James J. Laski


Author and Speaker

Mr. Laski speaks on a wide variety of subjects tailored to specific or general audiences. From his blockbuster book, My Fall From Grace, to conditions and rehabilitation programs in the Federal Corrections Institute, inspirational talks on ethics to youth groups, in depth discussions of ethics for the legal and business world or a view of past, present and future Politics in the City of Chicago, State of Illinois and beyond. Mr. Laski's breadth of knowledge, real-life experiences, insights and philosophy are a potent mix to inform, entertain and fuel discussion long into the future.

Jim Laski Speaking Engagements:

In this election year, people are eager to learn more about the political system that nurtures and supports such current politicians as Illinois Senator Barack Obama, himself a product and beneficiary of Chicago politics. Universities students and political science/justice faculty are a natural audience.

Mr. Laski can explain to Civil Liberty Union groups, civic organizations, and businesses that minimum security federal prisons are definitely NOT glorified summer camps or country clubs. His current book has been banned by the Federal Bureau of Prisons across the nation, due to its open and candid criticism of Morgantown Federal Corrections Institute's dehumanization and deplorable nutritional, sanitary, and health care conditions.

He is also qualified to speak to youth groups about the dangers of falling prey to the temptations of political prestige and money, and deliver valuable cautionary messages to such organizations.

Mr. Laski can draw on his prior career as a lawyer, and as a business and advertising consultant, to speak on legal and business ethics to groups.


Born and raised on the southwest side of Chicago, Jim Laski graduated from St. Laurence High School. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Lewis University in Lockport, Illinois, graduating cum laude in 1975. He was awarded a Juris Doctorate degree from Northern Illinois University in 1978.

Laski rose up through the political ranks of then Alderman Lipinski before finally becoming chief of staff for the newly elected Congressman Lipinski. He then advanced his political career by becoming Chicago’s 23 Ward Alderman.

His many responsibilities as Chicago City Clerk included maintaining official records of city government, publishing the Journal of Proceedings of the Chicago City Council, issuing all business licenses, liquor and other city licenses and the sale of more than 1.2 million vehicle stickers and over 60,000 residential permit parking permits. As Clerk, he was the second highest-ranking city official and oversaw the most visited office in City Hall.

While serving his third term in office, Laski pleaded guilty to taking $48,000 in payoffs to get companies into the city's Hired Truck Program following a two-year federal investigation of the scandal-plagued program that was designed to save money by outsourcing the city's hauling work to private truckers but which prosecutors said was awash in corruption. He plead guilty to one count of bribery and was sentenced on May 25 2006.
Jim paid his debt to society, serving 11 months in the Federal Penitentiary in West Virginia. While in prison Jim wrote a hard-hitting book, My Fall from Grace: City Hall to Prison Walls, which became a top political seller. The book covers his early political life exposing Chicago style politics, through the “Hired Truck Scandal and his time in prison. His scathing incitement of the federal prison system resulted in his book being banned in federal penitentiaries across the country.

Jim currently has been speaking about his politics, ethics and the Federal Penitentiary System to audiences across the country. He and his family, wife Kathleen, daughter Nina and twin sons, Jack and Bobby, still reside in Chicago’s 23rd ward.

People are Talking:

"Mr. Laski was extremely gracious and generous with his time, and treated students and faculty to a highly stimulating talk about his experiences in the world of big City Chicago politics under Mayor Richard M. Daley. "

" The authors riveting cautionary messages should resonate strongly with such audiences, as well as with many businesses and youth groups. "

My Fall From Grace, City Hall to Prison Walls is the story of James J. Laski, Jr., former Chicago City Clerk, and his fall from the second-highest elected position in the city to his incarceration in a West Virginia federal prison for his role in the infamous Hired Truck Program scandal. It is the story of big city politics, betrayal at both political and personal levels, and the dehumanization of federal prison and its drug and rehabilitation program. This book takes readers where many have never been before: literally behind City Hall walls and prison gates, to tell a truly inspiring tale of success, downfall, faith, and survival.



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