Monday, February 23, 2009

Robert Sorich, Patronage and Aldermanic Assistants

Robert Sorich was a "patronage chief" for Mayor Richard M. Daley. Sorich was convicted in 2006 of going around certain laws that make political hiring in Chicago illegal. The US Supreme Court today refused undo Sorich's conviction. Okay, fine, but the patronage continues, and it continues in plain sight (examples below). Patronage hiring can be dirty stuff. Basically, it is the hiring of people who are often not qualified for the jobs they get, but are put on the public payroll solely because of their usefulness in a political capacity. It is "the distribution of jobs and favors on a political basis, as to those who have supported one's party or political campaign." (Source) Today, CBS2 Chicago report the Sorich-Supreme Court story: Mayor Richard M. Daley's former patronage chief and two other former city officials have failed to persuade the U.S. Supreme Court to consider setting aside their fraud convictions. The justices, in an order Monday, are letting stand former patronage chief Robert Sorich's July 2006 conviction and 46-month prison term. He was found guilty of skirting laws that ban political city hiring, along with former Department of Streets and Sanitation official Patrick Slattery, and former Sorich aide Timothy McCarthy. Fine, but this post is not about Sorich. It's about the continuing and blatantly open patronage hiring in Chicago. The following people are just a few examples. They are on the city's payroll. They are paid by you, the taxpayers, to staff the offices of city council members. From the Better Government Association website, they are listed below by First Name/Last Name/Title/City Department/Salary/Employer: Frazier, Wayne - Aldermanic Aide - City Council - $34,632 - City of Chicago Vandercook, Elizabeth - Asst To The Alderman - City Council - $63,804 - City of Chicago Land, Michael - Staff Asst To The Alderman - City Council - $51,024 - City of Chicago Lopez, Alicia - Staff Asst To The Alderman - City Council - $51,024 - City of Chicago (Source: "The Alderman" referred to above is Joe Moore, 49th Ward. Moore is not the only alderman who staffs his office with people paid by the city. This is disturbing because the publicy-paid staff assistants and aides, in many cases, openly campaign for the aldermen in whose offices they work. In other words, people on the city's payroll are paid, in effect, to help re-elect sitting aldermen. Remember: They are legally not employed by the aldermen, they are employed by the City of Chicago. That's you, Chicago resident and taxpayer. Not all of the people working in an alderman's office are public employees. One example, again from Joe Moore's office, is Anne M. Sullivan, "49th Ward Staff Assistant." She is paid out of Ald. Moore's campaign funds, not public tax money. How ethical is it for employees of the City of Chicago to work as office in aldermen's offices? There's probably no problem as long as the only thing they do is shuffle papers and help address the concerns of the aldermen's constituents. However, we have to question the ethics of those public payroll persons being allowed to engage in plainly political purposes. For an alderman to choose a friend and/or political ally to work in his or her office as an aide, on the public's dime, seems to qualify as patronage to us. Just because it's public information doesn't mean it's not wrong. CNB RSS Feed