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Clout calling?

Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County Commissioner Joseph Mario Moreno not only used his clout to try to land government jobs for the politically connected, he used it to try to get his son into a prestigious private school.
That's according to tapes provided to the Sun-Times on Monday by a former assistant to Moreno.
Julie Lively, 45, recorded voice mails left for her by Moreno while she worked for him. He is heard giving her directions to do campaign work, line up friends for jobs and do personal work for him -- all apparently on taxpayer time.
Those tapes also back up a Monday Sun-Times story, which revealed the existence of a "clout list" that allegedly was kept by Moreno. The list tracked government jobs and promotions sought by politically connected applicants.
In the wake of that story, the FBI visited Lively at her Justice home Monday, listening to those tapes and reviewing documents and job lists she says she kept for Moreno, she said.
The jobs on the clout list are supposed to be filled without regard to politics.
"I need to find out exactly when they're going to start hiring so our guys go in the first wave," Moreno says in one recorded voice mail.
"Let me nail Gerald into a corner to find out when they're going to be calling the electricians," Moreno says, apparently referring to then-county patronage chief Gerald Nichols.
Defends actions
Last week, when the Sun-Times showed Moreno the clout list Lively says she kept for him, he denied ever seeing it or knowing about it. But many of those Moreno is heard talking about on the tapes pop up on the clout list.
The tapes capture Moreno telling his secretary to remind him to call influential people to help get his son into Fenwick High School -- including Ameritech executive Bill Gainer, Italian-American activist Dominic DiFrisco and contractor Frank McMahon.
Lively also produced records showing Moreno had her secure tickets for his wife and daughter to attend the sold-out "Nutcracker Tea" in 2004 -- a favor a concierge indicated he could fill, provided Moreno could help him with issues he was having with Peoples Gas.
Moreno said Monday he sees nothing wrong with asking Lively to handle his personal business while working for the county.
"She's my personal secretary, subject to my -- for lack of a better word -- control," Moreno said. "I don't believe it's even a jay-walking offense for her to handle personal stuff. It's just housekeeping stuff. It's the only way I wouldn't forget."
Moreno also said the tapes prove he has no clout, since "the great majority of those people never got the jobs."
Records show about half of the people Moreno allegedly tracked worked for local government. About 30 landed jobs after they were added to Moreno's clout list.
Moreno doesn't deny the tapes are real, but still maintains he knows nothing about any clout list.

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