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Question of the day

Wednesday, Jun 28, 2006

First, read Carol Marin’s column.

…I would rather see the jury in the Sorich corruption case acquit the four defendants on trial than convict them. Or that there be probation rather than prison time. […]

But does this rise to the level of a federal crime worthy of prison time? I don’t think so. I think this is nothing short of a federal expedition to catch far bigger fish by the names of Degnan, Reyes and Daley. And I have no problem with the federal government going after any of them if they have the goods, but the way they have gone about this is unworthy of truly excellent prosecutors. […]

But it’s also wrong for the government, in making this case, to put on witnesses whose testimony is so limited that jurors don’t come close to getting the whole story. […]

But, sad to say, this case just isn’t worthy of the government’s mighty sword.

QUESTION: Do you agree or disagree? Why or why not?

UPDATE: I just called Carol and told her that she had helped break a new record - 15 comments by 3:30 has gotta be an alltime low. We talked about why the comments are so sparse and I jokingly wondered whether some might be afraid that the FBI would subpoena IP records of those who agreed with Marin.

Do people just not care about this topic? By design, I didn’t expect to get a whole lot of comments on this today, but I am kinda surprised by the lack of debate.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jun 28, 06 @ 9:09 am:

    Carol proves, again, what we already knew about her; she’s got the cahunes and the talent to tell it like it is. Winning is more important to the G than upholding justice.

  2. - Anon sequitur - Wednesday, Jun 28, 06 @ 9:19 am:

    Carol is absolutely correct.

    For more information on federal prosecutorial abuses see the front page story in today’s Wall Street Journal about a New York federal court ruling chastising prosecutors for threatening corporations who pay the legal bills of their employees, even when companies are contractually obligated to indemnify their employees.

    I’m all for going after corruption, but it is time to rein in this federal witchhunt and inquisition.

    PS. I have first hand knowledge of how the prosecutors abused this very issue with a friend of mine who eventually got all charges dropped. Thank god he had the money to fight back and prove his innocence. The payback against the corporation that buckled under federal pressure is going to be HUGE!

  3. - Schiznitz - Wednesday, Jun 28, 06 @ 9:39 am:

    I couldn’t disagree more. They knew they were keeping sham lists and fake interviews. They also knew about the Shakman decree and did it anyway. This political gaming of the system destroyed lives. It artificially prevented any natural black leadership from emerging.

    Of course, we all know the Daley Brothers are the driving force and for that they should have double the jail time, but the Sorichs of the world should be punished as well.

    They could have said “no” and found a more dignified way to make a living.

  4. - chinman - Wednesday, Jun 28, 06 @ 10:24 am:

    They willingly screwed thousands of people. It contributed greatly to the real crimes of the city which we know is bid rigging. If your people are in the right spots they can make fundraising and therefore running a race much easier. I hope they get the maximum and it scares even more rats to sing their way off the good ship blago.

  5. - Bubs - Wednesday, Jun 28, 06 @ 11:43 am:

    Sympathy? No one forced these guys to break the law. They must face the consequences.

    Prosecution of top crime bosses usually rests on the testimony of underlings. John Gotti wasn’t convicted until his underboss testified, to reduce his sentence. This is just going up the food chain and forcing these otherwise silent underlings to talk. The top dogs remain the overall target.

  6. - PalosParkBob - Wednesday, Jun 28, 06 @ 11:47 am:

    It is highly unlikely that anyone will “rat out” hizzoner. Part of the early understanding in his staff “buffers” job interviews is that they better be willing to “take a bullet” for the boss.

    The deal is that someone may be asked to take responsibility for something done by others, and they will then be “taken care of” for their troubles. There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of city workers who resigned as sacrificial lambs for deeds done by those above them. They then get substantial raises to work for politically connected “consultants” and are better off for the experience.

    The only way to get these people to break the “wall of silence” is the threat of serious hard time.

    It may not be fair, but neither is the network of corruption in city and county hall.

  7. - MollyOneShoe - Wednesday, Jun 28, 06 @ 11:50 am:

    I wonder who “sponsered” the prosecutors when they got their jobs?

  8. - Cal Skinner - Wednesday, Jun 28, 06 @ 12:02 pm:

    Marin also wrote a column extolling the virtues of corrupt former Democratic Party National Finance Chairman Joe Cari two days before he entered the Federal felon club.

  9. - One Man Can Make A Difference Foundation - Wednesday, Jun 28, 06 @ 12:48 pm:

    I applaud Carol Marin for keeping it real. I was wondering if anyone was going to have the fortitude to say it.

    The recent prosecutions by the U.S Attorney Northern District of Illinois have seemed more political than upholding justice. They only take on prosecutions of their choice.

    In the City Hall trial, the trial has become about winning and not ensuring that justice is served. In one instance, an Asst. U.S Attorney sent a message to a defense attorney stating that he was out because his wife was in labor and that he was not going to name the baby after the defense attorney {Durkin}. This was stated in open court by the Asst. U.S Attorney giving the opening closing arguments.

    Yesterday, the Asst. U.S Attorney giving the rebuttal again in open court, compared giving training to one of the defendants like sensitivity training for Sox Manager Ozzie Guillen. This comments was way out of line not only in defense of Sorich, but Ozzie Guillen. The federal government has taken a position in a federal corruption trial about their thoughts of a chicago baseball team manager and their impression of his need for training. In addition, they prejudged Sorich not knowing what effect training would have on him.

    Also in rebuttal, the prosecution stated that other higher-up in city hall may also be targets of their ongoing investigation. Question: If this were true why not prosecute one case against City Hall and not waste tax payor dollars with numerous prosecutions stemming from the same alleged violations of crimes. They had the Mayor’s corporation counsel on the stand. If the Mayor of herself were a target, why not get into it at that point.

    It appeared that the rebuttal was in response to questions raised about why the Mayor has not been indicted in this alleged scheme.

    However, the problem is that U.S Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald’s focus is in Washington. As he is only one man, he has designated someone else in charge of the Chicago office. That someone else is not conducting business as I believe Patrick Fitzgerald would. But since, Patrick is in Washington most of the time, it’s a free for all in Chicago.

    In addition, the U.S Attorney Office, Northern District of Illinois has conflicts of interest.

    See the attached written on September 12, 2005 and the featured letter to the Suntimes editor on September 16, 2005.

    What’s next?????????????????????

  10. - One Man Can Make A Difference Foundation - Wednesday, Jun 28, 06 @ 12:58 pm:

    One more relevent point. Remember it was reported that the Mayor was given an opportunity to change his answer to the questions asked of him by the FBI agents.

    Who ever gets an opportunity to change answers to an investigation by the FEDS. You answer at that point is your answer and to allow any changes points to an attempt to protect the Mayor from prosecution because of a conflict of interest.

    Of course, David Hoffman, the Mayor Inspector General and former Assistant U.S Attorney in the Northern District of Illinois knows all the key players, prosecutors prosecuting the City Hall corruption trail.

    The word is out to leave the Mayor alone because if the Mayor is indicted and prosecuted; David Hoffman faces the possibility of loosing his job.

    I’m talking like Carol’s talking, LET’S ALL TALK!!!

  11. - Conservative Republican - Wednesday, Jun 28, 06 @ 1:52 pm:


    United States Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald was “sponsered” (your spelling) by U.S. Senator Peter Fitzgerald (no relation). Tradition has it that the senior senator of the President’s party for the state containing the relevant district is given deference in appointees to the office of United States District Attorney.

    It was widely reported and generally confirmed (so much so that to claim ignorance of it is to confess insufficient knowledge to maintain a credible viewpoint on the subject) that Peter Fitzgerald sought an appointee with no connections to the Illinois political establishments of any persuasion and selected Patrick, a non-political, career Assistant U.S. Attorney in New York. Senator Fitzgerald’s “sponsering” of Patrick Fitzgerald amounted to the Senator’s recommendation that he fight corruption wherever he found it.

    As to the Assistant U.S. Attorneys who are trying these cases, the position of Assistant U.S. Attorney is a non-political, career position in which qualified applicants are considered and hired at the district level on a non-political basis. Academic accomplishment, particularly in law school, is the strongest indicator of possible acceptance for a position. Any attempt at overt political “clouting” to get a position will usually sink an application, and the few arguably “clouted” Assistant U.S. Attorneys are usually relegated to prosecuting the least demanding and least interesting cases, unless they prove their own merit. The overwhelming response of the U.S. Attorneys and their Assistants to the charge that their prosecutions are politically motivated would be that the charge is insulting, groundless, and defamatory. Freedom from corruption is a status that these federal attorneys take pride in maintaining. If you disagree, tell us who has the “clout list”, ala Sorich, for the hiring of Assistant U.S. Attorneys.

  12. - Garp - Wednesday, Jun 28, 06 @ 2:17 pm:

    I bet her column is stuck on refrigerators all over the 11th ward today.

    Congratulations, maybe they will give her a job.

  13. - Beowulf - Wednesday, Jun 28, 06 @ 3:03 pm:

    Carol is one of my favorite columnists at the Sun-Times. Today’s column by her shows that she is simply human and has let her compassion cloud her normal clear and fair judgement. I think that what really happened in today’s column by her was that she (like all of us) was simply overwhelmed by the frustration that it takes decades to get to the real “Mr. Big” when it comes to political and government corruption. It seems that the Feds “are hitting the proverbial fly with a sledgehammer”. But, to get the little vermin to squeal on the Big Rat, they have to do it this way. That is the only way the Feds can get the job done. We all know what the alternative is, don’t we? More political and governmental corruption. No thanks! I would ask that we cut this good and decent lady some slack. She is always refreshing in her candor in seeking out the truth. Her crisp and perky style makes her stand out and get our attention rather than our apathy.

    It is always frustrating when the Feds have to start eating the little minnows in their quest to work up to chomping down on the “Big Tuna”. They usually get there but, boy, it seems to take forever. Take George Ryan, for instance. Eight years and he still hasn’t seen the inside of a jail or prison.

    Sorich and these guys are flunkies for the Big Tuna but, they are still accountable for their own actions. Sorich (or anyone else for that matter) should go to jail if they cost the taxpayers a single nickel by their blind and misguided loyalty. Hang Em High.

  14. - Ashur Odishoo - Wednesday, Jun 28, 06 @ 3:21 pm:

    Absolutely not. How is it possible for Marin to feel sorry for Sorich. Sorich is a sorry hack who willfully kept patronage lists and knowingly participated in fraudulent interviews.

    What is the cost of this corruption? Would the fire at 69 W. Washington been prevented if there were good building inspectors instead of 19 year old clout kids.

  15. - Ashur Odishoo - Wednesday, Jun 28, 06 @ 3:22 pm:

    Absolutely not. How is it possible for Marin to feel sorry for Sorich. Sorich is a sorry hack who willfully kept patronage lists and knowingly participated in fraudulent interviews.

    What is the cost of this corruption? Would the fire at 69 W. Washington been prevented if there were good building inspectors instead of 19 year old clout kids.

    Ashur Odishoo
    State Representative 11th District

  16. - Sheldon - Wednesday, Jun 28, 06 @ 3:56 pm:

    I think Carol needs to put down the pipe.

  17. - Steve Rhodes - Wednesday, Jun 28, 06 @ 5:06 pm:

    I wrote in my column today that Carol Marin finally got one wrong.

    Carol wrote: “In this case, the orders, whether spoken or unspoken, are in direct violation of a decades-old federal court decree, expressly forbidding political hiring. But does this rise to the level of a federal crime worthy of prison time?”

    She thinks not, but I think she answered her question in the set-up. Perhaps most egregious in this case isn’t just the alleged fraud - which among other things endangers people’s lives by employing teenage building inspectors - and the business-as-usual political practices which are nonetheless illegal if all too familiar, but the flouting of that federal decree Marin mentions, a federal decree overseen by a federal judge. That may not be the exact basis of the charges in this case, but it’s the context in which this prosecution is taking place.

    In addition, this case is but one on an upwardly moving chain that could very well knit together a legally defined “criminal enterprise” (as George Ryan’s secretary of state’s office was declared) known up to now simply as “the mayor’s office.”

    So yeah, I think it’s a worthy investigation.

    But even if the investigation ended here, with “garden variety fraud,” as Michael Shakman has put it, how is that not deserving of prosecution and, if convictions are returned, prison time for those involved, given the massive extent of the allegations? Is the argument that this should have been handled by local prosecutors, such as the mayor’s pal, Dick Devine? If only.

    This case is not as different from the Ryan case as Marin thinks. Both are about the use of government workers for political ends. In the Ryan case, prosecutors joined hiring patronage with the pinstripe patronage of contracting scandals to present a portrait of a state for sale. In the City Hall investigation, we’ve only begun to see the hiring patronage part of mayor’s machine. A bigger picture may yet emerge.

  18. - So-Called "Austin Mayor" - Wednesday, Jun 28, 06 @ 5:23 pm:

    I disagree with Ms. Marin.

    Steve Rhodes said it best in today’s Beachwood Reporter: “[C]ynicism, patronage, and corruption form self-perpetuating, self-justifying systems that turn government bodies and offices into personal playpens ill-equipped to use our hard-earned tax dollars to actually solve problems.”

    If our city, state and nation only faced penny-ante problems, I would be less troubled by this penny-ante corruption. But everytime the government rewards somebody-somebody-knows [or somebody-somebody-paid-off], a nobody-nobody-knows pays the price.

    Sometimes that nobody is a Chicago school kid, sometimes it’s an qualified unemployed worker, sometimes it’s a poor senior — but every time it’s wrong.

    Sorry Ms. Marin, they all — and WE ALL — deserve better.

  19. - So-Called - Wednesday, Jun 28, 06 @ 5:27 pm:

    oops, here’s the Beachwood Reporter link:

  20. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jun 28, 06 @ 5:32 pm:

    Rich — Do you really think the FBI would HAVE to subpoena the IP addresses? They’re probably sniffing your site as a matter of course.

    Who needs judges to approve subpoenas? Or civil rights of any kind? Or actual laws?

    Patrick Fitzgerald is our benevolent Overlord. Decider of Right and Wrong. He and his Archangel, Patrick Collins, will see fit to try and convict anyone they deem — in their infinite wisdom — to have violated their Moral Standards.

    Let it be known, that they have Decreed, this day(well, actually during the course of their present persecution) that all governmental entities will hire on “merit” alone. And that They will be the Ultimate Judges of what constitutes “merit.”

    Thank God that they’ve finally chosen to overturn Shakman v. Democratic Party, 607 F.Supp. 1086 (N.D. Ill.1985):

    The Decree does not inhibit anyone’s voluntary political activities, but rather the judgment simply provides that, for non-exempt jobs, a person’s lawful political activity, or lack of such activity, is to have nothing to do with getting or keeping a job. Neither does the Decree impose a civil service system as defendants contend. See Judgment Order dated April 4, 1983, at 2 (”The Judgment goes no further than to attempt to eliminate political considerations in the hiring of government employees. It does not impose a civil service system nor does it necessitate that a merit system be utilized.”) Second, defendants’ argument that the Decree improperly excludes party leaders from any role in the hiring process is without merit. Although the Decree does prohibit the existing system by which hiring decisions are delegated to ward and township committeemen, the Decree does not prohibit party leaders from disseminating public information concerning job openings, referring people to employment offices of the defendants, or even from recommending persons about whom they have specific job related information. The Decree simply prohibits hiring which gives political recommendations more weight than other relevant recommendations (including recommendations of rival political groups).

    If only Messrs. Fitzgerald and Collins would be kind enough to publish their thoughts and opinions on existing case law in advance, so that we, the citizenry, can know when we are committing Wrong in their Divine Eyes. They would truly be perfect then. Just like the Tribune says they are.

  21. - Garp - Wednesday, Jun 28, 06 @ 6:46 pm:


    I would think it might be City employees and residents worried that their names might get to the administration and they would lose their jobs or worse-not get their garbage picked up.

  22. - silas - assassin opus dei monk - Wednesday, Jun 28, 06 @ 10:07 pm:

    word has it that the feds visited chicago’s fleet management today….things to make you go hmmmmm

  23. - HappyToaster - Thursday, Jun 29, 06 @ 10:07 am:

    Cook County corruption is sexy. Prosecutors can make their careers throwing the book at some low level apparatchik. Suburban and downstate pols don’t have to worry about the Feds until they run statewide. Selective prosecution isn’t justice. If you don’t think it happens in your neck of the woods you’re being naive in the extreme. It’s just that going after corruption in say DuPage won’t result in a phat gig at some Loop law firm.

  24. - Anonymous - Thursday, Jun 29, 06 @ 1:21 pm:

    Ms Marin’s commentary is a bit too wishy-washy.

    Obviously, they should be tried. If they acted corruptly, they should be found guilty. Then the question is what punishment is appropriate.

    If the fed needs them for evidence in bigger trials, then they should get reduced sentences for providing evidence.

    Obviously, they’re not going to go on a violent rampage, so is jail really the best form of punishment?

    Why not heavy fines, strict travel restrictions, no car, and loss of all government benefits? Would prohibiting any political activity or government service for a decade grab enough attention to discourage future corruption? How about public service testifying against future corrupt officials by explaining how corruption works to the jury? Why not years of community service speaking to students and civic organizations about corruption and ethics, as well as counseling for the unemployed? Perhaps some reduced penalties if they successfully lobby for stricter corruption laws and help enforce those laws? Is it reasonable for some public shame, such as brief jail time and requiring them to visably wear an embarrassing and educational t-shirt or hat related to their crime whenever they’re in public?

    We really need more creative punishments for these corrupt, but non-violent officials and white collar criminals who could still provide useful community service instead of wasting more of our tax dollars clogging up our jails.

    Hit him hard, just do it more creatively!

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