Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Do political firings solve problems? Or merely sweep them under the carpet?

I wonder at times if political people view the hiring/firing process as being the equivalent of the confessional booth.

You know, go in there, tell the priest how much of a sinner you were, and you're forgiven -- no matter how bad your "sin" is.

IT SEEMS THAT political people think that whenever someone on their staff (or someone connected to them) screws up, all it takes is a dismissal; and then we're supposed to forget that the grievance ever occurred.

Instant forgiveness, it would seem.

Except for the political opponents of that person, who usually will go out of their way to keep that "sin" alive for as long as they wish -- whenever it serves their purposes.

This all popped into my head last week when 10th Ward Alderman John Pope let one of his aides go -- specifically, Thomas "T.J." Sadzak, who had worked for him since 2008 in terms of dealing with constituent complaints of 10th Ward residents.

BUT IT SEEMS that Sadzak had previously worked for the city's Streets and Sanitation department and had engaged in behavior so bad that he quit that job before he could be terminated -- and had actually been placed on a list of people whom are not eligible for city jobs. The city wound up having to pay nearly $99,000 to settle the resulting lawsuit filed by a fellow city worker.

But that list didn't apply to aldermanic staff hires, so Pope gave Sadzak a job -- one that he'd probably still have except for the Chicago Sun-Times reports of recent weeks that drew public attention to the whole situation.

That caused the alderman to let his staffer -- for whom to the best of my knowledge hadn't done anything as an aldermanic aide that would warrant his dismissal -- go.

As though all the criticism will now wither away. Actually, it probably will. Most people are short-memoried enough that they're not going to remember becoming public now by the time of the Feb. 24 municipal elections. I probably should point out here that in my reporter-type person duties, I have dealt with Sadzak and never had any problems with him.

ARE WE SUPPOSED to think that Pope's aldermanic challenger, Rich Martinez, is being petty every time he brings the issue up during coming months?

Which I suspect he will. As it turns out, Martinez came up with his first campaign attack on Friday calling for Pope to fire Sadzak, then resign himself -- all for showing "questionable" judgment in hiring the aide to begin with. That fact doesn't change, regardless of whether anyone lost a job now.

Martinez may still whine and cry in coming months that Pope didn't go far enough. Eventually, the voters will decide whether they think this issue -- along with many others -- is legitimate enough to warrant removal from the post he has held since 1999.

This issue won't die, no matter how much some people want it to, because some will  be determined to be petty enough to keep it alive.

WHAT THE CRITICS wanted was for the attack issue; not any real concern over whether the aide remained on the alderman's staff.

Not that such circumstances are unique. I still remember the 2008 election cycle when Barack Obama came under intense criticism because of his family pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and the rhetoric that to me sounds like what comes out of many a black-oriented church, but which "shocked and appalled" many white people who just weren't used to such over-the-top talk on Sunday.

Obama quickly cut ties to Wright -- the pastor who had presided over his wedding and established family ties. Not that the ideologues among us are willing to forget anything.

They want to complain, the way Pope's critics will still complain. The way many other political post terminations wind up being nothing more than sweeping a potential problem under the run -- rather than try to resolve the situations that led to the problem arising in the first place.


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