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Bill Daley blasts Gov. Quinn over crony appointment but won't discuss patronage under Mayor Daley

(Updated 5:15 p.m.)

RELATED: Mihalopoulos: Bill Daley the only one not snickering when he blasts cronyism

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill Daley on Thursday accused Gov. Pat Quinn of cronyism by appointing a pal to a transit board — but Daley, whose family name is so deeply embedded in Chicago’s culture of political back-scratching — ended up opening his own can of worms.

Daley held a news conference calling on Quinn to rescind his nomination of insider Frank Zuccarelli to the CTA Board, calling Zuccarelli a double dipper because he already holds a position as Thornton Township supervisor.

However, Bill Daley, the brother of former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, refused to address the steady drumbeat of cronyism during his brother’s more than two decades as mayor, which included minority fraud contracts, the Hired Truck scandal and a patronage scandal to name a few. The former Mayor Daley had appointed both his patronage chief and his onetime chief of staff to the CTA board.

“I’m standing here as my own person,” Bill Daley responded. “You can make judgments about past administrations or relatives or whatever you want, but I’m telling you what I believe and how I will be a leader.”

When Bill Daley’s brother announced he was stepping down as Chicago mayor, Rahm Emanuel left his post as White House chief of staff to run for mayor of Chicago.

Bill Daley was then named White House chief of staff, a position he held for one year. Emanuel was later elected mayor.

Daley said he “wasn’t in a position” to raise concerns about corruption and patronage accusations during his brother’s tenure.

“I wasn’t in office,” Bill Daley said. “I wasn’t in a position to stand up and, you know, as a lawyer or as a banker. I was in the private sector, I was making a living in a very different way.”

The news conference marked an unquestionable hurdle Bill Daley will face throughout his campaign that will involve overcoming the baggage that goes along with putting a name like Daley before voters. He faces a March primary against Quinn.

Charges of corruption and cronyism were frequent at Richard M. Daley’s City Hall — and that was long before the Chicago Sun-Times exposed a Hired Truck program that paid clout-heavy companies—some posing as women and minorities, others with ties to organized crime — to do little or no work. For instance, the law firm of Daley & George — which once included the former mayor — emerged from relative obscurity to become the city’s preeminent zoning firm during Mayor Daley’s time in office.

County Commissioner John Daley, another Daley brother, sold insurance to city contractors. City contracts have also benefited a parade of Mayor Daley pals, including Michael Tadin, Jeremiah Joyce, Victor Reyes, Michael Marchese, Patrick Harbour and Richard Crandall.

Another example emerged in 2007, when the Sun-Times disclosed that Mayor Daley’s son Patrick, then deployed overseas, and the mayor’s nephew Robert Vanecko had a hidden interest in a sewer inspection company whose city business rose sharply while they were owners.

When asked what he thought about the steady drumbeat of cronyism under his brother with hiring and contracts, Daley responded: “I don’t know, the last I checked he’s not running, maybe he’s changed his mind.”

Daley attempted to steer the focus onto Quinn, who was lieutenant governor under Rod Blagojevich. “You can go back over the last 10, 20 years or 30 years, we’re talking about a governor who’s been alleging he’s a reformer. A man who stood with Blagojevich twice for election.”

With regard to Zuccarelli, Daley called him a double dipper whose transit experience was limited to driving voters to the polls. Further, he said if Quinn was to position himself as a reformer, he wouldn’t name the Thornton Township Supervisor to a transit board at a time when the entirety of the transit system has been enmeshed in a patronage scandal.

Daley questioned the timing of Zuccarelli’s appointment, noting that as Democratic township committeeman, he would cast a vote in Cook County Democratic Party slating next week.

Quinn defended the move, saying he’s known Zuccarelli for years and felt him qualified.

“I’m not going to let this man be a punching bag … I think it’s important to have someone on the CTA board that stands up for the south suburbs,” Quinn said. “He’s a township supervisor. There’s nothing in the law that would prevent his appointment to the CTA board. Someone who is a township supervisor is able to serve,” said Quinn. “I think we need to have strong people there, particularly from the south suburbs.”

Quinn then turned the tables, saying anyone raising issues with Quinn’s appointment: “should look in their own family. The campaign manager of our former mayor was appointed to the CTA board,” Quinn said. The former Mayor Daley also appointed then-HDO chieftain Victor Reyes, the mayor’s former inter-governmental affairs chief, to the CTA board.

Contributing: Fran Spielman

(Earlier version)

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill Daley on Thursday called on Gov. Pat Quinn to pull back on “the usual politics” and rescind the nomination of insider Frank Zuccarelli to the CTA board.

But Bill Daley, the brother and son of longtime Chicago mayors, refused to address the culture of cronyism during his brother’s more than two-decades as mayor of Chicago, which included a steady drumbeat of minority fraud contracts, the Hired Truck scandal and a patronage scandal.

“I’m standing here as my own person. You can make judgments about past administrations or relatives or whatever you want but I’m telling you what I believe and how I will be a leader,” Bill Daley said.

What would he say to those who ask why he wasn’t raising issues about cronyism back then?

“I wasn’t in office,” Bill Daley said. “I wasn’t in a position to stand up and and you know, as a lawyer or as a banker. I was in the private sector, I was making a living in a very different way.”

The news conference marked an unquestionable hurdle Bill Daley will face throughout his campaign to overcome the baggage that comes along with having a name like Daley before voters.

During the years his brother was Chicago mayor, corruption and cronyism was the norm at Daley’s City Hall — and that was long before the Chicago Sun-Times exposed a Hired Truck program that paid clout-heavy companies—some posing as women and minorities, others with ties to organized crime — to do little or no work.

Another example involved the law firm of Daley & George –which once included the former mayor. It emerged from relative obscurity to become the city’s preeminent zoning firm during Mayor Daley’s 22-year reign. County Commissioner John Daley, another Daley brother, sold insurance to city contractors. City contracts have also benefited a parade of Mayor Daley pals, including Michael Tadin, Jeremiah Joyce, Victor Reyes, Michael Marchese, Patrick Harbour and Richard Crandall.

Another example emerged in 2007, when the Sun-Times disclosed that Mayor Daley’s soldier son Patrick, then deployed overseas, and the mayor’s nephew Robert Vanecko had a hidden interest in a sewer inspection company whose city business rose sharply while they were owners.

On Thursday, when pressed on the culture under his brother, Bill Daley attempted to steer the focus onto Quinn, who was Lt. Governor under Rod Blagojevich.

Bill Daley would not refer to his brother by name when asked if it were ironic that a Daley was calling on an end to insider politics.

“You may think it’s ironic. I’m talking about what I believe not about what others may have done or believe about patronage. I just think right now leaders and in this time and when we’e had the last 12 years of scandal — we had a governor go to jail. You’ve got a Blagojevich-Quinn administration, now you’ve got a Quinn administration basically doing the same sort of thing that’s been going on and on and on, and we’ve seen it. No doubt about it. But isn’t it time to do something different?”

When asked what he thought about the steady drumbeat of cronyism under his brother with hiring and contracts, Daley responded: “I don’t know, the last I checked he’s not running, maybe he’s changed his mind.”

Bill Daley turned the conversation to the imprisoned Rod Blagojevich.

“You can go back over the last 10, 20 years or 30 years, we’re talking about a governor who’s been alleging he’s a reformer. A man who stood with Blagojevich twice for election.”

With regard to Zuccarelli, Daley said called him a double dipper. Further, he said if Quinn was to position himself as a reformer, he wouldn’t go through with naming the Thornton Township Supervisor to a transit board at a time when the entirety of the transit system in the state has been enmeshed in a patronage scandal. Quinn has moved cautiously with regard to the Metra scandal, saying he was in favor of appointing an expert panel earlier this week but was vague on details when pressed. Quinn lacks the authority to remove members of the board that approved a questionable $718,000 contract buyout. However, the governor was unable to pinpoint what specifically he was doing to address the situation aside from awaiting an inspector general’s report and considering an expert panel.

Daley questioned the timing of Zuccarelli’s appointment, noting that as committeeman, he would cast a vote in Cook County Democratic Party Slating next week.

He called on Quinn to pull back on Zuccarelli’s appointment.

“If that doesn’t happen, I call on the Senate to reject this nomination,” Daley said.

“All I’m saying is the usual politics is gotta change. We’ve seen it. We’ve seen it in the Blagojevich-Quinn administration now we’re seeing it in the Quinn administration. And we should be better about this thing .This is the 21st century this is not the 1950s,” Daley said. “This is a time when leaders need to step forward and do things differently. I think playing the same old game is the definition of insanity.”

Today Quinn defended the appointment, saying he’s known Zuccarelli for years and felt him qualified.

“I’m not going to let this man be a punching bag. This is a man who served our country … He understands everyday people he understands how important it is how the CTA not just going north and west but also goes south. I think it’s important to have someone on the CTA board that stands up for the south suburbs,” Quinn said. “He’s a township supervisor. There’s nothing in the law that would prevent his appoinment to the CTA board.Someone who is a township supervisor is able to serve.”

Quinn then turned the tables, saying anyone raising issues with Quinn’s appointment: “should look in their own family. The campaign manager of our former mayor was appointed to the CTA board,” Quinn said. “I think we need to have strong people there, particularly from the south suburbs.”

Bill Daley was former Commerce Secretary under President Bill Clinton. When Mayor Richard Daley announced he was stepping down as mayor, Rahm Emanuel left his position as White House Chief of Staff to run for mayor of Chicago.

Bill Daley was then named White House Chief of Staff, a position he held for one year. Emanuel was later elected mayor.

Contributing: Fran Spielman