Ballard And Daley More Alike Than Different

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard and Chicago Mayor Richard Daley have much more in common than you might think. They are both big fans of raising taxes. They are both big fans of handing out huge public subsidies to their favored developers. They are both big fans of privatization deals that shortchange taxpayers while enriching private contractors. They both raise millions of dollars for their campaign committees from pay-to-play city contractors. They both favor laws curtailing gun ownership by law abiding citizens. And they both believe in giving ex-cons a second chance by giving them a city job. The Sun-Times reports on drug dealers, car jackers and cop shooters landing city jobs:

One of them smuggled cocaine from Jamaica about a decade ago. Another was a carjacker. A third was convicted in the shooting of two Chicago cops in the 1970s, hitting one of them in the face.

They are among 139 people who got hired by the City of Chicago over the past two years despite having been convicted of crimes. That’s according to a list of all of the city’s hires of ex-cons in 2009 and 2010 obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act.

Mayor Daley has said ex-offenders deserve a second chance and has made that his policy at City Hall.

Those hired under that policy include one person convicted of a crime who’d been on the “clout list” that was made public during the trial of Daley’s former patronage chief, Robert Sorich. Sorich went to prison after being convicted in federal court in 2006 of overseeing an illegal hiring scheme that gave city jobs and promotions to people with clout.

“Of course I needed clout to get on,” acknowledged the ex-con, speaking only on the condition of anonymity.

He was first hired by the city in the 1990s and has been rehired every year since as a “seasonal” worker. He now drives a truck for the city Department of Aviation.

His political sponsor, according to the Sorich clout list, was former Ald. Isaac “Ike” Carothers (29th), now a convict himself, serving a 28-month term in federal prison after being convicted last year of corruption in a zoning case.

There’s no set formula for deciding whether to recommend an ex-offender be hired, according to the city policy. Job applicants aren’t asked whether they have a criminal record when they apply. Instead, they’re asked for that information and to submit their fingerprints for a background check only after they’ve been given a conditional job offer.

It’s up to the city’s Human Resources Department to then recommend whether an ex-offender should be hired, city officials say, taking into account factors including the nature of the crime, the number of offenses, the length of time since the last conviction and any evidence of rehabilitation. In 2009, for instance, the agency recommended against hiring 18 prospective employees with criminal records, according to the city . . .
The Sun-Times story says the Daley administration initially tried to block the newspaper's reporters from obtaining the list of ex-cons hired by the city but was forced to comply with the request after the Attorney General's office deemed the information subject to the state's public records law. It's too bad we don't have news media in this town who will dig for this kind of information because it might offend some one's politically correct sensibilities. Mayor Ballard and Deputy Mayor Olgen Williams pushed a program to promote the hiring of ex-cons early on in his administration. Williams is a convicted felon. He was sent to prison for stealing money from his former employer, the U.S. Post Office. Williams claimed his stealing was fueled by a drug addiction. Williams later won a pardon from President George W. Bush so he could run for the IPS board. Another ex-offender and city worker, Steve Quick, stood behind Mayor Ballard on TV this morning as the Mayor announced the city's latest efforts to repair potholes. Quick is the president of the lcoal AFCME union who won a pardon from Gov. Mitch Daniels for an armed robbery conviction that involved the shooting of a woman by Quick's accomplice. He was also indicted, along with his brother, for shooting and killing another man, but those charges were later dropped due to a problem with the evidence.