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Convicted Ex-Comm. Slams Lake Shore Drive Response

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Al Sanchez

Former Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Al Sanchez ripped the city’s handling of Lake Shore Drive in the blizzard this week, before being sentenced to prison. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – As he came into court to be sentenced to prison for political hiring abuses, former Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Al Sanchez ripped the city’s response on Lake Shore Drive during the blizzard this week.

Sanchez slammed the city’s decision to close Lake Shore Drive Tuesday evening, and the city’s response to people being trapped in their cars for 12 hours or more.

“You never lose Lake Shore Drive. You never want to close Lake Shore Drive. You don’t skimp on salt or crews,” Sanchez said. “If you are going to close Lake Shore Drive, you make sure it’s (melted) down to water.”

Raymond Orozco, Mayor Richard M. Daley’s chief of staff, made the decision to close Lake Shore Drive at 7:58 p.m. Tuesday, after keeping it open for most of the evening rush as the blizzard blew in. Orozco has defended the decision, saying the Drive was moving – albeit slowly – until a series of accidents between Belmont and North avenues brought traffic to a standstill.

Between 700 and 1,000 cars ended up abandoned on Lake Shore Drive, which didn’t reopen until around 5 a.m. Thursday.

After going on to a courtroom at the Dirksen Federal Building, Sanchez was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in a federal prison. He was convicted last year of being part of a city hall hiring fraud scheme that prosecutors say cost Chicago taxpayers more than $1 million.

CBS 2 Political Producer Ed Marshall contributed to this report.

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