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47 and 48 (Who's Next?)

By Kevin Robinson in News on Mar 23, 2007 1:50PM

2007_3_fitz.jpgIf you had just arrived in Chicago yesterday, with no knowledge of the political history of this town for the last 100 years or so, you might think that the mayor here was some kind of forward-thinking good-government type. With the Tribune's headline announcing that the city had agreed to ban patronage, it would seem that Daley was taking corruption by the horns and stamping it out, once and for all.

Not likely. In fact, all the city agreed to was a settlement that would end court oversight of hiring practices, and create a $12 million fund that could pay individuals up to $100,000, if they can prove that they were denied a job, promotion, transfer or overtime because they lacked clout. Corporation Council Mara Georges said that the court-appointed oversight monitor, Noelle Brennan, has been directed to interpret claims "liberally". The city has already paid Brennan and her lawyers $1.65 million since being appointed less than two years ago. The city denied that this was the cost of corruption, with Chief of Staff Ron Huberman telling the Sun-Times that 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.”

Coming on the heels of this announcement was Patrick Fitzgerald's announcement that his office had indicted a former top aide to Mayor Daley and a key leader of the Hispanic Democratic Organization, Al Sanchez, who was also the mayor’s Streets & Sanitation Department commissioner from 1999 until 2005. (You can read the PDF indictment here.) Along with Sanchez, Aaron Del Valle (no relation to City Clerk Miguel), was indicted as well. You may remember Aaron as one of the HDO stalking horses in the 25th Ward, put in the race to grind a hatchet against Danny Solis. These two make indictments 47 and 48 in the ongoing corruption probe. There have been 44 convictions since the the feds started sniffing around a few years ago.

Although the White House considers Fitzgerald "not distinguished," he seems to be closing in on Daley. How far up this will actually go remains to be seen, and Daley has proven to be stunningly resilient, with many loyal soldiers taking their sentences and not ratting the big man out. Maybe Fitz can clean out the fifth floor of City Hall, but at this pace, we'll all be dead before that happens.

Image via The Heretik.