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
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.