Meet the New Boss, Forest Claypool. Same as the Old Boss. Voters Fooled Again
In 2005, Forrest Claypool was a Cook County commissioner running for board president, and Gerald Nichols was a top aide — “patronage chief” was how Claypool put it — for John Stroger, the man Claypool was trying to unseat.
Today, Claypool is president of the Chicago Transit Authority, and Nichols is his $100,000-a-year manager of legislative affairs.
James D’Amico left his Cook County job last year after the inspector general recommended he be fired for allegedly pressuring employees to donate to the campaign of Todd Stroger, John Stroger’s successor and son.
Today, D’Amico, who has no rail experience, is senior manager of rail maintenance for Claypool’s CTA, earning $95,000 a year.
Claypool the CTA chief says he hired both men for their qualifications. Maybe so. But he overlooked some things Claypool the reformer would have considered disqualifications.
Nichols was a big player in the 8th Ward Regular Democratic Organization built by John Stroger, who stuffed the county payroll with loyalists. In 2005, Claypool demanded hearings into Nichols’ role in county hiring, saying it might explain “some of the other scandals in county government.”
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