David Hoffman must be doing something correct, because Daley is doing everything he can to undermine the office of the Chicago Inspector General. Daley, do you want ole Alex back again to attack your political enemies? The Alderman need to crack down on the corruption. Patrick McDonough.
]]>The Chicago City Sheep
September 7, 2007
Remember that newly emboldened, courageous and independent Chicago City Council? The one that emerged from the municipal election earlier this year, ready to show Mayor Richard Daley who’s boss? Well, forget it. The sheep — some old ewes and rams, some fledgling lambs — are bleating in near-perfect harmony with the mayor.
If you listened Wednesday, you could hear Daley above the barnyard stampede in which aldermen voted 43-6 to give him what he desires: an Office of Compliance that is separate from the city inspector general he can’t control.
Daley said his newly approved office “demonstrates the commitment to better manage government.” He said this with a straight face.
In truth, the 43-6 vote demonstrates the City Council’s commitment to (a) giving the mayor what he wants, lest he start punishing aldermen who don’t play along, and (b) having someone other than Inspector General David Hoffman police the illicit exercise of clout at City Hall.
Context is everything: Team Daley wants U.S. District Judge Wayne Andersen to name anyone but Hoffman to monitor city adherence to a court settlement that prohibits most political hiring and promotions.
City attorneys spent years telling Andersen that City Hall was a clout-free zone — until the conviction of former Daley patronage chief Robert Sorich and three other former officials made all those years of attorneys’ claims look like poorly crafted lies.
Any reasonable person would conclude from that tawdry history that whoever monitors City Hall in the future shouldn’t be from City Hall. But this Office of Compliance is from City Hall. “I don’t believe the federal judge is going to approve this,” Ald. Robert Fioretti (2nd) said Wednesday, and we all can hope he’s correct.
If and when Andersen assigns the monitoring job to the inspector general, he could use as his reasoning the statement of Ald. Joe Moore (49th) that Daley’s new Office of Compliance “undermines whatever public confidence is left in the ability of this city government to police itself in respect to hiring.”
Fioretti, Moore and four other aldermen — Toni Preckwinkle (4th), Leslie Hairston (5th), Sandi Jackson (7th) and Ricardo Munoz (22nd) — stood alone against Daley’s 43 timid sheep. Good for them.
Aldermen, of course, share Daley’s interest in having City Hall monitor itself. Think about all those departments, all those offices, all those sinecures that for eons have asked “How high?” when an alderman says “Jump.” Why would the sheep want someone as independent as Hoffman asking questions about how all those official conduits of clout hire and promote workers?
Sure, some aldermen will buck the mayor on an occasional safe issue. (Think “big-box” ordinance, with unions threatening to unseat aldermen who supported the mayor.)
But when there’s no outside pressure and the mayor needs something — something as crucial as a fig leaf over City Hall’s frantic desire to keep the inspector general’s office at bay — that’s when the sheep paw the line and say “Baaa.”
Copyright © 2007, Chicago Tribune