By John Kass.

August 21, 1993

Embarrassed by the revelation that taxpayers paid $30 an hour so that a Department of Streets and Sanitation office worker could act as chauffeur to mobster Joseph Lombardo, the Daley administration on Friday closed the department's 1st Ward Loop sanitation office.

That office was created in 1991 in the hopes of correcting another embarrassing episode. At that time, the city inspector general's office found that 37 Streets and Sanitation street sweepers were being regularly paid even though they didn't show up for work.

Instead, Inspector General Alexander Vroustouris found that some sweepers were going to the racetrack, running their own businesses and, in one case, committing a jewelry robbery while on city time.

Although the administration vowed to fire the workers, most were retained because of political pressure from the laborers union. Mayor Richard M. Daley created the Loop office in the hopes of properly managing the 1st Ward crew.

Apparently those management techniques failed and the department's troubles continue, as Streets and Sanitation continues to be linked with Chicago's wiseguy element.

Another Vroustouris investigation revealed Thursday that 1st Ward laborers foreman Chris Spina was found to be driving the mob's gambling boss around town while filing for overtime, prompted Friday's action.

Daley's office issued a news release saying that in the wake of the Spina investigation, the city would reorganize downtown sanitation functions, including the closing of the Loop Sanitation Office on Lower Wacker Drive.

Supervisory lines of command are also to be shifted, the city said. The work of cleaning Chicago's central business district was placed under the department's deputy commissioner, David Ochal, who started in politics as an aide to Daley enemy Ald. Helen Shiller (46th), but who moved to manage aldermanic campaigns against her, ultimately catching the eye of the mayor's chief political operative, Timothy Degnan.

Vroustouris' investigation also found that Spina, 40, of 2221 W. Race St., violated city ethics codes by having an interest in a trucking firm that did business with the city, and for allegedly selling off city-owned scrap metal to private companies and pocketing the profits.

Spina also supervised his two brothers, Anthony and John Spina, who were arrested Aug. 9 after police raided their West Side home to find a quantity of unregistered handguns, rifles and ammunition.

Vroustouris said he would recommend that the city fire all three Spina brothers, and also that the Department of Streets and Sanitation stop allowing relatives to supervise other relatives. Such nepotism in management was traced to the 1991 street sweeper scandal as well, but the department has made no move to change its policy.

The 1991 scandal also led in part to the ouster of former Commissioner Raymond Cachares. The current commissioner, Eileen Carey, is connected to the 19th Ward Democratic organization.

The old 1st Ward organization, once courted by Daley and his late father, Mayor Richard J. Daley, recently has fallen on hard times. Many of its leaders have been linked to organized crime, and former Ald. Fred Roti (1st) was sent to prison last week for corruption.

Copyright 1998, The Tribune Company.

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