Daley shakes up Transportation, Water Management departments
May 14, 2010
BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter
Mayor Daley on Friday once again shook up two city departments at the center of the Hired Truck and city hiring scandals.
When the music stopped in Daley's version of musical chairs, Acting Transportation Commissioner Tom Powers was the new commissioner of Water Management. Bobby Ware, Transportation's managing deputy, was the new Transportation commissioner.
And Water Management Commissioner John Spatz was the odd man out. He's expected to be demoted to first deputy.
Powers, Ware and Spatz did not return phone calls.
Ware, 47, is the son of Mitchell Ware, a former deputy police superintendent and former Circuit Court judge who co-founded Chicago's premier minority law firm.
Mitchell Ware's 1998 judicial appointment by then-state Supreme Court Justice Charles Freeman raised eyebrows because the IRS had $318,000 in liens against Ware for unpaid taxes dating back to 1981.
Daley has been under fire for a shortage of African-Americans in top management, particularly after the resignation of Office of Compliance Chief Anthony Boswell, the abrupt retirement of Fire Commissioner John Brooks and the firing of Deputy Water Management Commissioner Tom Talley.
The appointment of Bobby Ware, who is also a lawyer, should appease African-American aldermen. But, the leadership change is somewhat ill-timed. Transportation just kicked off its construction season with Phase Two of the Wacker Drive Drive reconstruction project.
Powers, 42, has been with the department since 1996, spending four years as first deputy and one as acting commissioner. He was never promoted to the permanent job because of the conflict posed by the fact that his brothers work for engineering companies that do business with CDOT. Apparently, no such conflict exists in the Department of Water Management.
Spatz has a background in chemical engineering and used it to focus heavily on water quality. But, Daley views him as a weak manager, sources said.
Spatz was forced to fire Talley after Inspector General Joe Ferguson accused the $127,824-a-year deputy of dispatching city crews to do drain work on private property.
And Spatz has managed to entice just 5,000 homeowners along Chicago's Bungalow Belt to make the switch to water meters instead of paying a flat fee for unlimited use.
Only 1,000 meters have been installed so far, in spite of Daley's seven-year guarantee that water bills during that period will be no higher than they would otherwise have been when the water spigot was flowing freely.
Three years into a $39 million contract, automatic meter readers have now been installed on 140,000 of 162,000 existing meters that measure water usage in tall buildings, businesses and newer homes.
Only after automatic meter readers are up and running can Chicago can begin to cut off the free water spigot by installing meters in the 350,000 households without them.
For months, there has been speculation that Daley may be laying the groundwork to privatize all or parts of Chicago's water system. Some insiders believe Powers may have marching orders to move more aggressively toward that end.
But, top mayoral aides insist that selling off the filtration plants is not in the works and has nothing to do with the changes.
Dave Donovan -- brother of Richard J. Daley's longtime patronage chief Tom Donovan -- is expected to serve as Ware's operations chief. Dave Donovan currently serves as a deputy commissioner in charge of trades for the Department of General Services.