Chicago Private Tow Companies get off easier than this City Worker
Pease read Mark Brown's article on the punishment of a Chicago City Worker. As a Chicago City Worker, I will explain what really happened. A politician and candidate for Cook Country States Attorney parked her car illegally. She was at a political event. She is a lawyer and knows the law does not provide for the poor and unprotected. She got her car towed. Her political friends that protect each other, win or lose made the call for her car. The tow was a "mistake" because she is more important than the average taxpayer. The call was made to high ranking political city employees that know they need to break the rules because of the possible political backlash if they refuse a favor. The tow truck driver is blamed. He panics because of the impending punishment, and needing to make a payment on his bills he is behind on, tries to get some help from someone that just got a big favor. Remember when you were a child and got in trouble, you sometimes get in more trouble trying to get out of trouble. Well Pete Paglivco has no power and realized the power of Anita Alvarez and his bosses. Just to make the matters worse, they are going to attack Pete with the Chicago Inspector General. The Inspector General hoping to make a good impression on the inevitable new States Attorney should make a hell of an example of Pete Pagliuco. And the politicians will not need to remind the new States Attorney of the Chicago Political Culture. It is about the favors and privilege. And Mark Brown could had gave them hell, but gave Anita an out. Inspect the favors given to Anita, Mr. Hoffman!!! Patrick McDonough
Tow driver sheds light on clout He compounded his own error, but tale shows how city works February 27, 2008 BY MARK BROWN Sun-Times Columnist Pete Pagliuco, a city tow-truck driver, spotted a Buick SUV just before 8 a.m. on Dec. 12 that had been ticketed by police for illegally parking in a rush-hour tow zone at Clark and Armitage. He put it on the hook and took it to the pound. Unbeknownst to Pagliuco, the car belonged to Anita Alvarez, the Democratic nominee for Cook County state's attorney who at the time was just one of six candidates running in the primary. Before that day was done, Alvarez would get her car back at no charge and Pagliuco would be on his way to a costly 15-day suspension from work, later reduced to seven days. The story is much more complicated, but Pagliuco can't get past those essential elements. He doesn't think it's fair, which is why he complained to me. When you hear the whole story, you may agree with him or decide the outcome was entirely reasonable. Either way, you will have received another valuable lesson in how the City that Works works. Honest mistake? Pagliuco's mistake, as best I can tell, wasn't so much that he towed the wrong car as that he allowed the wrong car to get lost in the bureaucratic shuffle at the city's central auto pound -- a problem that may be familiar to other Chicago motorists. What might be less familiar to the average citizen is how far the city went to rectify the situation. You see, when Pagliuco delivered Alvarez's car to the pound that morning, he failed to make sure it had been properly inventoried before he parked it in the lot and headed back out for another tow. Pagliuco says it was an honest mistake resulting from a backup of cars waiting to be inventoried and the pressure he felt to return to the street to meet his daily quota of 10 tows -- an unwritten standard that the city denies but is nevertheless well known among its tow drivers. The city says Pagliuco's mistake was caused by him socializing at the pound instead of concentrating on business. The result was that when Alvarez emerged from a morning breakfast meeting, her car was gone, and the city had no record of it being towed. It would take nearly the entire work day for the city to discover its mistake. By then, after about eight hours of worrying and searching, Alvarez had contacted police to report the car stolen. That's why city officials say they apologized and gave her the car at no charge, which even Pagliuco concedes took place despite protestations from Alvarez that she would gladly pay and wanted no special treatment. She also later paid her parking ticket, so I'm casting no blame in her direction, and for that matter, neither is he. Alderman steps in In fact, there's no evidence Streets and San officials were particularly concerned about Alvarez's plight at all until they received a call about 3 p.m. from Ald. Tom Allen (38th), one of her opponents. Alvarez had run into Allen at a campaign event and mentioned her missing auto. He tried to use his contacts to help. The story of looking for Alvarez's car was laid out in a two-page memo prepared that day by Steve Sorfleet, acting deputy commissioner of Streets and Sanitation, apparently in anticipation of disciplining Pagliuco. Sorfleet details how he first checked the car's license and VIN in the city computer system, then started calling the various auto pounds. He contacted the chief equipment dispatcher and asked him to check for any record of a request to tow the vehicle, then called Chief Auto Pound Supervisor John Rachmaciej to make inquiries at the central pound. Finally, he ordered Rachmaciej and acting assistant general superintendent Ron Calderone to go to the location where the car was last seen to determine if it had been relocated. It was only then that Sorfleet received a call from the chief equipment dispatcher informing him the vehicle had been found at the pound during the afternoon shift change by someone performing their regularly scheduled yard inventory. Sorfleet said he instructed the pound supervisor not to charge Alvarez for the tow and to have a supervisor escort her to her car. He sent Rachmaciej to personally apologize. Nice treatment, if you can get it I keep remembering how others have reported less courteous treatment at the pound. When he contacted me, unfortunately, Pagliuco left out one important part of the story: how he later went to Alvarez's River Forest home and left a restaurant gift card with her baby-sitter along with a request to intervene with his supervisors about the suspension. Alvarez made him take the card back. Now that Pagliuco has heated up the incident again, the department has asked the inspector general to investigate. I hope they go easy on him. I don't want the lesson to be: Never call the newspapers.