Chico: Stop paying convicted city workers
By Abdon M. Pallasch Political Reporterfirstname.lastname@example.org January 10, 2011 7:52PM
Updated: February 13, 2011 5:28PM
Mayoral candidate Gery Chico called on Mayor Daley and the Chicago City Council to change the law this week so that convicted felons cannot continue to draw a city salary while awaiting sentencing.
“I was appalled today to see in the Chicago Sun-Times a story about people who had been convicted of taking bribes, remaning on the payroll for months, almost a year in some cases ... paid for by the taxpayers of the city of Chicago,” Chico said.
Nine employees convicted in recent years of taking bribes and other offenses collected a total of $383,205 in taxpayer money after their convictions, the Sun-Times reported. Though Corporation Counsel Mara Georges says she believes the city has the power to fire people immediately upon conviction, the mayoral-appointed personnel board says the law won’t let them cut people off until they have been sentenced.
“These are not people that had a parking ticket -- these are people who took bribes for looking the other way on structural inspections,” Chico said. There’s a City Council meeting on Wednesday, I hope they’re already at work drafting a code amdnement. I think the law needs to be made absolutely clear that upon conviction you are removed form the payroll.”
clear that upon conviction you are removed form the payroll.”
Chico said he does not know if this practice dates back to his term as Mayor Daley’s chief of staff in the early ‘90s.
“I haven’t been chief of staff for 15 years,” Chico said. “Even if it was the case back then, we clear up the problem now.”
At a news conference Monday, Chico also blasted rival Rahm Emanuel for his time as a member of the board of government mortgage giant Freddie Mac.
His comment came in response to a comment by rival Carol Moseley Bruan that Chico bears some responsibility for the collapse of his former law firm, Altheimer & Gray.
“We’ve talked about Carol. We have to talk about Mr. Emanuel as well. He ... made nearly $500,000 overseeing that [Freddie Mac] board when it was accused by the overseer of that agency of having an accounting scandal, overtly mis-stating earnings to investors,” Chico said.
“That led to a bailout of the proportions, maybe the largest we’ve seen: $200 million,” Chico said. “Now what’s the consequence of that? Our situation was private lawyers winding up their affairs and moving on. Anybody here not have their honme values diminished? Everybody has, In the city of Chicago, throughout the United States of America, we have lost trillions of dollars in home equity value, Even more important, people being tossed out of their homes.”
Is that Emanuel’s fault?
Chico quoted the inspector general saying, “The board of directors was asleep at the switch.”
Emanuel spokesman Ben Labolt called Chico’s attack “disingenuous”: “President Clinton wanted someone with a background in public housing policy and appointed Rahm to the Board because of his service as Vice Chair of the Chicago Housing Authority. He served on the Board years before the housing crisis and years before Freddie Mac expanded into subprime lending.”
Chico said other than Altheimer & Gray, he has a track record of success.
“I’ve been proud to be called to the plate 12, 13 times for significant assignments and usually hit the ball very well -- one time it didn’t turn out the way I wanted.”
The Sun-Times quoted some former partners of Chico’s blaming him for the firm’s collapse, while other partners remain Chico’s strongest contributors and backers today.
Chico began a $2 million television commercial campaign Monday and touted his endorsement from the Chicago Police Sergeants Association.