Mayor Daley remembers R.J. Vanecko | Bleader

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Mayor Daley remembers R.J. Vanecko

Posted By on 02.05.14 at 04:57 PM

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It turns out that Mayor Daley remembers that R.J. Vanecko (pictured above exiting Cook County Circuit Court in December) is his nephew!
  • Tim Boyle/Sun-Times Media
  • It turns out that Mayor Daley remembers that R.J. Vanecko (pictured above exiting Cook County Circuit Court in December) is his nephew!

As the old guy on the staff in charge of remembering stuff, I'd like to report some good news on the all-important Mayor Daley memory beat.

The mayor remembers that he is the uncle of Richard "R.J." Vanecko!

I know this because I read the 162-page report recently released by special prosecutor Dan Webb, entitled "The Death of David Koschman."

To refresh your memory, Koschman is the 21-year-old from Mount Prospect who was killed in 2004 after getting punched in the head by Vanecko, who, as I may have mentioned, is Mayor Daley's nephew.

You might also remember that neither the police nor the state's attorney seemed especially concerned about Koschman's murder until Tim Novak, Chris Fusco, Carol Marin, and other reporters from the Sun-Times wrote about it again and again and again.

Eventually, a Cook County judge ordered a special investigation—if only to shut up those Sun-Times troublemakers.

By the way, I'm trying a similar obsessive reportorial tactic in regards to Mayor Emanuel's multimillion-dollar DePaul-Marriott South Loop real estate boondoggle—so far with a lot less success.

In regards to Mayor Daley's memory, you might recall that it was a little spotty, to say the least, during his deposition in the lawsuit over the Park Grill deal.

That's the deal in which Mayor Daley's handpicked Park District board doled out a contract to run the only restaurant in Millennium Park to a consortium of mayoral friends and cronies.

One of whom happened to be the lover of the Park District employee who worked in the office in charge of giving out that contract.

I find that it's always helpful to remember these things whenever Mayor Emanuel's done something so particularly vindictive—like closing 50 schools—that it makes you nostalgic for the Daley years.

In his Park Grill deposition, Mayor Daley could remember hardly anything about the restaurant, its contract, its owners or even Millennium Park. His deposition culminated in his now-famous response: "I don't know what I knew."

A cynic might say Mayor Daley conveniently lost his memory in order to avoid any accountability for doling out that sweetheart deal.

But I won't say that, 'cause I don't want any more young people to call me cynical.

In the Vanecko case Mayor Daley sat down for an interview with investigators from the city's inspector general's office, who were acting as agents for Webb.

Unfortunately, the Webb report does not provide a transcript of Mayor Daley's interrogation. But from its summary, I gather that Daley's memory has improved since the Park Grill deposition.

For instance, "Mayor Daley stated that he learned about the Koschman incident 'sometime' after it occurred, although he was unable to say exactly when," according to the report.

At least he recalls learning about it.

To help refresh his memory, the investigators told Mayor Daley that his former aide, Matthew Crowl, had told them Crowl "was informed by someone at the Chicago Police Department of Mayor Daley's nephew's involvement in the incident on Division Street and immediately informed Mayor Daley in person of what he heard."

But "it was not clear whether Mayor Daley was already aware of the incident when Crowl made the disclosure to him." And "Mayor Daley did not recall Crowl advising him of the incident."

Check it out on pages 120 through 121.

Interestingly, Mayor Daley knew about Vanecko's involvement weeks before the investigating officers, who claimed they didn't know the mayor's nephew was involved in the fight until about three weeks after it occurred.

Who knows—if the Sun-Times keeps writing stories, some judge may eventually ask Webb to ask Mayor Daley why he knew more about the case than the investigating officers.

I don't want to leave you with the impression that I think Webb's report is totally worthless. I did learn that "there's no law in Chicago against lying to the police," as one officer put it.

I would have thought that was obstruction of justice or something. Guess I've been watching too many episodes of Barney Miller.

Apparently, Kevin McCarthy, a friend of Vanecko, lied to police when he told them he didn't know Vanecko had been involved in the fight.

But the police did not prosecute McCarthy on "obstruction of justice or similar charges" because "in essence, there is no statute prohibiting lying to the police."

You can read all about it on page 44.

If anyone out there wants to act as a guinea pig, let me know what happens if you lie to a cop during a murder investigation.

I believe you can still make collect calls from the county jail.

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