Since the City Council failed to override his veto of the big box minimum wage law in September, the old, cocky Rich Daley has been running City Hall again. The vote on the override was only a few minutes old when Daley assured a reporter who asked about the foie gras ban that “They’re going to take care of that one, too.”
So far they haven’t, but the exit of Jesse Jackson Jr. and Luis Gutierrez from the mayoral race has only appeared to embolden Daley further. At a council meeting last month, when three aldermen dared to interrupt the chorus of acclaim for Daley’s 2007 budget by criticizing city corruption, the mayor ridiculed them. “The inspector general will be in your office tomorrow morning,” he sneered at 28th Ward alderman Ed Smith. “We’ll make sure.” After the 20th Ward’s Arenda Troutman offered a long list of ways the Daley administration had failed the black community, the mayor challenged her to vote against the budget. She didn’t. Then, once Fourth Ward alderman Toni Preckwinkle was done taking her turn at ripping corruption in City Hall–“It’s not so much that there are a number of people being arrested; it’s that they’re connected, and that they’re part of the political operation of this administration”–he looked beyond her and pretended like she hadn’t spoken at all.
More recently, another alderman told me that Daley had approached him and taunted him like a sixth-grader, questioning his political prowess and all but calling his mother names. The alderman is supporting an old friend who’s running for City Council in another ward. When the mayor got wind of it, he essentially asked the alderman if he thought he was tough. “You running people in [other wards]?” the alderman said the mayor asked him. “Why don’t you run for mayor yourself? We could meet on the battlefield.”
Of course, that was before John Resa, a city worker and Hispanic Democratic Organization coordinator, was charged with perjury for testifying to a grand jury that he wasn’t involved in any jobs-for-campaign work tradeoffs. The feds claim otherwise. Resa’s southeast-side HDO boss was, according to the charges, a former high-ranking city official. This Individual A, as the feds describe him, closely resembles former Streets and Sanitation Department commissioner Al Sanchez. To be fair, Sanchez wasn’t actually named, and Resa pleaded not guilty.
Still, the charges–like those for now-convicted patronage specialists Robert Sorich and Donald Tomczak–detail the mobile machine that operated under Daley for most of his time in office, allowing him to back aldermanic allies across the city without relying on Democratic ward organizations. For example: “HDO participants were told by various HDO leaders … that requests for City job-related benefits (e.g., jobs, promotions, overtime, transfers) for individual HDO participants be made through the individual’s Political Coordinator, and that such benefits would be sought for those who actively participated in the campaigns of HDO-selected candidates. … On many occasions, individual HDO participants received those City job-related benefits through the actions of high-ranking City officials.”
It seems pretty clear that, if the feds had ever stopped snooping around City Hall, they’re back at it now. Knowing this, will Daley keep talking tough?