Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Fire the family?!? Those are ‘fighting words’ to some Chicago politicos

“If a man can’t put his arms around his sons and help them, then what’s the world coming to?” – Richard J. Daley


DALEY: You know what he said!

Of course, there was another part of that exchange involving Richard Joseph and his attempt toward the end of his mayoral stint to direct some city insurance business to a firm run by the one son of his who didn’t get into electoral politics.

And I’m sure that part, which we’re all thinking about in our heads, is what Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios wishes he could spout off these days without creating a further stink.

TIMES HAVE CHANGED. We have come a long way since those early 1970s days when Mayor Daley, the first, questioned why he couldn’t use his government influence to benefit his family.

After all, if the insurance firm being developed back then by his son, Michael, had provided legitimate service to the city government, then where’s the problem? Somebody had to benefit financially from getting the city business?

Why not keep it within his family, within people he believes he can trust? I’m sure that back then, there were some people who would have accepted that line of logic. For all I know, there may still be a couple.

But I’ll bet that even those couple of people are disgusted with Berrios these days, who is getting national attention after the Associated Press picked up on a Chicago Sun-Times story about Berrios’ hiring practices.

FOR A COOK County ethics board has found that not only were a couple of Berrios hires within his office ethics violations, they may well also be fiduciary violations as well. Meaning the county may be losing money because of these deals.
BERRIOS: Not the whole problem

For the record, that ethics board wants Berrios to fire his son, Joey, and his sister, Carmen. The former is a residential assistant, while the latter is director of taxpayer services.

Joe Berrios, the former county Board of Review member who in 2010 got elected to the post of Cook County assessor, has become the face of political nepotism in Chicago.

Which really is a joke, when you think about it. In a city where families named “Daley,” “Cullerton,” “Madigan,” “Stroger” and “Jackson” (just to name a few, there are many more) have developed political influence that spans generations, it’s la familia Berrios that is “the problem.”

WHICH IS WHY I really wonder if Berrios wishes he could channel Richard J. Daley in responding to the Cook County ethics board request. He really is just doing things the way they have long been done.

The “Chicago Way,” if you want to be flippant about it, with your lamest attempt at a Sean Connery Scottish accent.

Personally, I think some of the Berrios babble is a bit much, particularly since none of us should be the least bit shocked he would operate in such a manner. This was the man who won his 2010 campaign despite the best efforts of the goo-goo element of our society to demonize him as a political hack.

Should we really be surprised to learn that he would see his election as an upholding, of sorts, by the voters of his way of doing things? He probably figures that if voters really cared about such things, we’d have Assessor Forrest Claypool these days.

I JUST CAN’T be “shocked, shocked” to learn that nepotism is taking place within the assessor’s office. Anybody who is shocked is seriously naïve, or else faking indignation to cover up some other hang-up.

Yes, a part of me wonders if some people think that nepotism is acceptable if the name is “Daley,” but not someone who appears much more ethnic. Although I don’t believe that’s the only (or even dominant) factor at work here.

I am curious to see how this situation plays out. Because I expect an act of defiance on the part of papa Joe before he ultimately has to kick his son and sister off their current spots on the payroll.

Only, in all likelihood, to have them turn up on someone else’s part of the payroll – someone who owed Joe a favor. That, if anything, is the real “Chicago Way” of doing things!


EDITOR’S NOTE: Yes, I voted for Joe Berrios in that last election cycle. I stand by my line of reasoning.

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