Thursday, March 22, 2007


$12 million fund set up for victims
March 22, 2007
Mayor Daley agreed Wednesday to establish a $12 million fund to compensate victims of City Hall’s rigged hiring system and abandon his five-year-old effort to vacate the federal Shakman decree banning political hiring.
“I don’t believe this is the cost of corruption…This settlement is illustrative of the city’s desire to move forward with its reform efforts…It’s a new day…We are going to have no tolerance for anyone gaming the system,” said Chief of Staff Ron Huberman.
Plaintiff Michael Shakman said the city “should have fixed its hiring system a long time ago” — long before Daley’s patronage chief was convicted of rigging city hiring.
“The mayor has an opportunity. He’s either going to be remembered by history as the mayor who presided over the last big-city hiring machine or the mayor who fixed it,” said Shakman, whose 1969 lawsuit triggered the long-running dispute over political hiring and firing in Chicago.
The $12 million fund, disclosed last month by the Chicago Sun-Times, would be administered by federal hiring monitor Noelle Brennan, who would become a fixture at City Hall — at least for the next 21 months.
The agreement establishes a $100,000 cap on individual damages. The awards will apply only to those who can prove they’ve been bypassed for city jobs and promotions since Jan. 1, 2000. Last year alone, 120,000 people applied for city jobs.
“We anticipate the quantity of applicants will be extremely high… The monitors will have to set up a process to establish standards. They’ll have to say, `This dollar compensation requires this level of evidence,’ “ Huberman said.
Brennan, whose team has already been paid $1.65 million in legal fees, said the amounts paid out will depend on how many claims forms are submitted. Corporation Counsel Mara Georges said the monitor has been directed to interpret claims “liberally.”
“She’ll be looking to the city if she has a question about a particular hiring sequence and say, `Let me see the documents.’ If we’re unable to demonstrate..that the most qualified people were hired, I would think she would hold those claims valid,” Georges said.
The out-of-court settlement requires the mayor and city department heads, on or after Dec. 31, 2008, to sign certificates of compliance. It opens the door for City Hall to get out from under the Shakman decree. It will be up to Brennan to determine whether “substantial compliance” has, in fact occurred.
Until that time, Brennan will remain the city’s hiring czar. A new hiring system is expected to be put in place by April 30 that relies heavily on lotteries for so-called “willing-and-able” positions where tests are not relevant.
The agreement also envisions a key role for Inspector General David Hoffman.
After May 31, Hoffman will become the primary investigator for hiring abuses with the power to recommend disciplinary action and even prosecution. The inspector general’s investigations could ultimately lead to monetary damages after a new city arbitration process. A new executive order will require city employees to report complaints of political discrimination to the inspector general.
“This is an important milestone in creating a system of integrity in city hiring….Given the proper resources, we will be able to become a strong independent watchdog to ensure integrity in hiring and promotions,” said Hoffman, who was directed to try to wrap up each hiring investigation within six months.
Another key element of the agreement is the additional flexibility it affords the city in filling top jobs.
Instead of honoring the city’s request to more than double the 1,186 policymaking jobs exempt from the Shakman decree, the agreement creates a new category of 935 senior management jobs. Political considerations will be verboten, but the hiring process for those jobs will be expedited. Department heads will have more discretion. Referrals will be permitted.
“We now have the additional flexibility we’re seeking…Commissioners and other individuals can make specific referrals of names to add to a hiring list and it’s an expedited process that doesn’t go through all the normal hoops,” Huberman said.
The terms are expected to go over like a lead balloon with Chicago aldermen, who have accused Brennan of invading their turf. They have also railed repeatedly about the monitor’s legal fees, her ever-expanding role in city hiring and about the effect those controls have had on their ability to deliver neighborhood services and get their people placed in top jobs.
“We’re very concerned about the diversity issue,” said Ald. Ed Smith (28th), chairman of the City Council’s Black Caucus.
Brennan was appointed in August, 2005 by a federal judge livid with the city for making a mockery of the Shakman decree, which was supposed to end political hiring and firing.
Eleven months later, Daley’s former patronage chief was convicted of rigging city hiring and promotions to benefit pro-Daley armies of political workers.

Former top Daley aide indicted

March 22, 2007
A federal grand jury has indicted Al Sanchez, a former top aide to Mayor Daley who also was a key leader of the mayor's Hispanic Democratic Organization, authorities said.
The charges against Sanchez, who was the city's Streets and Sanitation commissioner from 1999 until 2005, come as prosecutors continue to probe promotion and hiring practices at City Hall.
Indicted with Sanchez was Aaron del Valle, who recently mounted an unsuccessful campaign for 25th ward alderman against incumbent Daniel Solis. Del Valle — who finished fifth out of seven candidates in the Feb. 27 election, also worked for HDO and in the Department of Streets and Sanitation.
During Sanchez's tenure in the city agency, hundreds of members of HDO, which was a key source of political workers for the mayor, got jobs there and in other city departments.
Asked earlier today if his client had been charged or if he expected charges, Sanchez lawyer Daniel Pierce said: "Not to my knowledge." He could not be reached for comment after the indictment was unsealed.
Late last year, prosecutors charged John Resa, a city Water Management Department worker and HDO coordinator, with lying to a grand jury. Prosecutors charged that, when he wanted to reward HDO campaign workers with city jobs or promotions, Resa would turn to someone identified only as "Individual A." Sources have identified Sanchez as "Individual A."
Sanchez left his city post in June 2005, when a city hiring scandal was escalating.
Sanchez was a founding member of HDO, which Mayor Daley started in the early 1990s. HDO grew to about 500 members. Sanchez began working for the city in 1974 and became a key member of the 10th Ward Democratic organiation of then-political powerhouse Edward R. Vrdolyak.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Judge approves preliminary settlement in patronage hiring case

March 21, 2007 (CHICAGO) - A federal judge on Wednesday approved a preliminary settlement between the city of Chicago and attorneys representing the Shakman decree, which bans political hiring for all but about 1,000 of the city's 38,000 employees.
U.S. District Judge Wayne Andersen asked both sides to return to court on May 31 for a hearing on whether to give final approval to the settlement, which would also require approval from the Chicago City Council.
The 1983 decree resulted from a lawsuit filed more than 30 years ago by attorney Michael Shakman, who has feuded with City Hall over patronage abuses ever since.
The city has tried in court to get out from under the ban.
In 2005, Andersen appointed a federal monitor to keep an eye on city hiring after Mayor Richard M. Daley's former patronage chief was arrested on charges that he and others conspired to rig the city's hiring process. They were convicted last summer by a federal jury.
The court-appointed monitor concluded in December 2006 that while there had been improvements at City Hall to reform hiring, there remained "pockets of resistance" from employees and a small group of aldermen who "have openly expressed a preference for a patronage system," where jobs are doled out based on political loyalty, the monitor's report said.
That court-appointed monitor has said the Shakman decree had been violated almost since its inception.
Daley has defended his administration's efforts to clean up city hiring.
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Posted by Picasa

County hospital contracts scrutinized

March 20, 2007
Cook County officials are investigating whether hospital contracts were doled out to firms using unqualified workers or, in some cases, firms not doing the work at all.
Board President Todd Stroger was vague in announcing findings Monday by hospital chief Dr. Robert Simon, but a spokesman said there are "specific instances" of concern involving "mismanagement and impropriety."
Stroger's announcement mentioned "a number of contracts" involving "managerial services." The announcement also noted that Simon has ousted "several" hospital leaders involved with billing, which has been a major source of budget shortfalls in the hospital system.
The findings have been forwarded to both the state's attorney and inspector general.
Billing and collections at the hospital have long been a concern of commissioners. They have repeatedly asked about the number of companies doing the work and how much each is collecting -- and have been getting few answers.
Janitorial deal approved. Also Monday, the county board voted 9-8 on Stroger's request to approve a no-bid contract with a cleaning company that has ties to Stroger's political organization and to Cicero-based mob figures.
We Clean Maintenance & Supply got the $357,000 contract to clean the county building for the next 135 days, replacing county janitors laid off because of budget cuts.
Company officials, citing the "security of our clients," declined to comment.
By August, county officials expect to award a competitively bid cleaning contract.
We Clean is headed by Julie Leopold, mother of Anthony Leopold, who testified in the criminal trial of ex-Cicero Town President Betty Loren-Maltese that the firm was loaned money by Michael Spano Jr., son of town mob boss Michael Spano Sr. Leopold paid some of the money back to Spano, but also to another man convicted in the case, John LaGiglio.
The $179,000, it was revealed, was illegally pilfered from town funds and led to Loren-Maltese's conviction.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Chicago Engineering firm pleads guilty to fraud

IDOT among state , municipal contractors overcharged estimated $5.5 million
Springfield, IL--Roger Heaton, US Attorney for the Central District of Illinois, announced that the principal owner of Shah Engineering, Inc., Manu Shah, entered pleas of guilty to overcharging the Illinois Department of Transportation and other state and municipal entities from 1997 to 2004. Shah, age 70, of Oak Brook, is the sole shareholder, owner, operator of Shah Engineering in Chicago.

A federal investigation of Shah Engineering's business practices was initiated by the Illinois Department of Transportation following a department audit in January 2004. Manu Shah plead guilty to two counts of mail fraud and one charge of submitting false documents to IDOT auditors as charged. The corporation has agreed to plead guilty to one count of mail fraud as charged at a 2/27/07 hearing.

Pursuant to the plea agreement, there was no final determination of the amounts over billed which will have to be repaid as restitution; however Shah is required to deposit $2.5 million with the US Clerk of the Court within 15 days of the date the plea agreement was filed, January 23, 2007. Thereafter, Shah is required to deposit $1 million every 30 days until the $5.5 million is held in escrow to be used to pay restitution to the agencies defrauded and/ or a fine. At sentencing, the government has agreed to recommend to the court that Shah be sentenced to 41 months imprisonment, and that Shah's firm be fined $500,000 and placed on probation. Sentencing for Shah is scheduled for June 4, 2007, before US District Judge Jeanne E. Scott. The information and plea agreements reflect that Shah Engineering Inc. was a primary contractor or subcontractor on various projects for engineering and architectural services for IDOT and other state government agencies as well as for the city of Chicago from 1997 through 2005. These entities include the following: Illinois State Tollway, Metra, Chicago Department of Transportation, City of Chicago, Chicago Transit Authority, Chicago Department of Aviation, Chicago Department of Construction and Permits, Chicago Park District, Chicago Department of Sewers, Chicago Department of Water and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Chicago. Shah Engineering also acted as a subcontractor on additional jobs financed or directed by these state and municipal agencies.
IDOT and the other entities used several billing procedures in its contracts for services during the period of the fraud scheme, beginning in 1997 through 2004. These billing procedures included "lump sum" and "variable sum" contracts as well as "cost plus" and "direct labor multiplier" contracted. Each involved a different way of calculating the relationship of costs for direct labor and overhead expense.

During court proceedings and in court documents, Manu Shah admitted overcharging IDOT and other entities when submitting contract invoices in several ways:
*Direct billing fraud in which Shah Engineering misrepresented the amount of work its employees performed on certain contracts, by both overstating the number of hours actually worked by individuals, and by 'shifting' hours worked by individuals from less profitable projects to more profitable contracts or to overhead categories;
* Overhead fraud in which Shah Engineering materially misrepresented its indirect expenses attributable to overhead, using false and fraudulent entries, invoices, calculations and documentation. These artificially inflated overhead expenses were filed with IDOT as "Statements of Experience and Financial Condition". The SEFC form was used to calculate the rate IDOT and other contractors paid Shah Engineering for overhead in "cost plus" and "direct labor multiplier" contracts and others. Using the inflated numbers, Shah Engineering was able to negotiate higher reimbursement rates than would have been paid otherwise;
* Overstatement of employees to misrepresent that certain part-time, contract or independent workers on certain projects were employees of Shah Engineering to fraudulently claim overhead expenses or enhance the billing with a "multiplier" that would be allowed only for legitimate full-time and full-benefit employees of the contractor.

Manu Shah also admitted to falsifying record for an audit conducted by IDOT in 2003 and 2004. Shah was asked to supply documentation for certain direct labor and overhead expenses claimed for IDOT and other contracts in prior years. Shah presented auditors with false and fraudulent documents including an invoice purportedly from "Associated Engineering and Technology," which had been altered to read "office rent" (an overhead expense) which was actually for the delivery of other services.

Cleaning House On Janitors Has Stroger Under Fire Again

Firm Wins $375,000 Contract Without Bidding

The Cook County board president was once again under fire for his latest hire.
Todd Stroger laid off dozens of janitors Friday in order to replace them with a janitorial firm that has made annual donations to his campaign.
Berwyn-based We Clean Maintenance & Supply won the $375,000 contract without bidding on the job. Stroger said he let go of the county-employed janitors due to budget cuts.

Is something dirty here?

Waste hauler with alleged mob ties doing state work
March 19, 2007
BY CHRIS FUSCO Staff Reporter Sun Times

A waste-hauling firm that's repeatedly been accused of having ties to the mob is still doing taxpayer-funded work and has surfaced on a government-produced list of environmentally friendly businesses.
In recent days, a dumpster from D&P Construction was on site at a Metra station construction project in Edison Park. D&P also saw a longtime snowplowing contract it has with the University of Illinois at Chicago renewed last year. Besides that, D&P and a sister company, JKS Ventures, are listed in a state government "Green Your Space Database," which helps people find "environmentally friendly building products you may use to improve your home or office."
Firm on 'Green Space' list D&P was widely publicized as having alleged mob links in 2001, when the Illinois Gaming Board took issue with it hauling trash from a casino site in Rosemont. "The owner of D&P, Josephine DiFronzo, is married to Peter DiFronzo and is the sister-in-law of John DiFronzo, individuals who have been identified as known members of organized crime," board officials wrote at the time. In November 2005, a Gaming Board hearing officer -- citing a memo from the FBI -- wrote D&P was "controlled" by the DiFronzo brothers. Josephine and Peter DiFronzo declined to return messages left at D&P's Northwest Side office. John DiFronzo's lawyer did not return a call. D&P's continued involvement in government work angers the president of the Chicago Crime Commission. "I can understand if it's a private company, but we're dealing here with taxpayer money," said Jim Wagner, who headed the Chicago FBI's organized-crime squad and was the Gaming Board's investigations chief before being hired by the crime-fighting group in 2005. "Is it in the best interest of the public to do business with people who have a history of intimidation as reported by law enforcement?" he said.
Rail agency to investigateMetra officials didn't know D&P had a Dumpster at the Edison Park station site until being contacted by the Chicago Sun-Times. Neither Metra nor its general contractor were aware of the firm's alleged mob links, spokeswoman Judy Pardonnet said.
D&P was hired recently to haul bricks left by a subcontractor "and it doesn't sound like a lot of taxpayer dollars have gone toward them," Pardonnet said. The rail agency plans to investigate whether future dealings with D&P should be prohibited, she said.
UIC officials last year renewed D&P's longtime snowplowing contract because the firm was the low bidder and met all legal criteria, UIC spokesman Mark Rosati said. UIC paid D&P $55,169 under the deal last winter. The final tally for this winter is pending.
Susan Hofer, a state spokeswoman, said the Green Space Database makes clear that all firms named, including D&P, are not being endorsed by the state.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Guilty plea in Hired Truck

Woman who fronted company run by husband admits lying
March 16, 2007

A woman whose Hired Truck company took in millions of taxpayer dollars from the city's corruption-plagued program pleaded guilty Thursday to lying to federal investigators.
Nicola A. Cannatello, 59, admitted lying to the FBI in a March 10, 2004, interview when she told them that her husband, John Cannatello, was never involved in the business operations of their trucking company.
In reality, her husband hired, fired and dispatched truck drivers, marketed the company, bought, sold and fixed GNA trucks and negotiated leases. He was sentenced last year to 27 months in prison for his role in the scam.
Nicola Cannatello's lie about her husband not running the business was important because the city had certified that GNA was owned and run by women, allowing the company to get the leg up on certain city business deals.
Once denied clout The Chicago Sun-Times first wrote about the Cannatellos in 2004 as part of a series that uncovered the waste, fraud and corruption in the city's $40 million-a-year Hired Truck Program.
At the time, Nicola Cannatello denied having any clout to get in the program. John Cannatello has deep ties to the city's 11th Ward.
"I don't dig that kind of stuff," she said in an interview. "I'm just blessed they took my application."

Five face charges in building safety probe

City workers, 2 others accused of bribery
March 16, 2007
Three workers for the City of Chicago and two other men were charged this week as part of a growing probe of shakedowns in two departments that oversee building safety.
The federal charges are a result of an unprecedented joint investigation by the city inspector general's office, federal prosecutors and U.S. postal inspectors.
The five are accused of receiving or paying thousands of dollars in bribes to skirt permit and zoning approval. Failing to get such approval can bring fines of up to $1,000 a day, First Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary Shapiro said Thursday.
'Allegations at this point'Kurt Berger, an $85,308-a-year project manager in the Department of Buildings, is accused of taking a $1,000 bribe for dismissing a code violation complaint. The bribe was passed from two contractors through a city worker cooperating with the feds. The worker, central in the broader probe, is expected to be charged later.
Electrical inspector Darryl Williams, 46, of Chicago is accused of looking the other way while a contractor added residential units to an extensive remodeling project without building permits. Williams got a pair of $8,000 cash payments stuffed into Wendy's bags, according to the charges. Williams makes $77,000 a year.
Miguel Diaz, a building inspector, allegedly took $1,000 to arrange for a phony letter of intent for a licensed plumbing contractor. Theletter is needed as part of the permit application process. Diaz, 40, of Chicago, makes $67,644 a year.
Sorin Adrian Oros, 32, a self-employed contractor in Glenview, was charged with paying a $12,000 bribe to a city inspector. Oros was trying to speed up zoning approval for a residential project, the feds said.
Steven Wallace, 28, a Chicago contractor, was charged with conspiracy for allegedly creating fake letters of intent to help projects in exchange for cash bribes.
Berger, Diaz and Oros appeared in court Thursday and were released. Williams appeared Tuesday, and Wallace has not yet been arrested.
"These are allegations at this point. Our concern is getting him back to his wife and three kids," Berger's lawyer, Keri Ambrosio, said. The other men or their lawyers would not comment.
On Tuesday, the inspector general and postal inspectors raided City Hall offices of the Department of Construction and Permits and left with computers and scores of documents.
Daley plays it down"The building safety rules in the city of Chicago must not be for sale," city Inspector General David Hoffman said.
The arrests mark the latest in a series of scandals for the two city departments charged with guaranteeing building safety in Chicago.
But Mayor Daley tried his best to play it down as a "minor thing." He said it wasn't as bad as Conrad Black, former CEO of the company that operates the Chicago Sun-Times on trial for allegedly stealing about $84 million from Hollinger International.
"These are ... people [who are accused of] misconduct, and you have Conrad Black," the mayor said. "This is a minor [thing]."
Shapiro had a different take: "We view these crimes as extremely serious."

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Buildings project manager arrested, charged with bribery

March 15, 2007
BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter
An $85,308-a-year project manager in the city of Chicago’s Department of Buildings was arrested Wednesday night and charged with bribery, in a growing investigation into shakedowns in the two city agencies that are supposed to make sure buildings are safe.
Kurt Berger’s arrest came one day after the city inspector general’s office and agents working for the U.S. Postal Inspection Service raided the City Hall offices of the Department of Construction and Permits and left with computers and scores of documents.
On the same day that Inspector General David Hoffman led that raid, an electrical inspector assigned to Construction and Permits was charged with accepting $16,000 in bribes. In exchange for a pair of $8,000 cash payments allegedly stuffed in Wendy’s bags, Daryl Williams is accused of looking the other way while a contractor added residential units to an extensive remodeling project without obtaining the required zoning change or building permits.
The investigation against Williams was reportedly aided by a building inspector who was similarly accused but won’t be prosecuted in exchange for his undercover cooperation.
Berger’s arrest marks the latest in a series of scandals for the two city departments charged with guaranteeing building safety in Chicago.
Two years ago, a residential permit was issued in a planned manufacturing district to a developer who took then-Building Commissioner Stan Kaderbek’s top deputy no a spring break trip to Brazil.
The department also was at the center of the city hiring scandal for its role in hiring the 19- and 23-year-old sons of Carpenters Union officials as building inspectors. And another building inspector was accused of falsifying a report on a building where a porch railing snapped, killing a 9-year-old girl.
The Buildings Department has been without a permanent commissioner since December, after the resignation of John Knight. City Hall sources called Knight a bad fit from Day One.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

State senator's brother back at city job

By Gary Washburn Tribune staff reporter

Published March 12, 2007, 7:37 PM
The brother of a state senator has returned to duty in the city's Water Management Department amid an investigation into an on-the-job fight that left a co-worker bloodied, officials said Monday.Martin Munoz and John Orlando, both hoisting engineers, allegedly got into an argument that led to violence on March 1 inside the department's yard at 3901 S. Ashland Ave.

The police were called, both men underwent drug and alcohol testing and both were put on paid administrative leave as the Personnel Department's Violence in the Workplace office began an investigation, officials said. Both Orlando and Munoz, the brother of state Sen. Tony Munoz (D-Chicago), were allowed to return to work while the investigation continues.Patrick McDonough, a Water Management Department employee and sometime critic of the department's practices, said he was at the yard on the day of the alleged fight when Orlando walked into the superintendent's office."He had a bloody rag on his face and had a cut between the temple and the left eye," McDonough said of Orlando. McDonough questioned why Munoz had returned to work while the investigation was pending.Thomas LaPorte, spokesman for the Department of Water Management, denied that any special treatment was given. Sen. Munoz is a co-founder of the controversial Hispanic Democratic Organization and an ally of Mayor Richard Daley."The determination of when to call somebody back is made on a case-by-case basis," LaPorte said. "In this case, we didn't know how long the investigation would take, and we didn't want them sitting at home getting paid. We also understand they are not going to file criminal complaints against each other."Though officers were called to the scene after the fight, "we have no paperwork on it," said Police Department spokeswoman Monique Bond. "Apparently the individuals involved in the dispute decided to resolve it on the scene."Kimberly McMorris, a Human Resources Department spokeswoman, confirmed that an investigation is under way. Her department "will make a recommendation as to whether claims are sustained and recommend corrective action if needed," she said. Attempts to reach Munoz and Orlando were unsuccessful.

Former chairman of the Hollinger International Inc. newspaper empire, faces charges of racketeering, mail & tax fraud, and money laundering

Hard to find jury of Lord Black's peers
Jury selection starts today in media baron's trial

March 14, 2007
BY MARY WISNIEWSKI Business Reporter Chicago Sun Times
No British lords will appear in the jury pool at the start of Conrad Black's criminal fraud trial today. So how will Black's defense team select a jury of his peers, sympathetic to his side?
The defense will look for jurors who are smart enough to understand a complex case, and who won't be shocked by the idea of someone making millions of dollars in fees, according to Chicago white collar crime attorneys.

Rich could be sympathetic

"The defense will be looking for wealthier people, who may not be stunned by some of the dollar amounts involved," said Thomas M. Durkin, of Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw, who has both prosecuted and defended white collar criminal cases. He said the defense needs a jury "who understands it's not a crime to make money."
Conrad Black, 62, former head of the company that owns the Chicago Sun-Times, goes on trial along with three others today on charges of stealing about $84 million from the company. The defendants all have pleaded innocent. Jury selection starts today, and opening statements begin Monday.
A key prosecution witness will be David Radler, Black's former business partner and publisher of the Sun-Times, who pleaded guilty to fraud charges.
The case includes allegations that Black misused company money for personal expenses, such as a trip to Bora Bora on a company jet. The defense will want business people on the jury who might be more sympathetic to those kinds of expenses, noted Leonard Cavise, a DePaul College of Law professor and a former criminal defense attorney.
May be easier for feds"The prosecution wants the ordinary person," Cavise said. "The prosecution will say, 'Ladies and gentlemen, when we go to Bora Bora, we have to pay for it.' They want people who think these big corporate CEOs are all crooks anyway."
Steve Miller, of Reed Smith Sachnoff & Weaver, said the defense will seek jurors skeptical of people in high places. Those would include such possible witnesses as former Illinois Gov. Jim Thompson and conservative political adviser Richard Perle -- both former directors of Hollinger International, the former name of Sun-Times Media Group.
Much of the defense team's strategy during jury selection will depend on the lawyers' theories of the case, said Michael D. Sher, of Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg, who has done white collar defense.
"If the theory is 'Yes, something happened, but my client wasn't aware of it,' you may want someone who spent a lot of time in a big organization," Sher said. That juror would know that "the guy in the corner office may not be aware of what the guy two doors down is doing," Sher said.
Whatever the defense theory, the defense will have a harder time than the government finding sympathetic jurors.
"The government won't have much difficulty finding people who won't identify with the defendants, especially Mr. Black," Sher said.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Former judge arrested in domestic abuse case

March 13, 2007
BY ABDON M. PALLASCH Legal Affairs Reporter
Former Cook County Judge Oliver Spurlock was arrested Sunday after his former girlfriend accused him of shoving her as she tried to move her belongings out of his apartment, according to police and the Cook County state's attorney's Office.
Spurlock made headlines when he was thrown off the bench in 2001 for allegedly sexually harassing four female prosecutors in his court. He was never criminally charged with harassment and so keeps his $54,000-a-year pension. But the prosecutors' testimony before the Illinois Courts Commission convinced members that Spurlock was "an embarrassment to the robe."
Last year he was charged with punching an ex-girlfriend several times in the face. That charge was stricken when the ex-girlfriend did not appear in court.
Spurlock's attorney, Eugene Pincham, said Monday: "The girl is telling a lie. She has been stalking him, following him around. She said she was going to embarrass him." It was the same ex-girlfriend both times and neither charge is true, Pincham said.
Spurlock was released on $5,000 bond and is due back in court April 12. In addition to domestic abuse, he is charged with not having a firearms identification card because a weapon was found in his home.

Monday, March 12, 2007

While searching the web, I have come across several blogs and articles. Check out a few of their comments:
Also, a Sun Times article on Sunday March 11, 2007 stated that LSC chairman Tom Ramos Jr. was a city worker, I did a little research and I am positive that this Tom Ramos Jr. is the same Thomas R. Ramos, Jr. who is a Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation laborer. Is he HDO? Is that why Daley is attempting to intervene? That's the next thing we'd like to know. If someone could find out.

A March 2, 2007 article in the Sun Times says:
There is a internal investigation of Tom Ramos, stemming from a bribery allegation reported to the inspector general by ousted principal Jones. Inspector General Jim Sullivan confirmed that he is investigating several allegations against Ramos on a tip from Jones, one including a charge that the LSC chairman "solicited a vendor for $400."

Posted by: JulieWoestehoff January 23, 2007 at 01:29 PM
I used to be on the council and I know that Tom Ramos Jr. is only there for personal gain. Mrs. Jones refused to allow him to take several members on a trip because it wasn't for student benefit. He wanted to spend money that was suppose to used by students. When he no longer had a child in school, he got guardianship of a relative so he could get Mrs. Jones out as principal. I wish the board of ed would get involved.

Posted by: former lsc member January 25, 2007 at 06:46 PM
I was at the last meeting 1-20-07 and it was completely disgusting! I am a student at Curie highschool and it scared me to see the people on the LSC who will ultimetly be deciding our fate. several of the LSC members didnt even speak english! my mom asked one of the members, in spanish, what she knew about curie and the woman didnt know anything; this was the same woman that looked over to Ramos when it came time to vote. She didnt have a clue what was going on! Also, Valle who was translating, wasnt translating everything. There were several instances where a young man from the audience stood up and patched up her translating job! she was only translating what she wanted. I was dissapointed with the whole situation there. I know thats how politics work but its not right and change will only happen if we stand up and are not intimidated!

Posted by: February 01, 2007 at 04:59 PM
I sure hope that if you are truly interested in what is going on at Curie you will take the time to read all of this. I will certainly not state any of my personal information here for fear of retribution. I also will not state any names since this is not the point here. The Edwards School LSC went through this same issue two years ago and at that time there was no blog to report on the things that were taking place. A current member of the Curie LSC was a member of the Edwards LSC two years ago and was the ringleader of the troubles started there. She was quite emboldened by PURE who took advantage of lack of interest in LSC elections to get a small renegade group the power to make very important decisions about the future of our communities. It is amazing that we give parents the power to make decisions in schools when those parents don't even have a grasp on their own children. I would think that it would be most important to first be sure that the parent representatives children are meeting the established benchmarks before allowing them to dedicate so much time to some other endeavor. It is also interesting to see unemployed individuals who have time and skills to dedicate to making these decisions but don't have the time or skills to get a job. My point here is simply what is happening at Curie is what happened at Edwards and many other schools in the system. We give the most precious of positions to the least qualified simply because many of the majority are too busy taking care of their own children and working to notice what is happening at a given school until the damage is done and it is too late. And PURE has learned to take advantage of this low voter turnout and participation. They completely orchestrated the election at Edwards simply by getting a small handful of people out to vote while noone else even knew what was going on. At Edwards, 30 votes out of 1,200 students will get you this power. This is a huge problem. PURE is making the selections of principals and not LSC's. I have nothing against language at all. What I do have a problem with is parents who have to look at someone in order to be told how to vote. And this happened at Edwards countless times. They are not looking at that someone because they don't understand the language, they are looking because they want to be sure that they are being directed properly by who put them in that position in the first place. Lastly, at Edwards there was a huge push to get a Hispanic in as principal. The LSC even nearly made the crucial mistake of advertising that the applicant must be Hispanic before PURE corrected them and informed them of the legal implications of doing that. But Edwards is a school of 90% Hispanic students. Curie is a high school of a much more diverse cultural body. Having a Hispanic at Curie as principal would not be nearly as necessary. Do we have any Asian candidates? That would throw everyone for a loop. This current LSC will not approve a renewal of Jones' contract, guaranteed. And then the real fun will start. Watch the parade of candidates come through and see what the real motivation is here. At Edwards, the final three candidates were all Hispanic. The outgoing principal was African American. I don't really think that anyone else was seriously considered. This is completely about getting a Hispanic in the position of control at Curie High School. Which would not be a bad thing by itself. But it is the motivation that is behind this that is wrong. No candidates will matter if they are not Hispanic which means you are throwing out a huge portion of the pool of candidates and limiting the possibilities for the students. I will predict now with 100% accuracy that by the end of this LSC's cycle the principal at Curie will be Hispanic. I just hope we are not overlooking the most talented and qualified person for the job because of other motives.
(Chicago Sun Times- Sunday March 11, 2007: James Merriner)

Compared to our neighbors, we're No. 1

Minneapolis, Minnesota thinks it can teach Illinois something about political corruption. No, really, Minnesota, by reputation the home of squeaky clean goverment. You might remember that in '98 Minnesota elected Gov. Jesse Ventura, the Reform Party candidate and former pro wrestler. Witty Minnesotans soon sported bumper stickers- "My governor can beat up your governor." Some Illinoisans had enough pride to respond, "My governor is a bigger crook than your governor," said a National Taxpayer Union of Illinois bumper sticker in 2000. That's the spirit, We're No. !!!

The Center for Ethical Business Cultures recently sponsored a conference, "Exploring Public Corruption- Its Causes, Consequences and Remedies, at the University of St. Thomas School of Law in Minneapolis. One of the panelists, Joseph Friedberg, a criminal defense lawyer, wondered why they even bothered. "The bribes that are talked about (here) would be considered insults in Chicago rather than bribes." "If I specialized in defending cases of public corruption, I would starve to death."

Illinois, where few lawyers specializing in such cases starve, once staged a similar forum. Professors, attorneys and reformers discussed how crooked the government is and how we might cleanse it. The University of Illinois at Springfield sponsored,"Politics and Ethics in Illinois- Past, Present and Future" in April 2003. Have you noticed our politics getting any cleaner since then?

"The unholy trinity of states are New Jersey, Louisiana, and Illinois," says professor at University of Virginia- Larry Sabato.

The former deputy chief of staff for George Ryan; Richard Juliano spoke at the Minneapolis ethics conference. He said that Ryan's operatives were "conditioned" to "considered all of these (corrupt acts) to be minimal long as the media didn't find out about it, in which case we would have a political problem, it would be OK....the goal was to win the election. As long as we win the election, everything else will take care of itself."

To quote Sabato once more on the culture of corruption: it "depends heavily on what average voters will tolerate from their elected officials." The feds are vigorously investigating the administrations of Gov. Blagojevich and Mayor Daley. We just elected them by landslide margins.

The 10 most corrupt states in order of most corrupt are: North Dakota (1), Louisiana (2), Mississippi (3), Alaska (4), Montana (5), Kentucky (6), South Dakota (7), Ohio (8), Illinois (9), Florida (10).

The 10 least corrupt states in order of least corrupt are: Oregon (1), Nebraska (2), Iowa (3), New Hampshire (4), Minnesota (5), New Mexico (6), Utah (7), Kansas (8), Colorado (9), Washington (10).

Friday, March 2, 2007


(Note the Daley/Cardenas sticker on pole)

RCI (Rojas Concrete, Inc.) at Alderman George Cardenas' ward office. Now what is a convicted felon who has been award millions of dollars in curb and gutter concrete contracts by the City of Chicago, that quit the Hired Truck Program two weeks after the Chicago Sun Times raised questions about his felony drug conviction. RCI had secured the following contracts prior to applying to the Hired Truck Program, instead of the city of Chicago revoking RCI's contracts; the city extended these contracts and raised the dollar value.

Sidewalk and miscellaneous Concrete (Curb and Gutter removal) for CDOT:

1. Contract #T24752 awarded 7/2/02- Beginning award amount: DUR (depends upon requirements) originally scheduled to end 11/2/02. Three time and dollar modifications:

a) Modified 5/8/03 to end 12/31/03- amount added: $2,076,163.43

b) Modified 5/4/04 to end 12/31/04- amount added: $1,805,359.50

c) Modified 11/8/04 to end 12/31/05- amount added: $1,959,169.50

Paid $5,915,371.47 as of 11/29/06

2. Contract #T24756 awarded 7/2/02-Beginning award amount: DUR . Again, three time and dollar modifications:

a) Modified 5/8/03 to end 12/31/03- amount added: $1,656,128.80

b) Modified 4/30/04 to end 12/31/04- amount added: $720,100

c) Modified 11/9/04 to end 12/31/05- amount added: $1,570,890.25

Paid $3,035,854.02 as of 12/1/06

Subcontracted for Jalpa Construction on contract #T24754 (paid $517,371.12 as of 10/26/06)
Subcontracted for Sumit Construction on contract #T24751 (paid $147, 466.45 as of 1/29/07)
The City of Chicago is like a casino, YOU HAVE TO PAY TO PLAY. Daley takes care of his cronies, if you're not one of them, then forget about it.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Rojas Concrete political contributions
Rojas Concrete Inc
Cardenas, George
Rojas Concrete Inc
Munoz, Ricardo
Rojas Concrete Inc
Munoz, Ricardo
Rojas Concrete Inc
Flores, Manuel
Rojas Concrete Inc
Cardenas, George
Rojas Concrete Inc
Cardenas, George
Rojas Concrete Inc
Flores, Manuel
Rojas Concrete Inc
36th Ward Dem

Cardenas, George (2005 - 2006 Cycle)
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Mark Properties Inc
Supermercado El Guero
Recycling Systems Inc
Promira Real Estate LLC
TK Enterprises of IL LLC
Auto Parts Service Inc d/b/a Frank West Side Auto Parts
Citizens for Antonio (Tony) Munoz
Rojas Concrete Inc
Robert A Levin & Associates
McKinley Gardens LLC
Mulcair Construction Co Inc
Plaza Azteca
Imperial Realty Co
Emerald Homes LLC
Cardenas , Martin
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Sanchez, Juana P
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Peralta, Veronica
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Comunicad Inc
Literature-design, print, copy, mailing (over $500)
Graphic Arts Consultants
Candidate Promotion Items - buttons, bumper stickers, etc.
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Adelante Consulting
Political Consulting
Expenses less than $150
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Cingular Wireless
American Campaigns
Bill Boards & Yard Signs
Sanchez, Juana P.
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Latinos for Education Foundation NFP
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Home Depot #1986
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