The Honorable Dorothy Brown and Judge Anthony L. Burrell
Today I had the honor to talk to Dorothy Brown; she has decided to run for Cook County Board President. ABC 7 News had the exclusive last night. Chicago Clout had to wait a few more hours. I agreed to assist Cook County Clerk Dorothy Brown in media needs. Photo by Patrick McDonough/Chicago Clout
Kenny Construction fixes Mayor Daley's Chicago Manure Pipes
The City of Chicago is making the way for layoffs. The City of Chicago Department of Water Management over the last few decades has been run by goons seeking to privatize the department. I guess if I was a manager of the City of Chicago, Shakman violations were exposed, hiring and promotions were watched, and I had a gambling problem, the best bet to hustle a few bucks would be by privatizing. If I had Olympic dreams for Chicago, wanted to make my friends millions of dollars, I know I would need to hustle lots of money. Let's face the facts, you cannot hustle city workers, but you can get political donations from a John McDonough. Enjoy this picture of Mayor Daley's pals Kenny Construction. These workers are clearly loafing and prove my theory Chicago City Workers work hard every day. If these were City Workers, they could get fired. Wake up Chicago Taxpayers, Mayor Daley is giving you the ointment. We need every worker Mayor Daley wants to layoff. How can you fix the budget if you are in Jordan. Get home and get to work now! This photo was taken at McLean and Humboldt Blvd. by Patrick McDonough. Parting shot, if you privatize Chicago, Daley and his goons will pick the last bit of meat off the bone.
Made in America, Chicago Teamsters support their Country and Chicago.
On June 23, 2009, I had the pleasure of watching an historic vote; Chicago Teamsters turned down Mayor Daley proposed concessions for Chicago City Teamsters. (Chicago Drivers) I support this Union whole heartedly! Chicago Teamsters do not get paid enough for their hard work and dedication to Chicago Taxpayers. Teamsters haul hazardous waste carefully and safely in Chicago everyday! Working for the City of Chicago is not a glamorous job, caution is job one! I do not think the Teamsters made enough money on the last contract, why take more money away from them? Mayor Daley is farting around in Jordan right now as Chicago Union workers fight and struggle to put food on the table. I wish to thank Chicago's number one news station ABC 7 for showing up and listening to the "little guy". ABC 7 News is the last news station in Chicago that uses its own employees to gather all the video footage. ABC 7 news also has the best story tellers in the news business. I want to give special thanks to all my City of Chicago Department of Water Management friends and my Union pals at Teamsters 726. Take your time like the Teamsters Union, read the fine print, do not give in. Many of the people that face layoffs are woman and minorities that are finally getting a chance thanks to Shakman Decree enforcement. Enjoy these pictures. Special thank to Bruce Randazzo, Angelo Fata, Charles Walker, both "Mayor Daleys", and Teamster's leader Vince Tenuto. Special thanks to Des Plaines Mayor Marty Moylan that sent his entire police force to provide traffic services! (wink, wink) Enjoy these photos by Patrick McDonough
No Games Chicago Marches Forward Tonight with a great Executive Meeting
June 22, 2009 Tom Tresser is one of the leaders of No Games Chicago. I saw Tom and a group of No Game supporters on ABC 7 News just a few days ago. I could not believe Tom was on the news, in Switzerland, and pushing the agenda for No Games Chicago. This was a very brilliant move and I was a bit envious of the shear brilliance of the tactic. We enjoyed a question and answer period tonight, a couple of videos and pictures of the trip to Switzerland. When Ben Bradley of ABC 7 interviewed Tom, it was a golden moment Mayor Daley will never forget. I hope everyone helps No Games Chicago move along the path of success, they are doing a great service to all Chicago Taxpayers. Tonight, I enjoyed fellow supporters including Rachel Goodstein a friend of mine and the original pain in Mayor Daley's rear-end. I look forward to an upcoming T.V. show with No Games soon. I am also proud of helping bring No Games to your attention a long time ago, thanks to Charles Walker. Photo by Patrick McDonough
Mayor Daley orders Unions to break the contract, Chicago Unions cave-in
June 20, 2009 Summit construction has been getting around the State and the City of Chicago like flies on crap. I first saw their song and dance on Cicero Avenue in the North side of Chicago. It seems companies pop up out of nowhere and then they are everywhere in Chicago. I was not impressed with this company, they are amateur and unprofessional in my opinion. Today this company was installing 8" water ductile main and precast basins on the corner of Haddon and Marshfield. The company had some old dude around, an Indian Engineer(?), and about three of four laborers of Hispanic origin. They had some difficulty understanding me. I think the guy operating the cheap backhoe was a laborer. This is Saturday and I hope these guys were making time and one half, I hope they are following all Union rules. Chicago City Workers are told to sacrifice and starve, Mayor Daley's private companies work the overtime. I got a call from the boss today and was offered some overtime. He told me I am on the list. I hope that list shows up in Federal Court, I was told there is a "Courtesy List". Amazing, it has been months and I finally get an O.T. call at 9:51 p.m. on Saturday night, and now there is an OVERTIME LIST! I think I am on a list, but not the acting up list, the clout list, the holiday list, the old buddy and pal list, and the double time list. I am not on the Investigator List, the pay bribe list, and the secret list. I just want to make everyone aware of the cave-in tactics of the Chicago Unions, workers will pay and lose, Business Managers and Agents will not. Daley and his pals own your pension money and you will sacrifice and lose. Whatever you give up will not be returned. I cannot wait to see the overtime list when workers get comp-time instead of overtime; time for some overtime pigs to head back to penny slots or quit gambling! Photo by Patrick McDonough
Fran Spielman is honored again by Chicago Clout by exposing Fraud
Chicago Clout is a website that attempts to get at a truth. After working for the City of Chicago for a long time, you see many things that are not right. Many of the people trying to change things are retaliated against, fired, and demoted. Many employees are unsung heroes that go out of their way to make life better for residents. Many employees get so jaded they become another person, stealing, lying and cheating. Chicago City Workers also suffer from many personal issues which include alcoholism, drug use, and gambling problems. I see it every day and I do pray for all those afflicted. Watching time after time connected people taking and abusing the system, does cause depression in some employees. I sometimes wonder how Fran Spielman keeps it all together when handed lie after lie from Mayor Daley and his staff. Make no mistake, Fran Spielman has many friends in the City, she gets the inside scoop and shares the stories unselfishly. I hope all City workers read Fran's take on Mayor Daley and his family taking advantage of the taxpayers time and time again. A former boss like Conrad Black makes one understand the realities working under goony Mayor Daley is really like. Again, Fran Spielman is the best of the best. Enjoy her story below. Patrick McDonough
Daley's tale hard to take
ANALYSIS | Mayor says he was uninformed, ignored in Vanecko deal -- that seems unlikely
June 16, 2009
BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporterfirstname.lastname@example.org
Mayor Daley wants Chicagoans to believe he knew nothing about his nephew's risky real estate venture with $68 million worth of city employee pension funds until the Chicago Sun-Times blew the whistle nearly two years ago.
He wants us to believe that, the minute he did find out, he ordered his nephew Robert Vanecko to drop out of the deal with developer Allison Davis, only to be ignored.
Mayor Daley reads a statement on Thursday denying he knew about his nephew's pension fund deal.
If voters are having trouble swallowing the mayor's story, it's for good reason:
HISTORY: In 1991, then-City Treasurer Miriam Santos accused Daley's top political operatives of pressuring her to grease deals with politically-connected pension fund investors. Santos went public with her behind-the-scenes refusal to invest $5 million in pension funds in a South Loop hotel developed by Paul Stepan, Daley's chief fund-raiser.
The mayor tried to get even by persuading the Legislature to remove Santos from two pension fund boards, only to have then-Gov. Jim Edgar veto the bill. Santos later plead guilty to a mail fraud charge stemming from a 1998 race for attorney general. But that doesn't mean she was wrong about the games being played with pension funds.
FAMILY PENSION FUND TIES:If Daley had no interest in directing pension fund investments, why did he appoint John Briatta, John Daley's brother-in-law, as a trustee of the Municipal Employees Pension Fund during the 1990s? Briatta had no financial expertise. He later went to prison for taking bribes in the Hired Truck program, but not before voting for Vanecko's pension deal.
OTHER PENSION BOARD MEMBERS: How could Daley not have known about his nephew's pension fund deal when members of the mayor's Cabinet sit on the boards that made the risky investment? It's conceivable that then-Chief Financial Officer Dana Levenson, then-City Treasurer Judy Rice and current City Comptroller Steve Lux did not get their marching orders directly from the mayor, who insists on having "buffers." But wouldn't they have sought direction from the mayor's staff? And if Vanecko did ignore his uncle's directive to get out, why didn't Daley ask those same Cabinet members to nix the deal?
FAMILY FEEDING FRENZY:The mayor has allowed his brother Michael's law firm to corner the market on city zoning business. He's allowed his brother, John, to sell insurance to city contractors. William Daley Jr., another mayoral nephew, works for Morgan Stanley, the financial conglomerate whose infrastructure group leased Chicago's parking meters and downtown garages. If the mayor believes it's OK for some family members to cash in on city deals, why would he draw the line at Vanecko?
LEASE DEAL: If Daley truly believes that "perception is everything" -- and that the perception was "rules were broken and preferential treatment was given" to Vanecko -- why has the city paid nearly $500,000 in the last 15 months to lease space at a South Side industrial site owned by Vanecko and Davis, who bought the property with city pension money? Why was it a month-to-month arrangement that skirted the requirement for City Council approval of leases?
SAME NEPHEW: Robert Vanecko is the same Daley nephew who, along with the mayor's son Patrick, held a hidden ownership in a sewer cleaning company that won millions of dollars in no-bid contract extensions from City Hall. That deal is also under federal investigation. Vanecko and Patrick Daley have said they sold their investment in the company in late 2004.
After being embarrassed by the sewer deal, wouldn't the mayor have watched Vanecko's business dealings like a hawk?
SAME OLD SONG:Daley reads from the same script after every scandal -- whether it's Hired Truck, city hiring, minority contracting, Patrick Daley's sewer deal or the $1.25 million bailout loan from perennial city trucking contractor Michael Tadin that triggered the resignation of Ald. Patrick Huels (11th). Daley condemns the wrongdoing, denies he knew about it and cuts the offender off at the knees. The script is getting old.
Another City of Chicago Workers dies to to lack of safety on the South Side
The City of Chicago has been henpecked by me for years to encourage safety. Day after Day for years, I called and called requesting trench shoring and safety opening policies. I am happy to report the City of Chicago Department of Water Management has improved; the wait to full compliance is a long and painful journey. I am surprised the Unions have not been more diligent in the safety concerns of the members. Today, a tragic and painful reminder has reared its ugly head, a Chicago Park District Worker died. (Mann Park) It seems the worker fell head first into an opening and drowned; I cannot imagine a more tragic death. I need to say it again, the people that work for the City of Chicago must understand, work safe, period. I hope Mayor Daley takes time to visit this poor man's family and give them comfort. If someone has information on Gene's family forward it to me so we can get a fund going. I hope everyone understands the stress Chicago workers face and realize Chicago Workers put their lives on the line every day. Worry about having a job tomorrow weighs heavy on all Chicago City Employees. Rest in Peace brother. Patrick McDonough P.S. I hope the buddy system was in place to help save this man's life, I heard it was not!
Clout Heavy Department of Water Management Central District Boys take North District Overtime
The City of Chicago Department of Water Management sent a well connected crew from the Central District into the North District to take needed overtime from the North District Valve Truck Crew. These men also forgot to notify the Leak Desk of their actions which caused a major water outage in the North District. Thank God Patrick McDonough took a stop from his break to find these guys and restore service to all those customers on Milwaukee Avenue. When these men were asked what they were doing they refused to communicate with Mr. McDonough of the Department of Water Management. They must not want the names of Michael Burns and Pete "O.T." Russo brought out as sneaking around taking other people's overtime. I hope when an emergency arises and people are drinking filthy water in the future, the Central District can send something besides two mutes. I hope the Central Dispatch forwards my complaint to Commissioner Spatz. I also hope these guys get some barricades and safety cones; they almost got killed several times. The 11th Ward and the 19th Ward goons sure get their guys O.T. Story by Patrick McDonough. P.S. those private contractors sure appreciate all the help!
"Don't worry I called my guy Pat Kenny on Mayor Daley's 9th Floor"
One of the more difficult jobs for the City of Chicago requires expertise, skill, and great customer relations, this position is the Investigator. The Investigator is front line for the Chicago Department of Water Management requiring years of experience and great customer service skills to do the job with integrity. The position needs to be filled with people that reflect the best Chicago has to offer. Chicago taxpayers demand honesty and clean drinking water. A couple of days ago, I went to the thirty five hundred block of north Nagle, the leak desk said it was an emergency. Upon arrival, our crew was told about this plumbing company's connections with the City of Chicago and a certain Building Department employee. They said they never needed us except they could not get a hold of Pat Kenny at the 9th floor the night before. John Virgilio a foreman for Action Plumbing said, Pam Davis, the owner of Action Plumbing and license holder made repairs to the neighbor's water service. I noticed the ditch was lower than five foot and had no shoring. I noticed the water service was in raw sewage. The building owner said the sewer was repaired three years ago and needed to be repaired again. The owner also said Fred Gibson was also on the site. (a Drain Inspector?) I guess you can tell by this picture the company has no business working in a Chicago street. No dump truck and a cheap backhoe. The Plumbing Company had no business doing work outside the scope of the permit, but this is Chicago and they have Pat Kenny on the 9th Floor of City Hall. If they had God and the Daley family they would also have free sewer repairs. It turned out the Chicago Water Department did the right thing and Water Quality shut down the job, the North District Department of Water Management responded to the job and installed a new tap and repaired the service. Some Investigators do not see it that way; they just smile, wink, and move on! I hope Chicago is ready for more of this; Daley is removing the front line to safe drinking water. The Water Department needs to pay Robert Vanecko and DV Urban Realty Partners rent and lots of it. I hope when you drink Chicago Water after the layoffs you trust these contractors from outside Chicago with your water, they are not drinking it, no $hit! And when the Chicago City Workers pull their pension to survive, they will reduce the pension liability, Daley is smart, but evil. Photo by Patrick McDonough
Privatization is Mayor Daley's answer for Chicago City Workers "Good Night"
Mayor Daley and Alderman Mell have close friends with Christy Webber's Landscaping. Show them this picture I took today as Mayor Daley prepares to fire and layoff hardworking City Workers. These two sleepy heads have a great boss, the Chicago Taxpayers. Please tell Christy the guys on Ashland were having a nice siesta also! Photo by Patrick McDonough
Chicago Clout Cook County Assessor Race Video with Russ Stewart
2010 "BATTLE OF TITANS":
HOULIHAN VS. BERRIOS
ANALYSIS & OPINION BY RUSS STEWART
It's a prospective "Battle of Titans." It's the past versus the future. It's the 19th Ward Irish versus Chicago Hispanics. It's Hynes versus Madigan.
And it's Round Three in the blood feud between Cook County Assessor Jim Houlihan and Board of Review Commissioner Joe Berrios.
According to party sources, Berrios, who is also the county Democratic chairman, 31st Ward Democratic committeeman, and arguably the most powerful Hispanic in Chicago politics, is seriously contemplating a primary challenge to Houlihan in 2010.
Houlihan is a protégé of Tom Hynes, the former assessor and 19th Ward boss. Berrios is a close ally of Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan, the state Democratic chairman and 13th Ward committeeman. Both Hynes and Madigan are working assiduously to elevate their legacies - state Comptroller Dan Hynes and state Attorney General Lisa Madigan - to higher office in 2010
The Board of Review, formerly known as the Board of Tax Appeals, is empowered to consider complaints from commercial and residential property owners contesting assessed valuations, which are set by the assessor's office. Three commissioners are elected, each from a district encompassing a third of Cook County: Berrios from the Northwest Side 2nd District, Larry Rogers from the black-majority South Side 3rd District, and Brendan Houlihan from the suburban 1st District. All are Democrats.
Round One, in 2006, went to the assessor, who stealthily backed Democrat Brendan Houlihan (no relation) against Republican incumbent Maureen Murphy, who was Berrios' ally on the Board. With Murphy's vote, Berrios was chairman, controlled hiring, and set the agenda. In an upset, Murphy lost by 14,076 votes (51.4 percent), in a turnout of 476,378. Brendan Houlihan then promptly allied himself with Rogers, ousting Berrios as chairman and demoting his staff.
Round Two, in 2008, went to Berrios, who was challenged in the primary by Jay Paul Deratany, a liberal Lakefront lawyer who blasted county "corruption," tied Berrios to Todd Stroger, and tried to piggyback on the Barack Obama wave. Berrios, with huge margins in the Hispanic wards, triumphed by 153,053-107,889 (58.6 percent). The assessor donated $305,000 to Deratany's campaign, which spent $861,938. To defend his job, Berrios spent $226,312.
Round Three is the 2010 primary. According to recent financial disclosures, Houlihan has $545,168 in his campaign fund, and Berrios has $735,233 in FOUR accounts. Since Berrios was re-elected to a four-year term in 2008, he is now in a win-win-win situation: He has the money, he doesn't have to give up his Board post, and he will burst onto the citywide scene, emerging as the Great Hispanic Hope. Plus, with Madigan's backing, Berrios will get s share of the Southwest Side white vote.
If Berrios loses, he will be well-positioned for a future city or county race, having eclipsed his Hispanic rivals, U.S. Representative Luis Gutierrez (D-4) and city clerk Miguel del Valle, in visibility; if he wins, he'll be able to raise $1 million-plus, and could be mayor.
There is a possibility that Houlihan could opt to run for Cook County Board president, which would clear a path for Berrios. But that seems unlikely, now that County Commissioner Forrest Claypool and Clerk of Circuit Court Dorothy Brown have emerged as the principal contenders for Todd Stroger's job. Should Houlihan enter the fray, he would fracture the white vote and insure Brown's nomination.
Only in a four-way race - Claypool-Houlihan-Brown-Stroger - would the assessor have a chance. If voters want "change" in 2010, they will elect an outsider like Claypool or Brown, not an obscure insider like Houlihan.
The assessor's task is to assign a market value to the county's 1.8 million parcels, calculate the assessed valuation, factor in spending by local government units, and then issue bi-annual tax bills. The office yearly reassesses 600,000 parcels, based on appraisals and sales. But the critical function -- which is why the assessor is known as the Democratic Machine's "breadbasket" - is to internally handle appeals after notices of proposed assessed valuations are mailed in early January.
Then, commercial and industrial property owners engage their clout-heavy lawyers, submit a contrary appraisal, and get their assessed valuation slashed, saving hundreds of thousands of dollars. And, thereafter, they and their attorneys make the appropriate contribution.
Since the assessor's office was created in 1932, only six men have held the job, the most enduring being John Clark (1934-54), P.J. Cullerton (1958-74), and Hynes (1978-97). In 1974, enmeshed in scandal, Cullerton, from the Northwest Side 38th Ward, successfully passed the office on to his protégé, Tom Tully, who withstood a vigorous challenge from Ed Vrdolyak. But Tully retired after just one term, and Hynes, then the Illinois Senate president, with unified South Side support, mustered enough votes to edge Northwest Sider Ted Lechowicz at slatemaking.
"There's no way the 19th Ward will ever give up that job" of assessor, said one Democratic politician, who noted that Tom Dart, the county sheriff, comes from that ward, as did former Sheriff (1990-2006) Mike Sheahan. "It's all about Danny," added the politician, referring to Dan Hynes. Controlling the assessor's job, he said, enables Hynes' ward organization to raise money, and the sheriff's job enables them to field precinct workers. "They'll hang on" to those posts "until Danny is governor or senator."
Tom Hynes, it should be remembered, was one of the few Chicago committeemen to back Rich Daley for mayor in 1983. They served in the state senate together, and are ancient allies. The mayor will surely intervene to save Houlihan, as he did in 1998, when he pressured Alderman Bill Banks (36th) not to mount a primary challenge.
But some Democratic insiders think that Madigan is simply using a Berrios candidacy as a bargaining chip to insure Tom Hynes' support of Lisa Madigan for governor. In other words, Houlihan gets a free pass, Tom backs Lisa, and Mike supports Dan for attorney general. But the opposite may be true: Berrios would energize Hispanic voters, spur a huge turnout, run in tandem with Lisa on a "change" platform, and make Hynes focus his money and workers on salvaging Houlihan and Dan Hynes, ignoring the governor's race.
* Houlihan, age 66, born in the 19th Ward, has had a curious odyssey in Chicago politics since the 1970s: He was an independent-minded Lakefront state representative, but lost his seat in the 1978 primary. He was an aide to Mayor Harold Washington. And he then returned to his far Southwest Side 19th Ward roots, and became deputy assessor in Tom Hynes' office. When Hynes resigned in March 1997, the county board, at Hynes' behest, chose Houlihan as his replacement.
Houlihan's advocacy of property tax caps, which limit residential assessment increases to seven percent a year for three years, reached fruition in 2004, when it passed the legislature. It ranks as his major accomplishment. But it is now being phased out, and Houlihan is searching for alternatives to future hikes, such as raiding "excess" TIF funds or using a portion of the one percent sales tax hike to establish a "tax relief" fund to subsidize distressed owners.
But real estate, since 2006, has decreased in value, not increased. And voters, already besieged by increases in the county sales tax and possibly the state income tax, are not going to tolerate paying higher property taxes when their homes' value is plummeting. Only one-third of the county is reassessed annually, which means owners will be taxed on 2007 and 2008 values through 2010 and 2011. And, since home sales have diminished to a trickle, there is scant evidence to support a lessened value.
Last month, Houlihan promised that he would lower suburban property tax assessments by 4-15 percent, effective in 2010.
The second installment of the 2008 property tax bills will be mailed in September and due in October. Expect substantial increases. Anticipate a palpable uproar. Envision a plethora of finger-pointing and scapegoating, as politicians try to pin the blame elsewhere. And, unless Houlihan has a plan or program in place to reduce property taxes commensurate with reduced property values, he is a tempting scapegoat.
But much depends on how Berrios, age 57, packages himself. The Board of Review has the power to arbitrarily cut assessed commercial valuations, based on such criterion as vacancies, business losses, or obsolescence. Berrios raises his money from the businesses and their lawyers who appear before him. It's not pay-to-play; it's play-first-and-then-pay - just like Houlihan.
To term Berrios a "reformer" is like calling George Bush loveable. If Berrios wins, it just means the 19th Ward boss is out, and the Hispanic boss is in. Berrios does not want to change how the assessor's office works; he just wants to make it work for him.
Voters are, however, gullible. Here's my prediction: The next assessor will be the guy who spends $2-3 million on media ads, sternly promising to "reduce" property taxes.
E-mail Russ@russstewart.com or visit his website at www.russstewart.com.
David Hoffman and the new improved OIG Office of the Inspector General get a Gold Star
I was overjoyed by the outstanding Meter report by the O.I.G. Please read the report from the all new Office of the Inspector General. This report is in the extended entry. You might need a pdf. Adobe reader to enjoy. Nice job Mr. David Hoffman and his entire staff. Reports like this give credibility that was missing in the prior Administration. The City of Chicago Taxpayers are been well served by the all new and professional Chicago Office of the Inspector General. I think it is time Chicago Taxpayers rise to the occasion and double the O.I.G. budget. I have more on the meters soon; it involves an Alderman's son. Patrick McDonough
Layoff Rumors for City of Chicago Employees Spreading
During difficult times, rumors are abounding. Many City of Chicago employees are concerned about the possibility of no work in the future. I want everyone to sit back and relax, we have our eyes everywhere. I think the Daley Administration should stop using layoffs to further their agenda, it is immoral. I am asking all employees that have not received any benefit from the Shakman settlement to make sure they get their legal papers into us for review. Protect your rights. As soon as I have some facts on the personnel adjustments and/or any layoffs, I will let you know. We are also going to watch layoffs that might impede workers rights and equal treatment. I also want those concerned about rumors; expect us to fight any layoff that interferes with a court order. The Daley budget crisis will not be an excuse to spit on city workers or destroy their families. I also want you city workers to keep updating Chicago Clout with all the addresses of any contractors working for the city, they are taking your work away, and prove Daley is loaded with money. I also suggest you take pictures of the contractor's workers and their cars. Please record license places and city stickers. Do not talk to anyone or interfere with their work! Thanks, Patrick McDonough.