Wait a minute…
A magnificent day in my beautiful city. Mid-seventies, cool breezes zephyring around the corners just when you need them, the most luscious women you can imagine, and its juuuust warm enough to convince them reach for the short skirts and heels, and just cool enough that everyone is pleasantly weather-drunk.
And, of course, mysterious resignations from City Hall announced late in the afternoon.
In other worlds a typical day.
Actually, no: This is a Big Deal & I’ll see if I can explain why.
This from the Chicago Tribune:
City Hall turmoil: 2 quit, shakeups vowed
June 16, 2005, 3:20 PM CDT
Reflecting the continuing turmoil at City Hall, Daley administration officials today announced the resignations of two more department heads, Transportation Commissioner Miguel d'Escoto and Personnel Commissioner Glenn Carr.
Ron Huberman, chief of staff for Mayor Richard Daley, also disclosed a continuing investigation into alleged timecard fraud has implicated five more employees in the city's Water Management Department.
Additionally, Huberman outlined changes in Building Department inspection procedures following the death of a 9-year-old girl who fell through a defective porch railing a city inspector allegedly failed to spot.
In a prepared statement, Daley today said he asked for d'Escoto's resignation because, "There is a need for fresh leadership in the department."
D'Escoto's successor will be named as part of a planned restructuring of the city's infrastructure departments, officials said.
Daley thanked d'Escoto for his accomplishments during his 4years in that job, including the on-time completion of the Wacker Drive reconstruction.
But the mayor continued, "We also recognize that the department has had a number of recent problems involving the Hired Truck Program and the apparent loss of construction materials."
Last Friday, former Transportation Department foreman Robert Laino pleaded guilty to pocketing bribes in return for allowing Hired Truck crews to steal city-owned asphalt and sell it to private contractors. The alleged scam cost the city as much as $60,000.
So why is this a Big Deal?
Well, allow me to speculate irresponsibly:
First, this happened on the 16th. That’s the end of a pay period. That means this –- both resignations – were in the works for awhile.
Second, in Cityguv, there are, well, “castes” I guess you’d call them. There are the explicitly political guys, who get hired under what’s called the Shackman Decree. That was the court order that banned political patronage, but since cityguv is a political institution, there are a handful of people example from the decree. These are the people who take a lot of vacation around the Primaries, which is cool; everyone knows that’s the deal it’s expected.
(Besides body-patronage is so, sepia-toned olden days-ish; today the heavy jelly is in contracts which, bottom line, is the root-cause behind all the folks moving from LaSalle Street to the Graybar Hotel. )
Well, except the Smack Squad.
Anyway, then there are the lifers: vested and in for the long haul. Very interested in stability and not asking a lot of boat-tipping tricksey questions. As the first Mayor Daley said, "Don't make no waves; don't back no losers." So if you need to shoot the regulatory rapids – legally – find yourself the right lifer to tell you the straight shit.
There are the unions, who are in a very quiet, slow-motion war with the mayor. They wouldn’t play ball a few years back when the city wanted a giveback from AFSCME and others during a budget shortfall, and they’ve been on the Do Not Resuscitate list ever since.
There are the Chinamen and their creatures. Chinamen is the term of art for a Lord of the Sith, from one whom gets a call to hire thus-and-so…and then you hire thus-and-so, NQA. The Business and Political Career of George W. Bush is a study in what happens what an Army of Chinamen with strong kung fu all pull in harness; if the stars align just right, they can get a three-days-dead lemur elected.
Then there are the technocrats. The getters-of-shit-done. The Stacker of Wheat-types.
Then there are The Children. The 12-year-olds hired apple-cheeked and dewy-eyed fresh out of college with no political connections at all. Which means the are personally loyal to the Mayor and beholden to no other power bloc. They are given very powerful positions, worked 20-hours a day like rented Wet-Dry Vacs after a three-day frat party, burned out after a year or two and then they go off with weary asses and a very lucrative paragraph for their CV.
So Third, nobody usually leaves unless there’s a layoff or an arrest; old warhorses, even of the are spectacular failures, are found a sinecure. That is, after all, why God made City Colleges.
Fourth, one hears tell that the Human Resources department is a mess and, as I said, nobody resigns without having a place to land unless something big is coming down.
It is, in a word, almost unheard of for what happened today to happen, and it happens in the context of god-only-knows how many other “ongoing investigations”, formal and otherswise.
Soon, perhaps, John Dean will be dispatched to Camp David with instructions to write down everything he knows about Watergate and brief the President about it when he gets back.
The remainder is left as aa exercise for the student :-)