In the waning days of Richard M. Daley’s mayoralty, we at the Chicago Sun-Times published a quickie book, “The Daley Legacy: Looking Back at Four Decades of the Chicago Mayors.”
It was fine little book within the limitations inherent in such a project, not the least of which was that Rich Daley’s legacy had yet to fully reveal itself.
With each passing year, though, that legacy keeps taking more hits as the extent of the problems Daley left behind — from the Redflex red light camera scandal to the botched police investigation into David Koschman’s death — continue to become public.
We received yet another reminder of that Monday, courtesy of U.S. Attorney Zach Fardon, with the indictment of a Chicago cab operator Alexsandr Igolnikov
Igolnikov was charged with putting at least 180 previously wrecked vehicles into service as taxicabs on Chicago streets during the Daley years by fraudulently obtaining clean titles to hide the scheme.
Igolnikov was a business partner of Symon Garber, who rose to become the city’s largest taxi operator under the Daley Administration, a nifty business maneuver that may or may not have been connected to Garber first striking up a friendship with the mayor’s son, Patrick Daley.
The vehicle title scam was originally brought to light through investigations by the Chicago Sun-Times’ Watchdog reporters and city Inspector General Joseph Ferguson.
Daley tried to put the matter behind him just weeks before leaving office with an agreement to allow the offending taxicab companies to settle the allegations against them for $1 million — and a promise to put more fuel efficient vehicles on the street.
But this was not a criminal matter so easily swept aside, not with the mystery remaining of how the fraudulent titles were obtained in the first place.
The indictment answers some of those questions, placing the blame on Igolnikov and unnamed “business associates,” working in concert with three auto brokers and two police officers.
The indictment of Igolnikov makes no clear mention of Garber, and he has been accused of no wrongdoing. But Garber has always been regarded as the target of this investigation.
As far as I can tell, there has been no suggestion anybody in the Daley Administration was aware of what was happening with the so-called salvage vehicles.
But it’s still another black mark on the Daley legacy.