Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Blame Harold Washington???

Daley's former Patronage Chief, Robert Sorich, is currently on trial in federal court. And in this recent column by Mark Brown, we see the responses of two black alderman with regards to the defense made by Sorich's lawyers...

In response to allegations by federal prosecutors that Sorich and the others rigged city hiring and promotions in favor of politically-connected job candidates, three of their defense lawyers argued Monday that their clients' actions were in large part driven by a 1985 executive order from former Mayor Harold Washington setting affirmative action goals for city hiring.
Alderman Ed Smith thought this was a joke and laughed. Brown said later on that Smith wants to get along with the Daley administration so Smith asked Brown to not mention the laughter in the column. Here's more...

Lawyers Thomas Anthony Durkin, Patrick Deady and Cynthia Giacchetti each said that the Mayor's Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, where Sorich and two of the others worked, properly played a role in hiring because of Mayor Daley's concerns about providing racial diversity in the city workforce -- in furtherance of Washington's order.

In other words, when the mayor's men flouted the Shakman decree by arranging for job applications and interviews to be fixed, they were doing it largely for the benefit of minorities and women.

Never mind non-minorities Donald Tomczak, Daniel Katalinic, the boys from the Coalition for Better Government and others whose political organizations were at the front of the patronage line for a long time before the mayor's favors turned to his loyalists in the Hispanic Democratic Organization.
The key name was Harold Washington. The late mayor of Chicago who died when he just might be able to pass some of his programs through a council which was no longer hostile to him. Obviously Smith who served on the city council during Washington's mayoralty found this defense to be outrageous.

Here's a little more from Smith and the column...
"I don't have any jobs that have come through them," he said of the intergovernmental Affairs office. "No one has come in the office and indicated to me they got jobs through Intergovernmental Affairs."

Maybe Smith got a few jobs through some other route at City Hall. I don't want to put him in a box. But it's well-known that the mayor's favorite alderman on the West Side is the 29th Ward's Isaac "Ike" Carothers, whose job candidates did receive favorable treatment from Sorich's operation.
Brown also talked to Alderman Toni Preckwinkle...

"It's preposterous that these defendants should lay this on Harold Washington's doorstep," Preckwinkle said.

But she didn't deny that the mayor's patronage office practiced affirmative action.

"It's political affirmative action," Preckwinkle said. "It's nothing to do with race and gender. It's affirmative action for their cronies."

Now there is a media component to the charges against Sorich too...
In response to prosecutor Patrick Collins' opening line that the case is about "breech of the public trust," defense lawyer Durkin, who represents Sorich, said he believes the government's case "is about the betrayal of normal prosecutive procedures to embarrass if not perhaps unseat with the help of the Chicago Tribune a very popular sitting mayor.''

If there were such a conspiracy, we at the Sun-Times, birthplace of the Hired Truck Scandal, should probably share in the blame -- or credit, as the case may be. But that may sound like sour grapes, and anyway, there's no conspiracy.

You can't really blame Durkin for making it a case about the mayor -- because it is. But Durkin later said this case is really about the mayor's father, Richard J. Daley, not Richard M., a theory that I'm not sure that I can explain other than that the Shakman case dates back to Richard I's reign.
The funny thing here is that if affirmitive action is important to the black community then it's great to see that two black alderman seem to be keeping an eye on this case. Job or contracts that should have gone to minorities don't just go to minorities they go to those minorities or indeed anyone who have given political support. I'm only tepid supporter of affirmitive action, but it is unfortunate that a little trickery is involved here.

Crossposted at Illinoize!!!

1 comment:

Cynthia said...

Your link on the Illinoiz doesn't work.

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