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Feb. 18 2010 — 11:17 am | 172 views | 1 recommendations | 0 comments

You’re hired! Mayor Daley is looking for Aldermen

Help Wanted

Image by Egan Snow via Flickr

Mayor Richard Daley has two job openings to fill and instead of simply naming the closest family member of the outgoing alderman, he’s actually posted an ad and looking for applicants and the whole things is unintentionally hilarious.

Daley’s looking to fill vacancies for the 1st Ward, formerly held by Manny Flores who resigned last month after Gov. Pat Quinn named him head of the Illinois Commerce Commission. The 29th Ward seat was vacated this month when Ike Carothers pleaded guilty in federal court to tax and bribery charges.

Take a look at the job requirements.

Screen shot 2010-02-18 at 9.25.47 AM

Applications should include the following items:

  • A cover letter to Mayor Richard M. Daley expressing your interest in being considered for the appointment.
  • A resume that includes details about your community involvement and prior work experience.
  • At least three letters of recommendation from community leaders, business leaders, or residents of the ward

Two of the job requirements are particularly hilarious but really need to be amended (italics mine):

  • Owe no taxes or other debt to the City of Chicago, that we know of or that can be easily proved by a federal investigator.
  • Not have been convicted in any court located in the United States of any infamous crime, bribery, perjury, or other felony, until after appointed to office at which point the City will pay all legal expenses.

The City oddly doesn’t provide a job description so allow me:

Mayor Richard M. Daley seeks candidates for a part time position “serving” the City of Chicago as Alderman of their respective districts. Responsibilities include sporadic attendance at Council meetings, ability to speak out of both sides of the mouth, two faces, and a total lack of ethics.

Salary: Six figures for life with regular cost of living increases at the expense of non-union employees. Friends and family ride free. Good benefits, including new homes and/or remodeling.

Applications are due tomorrow, Friday, February 19, 2010, and must be delivered to City Hall.

Democracy at work.

Feb. 16 2010 — 2:02 pm | 211 views | 0 recommendations | 9 comments

Crestwood swallows bitter pill with its poisoned water

Residents of Crestwood, Ill. have been through more than any community should have to bear. Lied to, poisoned and now forced to pay a hefty bill to cover the legal expenses to defend the people responsible.

Chicago Tribune reporter, Michael Hawthorne, uncovered the debacle last year. Apparently Crestwood had been relying on contaiminated well water for a portion of its local water supply, but filed paperwork saying otherwise. Now everyone is tangled up in lawsuits from the State’s Attorney’s office to personal injury lawyers, all looking for compensation from the Village of Crestwood.

But it’s the people of Crestwood that are paying the bills. Nearly $1 million in legal fees thus far, according to the Tribune. Apparently Crestwood’s insurers won’t cover the defense thanks to a clause in their contract.

In a court filing by the village’s largest insurers, Scottsdale Indemnity Co. and National Casualty Co., the companies highlight contract language they contend allows them to deny coverage for the “deliberate violation of any federal, state or local statute, ordinance, rule or regulation committed by or with the knowledge of the insured.”

Taxpayers are paying to take the insurance companies to court too.

Water pollution: Crestwood legal bills exceed $1 million in water scandal – chicagotribune.com.

Feb. 15 2010 — 10:19 am | 43 views | 0 recommendations | 0 comments

Crooks and pols and lobbyists, oh my

Infinite Lobbyist Lender

Image by jontintinjordan via Flickr

In Chicago, politicians partake in a form of insider trading almost daily. And today, we can read about how state Rep. Daniel J.  Burke earns cash lobbying the city while pulling a pension from his stint as Chicago’s deputy city clerk.

That’s right. Burke “makes $68,828 a year, on top of the $85,903 a year he makes as a state legislator.”

But times are tough and a politician from Illinois can’t be expected to subsist on a mere mid-six figures. What’s a well connected former city/current state employee to do? Become a lobbyist of course.

A year after he picked up his first pension check, he set up Burke Cornell Consulting Co. with businessman and former Florida cop Terry Cornell Jr. as his partner. They set up the lobbying firm at 2650 W. 51st St. in Gage Park on the Southwest Side. It’s the same building where Burke and his brother also have their government offices. He says there never was any danger that Illinois taxpayers might somehow end up picking up the rent for his lobbying business because his landlord — his brother, the alderman — doesn’t charge him to lease his state office.

“No state dollars have ever paid for my operation of the state office,” Dan Burke says.

We can see the conflict of interest even if neither Burke can. His brother, the alderman Ed Burke, donates the office space and then approves the development deals. No conflict, here.

Not to worry, Burke says he hasn’t lobbied in a year. He was busy with a re-election campaign.  Read all about it in this report from the Better Government Association and the Chicago Sun Times.

Rep. Burke: From deputy city clerk to City Hall lobbyist :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: The Watchdogs.

Feb. 11 2010 — 9:52 am | 593 views | 0 recommendations | 0 comments

What to do with the Chicago Spire hole?

With the Chicago Spire  abandoned, Blair Kamen is asking what should be done to fill it’s giant hole in the ground.

…many of you answered, quite memorably: Put Blago in there and fill it with concrete….Would the Children’s Museum fit in there?….Put the Obama Presidential Library there (it’s the right lettter shape at least).

The Chicago Architectural Club is running a contest called “Mine the Gap.” Even if nothing tangible comes of it, at least its something creative to do on a cold and snowy day.

via Cityscapes: Round two: Filling the Chicago Spire hole.

Feb. 10 2010 — 2:20 pm | 18 views | 0 recommendations | 0 comments

No more city jobs for junior

Alderman Bernie Stone at India Independence Da...

Image by chascarper via Flickr

It’s hard to find the things funny while buried in snow and sleep deprived after a 4 a.m. earthquake, but this headline from the Tribune has me in stitches.

“Alderman pass measure limiting relatives on city payroll”

The Tribune is taking some credit:

Ald. Thomas Allen, 38th, first proposed the change last November in response to a Tribune story that revealed aldermen were using a $1.3 million payroll controlled by the Finance Committee to hire relatives, campaign operatives and workers with political baggage.

One of the employees with political baggage was a former full-time city worker ousted over sexual harassment allegations who had been placed on a city do-not-hire list.

The first rule in Chicago politics is Don’t Get Caught. If caught, however, the next move is to claim it’s all a big mistake. That the upstanding elected official didn’t do anything wrong, technically, because there was no law against it. Also, everyone was doing it.

Case in point:

The story also noted at least four aldermen had used the account to hire relatives, prompting former 29th Ald. Isaac Carothers, who since resigned his post after pleading guilty in federal court to bribes, to say: “All us (aldermen) have family members on the payroll. That’s nothing new.”

Making it illegal to hire relatives from some off-the-books fund is a pretty lame action to take in the grand scheme of things. I never thought I’d write these words but, Ald. Bernard Stone, 50th, almost made sense on the subject.

“The general public’s opinion of the aldermen themselves is so low, that if you are going to sit and worry about what their opinion is of hiring members of the aldermen’s family, it’s probably no greater than what it is of the aldermen,” Stone said.

Never fear, it was just a momentary lapse of reason.

“I don’t care what you tell me, that is unfair,” Stone told Allen of his proposal. “It is certainly contrary to the statement that all people are created equal. It is certainly contrary to the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution, which we fought the Civil War over, and you are creating a special class by saying that relatives of aldermen cannot serve because they are relatives, because by chance of birth they were born relatives of aldermen.”

After the Tribune is done tooting its own horn, maybe it could look into that “stealth payroll” referred to so frequently. The one being used to pay all these family members that will continue to have jobs, since everyone is grandfathered into the new law.

The little-known Revenue Committee account has been around for decades, and employees paid through the fund don’t show up on the regular city payroll.

Wouldn’t it be great if instead of just ruling out family members, we eliminated anything considered stealthy from city government?

Clout St: City Council restricts relative hiring on stealth payroll.

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