July 18th, 2005, 10:36 PM
San Diego Mayor, Councilman Convicted
For comparison with Erie County and Buffalo's political problems:
SAN DIEGO (AP) - A federal jury Monday convicted San Diego's new acting mayor and a city councilman of taking payoffs from a strip club owner to help repeal a "no-touching" law at nude clubs, the latest embarrassment to a city awash in scandal.
Michael Zucchet, who became interim mayor over the weekend, was found guilty of conspiracy, extortion and fraud on his first business day in office. He was immediately suspended from the position, his attorney said.
Councilman Ralph Inzunza, who was convicted of the same charges, also was suspended.
Maybe if Erie County's problem involved lap-dancing it would get the FBI and national news' attention...
July 19th, 2005, 08:46 PM
The mayor resigned also. His name was DICK. Dick Murphy.
Why does all the cool news come from California?
'Round here the strip club owners just want to be County Exec. Go Rick tally Ho. Lap dances on the tax bill. :) I'd much rather get a lapdance than get screwed 5 more years.
July 20th, 2005, 04:08 PM
San Diego isn't the only town with a scandal. Here's the scandal du jour from Chicago. All I can say is that at least all of Giambra's family and friends have been alive when they were hired...
Top City Officials Arrested in Chicago Hiring Fraud
By JODI WILGOREN
Published: July 20, 2005
CHICAGO, July 19 - Two top city officials face charges in what federal prosecutors described as "pervasive fraud" in City Hall hiring and promotions, prompting Mayor Richard M. Daley on Tuesday to promise "fundamental changes" in his administration's personnel processes.
Mayor Richard M. Daley promised "fundamental changes" in Chicago's hiring methods after prosecutors described "pervasive fraud."
The arrests on Monday of two men with personal ties to the mayor provided the most detailed look yet at a scheme in which, prosecutors say, senior aides routinely selected people for city jobs based not on merit but on political connections.
In court papers, federal agents described how one man was picked to be an equipment dispatcher based on high interview scores despite having died before the interviews were conducted, while another was promoted to a full-time truck driver's position though he was on active duty in Iraq while supposedly acing the interview.
Mr. Daley, whose approval ratings have plummeted as the scandal has grown, said he was saddened by the arrests of two men he described as "good people who are upstanding in the community," but sought to distance himself from the accusations, saying, "I don't know of any per se political hiring."
"I don't play any role in hiring, no I don't, I never have," the mayor said at a brief question-and-answer session with reporters. "I have no knowledge of any criminal activity, whether it's shredding or testing or altering papers, whatsoever."
The arrests of the officials, Robert A. Sorich of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and Patrick R. Slattery of the Department of Streets and Sanitation, bring to 30 the number of people charged in the 18-month corruption inquiry; 20 have been convicted, most through guilty pleas.
Mr. Sorich and Mr. Slattery, who both come from the mayor's political base, the Bridgeport neighborhood, routinely chose candidates for jobs based on requests from aldermen, union officials or other city notables, and falsified documents relating to interviews, investigators said.
Federal agents said that they had seized from the Intergovernmental Affairs office a color-coded chart showing applicants' ties to political organizations, and that city officials described passing around a "blessed list" of people the mayor's office wanted hired. One witness said some job winners were "goofballs," and another said Mr. Sorich responded to complaints of a favored candidate being a drunk by saying, "Do the best you can with him."
"It was a pervasive fraud for a long period of time," Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the United States attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, said in an interview on Tuesday. "We're talking about something that was not just one isolated incident." Mr. Fitzgerald is also the special prosecutor investigating the leak of the identity of the C.I.A. operative Valerie Wilson.
Mr. Sorich, whose father was the official photographer for Mayor Richard J. Daley, the current mayor's father, and Mr. Slattery, who recently married one of the current mayor's personal secretaries, face up to 20 years in prison on one count each of mail fraud, concerning documents certifying that hiring decisions complied with a longstanding court order requiring they be politics-free. The two men were fired from their city jobs on Monday, and on Tuesday, Mr. Sorich's boss, John Doerrer, resigned.
Mr. Slattery's lawyer said his client was innocent; Mr. Sorich's lawyer declined to comment, The Associated Press reported.
In a city known as a place where patronage and clout flow freely, several longtime political observers said the latest charges could be a watershed event in transforming City Hall, and could threaten the mayor's credibility and viability if he decided to seek a fifth term in 2007. Mr. Daley's detractors leapt on the news.
"You need to have leadership at the top that demands a change in culture," said Alderman Joseph A. Moore, a frequent critic. "We need to restore the public trust."
Representative Jesse L. Jackson Jr., who is considering a run for mayor in 2007, said in an interview, "We need a mayor, not a king."
"He takes credit for everything that goes well in the city, but when it comes to corruption, he pleads the Fifth Amendment, he doesn't know anything about it," Mr. Jackson said. "His reputation is that he is a detailed hands-on manager, and yet it's clear that when the corruption is right outside the front door of his office he is less interested in the details."
A Chicago Tribune poll in May showed that a race between Mr. Jackson and Mr. Daley would be a tossup, and that the mayor's approval rating, at 53 percent, was the lowest since his election in 1989.
"It's like the water is rising, and now it's gone from his chest to his throat," said Don Rose, a political consultant. "People are getting fed up politically. Everything that happens now is just more and more devastating."
John Callaway, a longtime political analyst for the local public television station, noted that prosecutors had 30 cooperating witnesses, including several former city commissioners and personnel chiefs. "The house of cards is shaking," he said.
"He's in the toughest spot he's ever been in, and I don't know if he can get out of this one," Mr. Callaway said of the mayor.
The mayor's office, which over the past two months has responded to the scandal by imposing a hiring freeze, asking a new chief of staff to root out corruption and removing several department heads, declined to detail plans for an overhaul. But David Axelrod, a longtime political consultant for the mayor, said he expected an announcement within the next few weeks that most of the city's 38,000 jobs - all but 1,200 positions where political appointments are still allowed under the existing court order - would be filled through a Civil Service-style system like the federal bureaucracy.
Mayor Daley sounded at once nostalgic and defiant on Tuesday as he vowed to overhaul the hiring process and "continue the work of my life, which is to make Chicago the best city in the world."
"Sometimes you're in the mountain, sometimes you're in the valley," Mr. Daley said, noting that on Saturday he did some of his favorite things, dedicating a park and a school. "I love this job, but it is very challenging. The people are looking at me, whether I can accept the challenge when it comes to serious allegations that are presented in my administration. And I'm coming back after, and I will plan, I will show you what we're going to do."
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