Mayor Richard M. Daley emerged from hiding on Thursday to insist he knew nothing about the partnership his nephew formed with one of the city's leading developers to win the right to invest $68 million in city pension funds with a guarantee of $8 million in management fees to the duo until he read about it in the paper like everyone else.
Is that even remotely possible in a family consistently described as clannish and close-knit?
"I won't get into the inner workings of my family," Daley read from a statement after disappearing from the public this week with a (purported) case of the flu. "Except to say that we're not different than anyone else."
If that's the case, the mayor is lying, because it's hard to imagine many families in which an uncle would be unaware of a piece of business such as this done by his nephew - especially one with so much practice at patronage and cronyism as the Daleys.
"You'd have to be a chumbolone moron of the third degree to believe he had nothing to do with it," John Kass said on Good Day Chicago before the mayor made his statement.
After reading his statement, Daley took questions from reporters as long as they weren't about the subject of the statement he had just read.
"I answered questions," Daley said after refusing to answer questions. "The statement speaks for itself."
But clearly the statement did not speak for itself. Daley had to read it aloud.
The mayor was willing to answer questions about city layoffs so the story about his nephew, Robert Vanecko, wasn't hanging out there all by itself.
Today he went back to having the flu, having erased all public events from his schedule.
"I don't know what strain," Rich Samuels said last night on Chicago Tonight, possibly alluding to the Vanecko strain.
This morning, though, Kass identifies the strain as the B1-S1 virus.
Latin name: Chumbolonius verbalis fibbus.
After all, Vanecko had previously been a partner with Daley's son, Patrick, in a sewer cleaning company that won no-bid contract extensions worth millions of dollars.
Is it remotely possible that Daley knows everybody's business in town except that of his son, nephew, and developer pal Allison Davis, particularly when that business includes vast amounts of city money?
Davis - who once employed Barack Obama and partnered with Tony Rezko - also takes exception to questions like that.
On Chicago Tonight earlier this week, Davis said he thought the media coverage of the Vanecko affair was motivated by an effort "to destroy Bob, and destroy his uncle, and to dirty me up as much as they can dirty me up."
That flu strain is spreading.
Steve Rhodes is the proprietor of The Beachwood Reporter, a Chicago-centric news and culture review.