Monday, May 02, 2005

Hired Thieves

Revised at 11:00 pm on Monday, May 2.

Tonight’s City of Chicago edition of “Public Affairs,” features Paul Green, Professor and Political Pundit. The show airs throughout the City of Chicago tonight at 8:30 pm on Cable Ch. 21 [CANTV]. See here and here for more about the topics discussed on this week’s show with Paul Green, as well as for partial transcripts of the show. An additional partial transcript is included, below.

However, before you take a look at the transcript, below-- you should take note that it does seem as if life is imitating art. Engaging in a little satire on my show with Professor Paul Green that is airing tonight, and to make a serious point, I coined the phrase, “Hired Truck, Hired Tow, Hired Thief” to describe some of the corruption that has been exposed in Mayor Daley’s administration in the City of Chicago. I conceded, on air, that the “Hired Thief” portion of that phrase may be classified as satire, but certainly not Hired Truck, Hired Tow.

However, today’s late edition of the Chicago Sun-Times was Headlined, Hired Truck Figure aided [Mayor] Daley and [Cong.] Emanuel," with the lead two paragraphs of the Sun-Times page 1 article stating:

Mayor Daley and Rep. Rahm Emanuel [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (“DCCC”) Chairman] received campaign support from the political army of Donald Tomczak, the indicted former city Water Department boss, at the direction of unnamed city officials, according to a prosecution document released today.

Once Tomczak got his marching orders from those unnamed city officials, prosecutors said, he would hold political meetings with five to 10 Water Department employees on city time, to direct them to round up campaign volunteers, mainly city workers

Then there is this from the self-described conservative online publication Illinois

“Mayor Daley and the Daley family political base’s 11th Ward Democratic organization were recipients of ‘coerced’ campaign contributions, according to the plea agreement of former city Water Department Director of Finance and Administration Gerald Wesolowski. (attached as .pdf document)

Congressman Emanuel, elected in 2002, was the recipient of Water Department employee campaign “volunteers,” presumably in his successful [March, 2002] primary campaign against State Rep. Nancy Kazak (D-Chicago) [a 51-42 % victory, close for the Bill Clinton protege]

Emanuel was recently tabbed to head the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and is said to have masterminded Melissa Bean’s 2004 [52-48] upset of veteran Lake County Congressman Phil Crane. In recent weeks, he publicly targeted the seat being vacated by GOP Congressman Henry Hyde (R-6).”

And, this from an AP article included in this afternoon’s Chicago

"Mayor Richard Daley's campaign got bribe money from private trucking firms that traded dollars for access to the city's $38 million a year Hired Truck Program, prosecutors alleged Monday as a former city official pleaded guilty to corruption charges.

Wesolowski admitted raising funds at Tomczak's behest for Daley's campaign as well as that of Tomczak's son, former Will County State's Atty. Jeff Tomczak, and the 11th Ward Democratic Organization, the Daley family's political base.

Prosecutors also alleged Wesolowski and water department workers did field work on behalf of Donald Tomczak for the campaigns of Daley, Jeff Tomczak, U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel and others."

So, now that two Chicago mainstream media organs and at least one on-line conservative journal have reported that prosecutors have almost put Da Mayor and DCCC Chairman Cong. Rahm Emanuel “in play,” you have to wonder when the New York Times and the Washington Post are coming to town to take a look at the Hired Thieves, to see if the story not only has legs, which it clearly has, but whether it has national implications.

The AP did note, “None of the candidates or campaigns is linked to any wrongdoing in the case.” Similarly, the Sun-Times' Warmbir and Novak wrote, “There is no indication in Wesolowski’s plea agreement that the politicians or political organizations named in it had any idea of the true nature of some of their political support or contributions.” I assume the AP and Sun-Times mean to say that the prosecutors have not, as of this moment in time, publicly alleged knowledge of the wrongdoing by the campaigns or the candidates.

But, one could reasonably argue that that is something the prosecutors are still looking at. And, perhaps that is something that the national media might want to look at. Of course, both the Washington Post and New York Times may not have the resources to spare, what with their focus on Republican Majority Leader Tom Delay and his alleged use of relatives as paid staffers on his political campaign [which is commonly done by members of Congress] and his alleged use of a registered lobbyist to cover his expenses on a trip [which I believe is also fairly commonly done].

One can imagine why the Delay story is so much more compelling than the Hired Thieves story to the liberal New York Times and the Washington Post. Also, you might reasonably ask, is there a national news story here?

Well, Mayor Daley’s dad would get calls in the early 1960s from JFK when he needed a vote or two from the Illinois Congressional delegation and Mayor Richard J. Daley would say, essentially, “What do you need, Mr. President, he’ll [the Congressman] vote the way I tell him.” [See the Mayor Richard J. Daley documentary that aired recently on CBS-2 News, produced by Ed Marshall and written by Mike Flannery and Ed Marshall].

Does Mayor Richard M. Daley have the same clout over the Democrats in the Illinois Congressional delegation when the Democratic national leaders in DC ring him up? Perhaps not, but I think he does have a fair amount of influence, if not the same absolute control that his dad had, over the likes of Metropolitan Chicago Democratic U. S. Representatives Gutierrez, Lipinski, Rush, Emanuel, Davis, Bean, Schakowsky and perhaps even Cong. Jackson and Senators Obama and Durbin [although not so much with those senators, as both are national leaders in their own rightj.

And as to Rahm Emanuel’s influence, well, as a third year Congressman, the National Democratic Party made him DCCC Chairman because they thought he was their best hope to work some magic to give the Democrats a majority in the House in 2006. To make sure everybody knew that Rahm's clout should be respected, the Democratic powers that be also put him on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. Rosty [Rostenkowski] Redux.

If Rahm is in any way weakened by the Hired Thieves scandal, that is a major league problem for the National Democratic Party. Indeed, there are some high level Republicans who think a lot of the national press are dogging Republican Majority Leader Delay because of Rahm's ability to focus the national media on a Republican problem. The National Republicans would like to retire Rahm before he gets started almost as much as the National Democrats would like to retire Delay. The one thing Rahm and Delay have in common? Both are extremely effective in setting and accomplishing political goals.

So, now, the question is-- what is the source of the Daley and Emanuel magic? That is, is there a trail leading from the Hired Thieves to their doorsteps, or to those of their campaigns or to those they may have nurtured? And, of course, to the extent media are now reporting that Mayor Daley and Cong. Emanuel have benefited from Hired Thieves, that old Watergate question is being asked of Rich and Rahm-- What did they know and when did they know it.

And, it is no coincidence that Mayor Richard M. Daley and Cong. Rahm Emanuel would be paired in the headlines as both benefitting from Hired Truck and Daley's Water Department boss, as Cong. Emanuel was a big time fund raiser for Mayor Daley from way back, and everyone knew that Daley's army was re-paying the favor and working the palm cards intensely for Rahm during his tough 2002 primary in the 5th Cong. Dist. Indeed, Rahm was Mayor Richard M. Daley's hope to regain the kind of national clout that his dad, Mayor Richard J. Daley, had.

As I said, you have to wonder when the Washington Post and New York Times are coming to town. Perhaps about the same time Santa Claus is due, to drop off their presents to Rich and Rahm.
Jeff Berkowitz: Let’s go forward to his son, Mayor Richard M. Daley.

Paul Green: Yes.

Berkowitz: He has been there now…16 years

Paul Green: [since] 1989.

Berkowitz: 16 years. Right now, great Mayor, good Mayor, not so good?

Paul Green: His last couple of years have been very tough on him—

Berkowitz: Hired Truck, Hired Tow, Hired Thief—

Paul Green: All the, all the—you make this stuff up, don’t you?

Berkowitz: It’s true, Hired Truck, you’ve heard of that. Hired Tow, have there been a few hired thieves in the Administration?

Paul Green: Probably as many as—

Berkowitz: Maybe they should do it in an organized way. Have a bunch of thieves who they hire and you know, keep them under—they could keep an eye on them that way. Then, at least Daley couldn’t say [of those charged or convicted of corruption while working for the City] “I don’t know this guy.”

Paul Green: That’s right and then you could support Ali Baba for Mayor. But, the fact is—

Berkowitz: You are saying there are no alternatives for Mayor? You are saying [Cong.]Luis Gutierrez couldn’t be a Mayor?

Paul Green: Let him run.

Berkowitz: You are saying Cong. Jesse Jackson, Jr. couldn’t be a Mayor?

Paul Green: Let him run…If you think Mayor Daley is doing a lousy job, run against him.

Berkowitz: I didn’t say that.

Paul Green: Well, you sure did.

Berkowitz: No, I am trying to be fair and balanced here—

Paul Green: Hire a thief isn’t—that’s fair and balanced? Even O’Reilly would have trouble with that.

Berkowitz: A little satire here.

Paul Green: Oh, excuse me. There is a difference between Fair and Balanced and satire, Oh, Okay, I understand.

Berkowitz: …Look, seriously, Hired Truck is a problem, Hired Tow--

Paul Green: It’s been very damaging. Very damaging.

Berkowitz: Those are all serious criticisms.

Paul Green: No doubt about it.

Berkowitz: So, on that, is he a great mayor? Is he a good mayor? Give us a rating, A, B, C, D.

Paul Green: Apples and oranges. If you look at what he has done to try to deal with it, he has finally, I think, got the right person in dealing with the issue, but the issue—

Berkowitz: Who is that?

Paul Green: Mary Dempsey.

Berkowitz: Why is she the right person?

Paul Green: Because she is a very bright person who has got all the credentials to do anything she wants to do, came over from the [the position as head of the Chicago Public] library on a brief loan shall we say and—

Berkowitz: What’s her position now?

Paul Green: Head of purchasing [Chief of the Department of Procurement Services for the City of Chicago]

Berkowitz: Interim, she has only taken a [six month] leave from the library.

Paul Green: She loves the library, this job is not a job for—

Berkowitz: What are her credentials [for the Chief of Procurement position]?

Paul Green: Very prominent lawyer-- [from] Sidley and Austin >[Sidley Austin Brown & Wood]—who went over to the Library and has done a great job.

Berkowitz: What about the contracts that were let recently at O’Hare airport…
Dr. Paul Green, Roosevelt University Professor and WGN-AM Radio political pundit, recorded on April 17, 2005 and as is airing on the City of Chicago edition of Public Affairs tonight, May 2 at 8:30 pm on Cable Ch. 21.
Jeff Berkowitz, Host and Producer of Public Affairs and an Executive Recruiter doing Legal Search, can be reached at