Mayor Richard Daley insisted Tuesday that he had no role in personnel decisions and denied knowledge of any criminal activity, even as a growing hiring scandal led to the departure of another top City Hall manager.

John Doerrer, head of the Mayor's Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, resigned the day after one of his deputies was accused by federal prosecutors of rigging city hiring to reward campaign supporters of Daley and other politicians.

Doerrer said he did nothing wrong but asserted in his resignation letter that he could no longer do his job effectively, said Jacquelyn Heard, Daley's press secretary.

Daley expressed sadness at the mail fraud charges filed Monday against Robert Sorich, a deputy in IGA, and Patrick Slattery, director of staff services in the Department of Streets and Sanitation. The men, both 42, are from the Bridgeport neighborhood in the 11th Ward, the Daley family's ancestral home and its political power base.

"I feel for the men named yesterday and their families at this difficult time," Daley said. "I know them. I know their families to be good people who are upstanding in the community. The allegations against them yesterday do not fit what I know about them."

But Daley said he didn't have any knowledge of the federal allegations against the men.

"I don't play any role in hiring. No, I don't.I never have," the mayor said.

Daley also said "I don't know of any political hiring per se"--a comment that Heard later amended.

"Does the mayor know political activity happens in the sense that people sometimes call and recommend candidates for various positions? Sure, he knows that like we all do," Heard said. "However, if the suggestion is that he is aware of political activity where wrongdoing occurred or laws were broken such as shredding documents or fixing tests, of course not. That was the point he was making."

City Hall abuzz

The fast-moving developments left City Hall abuzz with talk of what names were hinted at in the criminal complaints and who might be the next target of federal investigators.

"Shocked," said Ald. George Cardenas (12th). "This is definitely a shocker."

Ald. Ed Smith (28th) applauded the federal probe, saying he has lived by the Shakman federal court decree that for decades has prohibited political hiring in all but about 1,000 of the roughly 38,000 city jobs.

"I can't send people to certain folks and get these jobs. So if I can't do that, why should somebody else be able to do it?" Smith said.

Federal authorities say their investigation, aided by cooperation from many current and former City Hall department heads and personnel chiefs, has uncovered a massive scheme in which administration officials systematically circumvented the federal ban on political hiring. Prosecutors allege that Sorich, Daley's longtime patronage chief, oversaw a fraudulent process in which required tests and interviews were often rigged or even ignored to favor people with clout over others with better qualifications.

The investigation includes a former high-ranking city official who secretly recorded a conversation about hiring with Sorich.

Sources on Tuesday confirmed that the former official is Daniel Katalinic, who retired from the city in June 2003 as a $110,700-a-year deputy commissioner after spending 32 years in Streets and Sanitation.

He did not return messages seeking comment.

"All I can say on behalf of Mr. Katalinic is that I represent him," said attorney Jeffrey Steinback. "I can't confirm any other inquiries."