Sunday, July 23, 2006

Gutierrez assails Daley over cop torture scandal

Gutierrez assails Daley over cop torture scandal
By Charles Sheehan
Copyright © 2006, Chicago Tribune
Published July 23, 2006

U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) slammed Mayor Richard Daley Saturday for dodging blame in the police torture scandal, as Gutierrez inched closer to declaring his mayoral candidacy.

Gutierrez, using the mayor's own words, said voters should consider Daley's entire record if he runs in February's mayoral election.

"The essence of his message is, `You know me, trust me, I have a record, but the hiring incident isn't part of my record. Jon Burge isn't part of my record. The scandals of contracting, those aren't part of my record,'" Gutierrez said Saturday. "Every time there's an issue, `that's not part of my record. Judge me on the totality of who I am,' and that's what he says. This is the totality of who he is."

The verbal shots came a day after Daley said he expected political fire over a special prosecutor's report detailing a decade-long pattern of torture by Chicago police.

Only three of the 292 pages in the report released Wednesday had references to Daley, who was Cook County state's attorney when allegations of abuse by police arose in 1982.

Yet Gutierrez said Daley ignored a letter from then-Police Supt. Richard Brzeczek, who was seeking legal guidance on allegations of torture by Cmdr. Jon Burge and officers under his control.

Daley has not said if he will run for a sixth term and on Saturday said he would stand on his record as the county's top prosecutor during the time that the allegations of police torture surfaced.

"You better believe it. [I'm] very proud of when I was state's attorney of Cook County, very proud," he said. "I've got a good record there."

A four-year investigation found insufficient evidence of any wrongdoing in the state's attorney's office that could lead to prosecutions there, and Daley said he did not receive key information on allegations of abuse at the time.

In February 1982, Brzeczek forwarded a doctor's letter to Daley, stating that an examination of a suspect in the shooting deaths of two police officers had signs of multiple injuries before he was jailed.

Daley told investigators that he could not remember what happened to that letter, according to the report. Daley on Friday said he likely read the letter, but didn't remember doing so.

Gutierrez said there is a clear pattern in which Daley has distanced himself from trouble spots within his office--from the recent convictions in a city hiring scandal and fraudulent city contracting, to the Burge report issued Wednesday.

"He got a letter from Brzeczek and he did nothing about it," said Gutierrez, as he addressed a Service Employees International Union political workshop at Wilbur Wright College. "He said, `I don't remember.' Well, do you remember the truck scandal ... Angelo Torres?"

Torres, a former gang member who headed the city's Hired Truck program, was convicted of taking about $60,000 in bribes from dozens of trucking companies.

Other potential candidates for mayor include Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown and state Sen. James Meeks (D-Chicago). Bill "Dock" Walls, aide to the late Mayor Harold Washington, has declared his candidacy.

On Saturday, Gutierrez made no secret of his desire to take Daley's seat: "I am seriously considering running for the mayor of Chicago. I've stated that. We're analyzing and evaluating such a race."

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csheehan@tribune.com

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