approved change orders or other excessive payments that did not match services the contractor was providing.

"Once they've investigated, we've requested that they make a determination and recommendation as to the legitimacy of the award to APMG" and whether the contract should be re-bid, Pride wrote.

The 'Hired Truck' effect
Asked why it took this long to discover a conflict that may have been going on for years, Pride explained that APMG's most recent contract is a "cost plus fixed fee" award that requires a higher level of documentation.

"Prior contracts with APMG were 'lump-sum,' " she wrote. "The vendor was not required to provide the same level of detail."

APMG is a combined venture of Globetrotter Engineering, Tishman Midwest Management, Louis Jones Enterprises and Span Tech Inc.

Disclosure documents filed with the city show Span Tech's secretary and chief operating officer is former top mayoral aide John Kosiba. He was the highest-ranking official to testify at the 2006 federal corruption trial that culminated in Sorich's conviction on charges of rigging city hiring.

Jay Stewart, executive director of the Better Government Association, questioned why Sachay's alleged conflict went "undiscovered for so long."

"When you have these kinds of relationships between city employees and city contractors, it makes you wonder what was the basis for the contract being given out in the first place? Was it the best company or the personal relationship?" he said.

The fact an audit uncovered the conflict shows that "increased scrutiny" on City Hall is "having an impact," Stewart said.

"Four or five years ago --before the Hired Truck scandal -- I doubt anything would have happened," he said.

October 14, 2007

Well Written Chicago Sun-Times, Hired Trucks and Chicago Corruption

When are we going to start reviewing the contracts for Unarmed Security Guards? Or the portable dumpsters, or the lease contracts? So much corruption, clout, and crime in Chicago, Mayor Daley. I give Daley and his hoodlums credit, they protect their master. Make sure you click below as Fran Spielman and Tim Novak continue to scratch the surface of Daley's corrupt empire. I have a feeling more missing taxpayer's loot will show up soon. Patrick McDonough.

The cost of corruption
HIDDEN TAX | City loses millions to clout, fraud

October 14, 2007
When Mayor Daley asked Chicagoans to cough up $293 million more next year to finance the cost of city government, there's one tax he failed to mention: The Corruption, Waste and Mismanagement Tax.

It's almost impossible to calculate the cost of the Hired Truck, city hiring, minority contracting and police corruption scandals.

SCANDALS: YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WASTE• • HIRED TRUCKS -- In 2004, the Chicago Sun-Times blew the lid off this $40-million-a-year scandal, which called for the city to lease hundreds of dump trucks, whose owners often bribed city officials to get work on city job sites. The program had been around for decades, but was abolished in 2005. City employees now drive dump trucks leased from one company -- not the 165 companies that cashed in on Hired Truck.
• • RIGGED HIRING FUND -- More than 1,400 people have staked claims to the $12 million fund created to compensate victims of the city's rigged hiring system. The fund was created to settle the long-running Shakman case. Daley's former patronage chief was convicted last year of rigging city hiring to benefit the Hispanic Democratic Organization and other pro-Daley armies of political workers.
• • FEDERAL HIRING MONITOR -- Well over $2 million in legal fees -- and counting -- have been paid to federal hiring monitor Noelle Brennan and her staff. Brennan was appointed in 2005 to oversee city hiring by a federal judge livid with the city for making a mockery of the decree that was supposed to end political hiring and firing, but never did. Hundreds of thousands of additional legal fees were spent on attorneys who represented Daley, the City Council and the Black Caucus in the Shakman case.
• • MORE LEGAL FEES -- Chicago taxpayers coughed up $251,314 in legal fees in 2006 alone to represent non-targeted city employees drawn into federal investigations swirling around City Hall. And that's not counting dozens of other city employees represented by the city's Law Department. Tens of thousands more were paid to Vince Connelly, the former federal prosecutor hired to quarterback the city's response to the federal investigation.
• • JON BURGE -- More than $10 million in legal fees have already been spent to defend the former Area 2 commander and his cohorts against charges they tortured criminal suspects for decades while police brass looked the other way. The city is on the brink of a settlement with three men allegedly coerced into murder confessions. The settlement is expected to duplicate or exceed the $14.8 million tentative deal reached last fall. Two other torture victims are still attempting to negotiate with the city.
• • 50/50 SIDEWALKS -- A Sun-Times investigation found that the city overcharged 60 percent of taxpayers, who ended up paying more than half the cost of their new sidewalks. Senior citizens were overcharged the most. The program has since been renamed the "Shared Cost Sidewalk Program."
• • WORKERS COMPENSATION -- One of every five patronage workers on the secret clout list kept by the mayor's former patronage chief filed at least one worker's compensation claim against the city, a Sun-Times analysis found. That incredibly high injury rate would make patronage work one of the most dangerous jobs in America. Chicago taxpayers pay those claims.
• • MINORITY BUSINESS FRAUD -- The parade of white-owned minority fronts that have cashed in on this program is led by the Duff family. But it also includes a host of other political insiders, including Tony Rezko, Gov. Blagojevich's now-indicted former fund-raiser, and the sister of Hispanic Democratic Organization chieftain Victor Reyes.
• • STOLEN ASPHALT -- Federal officials charged in 2005 that city employees had been using Hired Trucks to steal asphalt from city paving jobs since at least 1999. Those thefts cost taxpayers about $100,000. But the loss was likely greater. The Sun-Times found that the city used an extra 16,000 tons of asphalt -- about 840 truckloads -- during the 2004 construction season. Many of the extra tons came from jobs run by city foremen who went to prison for stealing asphalt.
• • VACANT LOT CLEANING -- The city spent more than $3.5 million in 2004 to have Streets and Sanitation crews use Hired Trucks to clean privately owned vacant lots. Some were owned by politically connected people, including former Illinois Gaming Board Chairman Elzie Higginbottom, the mayor's chief fund-raiser in the black community.
• • TOWING PROGRAM -- Shortly after taking office, Daley turned towing over to EAR, a company whose owners have close ties to Jeremiah Joyce, one of the mayor's closest friends in politics. Three years ago, the Sun-Times exposed how the city sells about 70,000 cars each year to EAR for no more than the going scrap-metal price, regardless of the vehicle's age or condition. Owners get nothing for the car, even though they're still on the hook to the city for fines and towing fees. The towing company resold the cars through private auctions held at city auto pounds and kept the proceeds. The city ended up paying more than $100,000 to a dozen people whose cars were towed and wrongly sold for scrap before owners could rescue them from the pound.
• • SOS SCANDAL -- Legal fees and settlements tied to this burgeoning police scandal could drag on for years and mirror Burge totals. Seven members of the Chicago Police Department's newly disbanded Special Operations Section stand accused of home invasions, kidnappings and robberies. Their alleged ringleader has been charged with trying to hire someone to kill a former SOS officer who was serving as a government witness.
• • BUILDING DEPARTMENT BRIBES -- Nearly a dozen city building inspectors have been accused of accepting bribes to ignore building code violations, as part of an ongoing joint investigation by the inspector general and the federal government. It's the same department that hired the teenaged sons of Carpenters Union officials to serve as city building inspectors in 2004.
It's even harder to determine how much more it costs taxpayers when employees and contractors with clout are hired over more qualified competitors and then watched less closely.

But one thing is certain: Chicagoans pay a price for corruption, waste and fraud.

If they didn't, Daley would never have agreed to establish a $12 million fund to compensate victims of the city's rigged hiring system after the conviction of his former patronage chief. And the mayor would not have abolished a $40-million-a-year Hired Truck program so tarnished by scandal, a federal investigation has already resulted in 45 convictions, 29 of them city employees.

"There's still a corruption tax in Chicago," said Jay Stewart of the Better Government Association.

Pointing to the Hired Truck scandal that branched out into city hiring, he said, "On one, you had millions in contracts that never needed to be let in the first place. On the other, thousands of people were hired on the basis of clout vs. qualifications."

Ald. Ricardo Munoz (22nd), one of Mayor Daley's most outspoken City Council critics, said there's "no way of measuring the corruption tax" until "somebody gets caught with their hand in the cookie jar."

"A lot of it isn't necessarily corruption. It's waste and inefficiency -- what I call the lazy bureaucracy. We're not sometimes getting a full day's work for a full day's pay," he said.

Ald. Joe Moore (49th) noted that Inspector General David Hoffman asked for 22 additional employees and got only four in Daley's proposed 2008 budget. Hoffman has been at odds with the mayor over Daley's $2.5 million-a-year proposal to create a new Office of Compliance to monitor city hiring after the departure of a federal monitor.

"Every time I read your paper or watch TV news, I see stories about the Shakman decree being routinely violated," Moore said. "I see stories of rogue police officers costing the city tens of millions of dollars in court damages and attorneys fees. I see tens of millions of dollars wasted -- literally stolen on Hired Trucks."

"At the same time, the mayor is apparently unwilling to give the IG the tools he needs to root out, not only outright corruption, but waste and inefficiency."

To his credit, Daley is the one who chose Hoffman, a highly touted former federal prosecutor, to clean up city government from within. Last year, the mayor even agreed to beef up the inspector general's budget -- by adding a six-member team to audit city departments.

But that was before the latest flap over who should pick up where a federal hiring monitor leaves off.

'Pretty aggressive action'
Ald. Pat O'Connor (40th), the mayor's unofficial City Council floor leader, acknowledged that there was a cost to corruption. But that was before Daley abolished the Hired Truck program in 2005 and cleaned up a minority contracting program that allowed white members of the mob-connected Duff family to fraudulently obtain $100 million in janitorial contracts earmarked for minorities and women.

"I don't think we're still paying for a lot of that stuff that went on all those years. There was some pretty aggressive action taken to correct it," O'Connor said.

"Obviously, we're spending some money for monitors and hiring. But, that's not the reason we're in such bad shape. The economy, changes in the housing market. These holes are not created by us spending off the charts."

October 13, 2007

Chicago Teamsters "Members Only Slate" Video

Watch this video, click here, http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-3763529248817876477 After, read this about a Chicago Teamster official start trouble on Chicago Department of Water Management property, at 3901 South Ashland. Who let these people that are not Chicago Department of Water Management employees on City Property? Read what was sent to me today. Members Only Slate are scaring these tough Guys, were they this tough with the Mayor Daley's Hired Truck Contractors? How come I am always present when the fights begin? Enjoy, Patrick McDonough


October 10, 2007

City of Chicago wants to Remove Chickens

Chicago Chickens.jpg
Cock-a-doodle-do Mayor Daley. Many of Chicago's Hispanic community have live Roosters in the back yard. They provide a warning if strangers are lurking. Also in the morning these birds provide a wake-up call. These are egg-cellent birds. Mayor Daley is cracked. This possible new law leaves egg on the Mayor's face. Daley is scrambling for answers on this. I could go on and on, but Chicago has a Budget Crisis and all the billions of dollars made on Chicago assets like the Chicago Skyway is now gone. Read more on this story click below. Thanks Fran Spielman. Photo by Patrick McDonough

First pigeons, now chickens cause a stink
CITY COUNCIL | Alderman wants to add birds to ban

October 9, 2007
BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter/fspielman@suntimes.com
Four years ago, the City Council clipped the wings of Chicagoans who bred and raced pigeons in residential neighborhoods amid complaints from homeowners fed up with the stench.

"Flatulence is like roses compared to the smell of pigeon manure," Northwest Side resident Paul Covangka complained then.

Now, Southwest Side Ald. Lona Lane (18th) wants to throw chickens into the same coop. She's introduced an ordinance to amend the pigeon ban to include chickens.

"There are residents within our ward who have neighbors raising chickens as pets. They're letting them run around in their backyards. Debris from the chickens is creating mice. The odor from the feathers is something they're not happy with," Lane told the Chicago Sun-Times.

"I was alerted that some of the people are cutting their heads off in some kind of ritual, letting them run around, then dumping them in hot water, plucking their feathers and cooking them. They're throwing carcasses in the garbage."

The ordinance that Lane introduced at the Sept. 27 City Council meeting would make it a crime to "import, sell, own, keep or otherwise possess any live chicken" in a district zoned for residential use. The "keeping of chickens for slaughter" would require a "valid wholesale food establishments license."

Lane's staff could not immediately identify either neighbors who had complained about pet chickens or the residents accused of keeping them.

During City Council hearings on the pigeon ban, breeders spoke with passion about a cherished family tradition that dates back at least four generations to their great-grandfathers in Poland.

But aldermen overruled them because of what Ald. Tom Allen (38th) called an "epidemic of pigeon coops" that had made life smelly and miserable for Northwest Side neighbors. The ban has been upheld by a federal appeals court.

October 9, 2007

The Mayor Daley Marathon for Yuppies a screaming success

Enjoy Patrick McDonough

October 8, 2007

The After Wedding Picture Avila Family

The Frank Avila Wedding Chicago.jpg
Say what you want, but the Avila men sure know how to pick the pretty ladies. Final congratulations to Frank and Rachel Avila on a splendid Wedding. I hope Commissioner and Sherry Avila know how proud everyone was. During the wedding Commissioner Avila was moved, he loves his son dearly. Photo by Patrick McDonough.

Mrs. Rachel Avila

Mrs. Rachel Avila.jpg
The is a picture of Rachel Avila just before she married Frank Avila. She looked stunning and very happy. I will always remember this wedding. Photo by Patrick McDonough

Pretty young lady at Avila Wedding

Pretty young lady at wedding.jpg
Photo by Patrick McDonough

Frank Avila Jr. just before marriage

Frank Avila Jr. Wedding Day.jpg
This is a picture of a young man showing the Groom the directions to his wedding. Frank Avila looked great that day and did not seem nervous. I guess that is because of his military training as Captain of the U.S. Army. Frank is the son of Commissioner Frank Avila Sr. of the Water Reclamation District. Frank overcame health issues just prior to the wedding. Photo by Patrick McDonough.

More on Avila Wedding Saint John Cantius Chicago

Saint John Cantius Chicago.jpg
I have selected some more photos from Frank Avila's wedding that I wish to share. The mass was a traditional Latin mass. I was speaking with guests after the mass and I commented regarding the length and complexity of the service. I was not the official photographer, but it was an honor to be asked. The Church was astounding, the complex and religious artwork is stunning. Please see this Chicago Classical Church's Website, click here: http://www.cantius.org/ I suggest if you want a wedding to remember, make this church your choice. The old world craftsmanship is everywhere. Photo by Patrick McDonough.

October 7, 2007

Chicago Police at Night

Chicago Police at Night.jpg
Many of Chicago's Citizens have no idea of the dangers pulling over a car at night. Police could have someone pull a gun on them at anytime. These police do a great service at great peril. Make sure you show respect and help your Chicago Police. For years, the Chicago Police have gotten a bad rap due to a few bad cops. Burge stands out as does Jerome Finnigan. Cops murdering Cops? This goes on in Chicago because of cover-ups in the OPS. Just as we hate to hear a priest, mayor, or police officer betrayed the trust, we have to start listening to the good cops that expose these criminals. Mayor Daley has failed the citizens on this. Daley has used the Department as a revenue source. Daley knows well of the few bad apples and fails to act. I support the Chicago Police, but they must get rid of the rotten few. Photo by Patrick McDonough.

Mayor Daley out-jinks the Cubs Goat Curse

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Mayor Daley put on a cubs cap, and any or all possibility, was lost, of the Northsiders winning a baseball championship. When a 11th ward crook wears a cubs cap, the end must be near. The Chicago Northsiders support the Cubs knowing the Cubs will lose. I think the Daley Cub cap helped the Northsiders lose in a very short order. 1,2,3, gone.
Sorry to John McDonough. Patrick McDonough.

October 6, 2007

Who wrote this in Chicago?

"As employees of the City of Chicago we all have an obligation to make a solid commitment to the efficient and effective delivery of city services".
A. Adolf Hitler
B. Mara Georges
C. The Chicago Cubs
D. The Chicago Bears
E. Patrick D. McDonough
F. Richard M. Daley

Mayor Daley's Culture of Corruption

Please enjoy this editorial from the Chicago Tribune. Bottom line, the Chicago City Lawyers lie repeatedly to the Judges. I always thought everyone presents their case in a honest manner, respecting the laws as written. Someone at Chicago's Law Department must have ordered the Chicago Lawyers to lie, which leads me to believe the culture of corruption, scare tactics, and retaliation, is alive and well in the Mara Georges Office. I would quit working for the City of Chicago, as a lawyer, if a supervisor ever asked me to lie in-front of a judge. The law requires this activity to be reported, it never has happened. Many of City of Chicago's lawyers are not the top college graduates. Many quit Mara Georges rein after a short stay. I think the newspapers would best serve Chicago if they looked into the Law Department, as closely as the Building Department. See the Editioral below. On the same page, the Tribune wants the Olympics so bad, they are seem ready to "look the other way", to land the Olympics. Patrick McDonough

(Dis)trusting City Hall
October 5, 2007
Every federal judge in Chicago is learning that it's folly to trust the Pinocchio-nosed lawyers from the City of Chicago.

The Tribune disclosed Wednesday that the city's top lawyer, Corporation Counsel Mara Georges, appears to have broken a promise she made to federal judges this summer in a dispute that involves police officers accused of using excessive force.

But the question of whether to trust what city lawyers say didn't start with this tawdry episode over allegedly abusive cops.

That history started years ago with a different matter in a different courtroom. The question there was whether City Hall was abiding by the Shakman decrees that prohibit most political hirings and promotions. Year after year, city lawyers assured U.S. District Judge Wayne Andersen that clout didn't drive personnel decisions.

Last year's trial of Robert Sorich, Mayor Richard Daley's former patronage chief, exposed that serial dishonesty to Andersen. Trial testimony showed how Daley's underlings rigged hirings and promotions to reward loyal political workers for Chicago's Democratic machine. Even before the trial, Andersen said he was disappointed in himself for "having taken at face value" the city lawyers' claims that City Hall was complying with the Shakman decrees.

Andersen still must decide whether to let City Hall monitor its own compliance with fair-hiring standards. As he decides whether to believe one more word that the city's lawyers tell him, Andersen can empathize with U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow and the judges of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Long story short: City Hall is fighting to block release of documents detailing which Chicago police officers have been frequently accused of using excessive force. Lefkow ordered the documents released, but they remain out of public purview while the city appeals her order to the 7th Circuit.

Corporation Counsel Georges' office assured the various federal judges that she would share the confidential documents with any member of the City Council who requested them. But when Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th) made such a request, Georges responded that she couldn't share the documents with Preckwinkle. Why not? Because they're the subject of the appeal before the 7th Circuit. Yes, the same 7th Circuit that was assured aldermen could get the documents. Go figure.

Instead, the city has given aldermen copies of the documents -- but with the officers' names blacked out. We're not aware of any suggestion from Georges that when she said she'd share the documents with aldermen, she meant she'd share only redacted documents.

Lefkow wrote in July that Chicago aldermen have a legitimate interest in obtaining the disputed information. We agree. But that isn't the only issue here: When attorneys make pledges to federal judges, those attorneys are duty bound to tell the whole truth.

Unless, apparently, the attorneys represent Chicago's City Hall.

Copyright © 2007, Chicago Tribune

October 5, 2007

Chicago Teamster's 726 Approve Contract October 4, 2007

Final Vote. 1134 Teamsters made proper votes. 974 voted YES. 159 voted No. One Teamster (From the 11 Ward) had his vote voided. Teamsters had a chance to make some historic gains. Better luck next time. Do not forget where the unemployment line is boys. Special thanks to my Teamster Inspector General. Patrick McDonough.

October 4, 2007

Quick Read on Shakman Retaliation in Chicago

Chicago is investigating "Violence in the Workplace". (Insert joke here) I left a message today for Michael Shakman to explain just how it really works, read below. Patrick McDonough

Worker took city to court, now faces battery charge
STREETS AND SAN | Is it harassment because of suit?

October 3, 2007
BY ERIC HERMAN Criminal Courts Reporter eherman@suntimes.com
Michael Sullivan -- the Streets and Sanitation worker who battled city patronage in federal court -- has found himself on the wrong end of the law.

Sullivan, 44, was arrested last Wednesday after shoving a fellow employee while trying to enter an office in a Streets and Sanitation building on the 2400 block of South Ashland, according to the Cook County state's attorney's office.

Prosecutors charged Sullivan with one count of misdemeanor battery. At a hearing Thursday, a judge set his bond at $1,000.

Plaintiff with Shakman
Michael Shakman, the lawyer whose federal anti-patronage lawsuit Sullivan joined in 2005, said Sullivan's arrest "was the result of harassment that has been brewing there for a long time because he has been a whistleblower with respect to patronage practices."

The incident came seven weeks after Sullivan went back to court, claiming he was denied city overtime because he had become a plaintiff in Shakman's lawsuit.

In 2005, Sullivan alleged the Streets and Sanitation Department gave better assignments and more overtime to workers with political clout, especially those with ties to Cook County Commissioner John Daley, the mayor's brother.

The city settled that suit in March, creating a fund for those denied jobs and awarding $25,000 to Sullivan.

In August, Sullivan went to court to enforce the agreement, with Shakman as his lawyer.

As for last week's incident, Sullivan "contends there was no battery," Shakman said.

Streets and San spokesman Matt Smith said a "violence in the workplace" incident was under investigation. He declined further comment.

October 3, 2007

Bruce Randazzo Proud Father

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On September 29, 2007, Bruce Randazzo walked his daughter down the isle. We are happy for Susan and Paul as they enjoyed their wedding at St. Francis Borgia Catholic Church, in Chicago. Good luck. Photo by Proud Father Bruce Randazzo. Someone tell Bruce to leave the photos to me. Patrick McDonough.

October 2, 2007

Chicago City Workers Must Read Laurie Cohen Todd Lighty Chicago Tribune Shakman Update

CHICAGO TRIBUNE 1. City hiring cases flood court Auditor: More time needed to check clout-abuse claims Date: Tuesday, October 2, 2007 Section: Metro Edition: Chicagoland Page: 3 Zone: C Source: By Laurie Cohen and Todd Lighty, Tribune staff reporters

After being swamped with last-minute claims from people who say they lacked the political clout to get jobs in Mayor Richard Daley's administration, a court-appointed official said Monday that she probably will need more time to determine how much -- if anything -- each is owed.

Friday was the deadline for filing claims under an agreement between the city and lawyer Michael Shakman to end Shakman's long-running court battle against political hiring at City Hall. The agreement required the city to set up a $12 million fund to pay as much as $100,000 each to employees and job-seekers who were denied jobs, promotions, transfers and overtime work because they did not have political connections.Noelle Brennan, the court-appointed official who has monitored city hiring for the last two years, said 1,451 people filed claims alleging that they were harmed by the city's actions between the beginning of 2000 and the end of last May. Brennan did not know the total value of the claims filed but said requested awards are probably more than $12 million.

More than 600 of the claims came into Brennan's office on Thursday and Friday -- some as late as the final deadline of midnight Friday. As a result, Brennan, who was scheduled to decide on award payments by the end of December, said she would likely ask a federal judge for an extension.

"I think this will be an enormous undertaking," Brennan said. "The universe of information that we have to investigate to substantiate these claims is very, very large and we want to be able to verify all claims that are submitted accurately and fairly so that everybody gets the award they are entitled to."

Under the decades-old Shakman civil decree, the city pledged to keep most hiring decisions free from politics. However, Brennan and federal authorities investigating a criminal job-rigging scheme at City Hall have found that administration officials routinely violated the court order.

The people who filed claims with Brennan contend they suffered because of City Hall's policy of political favoritism.
Archie High, a laborer in the city's Water Management Department, filed a claim in September for $100,000, alleging that he was passed over twice for promotions because he lacked clout.

"They asked me who my clout was. I said I've got experience. I don't need clout," said High, who has been with the city for 33 years. "They said, 'Yes you do.'

"I shouldn't have to go out there and knock on doors for some politician to get a job."
Despite the influx of last-minute claims, Shakman said he thinks far fewer people filed with Brennan than were actually harmed by political hiring. Shakman believes many people didn't file because they weren't aware they had been victims of a rigged hiring process. In addition, some current city workers were afraid they would face retaliation by their bosses if they filed claims, he said.

Shakman said his agreement with the city prohibits such retaliation, but "people are not sure how much reliance they can place on a court order."

(Response) Thank you very much to Chicago Tribune for publishing this atricle. Again, I am sure a proper investigation will never be undertaken. Every Chicago employee should be asked about their personal experience. A complete record should be made and never will. Mayor Daley will get off the hook again. Chicago will never understand Demoracy with the Daley "family" in power Patrick McDonough

October 1, 2007

Shakman Math Daley's treatment of Workers Lousy

I sure hope you op-ed out. If you do the math, you will get about 8-9,000.00 apiece as settlement. This is lousy for anyone that accepted the Shakman settlement. Years of phony promotions, cheated out of overtime, lower pensions. Read Fran Spielman's take, click below. This is a sad chapter for Chicago City Workers. Patrick McDonough.

1400 lay claim on $12 mil. City Hall fund

October 1, 2007
BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter
More than 1,400 people have staked claim to the $12 million fund created to compensate victims of City Hall’s rigged hiring system, a federal monitor said today.
“It tells me what everyone has known all along: Political patronage continued to run rampant” long after the Shakman decree banned political hiring and firing, said Ald. Joe Moore (49th).

“After being in city government for over 20 years, I shouldn’t be surprised. But, that’s a pretty significant number. Not all those claims will be legitimate. But, even if 10 percent have merit, it’s still a large number.”

Federal monitor Noelle Brennan disclosed the 1,443 figure and said that “hundreds” of those claims poured in at the end of last week. Friday was the deadline for those who claim they were bypassed for jobs and promotions in favor of applicants with clout.

“I’m not surprised” at the number of claims, she said.

The monitor and her staff will now review the content of each claim and make certain each includes facts and supporting documents necessary to make a final judgement. Additional information could be requested — both from the applicant and from the city.

The agreement establishes a $100,000 cap on individual damages. The awards will apply only to those who can prove they’ve been bypassed for city jobs and promotions since Jan. 1, 2000. Last year alone, 120,000 people applied for city jobs.

“Once the factual information for all the claims is in our office, we’ll have to start making financial decisions based on factors included in the consent decree,” Brennan said.

Last year, Mayor Daley’s former patronage chief was convicted of rigging city hiring and promotions to benefit pro-Daley armies of political workers. Former Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Al Sanchez is awaiting trial on similar charges.

In April, Daley agreed to create the $12 million fund as part of an out-of-court settlement that allows the city to get out from under the Shakman decree on Dec. 31, 2008, if it can prove substantial compliance at that time. The ban on political hiring and firing will be replaced by an executive order.

Earlier this year, Brennan told the Chicago Sun-Times that individual awards would be based on the strength of the claim, the level of evidence provided and the overall number of claimants. If 10 claims are filed about the same promotion, “economic damage has to be proportionate,” she said.

“If it’s a failure-to-hire claim, you’ll have to show you applied for a job. If it’s failure to promote, you’ll have to demonstrate . . . that the person selected over you was chosen for an improper reason. You’ll have to at least be able to tell us who got the job,” Brennan said.

She added, “I’m not gonna hold against anybody the fact that they’ve been involved in politics.”

Aldermen who have chafed under the monitor’s iron-fisted control over hiring since 2005 have also griped about her absolute power to dole out claims.

But, Brennan has a track record. She distributed $36 million to victims of sexual harassment at Mitsubishi and $10 million in a similar case against Dial.