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Daley Replaces Streets and San Boss

By Kevin Robinson in News on Jun 30, 2009 2:00PM

Photo by shekay
In a move to tackle poor supervision and excessive spending, Mayor Daley rearranged his cabinet yesterday, removing Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Michael Picardi and replacing him with Thomas Byrne, who is currently head of the city's Transportation Department. Picardi, who has been the Streets and San boss since 2005, was criticized after the city inspector general dinged Picardi for lax field supervision, after investigators witnessed garbage crews taking long lunches, drinking beer on the job and urinating in the streets last fall.

Picardi came under fire after running up the city's overtime tab after a relatively small snow storm, then presided over cost cutting measures that left many city streets largely unplowed for the rest of the winter. Federal hiring monitor Noelle Brennan added to Daley's Streets and San headaches when she accused Picardi of personnel abuses. She accused Picardi of manipulating layoffs in the department by ignoring union rules that required 11 sanitation workers to be bumped into lower paying positions after dozens of sanitation workers were fired late last year. Six of the 11 sanitation employees that were being overpaid appeared on the clout list that came out during Robert Sorich's corruption trial in 2006.

Thomas Byrne was brought into the Chicago Department of Transportation in 2005 to oversee audits and accountability after it was learned that the department had ordered more asphalt than was needed. "In every job he has had, Tom has proven that he is an experienced manager who is committed to operational efficiency and accountability, and that is what I expect him to provide in the new role," Daley said in a press conference. Byrne said that he plans to use technology and weekly accountability meetings with supervisors to bring Streets and San under control, both strategies that he employed at CDOT. "At Streets and San, I plan to use [those] same kinds of management initiatives and technology. ... There are many fine men and women who work at Streets and Sanitation. And I plan to make the team there much stronger," he said. Byrne said he "welcomes the challenge."