Federal prosecutors are expected to wrap up their case against former Streets and San Commissioner Al Sanchez today, with the jury possibly getting its hands on it by the end of the week. So now is a good time to review what we've learned so far.
- In opening remarks, the prosecution alleged that Sanchez, as a leader of the now-defunct and discredited Hispanic Democratic Organization, traded city jobs for political work - including work on Mayor Richard M. Daley's campaigns. City hiring was a "sham," said assistant U.S. attorney Steven Grimes.
- Sanchez's personnel director, Jack Drumgould, testified that Sanchez gave him the names of HDO members he wanted hired by the city as a reward for their political work. Drumgould then took those names to the Mayor's Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. Qualifications, Drumgould said, "were totally non-relevant."
- A deputy commissioner in the city's General Services Department, Raymond Gamboa testified that he met with longtime Daley confidante Tim Degnan in a bar before Daley's first run for mayor and was promised city jobs in return for Hispanic votes. Bill Daley was also tied to the formation of HDO.
- A 1993 fundraising letter that stated HDO's main purpose was to elect - and keep electing - Mayor Daley was introduced into evidence.
- HDO foot soldier Denise Alcantar testified that she filled out her city job application at a Southwest Side biker bar and was then hired as a garbage truck driver, though she had no experience. Alcantar was involved in five work accidents, including one that killed a co-worker.
- John Barrera testified that when he wanted a city job, he went through HDO and not . . . the city. He got a job as a toll collector on the Chicago Skyway before he even applied.
If all of this sounds familiar, it is. In 2006, Robert Sorich and three other City Hall officials were convicted for awarding city jobs and promotions to the politically connected instead of the most worthy. Sorich had been the director of the Mayor's Office of Intergovernmental Affairs; he was otherwise known as Daley's "patronage chief."
It might also sound familiar because it's still going on, according to a federal monitor who filed a report saying just that just as the Sanchez trial got underway.
And who is the city's CEO responsible for hiring - and the boss of Sorich and Sanchez as well as the person for whom these crimes and alleged crimes were perpetrated? Mayor Richard M. Daley.
The prosecution is expected to call its final witness today, a former deputy commissioner named Dennis Katalinic who worked for Sanchez in Streets and San. "[P]rosecutors say in 2000 [Katalinic] recruited ethnic whites in the department that weren't working with the Hispanic Democratic Organization or one of the largely African American political groups," WBEZ reports. "Four years later Katalinic's organization had 200 people, mostly city employees, who could hit the streets for Mayor Richard Daley in the run up to elections."
Of course, we haven't heard from the defense yet, and you can never predict what a jury will do. But if the Sorich trial is any indication, Sanchez is going up the river. And Daley rolls merrily along.