RICH DALEY IN RETROSPECT: IS THIS WORTH $25,000? KNOCK-KNOCK, ANYBODY HOME? WHO’S DERE?
The Squid, my name for the writhing, living, breathing Democratic party organism here which has tentacles into all facets of life…big business, organized labor, liberal media and our Roman Catholic chancery, also equipped with an ink sac used to cloud the media waters so as to hide its intentions… has been worried—but is no longer.
Until recently it suffered from nervous upchuckitis because the city’s Irish Catholic Democratic royal family was threatened with possible prosecution for an indelicacy of seven years ago that everybody thought was tucked away.
The indelicacy is a death suffered when a 21-year-old, five-foot-four-inch 145-lb kid from the suburbs, David Koschman, struck the city pavement after being slugged in the early morning hours in what the cops called a drunken altercation one Spring night in 2004 near Rush Street, the nightclub district, purportedly by Rich Daley’s apparently uncontrollable thug-sized nephew, R. J. Vanecko who has been featured in brawls before.
Koschman brushed by the Daley party including Vanecko; words were exchanged and Koschman was slugged. After the slugging all three from the Daley party including Vanecko ran away. The medical examiner...not clued in on the royal family’s bloodline in this case…called it a homicide. That’s when what looks very much like a coverup began.
In Chicago when this happens to a mayor’s family, the fix goes in via the cops and the prosecuting attorney’s office.
As young Koschman lay dying in his hospital bed, a city detective called the room and told his mother that her son had been involved in an altercation—which she already knew. The detective promised to get back to the mother soon. Never happened. The cops never began an investigation for until Koschman died, 12 days later.
By that time Vanecko showed up for a lineup with a completely changed appearance, having shaved his head. Then the investigation was moved to another location where…surprise!...the records of the encounter disappeared. Finally, the Cook county States’ Attorney, Richard Devine close to the Daleys…and who was Daley’s top assistant when the mayor served as States Attorney… decided not to prosecute.
The story received a brief notoriety after it happened but then seemed to fall off the edge of the earth for years untilThe Sun-Timesand NBC-Chicago employed sophisticated Freedom of Information Act devices to reincarnate the story. The more the paper and TV station dug the more intrigued it got about the missing records. They unearthed a wealth of new information showing that the cops—from beat cops to homicide detectives to area police commanders to assistant states attorneys—considered it a very hot potato and wanted nothing to do with it in order to protect Daley.
Daley’s retirement assured the media that since he would not be around, he would not be in a position to punish news organizations (not so with some viable Squid operatives) which we will get to later.
Disappearing and “lost” police records—especially after a decision was made not to prosecute—is rarity even in politically barnacled Chicago. Richard Kling, a law professor at Chicago-Kent College of Law said in the FOI probe: “They declined charges but they can’t find the file? I’ve been doing this for 39 years, literally thousands of cases. I’ve never seen a felony review file missing. Ever. Never heard of one. There’s certainly some red flags. Like not investigating the case earlier, a missing felony review file, transferring the case from one area to another and not having lineups until a month later.”
The reason The Squid was upset is that in office or retirement Daley has a very volatile temper coupled with an elephant’s memory and his disposition would be to interfere with the upward mobility of anyone who aids and abets the Koschman matter which leads to the prosecution of a family member.
That would mean the current states attorney, Anita Alverez, who was number 3 under Devine, a major prosecutor in his office at the time and should be expected to know something about the case. Since then with Devine’s retirement, Averez won a primary over four other Dems and the general election, becoming the first woman…and first Hispanic..States Attorney—viewed as a one of the rising Hispanic stars in the county.
When badgered by the press to reopen the case, Alverez first went into hiding…speaking through aides. She released only certain information and then not under her own name—such as one paper titled “Statement of the Cook County States Attorney’s Office [sic] Regarding the Death Investigation of David Koschman” and another that bore no title or reference to Alverez.
This presented a bit of a problem for Carol Marin who…to give her credit worked on the story at both theSun-Timesand NBC Chicago. The a 60ish russet haired feminist and legendary liberal had cheered the election of Alverez as a victory for feminism—but now her hero (heroine you understand being a sexist term) who quite likely knew full well the facts behind the Koschman case was stonewalling. Regretfully Marin wrote a column that evinced her displeasure with the stalling. However the paper conceived of a solution to get the States Attorney’s office out of the jam…and the last two incumbents, Devine (Daley’s onetime top aide) and Alverez who has been savoring eventual appointment as a federal judge with recommendations to the Obama Justice department from a panel Devine heads.
After one nasty column, Marin laid off Alverez. But ingeniously ideas which surfaced in aSun-Timeseditorial that seemed a natural to rescue Alverez, would be to kick the can down the road. Meaning to have another of Marin’s choice women heroes--Illinois Attorney General, Lisa Madigan--name a special prosecutor and take the issue off Alverez’s plate. Everybody agrees that the statute of limitations such as involuntary manslaughter has expired—and while murder has no statute of limitations, it is difficult at this time with “lost” police records to make that case stick.
The editorial suggested coyly that maybe Alverez herself would ask the AG to intervene and maybe empanel a grand jury. That idea has just seemed to lay there. Anyone conversant with Lisa Madigan, knows she’s a reformers for the grandstands and doesn’t want to go poking her nose into questions such as why Richie Daley’s nephew wasn’t given the same prosecutorial treatment as would be expected for anyone else.
The second option laid out in the exceedingly helpful-to-Alverez editorial published in Chicago’s heavily Democratic newspaper was to ask that Patrick Fitzgerald take it—the U. S. Attorney who has been pulled into investigative tasks before, and who flirted with liberals in the Valerie Plame case by conducting a probe purportedly to find out who leaked Plame’s CIA operative status while all the time Fitzgerald knew the identity of the leaker (Bush deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage) but plunging ahead to indict the chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, Scooter Libby for supposedly withholding information about other things outside the purview of the Fitzgerald investigation.
The Squid suffered gas pains anew when the hyper-cautious Alverez met with her old friend Marin and while she denied anything untoward happened with the cops and her office tepidly endorsed the idea of an independent probe in the matter in order to “clear the air.” She referred it to Daley’s inspector general but that only certifies the fix is really in.
To sweeten it up she asked Pat Quinn’s new state police head to reenter the case.
For a second The Squid thought it would vomit. But Old Watery Eyes’ who has a practiced aura of sanctimony so he can carry it off without doubling in laughter (easy since he has no humor) saw that his new appointee turned down the opportunity. No thanks.
The Squid took a Tums and forgot about it.
Earlier, , Dick Devine sitting in his private law firm’s corner office couldn’t explain the missing police records.
Once again into the breach they went—all striving to help Rich.
Just as in the case of the Boston charm boy, JFK an army of people have dedicated their lives to making Rich Daley’s life easier. They got him through a JD at DePaul, historically the law school of The Squid but he had trouble passing the bar exam—took it and flunked it three times, the fourth being the charm after some massive help was engineered to get him through it. The magic name Daley got him elected to the Illinois Constitutional Convention and then to the state senate from the ancestral home of his family in Bridgeport.
Following which he won the post of Cook county states attorney a campaign his much-smarter kid brother Blll ran. Bill made sure after Rich’s election that he was surrounded by excellent lawyers, topped by Devine. The one problem they faced was Daley’s butchered English syntax.
Bill ingeniously compared Rich’s ineloquence with that of their father, Richard J. —but there was no comparison.
I met with Old Man Daley when I took a job as assistant Commerce Secretary in 1969 and his questions were succinct and direct and if not always flawlessly grammatical, they got the point across and he was extraordinarily good on follow-up. “Listen,” he said. “Whatever you can do for Chicago, when you find out what it is—either the Commerce EDA [Economic Development Authority} or when you get your own funding for small business—call me. Here’s my personal number [handing me a card on which he had written his confidential office number]. I’ve talked to Don Rumsfeld at OEO [Office of Economic Opportunity] and” he rattled off a list of other Republican Nixon appointees.
Rich Daley, I’ve always found, was much more indirect. So indirect as to be indecipherable. But a true cipher can’t be indecipherable: this won’t compute.
Early on, Brother Bill had propagated the view—I now think I fell for a skillful myth—that Rich spoke purposely in language fitted for a teamster as a device to make him more a man of the people. For a long time I bought it—but having known Bill, as a fellow lobbyist, much longer than I did Rich, I always wondered why, if true, Rich had to garble not just the language but ideas—while Bill, coming from the same family and background, has no trouble at all conversing on multi-levels.
I brought it up in friendly fashion to Bill when we bumped into each other checking out at a Madison hotel desk…the home away from home… in Washington.
“You guys were raised together and are very close,” I said, standing behind him as he signed his credit card. “I’m intrigued that we see only one type of guy in him at news conferences but--.”
“Well yes—but I can tell you the real Rich is more cerebral than you can imagine,” he said. “Take it from me. It’s a great political device that helped our Dad and helps him.
“So say you were to run for governor, what would you sound like?”
Bill Daley who always cherished a run for governor of Illinois said, “Just like I am now.”
“But if you were to run for president of the Cook county board?”
“That,” said Bill Daley, “is different. I’d have to make a lot of neighborhood appearances and it’d be like this—“ and he lapsed into dat-dem-dese Bridgeport lexicon. A perfect imitation of Rich with flawless intonation.
We laughed heartily.
For years Bill Daley convinced me Rich’s feigned obtuseness was a put-on to avoid heavy examination in news conferences where he would have to delineate ideas. That ended in 2000.
In midsummer of that presidential election year we met at the City Club of Chicago where I am chairman. He was to deliver a “state of the city” address.
“Roeser,” he said as he passed me the luncheon rolls,”who’s gonna be d’ next president?” “Bush.” “Naw—gimme a break!” “Who do you think, Mayor?” “Who? Gore of course!” “You’re on,” I said. “Loser buys lunch!” “Hey—best deal I got today!”
After the long recount and Supreme Court ruling when it was determined that Bush won the electoral while losing the popular vote, I waited to hear from him.
Not a peep.
So I called. His black female press secretary checked and said he didn’t recall making a bet. But there were all kinds of people who overheard. She called back and said, “He’ll host breakfast in his office—just you, him and me.”
When I got there on the fifth floor of City Hall, his office was transformed by a banquet table. We talked about a number of things—principally what he saw as Democratic size-ups in the next two years. When he brought up Democratic advances made in the Chicago suburbs which had hitherto been GOP country, I asked him this:
“You say women in the suburbs are voting Democrat because of abortion. Does that bother you in any way because of the serious moral nature of this procedure held by the Church you and I belong to?”
“Huh?” I repeated it.
“Lissen dey [the women] are goin’ to vote as dere goin’ to vote. What’s the difference? Dey had been votin’ wit’ the Republicans and now dere wit’ us. Whazza difference.`Merican way.”
He masked it with a huge gaffaw and a shrug of shoulders.
I looked into the eyes of his press secretary and for a split-second thought I saw keen disappointment with the answer.
If I had asked the same question of Bill—and indeed I have earlier—I’d get at least an effort at parsing ideas.
Not here. I left him thinking: Bill’s been conning me. This guy’s no put-on. He’s really dumb.
Dumb with a lot of smart friends. He’ll find out how many friends he has when he embarks on that famous lecture tour cross-country at $25,000 to $50,000 a pop. I asked one of his early business allies: Will the tour work for him? He said: Are you kidding? Anybody who pays that much to hear him ought to have his head examined. He was one who stood at rapt attention during their meetings on the 5thfloor.
But in other cities where his manufactured luster still shines, there’ll be some suckers.
They’ll pay it once. And never again especially after getting a tough question he walks over to the guy, raps his knuckles on his forehead and says: “Knock knock! Anybody home? Who’s dere?”