City Job Fair Fix

Testimony: political hiring stoked ethnic rivalries

As a founder of the Hispanic Democratic Organization - and the commissioner of the city's Streets and Sanitation department - Al Sanchez was allegedly counted on by Richard M. Daley's inner circle to bring the Hispanic vote to the polls in exchange for city jobs.

As a deputy working under Sanchez, Dennis Katalinic testified on Monday in Sanchez's federal trial that he was counted on to bring white ethnics to the polls in exchange for city jobs. Because there weren't enough jobs to go around, the competition - all to the good for the mayor - was fierce.

"Katalinic said he sometimes sidestepped asking former Streets and Sanitation boss Al Sanchez to help him get members of his political organization hired and instead went straight to [Mayor Daley's] Intergovernmental Affairs Office," the Sun-Times reports.

"Honestly, because I was in competition with different groups, and his group was one of the ones I was in competition with," Katalinic said.

Katalinic's testimony came on the last day of the prosecution's case. The defense could wrap up its case as early as Wednesday.

Prosecutors also put a witness on the stand said to be a victim of the politically tainted City Hall hiring scheme. Benita Mangrum testified that she has been specifically trained to install traffic signals, yet couldn't get a job in the Bureau of Electricity.

"[T]he department really had no interest in Mangrum or anyone else who had no political connections and had done no campaign work, according to another trial witness who took the stand Monday," the Tribune reports. "Hugh Donlan, the electric bureau's personnel liaison, said applicants such as Mangrum were wasting their time.

"In fact, interviewers were told to not even fill out their rating forms. And if one was filled out by mistake, Donlan knew where to file it."

"I'd put it in the garbage," he said.

The defense will have a tough time arguing that the prosecution is merely criminalizing politics. Last year, the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the conviction of Robert Sorich, who ran the mayor's intergovernmental affairs department, saying he and his three co-defendants defrauded the people of Chicago  by running 'an illegitimate shadow hiring scheme' out of City Hall. Last month, the U. S. Supreme Court refused to hear Sorich's final appeal.

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