Daley facing criticism for retaining employee who admittedly broke the law

Friday, December 22, 2006

Mayor Richard Daley is under fire for not firing a top city official who admitted to rigging exams to get a job for a son of a top union official.

A long time friend and political ally of the Daleys is on the job as the Mayor's Deputy Planning Commissioner at $129,000 a year, even though he admittedly broke the law by fixing a hiring exam.

The city's inspector general won't talk about his recommendation to fire him, which is part of a confidential report, but the report is giving Daley's opponents fresh ammunition in the mayor's race.

"It's sending the wrong message," said opponent Dorothy Brown. "It's saying that you can do whatever you want to do. You can commit a crime and you'll still be taken care of. Being taken care of because of political connections is wrong."

Brown is questioning Mayor Daley's commitment to cleaning up City Hall corruption, considering the fact that Christopher Kozicki, a Daley family friend and political ally from the 11th Ward in Bridgeport, is still knocking down $129,000 a year as a deputy planning commissioner. That's despite the fact that Kozicki, testifying with a grant of immunity from the Feds, admitted during the trial of Daley Patronage Chief Robert Sorich that he rigged a hiring exam so Andy Ryan,the unqualified 19-year-old son of a union boss, could get a job as a city building inspector.

The mayor's advisors claim that he hasn't been fired because the Feds have advised the city not to penalize cooperating witnesses. But he had to be forced to cooperate and given a grant of immunity from the feds to give an honest testimony.

"He's been given a second opportunity that many others never get. He got a break by not being charged," said Better Government Association's Jay Stewart.

Daley's press secretary says the situation has nothing to do with politics, and in fact, she says he may be fired eventually if the city law department and his boss in the planning department agree with the inspector general's report, and if the U.S. attorney's office doesn't have any objections.

The feds aren't commenting today, but as a rule, they only try to protect whistleblowers or witnesses who cooperate willingly and voluntarily, which is not the case with him, who didn't return ABC7 Chicago's phone calls today.

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