Posted on July 6, 2010 by chicagocloutSpecial Music for Special People, Emery Joe Yost, Taste of Chicago Video 4
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Sanchez retrial day one in corrupt hiring case
July 8, 2010
BY STEFANO ESPOSITO Staff Reporter
Former city Streets and Sanitation Department Commissioner Al Sanchez spent years “pulling the strings” in a corrupt City Hall hiring system intended to reward his political foot soldiers, federal prosecutors told jurors today.
Many applicants without political connections didn’t stand a chance in a system that gave “good paying jobs” to the workers in the Hispanic Democratic Organization of which Sanchez was a leader, prosecutor Steve Grimes told jurors at the Dirksen federal building this morning.
“The entire system was a sham from top to bottom,” Grimes said.
It was the opening day of the Sanchez’s retrial. Sanchez, 62, was convicted by a federal jury in March of four mail fraud counts tied to a hiring scheme at City Hall.
But a federal judge in December overturned the corruption conviction of the high-ranking member of Mayor Daley’s inner circle.
Sanchez is accused of rewarding political workers with city jobs and promotions. Also on trial is co-defendant Aaron DelValle, who is charged with lying to a grand jury about the scheme in 2007.
As commissioner of Streets and Sanitation, Sanchez had some 4,000 people working under him, and he used those jobs to build the HDO, prosecutors said at the start of his new trial.
“Instead of paying a wage [to HDO workers] Al Sanchez used city jobs as currency,” Grimes said. “In doing so, he corrupted the hiring system in the city of Chicago.”
Meanwhile, Sanchez’ attorney, Patrick Blegen, told jurors that Sanchez had power only to recommend candidates for jobs but not to appoint anybody, and that he never did so for political reasons.
Blegen said his client “worked his fingers to the bone for the city of Chicago. He worked twenty-four-seven at Streets and Sanitation.”
Blegen said Sanchez thus wanted people with that same work ethic working for him.
Blegen conceded that Sanchez recommended lots of people from HDO, but said he did so because he was concerned about hiring hard-working people, as well as increasing diversity in City Hall.
July 08, 2010
Daley rubbing elbows with rich, famous in Idaho
Share | Posted by Hal Dardick at 7 a.m.
Mayor Richard Daley is hobnobbing with the rich, famous and influential in Idaho this week at an international conference hosted by a boutique New York City investment bank.
Among the luminaries taking part in the annual Allen & Co. Sun Valley Conference are former NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw, media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, investor Warren Buffett and Microsoft’s Bill Gates.
On Friday, Daley will join New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker on a panel about “the business of running a city” moderated by broadcast journalist Charlie Rose.
“This conference is basically the premier gathering of business and professional leaders worldwide and, as such, it offers a highly coveted networking opportunity for city leaders, especially now, when all of them are trying to lure jobs and other business opportunities to their towns,” said Jacquelyn Heard, Daley’s press secretary. “It’s an invitation-only conference, and it’s an honor to get the call.”
Daley and wife Maggie were at the conference on Wednesday. No city staff attended, Heard said.
Like the other attendees, the Daleys’ expenses will be covered, but he is receiving no stipend for speaking.
“It’s a much-sought after opportunity to network, and these are the kind of conferences where the beginnings of talks to get businesses to headquarter in your town happen,” Heard said.
Chicagoan Andrew Mason, the CEO of Groupon.com, is scheduled to present Saturday during a panel on companies succeeding on fresh ideas.
Mayor Daley rubbed elbows with the wealthy and influential of our society this week at the Allen and Co. Sun Valley Conference in Idaho.
Jacquelyn Head, press secretary for Mayor Daley, said, “This conference is basically the premier gathering of business and professional leaders worldwide and, as such, it offers a highly coveted networking opportunity for city leaders, especially now, when all of them are trying to lure jobs and other business opportunities to their towns.”
Today, the Mayor will meet with fellow city leaders, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Newark Mayor Cory Booker, for a panel on “running a city.” Charlie Rose, host of his own PBS talk show, will be the moderator for their discussion.
Notable names attending the conference include news anchor Tom Brokaw, media mogul Rupert Murdoch, philanthropist Warren Buffett, and chairman of Microsoft Bill Gates.
Inspector General report details laborer paid by city while in jail
July 15, 2010
BY FRAN SPIELMAN Staff Reporter
A Fleet Management employee fired for allegedly stealing city parts, selling them to a metal recycler and pocketing the profits.
A motor truck driver and foreman forced to resign after allegedly failing to report — and taking pains to cover up — an accident that damaged a parked car.
A social service agency barred from doing business with the city for one year for failing to promptly pay its payroll taxes and and employing unqualified relatives of the agency president, some of whom got reimbursement checks without documentation.
Inspector General Joe Ferguson has been a busy man during the last quarter — and those investigations are just a few of the reasons why.
As expected, Ferguson’s quarterly report cleared the decks of a four-year-old case that saw two supervisors at Chicago’s Commission on Animal Care and Control fired and six others facing disciplinary action for mistakenly euthanizing four dogs and administering “euthanasia narcotics without appropriate or legally-required supervision.”
It also includes previously-disclosed allegations that a now-fired laborer collected a city paycheck while serving a two-month prison sentence for drunk driving and a Streets and Sanitation secretary ordered her cousin’s Bridgeport garage demolished at taxpayers’ expense.
But, the report also includes some new allegations, while withholding the names of employees and contractors involved, as required by law:
• A Streets and Sanitation employee was suspended for 14 days for allegedly using sick time while spending two days in police custody.
• A supervisor in the Chicago Fire Department’s Internal Affairs Division was given an oral reprimand for allegedly mishandling a harassment complaint against a rank-and-file firefighter. Only after a police investigation identified the offender as a firefighter did the supervisor open a harassment investigation, the report states.
• An expediter doing business with the city was permanently barred from obtaining a city license after allegedly selling a homeowner forged letters of intent for plumbing services needed to secure a permit. The scam allegedly occurred while the expediter was awaiting sentencing for paying cash bribes to a city employee.
• A city Transportation employee resigned after being accused of violating the ethics ordinance that forbids employees from exercising contract management authority over companies that employ or have contracts with the employees’ relatives.
• A foreman of motor truck drivers was slapped with a 60-day suspension for allegedly using his city vehicle and ID to pose as an inspector to threaten and “coerce” a homeowner to pay for a porch built by a friend of the foreman’s brother. The homeowner had withheld payment claiming the work was shoddy.
• A pair of Animal Care employees were suspended for 10 and seven days respectively for alleged timekeeping fraud. One was accused of improperly using sick time to moonlight at a second job. The other was accused of accessing the electronic timekeeping system to “edit” their records and making false statement to cover it up.
• A pair of contractors were permanently barred from doing business with the city for allegedly collaborating on their bids to lock in city business. One of the companies was also accused of falsely claiming to be a Chicago business to qualify for the two percent bonus afforded to local companies.
• An Aviation Department employee allegedly failed to ensure that access badges to restricted areas of Chicago airports be “properly stored and secured.” Ferguson recommended a one-week suspension. Action is still pending.
• An employee of the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications allegedly “knew or should have known” that a city filing to secure new radio channels from the Federal Communications Commission was false.
The IG also discovered that a consultant paid to advise the city on FCC issues did not have a contract. Payments were allegedly routed through other vendors, who served as “pass-throughs” and charged the city a “premium.”
OEMC suspended one employee for 30 days, another for five days and moved to permanently de-bar the unauthorized contractor. Ferguson’s recommendation that the city seek the return of pass-through premiums was overruled.
The quarterly report also offers some insight about how Ferguson intends to exercise his newly-granted oversight over city hiring.
The inspector general said “contract” employees — hired by private companies, but supervised by the city — continue to present “major Shakman compliance issues” and he intends to establish a formal policy to rein in that work.
It will require that department heads and underlings awarding those contracts “receive training about the Shakman implications,” with periodic audits to ensure compliance.
Ferguson said he also intends to crack the whip on a policy known as “acting up” that allows department heads to “circumvent the hiring plan” and clouted employees to “unfairly obtain higher pay and valuable work experience” by temporarily filling vacancies.
“The amount of acting up has increased during recent years due to budgetary constraints on filling vacancies which, in turn, increases the potential for abuse,” the report states.
Judge Contributed to Candidate’s Campaign
By BEN GOLDBERGER
July 16, 2010
Scott Lee Cohen, the affluent Chicago pawnbroker who is running for governor as an independent, might seem an unlikely candidate to receive financial backing from a Cook County judge.
In February, Mr. Cohen relinquished the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor — he had spent nearly $2 million of his own money to win the race — after it was revealed that his former live-in girlfriend accused him of holding a knife to her throat during a dispute. Mr. Cohen subsequently acknowledged meeting her at a suburban spa where she had been charged with prostitution (Mr. Cohen insisted he received only a “straight massage”).
But before these revelations surfaced, Mr. Cohen apparently impressed Anthony Lynn Burrell, a Cook County judge who made three contributions totaling $650 to Mr. Cohen’s campaign committee, Citizens for Scott Lee Cohen. Mr. Burrell’s donations, on Aug. 12 and Aug. 14, 2009, were made public in an amendment to a 2009 campaign finance report filed Monday.
Mr. Burrell declined to comment.
Illinois judges are required by the state’s judicial code of conduct to “refrain from inappropriate political activity” but are not prohibited from making political contributions. The American Bar Association’s model code of conduct bars judges from contributing to political candidates unless they are currently candidates themselves. Mr. Burrell lost a primary election for a state appellate court vacancy in February.
“It’s very unfortunate that we have a system like that here in Illinois,” said Jeffrey M. Shaman, the Vincent de Paul Professor of Law at DePaul University College of Law and a former senior fellow at the American Judicature Society. Judges making campaign donations, Mr. Shaman said, “entraps them in this political system and politicizes the selection of judges.”
Mr. Burrell has not contributed to Mr. Cohen again, according to a Cohen campaign spokeswoman.
Nice job, everyone! The Special Music program has been a wonderful experience for my son, who may have not had a chance to spend quality time with special needs kids, if it wasn’t for Joe Yost and his awesome program! It is just wonderful to see people of all ages and ability levels making and enjoying music together!!!!
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