Friday, February 29, 2008

2004 | 'Clout on Wheels' had instant, continuing impact

February 29, 2008

The ripples created by the landmark Sun-Times series "Clout on Wheels" began immediately. And they're still being felt.

The three-day series, published in January 2004, documented that trucking companies in a $40 million-a-year City of Chicago program were, as a front-page headline said: "PAID TO DO NOTHING."

By Day 2 of the reports, federal prosecutors had arrested the head of the city's Hired Truck Program.

But the investigation into widespread waste and corruption -- begun by reporter Tim Novak, later joined by Steve Warmbir -- went much deeper, exposing the Hired Truck Program as a hotbed of payoffs, sweetheart deals and mob connections.

Last November, the 46th person convicted as a result of the Hired Truck scandal was sentenced to 15 months in prison.

The wide-ranging federal investigation prompted by "Clout on Wheels" continues.

The newspaper's investigations into clout and corruption at City Hall have continued, too.

Subsequent Sun-Times reports spearheaded by Novak have exposed, among other things: the powerful role in Chicago city government that one family with strong ties to organized crime has had for nearly a century; evidence of widespread cheating among city workers filing workplace-injury claims, and secret city deals involving Mayor Daley's son and nephew.

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