City Hall Roils and Daley Boils
When Mayoral Chief of Staff Ron Huberman announced last Friday the firing of nine Water Department employees, including Comissioner Rick Rice, City Hall watchers began to wonder which department was next -- and how much closer to the mayor the oustings might get. That's what reporters were asking the Mayor yesterday.
The firing of a city departmental commissioner is a big deal, even in a mayoral administration that's seen as many changes as Richard M. Daley's. And among the nine fired last week was County Board John Daley's brother-in-law John "just plain stupid" Briatta. One would think the cuts were getting deep for the Mayor.
Already we've heard about U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald subpoenaing documents from not just the Water Department, but also the Department of Streets and Sanitation and the Mayor's Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. And then there's new revelations of bad Building Department inspectors. Seems like there's plenty of targets for Huberman to clean house.
But the two really interesting questions were found at the end of today's Sun Times article. First,
On Monday, the mayor denied Rice's hands were tied. Asked whether Rice could have ousted Tomczak, the mayor said, "He could get rid of anyone."
The implied question was whether former Water Department First Deputy Donald Tomczak was so mobbed up that even Daley couldn't touch him. A good question, since despite numerous changes in Water Department commissioners - Tomczak's "bosses" - Tomczak always held his number two job. Mob ties for Tomczak begin to seem even more plausible when one considers that the Hired Truck program - for which Tomczak was entirely responsible - is turning out to be a regular menagerie of crooked animals.
Asked whether the scandals had made the job he loves any less fun, the mayor said, "I love this city. I think I have the greatest job. You get disappointed in people. But you can't take everything personal."
Another good question, since rumors have been flying for months at City Hall that Daley has lost his personal zest for being mayor. Lately he has been travelling more often to other cities to bask in admiring press he can't find in Chicago, and often looking just plain tired in his press conferences.
Image via NBC5.