The Chicago Syndicate: Daley anti-crime message doesn't apply to Duffs
The Mission Impossible Backpack

Friday, September 26, 2003

Daley anti-crime message doesn't apply to Duffs

A few hours after his good pals, the Duffs, were indicted by a federal grand jury for defrauding city taxpayers out of more than $100 million--Mayor Richard Daley made like a comedian. He asked Chicago to stand with him to fight crime. Then he said the Duffs were hard-working guys. Excuse me for not laughing, but a joke that involved a $100 million contract--even as your property taxes skyrocket--isn't all that funny, is it?

Daley was on the Northwest Side, asking Latinos, African-Americans and others to bravely face down street thugs. All that was missing was a caped-crusader costume or a tiny and sarcastic court jester at his side. When the mayor talked about criminals, he wasn't talking about the Duff clan. They're pink and suburban and close to him, part of his clique, and some Duffs are friends of Chicago Outfit bosses.

"That's why you're here holding your child on your shoulders!" Daley shouted to the crowd Thursday night, which was ready to commence with an anti-crime march. "We're here to protect all the children! That's why [criminals] are enemies!"

It was an amazing display. At least it proves what he thinks of taxpayers. They're the suckers who get squeezed to fill the public troughs from which his friends eat.

Daley wouldn't hang out with drug dealers, obviously. But he'd show up at the Duff Christmas parties at the Como Inn, legendary affairs, glad-handing and back-slapping, letting political Chicago know the Duffs were his guys.

The parties were Daley declarations, that the Duffs were Daley's, so watch it. And everybody who's anybody got the message. But out in the neighborhood Thursday, he wasn't referring to the alleged Duff criminal masterminds. Instead, he was referring to neighborhood lowlifes, guys who take your money with a gun, not a deal.

What was also amazing was that the crowd at the anti-crime rally was largely minority.

Only a few hours before, the Duffs were indicted for ripping off minorities and women, by running phony minority businesses that got $100 million in city contracts, though the Duff men are not blacks or Latinos or women.

They're pinkish tough guys, with Daley clout, from a family that brags about ties to the Outfit bosses, including the late Anthony Accardo, and the imprisoned (but still vigorous behind bars) Rocco Infelice.

"I know a lot of people," Daley told reporters. "And they have to be on their merits. And that's what it is."

He was asked: Is it disconcerting to you that your friends and political supporters were indicted? "It happens, unfortunately, it does," he said.

The mayor did brag, though, once the Duff scandal became public--he forgot to mention that Tribune investigative reporters and editors made it public--that his administration denied minority contract certification to 880 companies.

A Tribune reporter asked: How many of those denied were political contributors?

"Geez, I don't know."

How many were your friends?

"Gee, I don't know. I don't really know. Doesn't matter if they're friends or not."


Daley made news, although some might miss it, by admitting Thursday that he knows the Duffs. When the Tribune first broke the Duff investigation in 1999, he didn't know them. "Oh, I know them. Sure," he said Thursday. "You know that. They're hard-working people. This is an unfortunate incident."

What about their ties to organized crime? "Geez. I don't know about that," said the crime-fighting mayor of Chicago.

Earlier, City Corporation Counsel Mara Georges said she was not surprised by the indictments, which is natural, since there were federal subpoenas issued first. And she had trouble explaining why the Daley administration couldn't find the fraud--she actually defended Daley's "investigation" of the Duffs--which found that, geez, pink guys got minority contracts.

"We took aggressive and affirmative action against them," said Georges, perhaps unaware of the pun.

She also explained why her investigation of the Duffs didn't find any fraud. "We do not have subpoena powers," she said.

Geez, Mara.

Tribune investigative reporters Andrew Martin, Laurie Cohen and Ray Gibson don't have subpoena powers. The editors don't have subpoena powers. But they figured out that the Duffs aren't minorities.

Now, finally, a federal grand jury has figured it out. And it only cost you $100 million to make Daley's friends happy.

That's funny. Like a clown.

Thanks to John Kass

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