Mayor Richard Daley insisted Tuesday that he had no role in personnel decisions and denied knowledge of any criminal activity, even as a growing hiring scandal led to the departure of another top City Hall manager.

John Doerrer, head of the Mayor's Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, resigned the day after one of his deputies was accused by federal prosecutors of rigging city hiring to reward campaign supporters of Daley and other politicians.

Doerrer said he did nothing wrong but asserted in his resignation letter that he could no longer do his job effectively, said Jacquelyn Heard, Daley's press secretary.

Daley expressed sadness at the mail fraud charges filed Monday against Robert Sorich, a deputy in IGA, and Patrick Slattery, director of staff services in the Department of Streets and Sanitation. The men, both 42, are from the Bridgeport neighborhood in the 11th Ward, the Daley family's ancestral home and its political power base.

"I feel for the men named yesterday and their families at this difficult time," Daley said. "I know them. I know their families to be good people who are upstanding in the community. The allegations against them yesterday do not fit what I know about them."

But Daley said he didn't have any knowledge of the federal allegations against the men.

"I don't play any role in hiring. No, I don't.I never have," the mayor said.

Daley also said "I don't know of any political hiring per se"--a comment that Heard later amended.

"Does the mayor know political activity happens in the sense that people sometimes call and recommend candidates for various positions? Sure, he knows that like we all do," Heard said. "However, if the suggestion is that he is aware of political activity where wrongdoing occurred or laws were broken such as shredding documents or fixing tests, of course not. That was the point he was making."

City Hall abuzz

The fast-moving developments left City Hall abuzz with talk of what names were hinted at in the criminal complaints and who might be the next target of federal investigators.

"Shocked," said Ald. George Cardenas (12th). "This is definitely a shocker."

Ald. Ed Smith (28th) applauded the federal probe, saying he has lived by the Shakman federal court decree that for decades has prohibited political hiring in all but about 1,000 of the roughly 38,000 city jobs.

"I can't send people to certain folks and get these jobs. So if I can't do that, why should somebody else be able to do it?" Smith said.

Federal authorities say their investigation, aided by cooperation from many current and former City Hall department heads and personnel chiefs, has uncovered a massive scheme in which administration officials systematically circumvented the federal ban on political hiring. Prosecutors allege that Sorich, Daley's longtime patronage chief, oversaw a fraudulent process in which required tests and interviews were often rigged or even ignored to favor people with clout over others with better qualifications.

The investigation includes a former high-ranking city official who secretly recorded a conversation about hiring with Sorich.

Sources on Tuesday confirmed that the former official is Daniel Katalinic, who retired from the city in June 2003 as a $110,700-a-year deputy commissioner after spending 32 years in Streets and Sanitation.

He did not return messages seeking comment.

"All I can say on behalf of Mr. Katalinic is that I represent him," said attorney Jeffrey Steinback. "I can't confirm any other inquiries."

According to court records and sources, Katalinic told investigators that he headed a political organization mostly made up of city workers and others who were seeking city jobs.

Katalinic sponsored one applicant who aced his job interview in Chicago in March 2004, even though the applicant was actually in Iraq on active military duty then, sources said.

Katalinic also allegedly helped place a political volunteer in his organization on the "winners" list for promotion to equipment dispatcher even though he "died before the interviews were conducted," according to court records. The applicant was buried four days before the interview.

Katalinic was working undercover for the FBI and wearing a hidden recorder when he visited Sorich at his home on June 16 to talk about the criminal investigation, sources confirmed.

According to court records and sources, Katalinic mentioned that agents had searched the offices of the IGA in April, and wondered whether they had found typewritten lists of hires and promotions of politically connected employees.

"You don't know if they (the lists) were destroyed?" Katalinic asked. "That leaves us ... wide open on that one."

Sorich allegedly replied, "Yeah," adding later, "I wish I could have been of more comfort to you."

The mayor's brother, Cook County Commissioner John Daley, acknowledged Tuesday that he sometimes drove downtown to work with Sorich, whose father was the official photographer for the late Mayor Richard J. Daley.

John Daley, who is also the 11th Ward Democratic committeeman, declined to comment on the charges against Sorich and Slattery but said "I've known both of these young men, and their families have been friends for a long time. And my heart goes out to them."

Slattery, whose sister is a Cook County Circuit Court judge, recently married one of the mayor's secretaries.

Both Sorich and Slattery were fired after the charges were lodged. Attorneys for both men said they would contest the charges.

Doerrer, the head of IGA since late 2000, succeeded Victor Reyes, a founder of the Hispanic Democratic Organization, a pro-Daley group that has scores of members on the city payroll.

Doerrer's departure follows resignations or firings since May of five department heads, the city's inspector general and Daley's chief of staff.

The exodus raises questions about how Daley will be able to recruit top quality replacements while his administration is under intense federal scrutiny and suffering from a series of scandals.

The turmoil "is definitely going to cast a temporary pall over the ability of the city to recruit top-class people," said David Schulz, a former Chicago budget director who now is director of Northwestern University's Infrastructure Technology Institute. "Some people are going to be intimidated, but those people with a tradition of public service will not be."

Adding an element of uncertainty for any possible job candidate is whether Daley will run again in 2007, he said.

Mayor loves his job

Daley so far has brushed off the question of whether he plans to run for re-election, but he said on Tuesday that he still loves his job.

"Sometimes you are in mountains, sometimes you are in the valley and sometimes you have difficult challenges," he said.

The mayor said he soon will unveil a plan to revamp city hiring, which he ordered after federal agents seized City Hall records earlier this year. The plan was very close to being unveiled but now is being revamped in light of Monday's charges, Heard said.

The plan was going to be far-reaching but now has to go even further because it is possible "that even the smallest bit of political influence such as a letter or call from an alderman or minister or community leader could be perceived as political," Heard said.

Cardenas, whose aldermanic campaign was aided by HDO political forces, said things have already changed.

"Yesterday, a young man in dire straits came to my office," Cardenas said. "He seemed to be qualified, he was trying to get a job. ... He kept insisting that `Alderman, you know people--can you make a call for me?' I said that I can't do that because you have to go through a process of applying and see if you qualify for an interview.

"I think you are going to see a lot of that, where people are going to say, `OK, the alderman can't help me, so why bother?'"


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`I did not know of any political hiring personally in the sense that people have opportunities, but no, I don't know of any political hiring per se on that itself, because that violates the Shakman decree.'

`No, but if there's any criminal activity whatsoever, I had no knowledge of any criminal activity, whether it's shredding or testing or altering papers whatsoever.'

`Listen. I think I have the greatest job. I love this job. I love what it is all about. Sometimes you are in mountains, sometimes you are in the valley and sometimes you have difficult challenges ... '

`I am personally saddened by the allegations. Though there are no allegations that anyone named enriched themselves, test-rigging, fabricated interviews or shredding documents have no place in this government.'

`I am determined as the mayor of the city of Chicago to deal with these challenges and continue the work of my life, which is to make the city of Chicago the best city in the world.'