Daley: Laski has 'a lot of personal problems'
February 14, 2008
BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporteremail@example.com
Convicted former City Clerk Jim Laski has “a lot of personal problems” and he’s making wild post-prison allegations in a desperate attempt to sell his self-published book, Mayor Daley said today.
Responding for the first time to Laski’s claim that Daley has a “selective memory” and “knows more than he says he does” about the Hired Truck scandal, the mayor made a thinly-veiled reference to Laski’s well-publicized bout with drinking and drugs.
A sentencing report said the former clerk had been drinking nine beers a night before his conviction and that he took 10 medications a day to control panic attacks and related stomach disorders.
Earlier this week, Laski himself acknowledged drinking as many as 14 beers a-day — and popping two valiums — before he went cold turkey shortly before going off to a federal prison in West Virginia.
“Jim Laski’s had a lot of personal problems in his life and challenges. I know his family. [He should] just get on with his wife, get on with his family and handle his own situation. I’m not gonna [respond] to his personal challenges…He had a lot of personal challenges even today. He should get on with his life,” Daley said.
When a reporter noted that Laski was challenging the mayor’s credibility, Daley said, “Everybody does it. You do it every day.”
The mayor was asked point-blank whether Laski was “lying” when he claimed to have worked through Daley’s top lieutenants to get Hired Truck business for the lifelong friend who betrayed him.
“He says everything. He’ll say everything in a book about me. Nobody else. That’s how it is,” Daley said, claiming Laski is “definitely” trying to sell the book by making allegations against the mayor.
Daley appointed Laski to fill an aldermanic vacancy in the 23rd ward, only to have Laski become a constant thorn in the mayor’s side.
Laski lead a 1992 City Council rebellion against successive property tax increases proposed by the mayor. Three years later, he blew the lid on millions in unpaid water bills and parking tickets owed by city employees.
That’s apparently why the mayor believes it defies credibility for Laski to suggest that a whispering Daley had asked Laski during a private meeting in the mayor’s office whether he had “heard anything from the guys down the street,” meaning federal prosecutors.
“Maybe I said four words to him,” over the years, the mayor said.
A livid Laski said he had numerous private meetings with the mayor and challenged Daley to “have his secretary pull the records.”
“When is he gonna have the guts to stand up and tell the truth? It’s typical Daley. Blame somebody else. He’ll never take responsibility for anything. He throws out these slanderous statements about people and he’s just blatantly lying. Maybe he better take a look at himself in the mirror,” Laski said.
“Now he’s gonna say I had personal problems and challenges and impugn my credibility because I openly admitted that I drank too much and took pills and try to say I’m crazy or something? Don’t insult my intelligence and don’t insult the people of Chicago’s intelligence. His feathers are ruffled. Somebody called him on something and he doesn’t like it. He’s the mayor. He’s not God. Take responsibility.”
Laski, 54, plead guilty in 2006 to accepting $48,000 in bribes in exchange for steering Hired Truck business to lifelong friend Mick Jones. He also admitted that he coached a witness to lie to a grand jury.
In an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times earlier this week, Laski said he brokered Hired Trucks through the “buffers” who insulated the mayor from blame: former Ald. Patrick Huels (11th); former Intergovernmental Affairs Director Victor Reyes and the mayor’s former patronage chief Robert Sorich.
Laski also told the Sun-Times he was in First Deputy Water Commissioner Donald Tomczak’s office at the Jardine Water Filtration plant on numerous occasions when Reyes and Sorich called to tell Tomczak where to send his political army of city workers.
Daley has said he cannot identify the city officials who gave Tomczak his marching orders. The mayor has also condemned Tomczak’s notorious tactics: shaking down truckers for campaign contributions and using jobs, promotions, pay raises and overtime to reward political foot soldiers.
Laski described Daley as a “paranoid,” one-way-street of a politician who “blows hot and cold” with other elected officials and is “always thinking somebody’s out to get him, somebody’s out to run against him.”
“He never trusted anybody,” the former clerk said.