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Paul Vallas ridicules Bill Daley for saying he’s not his brother’s keeper

Paul Vallas

At a news conference Thursday, mayoral candidate Paul Vallas blasted rival Bill Daley for trying to distance himself from his brother, the former mayor. | Fran Spielman/Sun-Times

There wasn’t a decision made by former Mayor Richard M. Daley that his brother didn’t influence, mayoral candidate Paul Vallas said Thursday, ridiculing Bill Daley’s claims that he would be a different kind of mayor.

“You can’t defend your brother on the one hand and then, when you announce that you’re running, throw him under the bus,” Vallas said.

Vallas recalled Bill Daley’s emotional tirade against Mayor Rahm Emanuel last spring after Emanuel blamed Richard M. Daley for the $2 billion avalanche of tax increases that have only begun to solve the pension crisis Emanuel inherited.

“We all remember the, `Put your big boy pants on’ [admonition] before he decided to run where he was defending his brother,” Vallas said.

“After — whether it was parking meters, Meigs Field or whatever — it was, `I’m not my brother’s keeper. My brother made those decisions. I’m a different candidate,’“ Vallas said.

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Vallas portrayed Bill Daley’s ethics plan as particularly laughable.

It includes a two-term limit for a candidate whose brother and father together occupied the mayor’s office for 43 years.

It would prohibit members of his immediate or extended family from doing business with the city or other agencies of local government.

Never mind that the Hired Truck, city hiring and minority contracting scandals cast a giant shadow over former Mayor Richard M. Daley’s 22-year administration.

So did the steady drumbeat of contract cronyism benefiting Daley’s friends, political allies and members of his own family.

That included money-losing pension deals that lined the pockets of Daley’s nephew, his son’s hidden interest in a city sewer deal and the emergence of his brother’s law firm as Chicago’s preeminent zoning firm.

“Oh my God. We’re gonna have a ban going forward. That’s like closing the barn door when the horses have already fled. I mean — who are we trying to kid?” Vallas said.

Daley could not be reached for comment on the Vallas broadside. His spokesman, Peter Cunningham, said Daley “has said all he has to say about” the differences between the way he would govern and his brother’s administration.

Vallas lowered the boom on Bill Daley during a City Hall news conference called to demand that Daley and 15 other mayoral candidates release their tax returns, including the supporting schedules detailing investment income and charitable donations.

He accused Daley of skipping community forums as part of a “Rose Garden strategy” while using his $3 million-plus campaign war chest to blanket the airwaves.

“Running commercials talking about how you’re gonna focus on the West Side and the South Side when you’ve ignored those communities for decades,” Vallas said.

“Or how you’re gonna freeze property taxes for a year when we’re still pretty much paying the bills that we inherited from the previous administration.”

Vallas served as Richard M. Daley’s revenue director and budget director before being dispatched to the Chicago Public Schools as CEO in 1995 as part of a dream-team pairing with then school board President Gery Chico.

At one point during that period, Vallas recalled a retreat was held for the mayor’s cabinet.

“The mayor didn’t attend that retreat. Bill Daley ran that whole retreat. He was there. He was like chairman of the board. He’s been his brother’s closest adviser for decades so, who are we trying to kid?” Vallas said.

“I don’t think there has been any major decisions that have been made in this city that Bill hasn’t had some influence on.”

 Bill Daley

Mayoral hopeful Bill Daley | Rich Hein / Sun-Times file photo

Since belatedly entering the race after Emanuel’s exit, Bill Daley has been trying desperately to convince Chicago voters that his election would not be a four-year extension of his brother’s 22-year administration.

Bill Daley once defended the parking meter deal with a mega-bank that employed his own son.

But he told the Sun-Times in late October that it was a big mistake and one of several “big differences” between his own style and the way his brother ran Chicago for 22 years.

“He did a lot of things wrong. He didn’t solve the pension problem. I gave you the headline,” Daley said then of his older brother, Chicago’s longest-serving mayor.

“He sold the parking meters . . . The way they did it was absolutely a mistake. When he was faced with allegedly laying off 5,000 city employees, including police and fire, he looked for revenue. [But] they should have done it differently . . . I would not do that deal.”

Vallas’ decision to take the gloves off against Daley is not surprising.

It comes one day after a Chicago Federation of Labor poll showed Toni Preckwinkle and Susana Mendoza as heavy favorites to square off in a runoff. Daley was the next closest challenger, with Willie Wilson, Garry McCarthy and Vallas breathing down his neck. The Chicago Federation of Labor is one of several labor groups that owns the Sun-Times.