It was an entirely reasonable question given that his handpicked former Streets and Sanitation Commissioner and one of the founders of a political organization designed to elect him - and keep electing him - had just been convicted in a massive City Hall job-rigging scandal: How could you, as mayor, have not known what was going on?
To Mayor Richard M. Daley, though, the question was entirely unreasonable. Daley brushed that question - and others like it - aside as he chided reporters and even made fun of one columnist's appearance.
"The statement speaks for itself," Daley kept saying.
Yes, but who speaks for you?
"I want to say to the people of the city of Chicago that I understand that this is a disappointment and that this conviction does not reflect well on the administration or the city. For that I am sorry," Daley said, in what the Chicago Tribune's editorial staff referred to as "a mealy-mouthed apology and a shrug."
And we shall not speak of it again!
"'I really appreciate the press conference. And I've been at many, many press conferences,' Daley said," the Tribune'sDan Mihalopoulosreports. "As reporters pressed ahead with questions, he mayor walked away, saying: 'Thank you. OK. No other questions. Thank you. Thank you'.
"It was another chapter in the public relations playbook of a mayor who frequently says he is among the nation's most accessible politicians.
"For much of his two decades in office, Daley has rarely agreed to one-on-one interviews except with visiting reporters from out-of-town publications. Chicago reporters who are most familiar with his administration and local events are routinely relegated to trying to outshout one another during the mayor's three or four news conferences a week.
"The format allows Daley to note that he is very open to what he once famously described as being 'scrootened' by the local media that he regards as too negative. At the same time, the free-for-all sessions often allow him to shrug off questions about matters he doesn't wish to discuss."
Sun-Times reporter Fran Spielman asked Daley about a city truck driver who was hired - without experience - after filling out an application at a bar for officials of the Hispanic Democratic Organization. The driver was later involved in an accident that seriously injured a co-worker, who later died.
"You asked that question before," Daley said. "I don't have all the specifics."
You don't? We do.
At one point, Daley lamely tried to make fun of Tribune columnist John Kass.
""Don't say I'm mad or I'm upset. You'll say that in your articles. I know you will. Are there any other questions? You do that, you know. You want to get the mayor impatient and mad and face like John, all red up."
"[Daley] fought two heroic battles Tuesday at his news conference in which he dodged questions about his convicted former aide, Streets and San boss Al Sanchez," Kass explains this morning (in his column entitled "Mr. Mayor, I love you, man, too—call me").
"One battle was with reporters. He always wins those. And there was that other battle, positively Homeric, a battle between Daley and his inner Mayor Chucky, the terrifying mayoral persona that often reveals itself when he's angry."
"After the event, Daley press secretary Jacquelyn Heard took the unusual step of calling reporters to say she had advised Daley to do no more than read the one-page statement," Mihalopoulos writes.
"'We don't want to go down this road of him being pelted with questions from everybody,' she said."
Yes, God forbid the mayor of Chicago be "pelted" with questions.
"With 11 cameras there, he's not going to remember allegations of things that happened 10 or 20 years ago."
Fine. But what about last week's trial and this week's conviction?