Friday, July 14, 2006

Bush and Topinka give Mayor Daley a thumbs up; Birkett, yes and no?

The Chicago Triple Play: Mayor Daley as a hot potato, Bush to Topinka to Birkett.

Carlos Hernandez-Gomez [CLTV political editor]: Well, thank you, Mr. President. Last summer, when you were here to sign the transportation bill in [Speaker] Denny Hastert's district, you described Mayor Daley as "a great Mayor." If you've read the morning papers, you’d find that [U. S. Attorney] Patrick Fitzgerald has secured the conviction of one of the Mayor's top -- former top officials [Robert Sorich] for rigging city jobs [applications and promotions] to benefit the Mayor's political workers. Does that change your assessment of Mayor Daley's tenure?

President Bush: I still think he's a great Mayor. This is a well-run city, and he gets a lot of credit for it. He doesn't get sole credit, but he gets a lot of credit. He's a leader. The thing I like about Daley is he -- when he tells you something, he means it. Like, he told me, he said, we're going to whomp you in the 2000 election. He meant it. (Laughter, including from Mayor Daley, who was watching the presser, in person-- and C-Span alertly got that shot ) He's a -- yes, I'm proud to call him, friend. I'm proud to have shared my 60th birthday with your Mayor [Ed. Note, Mayor Daley is one of the three most powerful Democrats in the State of Illinois; I would put him second to Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan (Chicago), but ahead of Governor Blagojevich (Chicago)].
President Bush’s press conference, Museum of Science and Industry, South Side of Chicago, IL, July 7, 2007
Judy Baar Topinka, State Treasurer and Republican nominee for Illinois Governor: …They [the voters] also notice what has been going on in all of your [the press pundits’] shows, in the media, in general, in the last few days, they know what has occurred in terms of the verdicts [The Mayor’s patronage chief Robert Sorich and Sorich’s helpers] which came down yesterday, they know what they saw in the July 4th parades [heckling of Blagojevich in DuPage County for the reports of investigations by U. S. Attorney Fitzgerald of Governor Blagojevich’s hiring practices]. They know what the U. S. Attorney has said in terms of nine investigations, fifteen agencies [of segments of the Blagojevich Administration]. Good gracious, trust in the Governor’s office is going to be so exceptionally needed and wanted—that I think I am a very good candidate on that.

Jeff Berkowitz [Public Affairs and Illinois Channel]: The President says he is a very good friend of Mayor Daley, even after the Verdict [convicting the Mayor’s patronage boss-- Robert Sorich—for fraud relating to the City’s hiring process]. Do you agree?

Judy Baar Topinka: Well, if the President likes Mayor Daley, I mean, you know, a lot of us like a lot of people.

Jeff Berkowitz: Do you like Mayor Daley?

Judy Baar Topinka: I like Mayor Daley. Yes, I’ve known him for a long time.

Jeff Berkowitz: Do you think he is a good Mayor?

Judy Baar Topinka: I think he is a nice man.

Jeff Berkowitz: Is he a good Mayor?

Judy Baar Topinka: I think he’s done a very good job for the City of Chicago. I mean I just know him from that standpoint. But, you know if there is anything that needs to be done, I mean we’re going to work with everybody who holds public office. You know, we want this to be as inclusive a campaign as we possibly can get because we want the best for the whole state of Illinois.
Judy Baar Topinka’s Press Availability, which took place after Topinka fundraiser featuring President Bush, July 7, 2007, Drake Hotel, Chicago Loop. This press availability followed the above referenced Presidential presser by about three hours.

Jeff Berkowitz [Public Affairs and Illinois Channel]: The President came to Chicago [last night] to celebrate his birthday and have dinner with Richard M. Daley. That was right after a major conviction came down of the chief hiring/patronage guy, Robert Sorich, and then given the chance this morning to disassociate himself from Mayor Daley, [the President] said, “he [Mayor Daley] is a good guy," [and],"I don’t know anything about that [the prosecutions that U. S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald has brought in Chicago and others areas of the Northern District of Illinois].” Judy Baar Topinka just said she likes him [Mayor Daley], he is a nice guy. She didn’t try to disassociate herself from Mayor Daley and all this corruption and hiring fraud. Would you like to disassociate yourself from Mayor Daley and hiring fraud?

Joe Birkett [Lt.Gov. Republican Nominee]: I know the Mayor. I don’t know him well but I know him fairly well. I consider him to be a friend. When he was a State’s Attorney [of Cook County], we sat down in meetings…being friends with somebody doesn’t mean you agree with him politically. I think the President made that clear.

Jeff Berkowitz: Well, not just to agree with him politically. Judy Baar Topinka said he is a good Mayor. Do you agree with her? Is Richard M. Daley a good Mayor?

Joe Birkett: Well, Judy has her opinion.

Jeff Berkowitz: What is your opinion. Is he a good Mayor?

Joe Birkett: Jeff, I’ll tell you what I think. I like the Mayor. I think that there are problems in his administration that become clear during the course of this latest investigation. I’ll leave it to the pundits to talk about that. But, there is clear, through these prosecutions and these convictions, whether you agree or disagree with the philosophy of the U. S. Attorney’s office in making Rutan violations a criminal indictment- [Ed. Note: the Rutan case stands for the proposition that Illinois law prohibits making hiring or promotion decisions for civil service type state jobs based on political considerations; it is the State of Illinois analogue to the City of Chicago Shakman decree, which is a civil judicial order that prohibits political considerations in the hiring or promotion of about thirty-eight thousand City of Chicago employees; about one thousand City of Chicago jobs are exempt from the Shakman prohibitions]

Jeff Berkowitz: Do you agree with that [making Rutan violations a criminal indictment]?

Joe Birkett: I agree that that type of political corruption needs to be rooted out and I applaud the U. S. Attorney and his staff for not only going after corruption in city government through hired truck and all the other investigations that are going on, but also in state government-- and what he has done and what he is doing in state government is important. Now, I am not going to talk about pending cases. I don’t do that.

Jeff Berkowitz: Isn’t the case against Sorich over?

Joe Birkett: Look, I have a long history of rooting out public corruption…
Joe Birkett, Dupage County State’s Attorney and Republican Lt. Gov. Candidate, Press Availability which immediately followed the above referenced Topinka availability, Drake Hotel, Chicago Loop, July 7, 2007