Yet Again, Mayor Daley's Departments in the News

I am happy to report, many Chicago Department of Water Management and Streets and Sanitation are keeping the Chicago Tribune reporters, Laurie Cohen and Todd Lighty fully informed of the current political climate in Chicago. Please make sure you read this atricle, click here:,1,7753674.story?coll=chi-news-hed I hope all Chicago City Workers keep their nose to the grindstone and keep informing the Newspapers until we have a safe and secure workplace with no more retatliation. Way to go Ramond C. On the Front page of the Chicago Tribune!! Nice picture. Patrick McDonough.


Election Day work absences fall in city
By Laurie Cohen and Todd Lighty
Tribune staff reporters
Published May 7, 2007
As federal investigations into City Hall cause fundamental shifts in politics and hiring in Chicago, thousands of city workers decided to show up for work on Election Day in February rather than get out the vote.
Four years ago, more than one of every three workers in those city departments targeted by prosecutors were absent from their jobs on Election Day, according to newly released city records analyzed by the Tribune.
City workers clocked in on Election Day
May 7, 2007
But on Feb. 27, the absentee rate plummeted by almost half, to 18 percent from 34 percent.
City Hall long has contended that workers took off voluntarily on Election Day for their own political reasons. But the new figures show that pressure to do political work has faded under federal scrutiny, suggesting that many workers formerly campaigned to boost their job prospects.
“I am not doing it [any]more,” said Ramon Caraballo, a laborer in the Water Management Department who said he took off on Election Day four years ago to work for Ald. William J. P. Banks (36th), a Daley supporter. “Before, they could do favors for you,” but now “there is nothing you can get out of it.”
City officials said this week that they could not explain the dramatic drop in absenteeism. “We have no insight of why that has occurred,” said Brian Steele, a city spokesman. “The decision to be at work or away from the office is the personal decision of the employee and not something we are concerned with.”
Michael Shakman, a Chicago attorney who has fought political hiring, said the big drop in absenteeism shows that the mayor’s lieutenants were told not to get out the troops on Election Day. “It’s obvious that there was an old-style political patronage operation under way in 2003, and it’s obvious that something has changed,” Shakman said.
Some workers are still taking time off to campaign, records indicate. Though far fewer employees missed work this Election Day than in 2003, the number of absences still exceeded the average for February.
The Feb. 27 election was the first municipal election since federal agents swept into city offices in spring of 2005, seizing personnel files and a computer hard drive with a list of politically connected job-seekers. Prosecutors later alleged that City Hall officials handed out jobs, promotions and overtime work to those who campaigned for Daley and his allies.
The mayor’s former patronage chief, Robert Sorich, was convicted for his role in a scheme to rig interviews and falsify documents. Daley’s former Streets and Sanitation commissioner, Al Sanchez, faces similar charges.
Before the federal criminal probe, Daley and his aides insisted that the city had never violated a decades-old civil court decree banning most political hiring. The mayor has since pledged to revamp the personnel system and agreed to pay up to $12 million to people who lost out on jobs or promotions in favor of clout-heavy applicants.
The scrutiny on political hiring led to a “dramatic decrease” in the number of city workers who signed on for the February election, said Jerry Morrison, executive director of the state council of the Service Employees International Union. The SEIU worked to weaken the mayor’s grip on the City Council by opposing incumbent aldermen in many of the city’s 50 wards.
Daley easily won re-election in February, but three aldermen were defeated and 11 others were forced to face runoffs last month. Morrison said the lack of city campaign workers had an impact but probably mattered less than labor’s money, organization and manpower.
In past campaigns, city employees spent weekends and evenings before an election ringing doorbells and passing out fliers and took off on Election Day to staff polling places. Prosecutors focused on five departments — Streets and Sanitation, Water Management, Transportation, Aviation and General Services — in which the mayor’s office allegedly dictated that jobs and promotions be awarded to political workers.
In those departments, 3,555 workers, or 34 percent of the total 10,356, missed work on Feb. 25, 2003, the day of that year’s municipal election, according to records obtained under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act. The number covers absences for all reasons, including vacation and sick leave. The monthly Chicago Reporter previously found that many city workers were absent on Election Day 2003.
City employees typically get 13 to 25 vacation days a year and one personal day. Excluding Election Day, an average of 10 percent of the work force in those departments was absent on weekdays in February 2003 and 2007.
In Streets and Sanitation, for example, almost 36 percent of all employees were not at work on Election Day in 2003. Weekday absences, excluding Election Day, averaged 9 percent that month.
For all five departments, Election Day 2003 was one of the leading days for workers to not be hauling garbage, fixing water main leaks and filling potholes. The day ranked in the top five for days off during the prior year.
More Streets and Sanitation workers took off on Feb.25, 2003 — 1,372 — than on the days after Thanksgiving, the 4th of July and Christmas in 2002. Election Day ranked second for absences only to March 19, 2002, the day of the state primary election. Absences were third-highest on Nov. 5, 2002, the day of the general election.
James Sprandel, a truck driver who retired from Streets and Sanitation in 2004, said that on Election Day employees could use a personal or vacation day, or just take the day off with no pay. He said workers were almost guaranteed to make up the lost money in overtime.
Election Day work absences fall in city
By Laurie Cohen and Todd Lighty
Tribune staff reporters
Published May 7, 2007
Sprandel said the wards would be staffed with skeleton crews on Election Day. “Garbage, we could take care of that some other time,” he said. “We had to take care of the votes.”
Sprandel once belonged to a political group led by Daniel Katalinic, a former Streets and Sanitation official. Katalinic and Donald Tomczak, the former No. 2 in the water department who had his own political army, were sent to prison for their roles in the hiring scheme.
City workers clocked in on Election Day
May 7, 2007
This year, the climate in the five departments appeared to be less friendly toward politics. Two weeks before the election, the Inspector General’s office accused a city supervisor of collecting nominating signatures for Daley’s re-election campaign on city time and urged employees to report attempts to pressure them to do political work. The supervisor was found not guilty last month by a judge.
A memo sent to water department workers before the election stated that “no employees can be forced to participate in a political campaign, including donations of time and money.”
There were far fewer absences on Election Day this year, records show. A total of 1,566 workers in the five departments, or 18 percent of the total, missed work on Feb. 27, 2007.
In Streets and Sanitation, 677 workers, or 20 percent, took off on Election Day 2007. Unlike in 2003, employees were more likely to miss work on the day after Thanksgiving and the day after Christmas in 2006.
For the other four departments targeted in the federal investigation, this year’s Election Day did not even rank in the top five for days missed the prior year.
A truck driver in Streets and Sanitation, who declined to be identified, said he did political work in 2003 but not this year. Supervisors and even aldermen did not bother to ask city workers to campaign, he said.
“I came in to work on Election Day this year, and looked around and said, ‘Hey, everybody’s here.’ Everybody’s afraid,” the driver said.

5 Replies to “Yet Again, Mayor Daley's Departments in the News”

  1. And the Lord said, “LET THERE BE LIGHT!”, and there was light…….

  2. So Patrick how do you spend your vacation time? Attending Human Resources Board Hearing and then miss stating the facts here? (Response). I use my vacation time to help those in trouble with the Chicago Justice System. Many Chicago City Workers are accused of things they never committed. Most guys are so screwed up after getting fired they just take their pension and quit. The system needs repair.

  3. I’m sure Patrick meant to type “the Chicago IN-justice System”.

    As for all of the sham ‘hearings’, conducted by all of the sham ‘public servants’ and their sham ‘public service employees’, where the outcomes are ALWAYS decided BEFORE the ‘hearings’ are held, your bullshit comments show inly how well you know the phony natures of same.

    When the crooks dominate all three branches of government, executive, legislative and judicial, honest government is the rare exception, not the rule.

    The truly amazing thing about these events is that it’s taken 20+ years for the Tribune to allow this shit to be reported at all, and this only because of the meager progress made by the Republican controlled Fed monkeys of the DOJ.

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