[Chicago Sun-Times] Emanuel brushes aside contractor’s organized crime ties allegations

BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter fspielman@suntimes.com December 4, 2012 2:24PM
Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday brushed aside allegations that the owner of a company awarded a $99 million O’Hare Airport janitorial contract was the longtime business partner of a man with ties to organized crime.

“We had a competitive process. This company won and they’re now offering jobs to the other [union] workers to also work for them at the airport doing the janitorial services,” the mayor said.

“I would note that that same company has a number of contracts with high-rises downtown in the city of Chicago with SEIU [Service Employees International Union]. So, there’s a fuller story, a more complete story. There’s more than just one side to this story.”

Laura Garza, secretary-treasurer of SEIU Local 1, said the mayor was dead-wrong.

“United Maintenance does not have a contract with us for any commercial buildings. They have no contracts with us in commercial buildings period. In the past, they had contracts with two buildings for four workers. They expired,” Garza said.

As for Emanuel’s attempts to slough off the alleged mob ties, Garza said, “Lisa Madigan in 2004 labeled the Daddano’s as mobsters. We’re calling on the inspector general and the attorney general to investigate this [to determine] whether they’re a reputable contractor to do business with the city.

Last month, the city chose United Maintenance Co., Inc. to provide custodial services at O’Hare for the next five years, ignoring a powerful union leader’s claim that the company intends to dump 300 union custodians and replace them with lower-paid, non-union janitors.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported last week that United Maintenance owner Richard Simon was involved in another company with alleged mob figure William Daddano Jr.—from 1998 until that firm was officially disbanded on Dec. 17, 2011, according to state records.

The company managed jointly by Simon and Daddano was based in the same South Loop building where United Maintenance has its offices, the records show.

In 2004, Attorney General Lisa Madigan described Daddano and three other family members as “reputed members of organized crime” as she opposed Rosemont’s bid to open a casino.

And in a “Chicago Outfit Organizational Chart” published in 1997, the Chicago Crime Commission listed Daddano among the “members and associates” of the mob’s North Side crew.

An Emanuel administration spokesman responded by saying City Hall had “no reason to believe that there is any wrongdoing with United Maintenance or its owner. However, if material issues arise, the city would take appropriate action to protect its interests.”

United Maintenance issued its own statement that insisted that, “at no time was anyone at United aware of allegations” against any of its business partners.

Simon’s collaboration with Daddano involved leasing “certain heavy equipment” at convention centers and ended about five years ago, the company statement said.

Daddano is the son of the late mobster William “Potatoes” Daddano. Reached on his cell phone, Daddano hung up on a Sun-Times reporter.

In an effort to save their jobs, janitors and window washers marched outside Emanuel’s Ravenswood home last Thursday night, which happened to be the mayor’s 53rd birthday.

Carrying a birthday cake, roughly 70 janitors sang “Happy Birthday” in Spanish, Polish and English before blowing out 53 candles and making a wish: that Emanuel would let them keep their jobs.

Garza called on Madigan to investigate United Maintenance.

“Those are right now middle-class jobs where people can feed their families, and they are going to be entry-level, poverty jobs,” Garza said.

But officials for United Maintenance, whose workers are not unionized, say they will hire some of the existing workforce and offer them the prevailing wage and better benefits. They also noted that the contractor they are replacing — Scrub Inc. — was fined $3 million for refusing to hire African Americans as O’Hare janitors.

Rick Simon once served as chairman of the Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau and was a South Loop neighbor of former Mayor Richard M. Daley. He is among a handful of Daley pals who invested in the Park Grill Restaurant at Millenium Park.

In 2002, a union oversight committee accused Simon of colluding with Chicago Teamster William Hogan Jr. in a deal that would have allowed Simon to undercut the pay of Teamsters who worked at Las Vegas conventions. Simon denied the allegations.


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