Illinois

Breaking News: Chicago Inspector General Reappointed

From the Chicago Sun-Times 
September 3, 2013

Chicago’s corruption-fighting Inspector General Joe Ferguson will be reappointed for another four-year term — with the unwritten understanding that he’s likely to step down after next summer — in spite of his contentious relationship with Mayor Rahm Emanuel.The surprise decision was made Friday during a City Hall meeting between Emanuel and Ferguson that was the first between the two adversaries in the nearly 28 months since the mayor took office.

 

City of Chicago Inspector General, Joseph Ferguson

Sources said they talked about “bad moments in the past” and ways to avoid similar tension. Ferguson asked to stay on through next summer to help get the city out from under the Shakman decree and the costly constraints of a federal hiring monitor.

Emanuel accepted Ferguson’s offer and plans to ask the City Council to give the $161,856-a-year inspector general, whose term expires in November, another four-year term.

But, in a prepared statement, Emanuel made it clear he expects the relationship to terminate sooner.

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Chicago Inspector Finds ‘No Safety Motive’ for City’s Traffic Cameras

The Heartland Institute 
May 30, 2013 

A recent audit by the Chicago Inspector General’s Office concludes the city “could not substantiate a safety motive” for traffic enforcement cameras in the city. The IGO also uncovered some glaring inefficiencies in running the program.

The ICO audit’s findings can be summarized in two simple points.

To read the entire report, click here


Aldermen Propose Greater Chicago Inspector General Powers

Chicago Tribune 
April 26, 2013 

A group of self-styled reform aldermen said Thursday that it wants to help Mayor Rahm Emanuel live up to his campaign pledge to give the city’s top corruption buster unfettered access to city documents, though it’s unclear whether the push will gain traction.

The group proposed giving the inspector general’s office the power to enforce its subpoenas and require a minimum funding level that can’t be reduced at the whim of an administration unhappy with the office’s work.

“This was an initiative that was brought by then-candidate Emanuel in December 2010,” said Ald. Roderick Sawyer, 6th, a member of the council’s Progressive Reform Caucus. “What we’re merely trying to do is assist the mayor in codifying this, making sure that we can continue an open, honest and transparent government that he sought when he was running for mayor.”

To read the entire article, click here


City Inspector General: CPD Botching Tuition Reimbursement Program

From Chicago Sun-Times 
December 18, 2012 

The Chicago Police Department’s failure to properly administer a $6.6 million tuition reimbursement program allowed 15 employees who voluntarily resigned before fulfilling their service commitment to escape $180,375 in tuition they should have repaid, a new audit shows.

Inspector General Joe Ferguson concluded that the Police Department missed eight of the 15 employees during its own review of the tuition reimbursement program and didn’t find the other seven because CPD is 20 months behind in its oversight.

To read the article, click here


Study: Corruption in Suburbs Shows Need for Investigator

From the Chicago Tribune

A proposal to create an inspector general for the suburbs drew skeptical reactions Monday, as officeholders and taxpayer watchdogs questioned how the position would work and whether it’s necessary.

But the idea got a warm reception from Gov.Pat Quinn’soffice.

The report by the University of Illinois at Chicago found more than 60 suburbs and more than 100 suburban public officials involved in public corruption over the past two decades, based on criminal convictions or apparent conflicts of interest.

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OpEd: Calcified Labor System Shortchanges Taxpayers

From Crain’s Chicago Business

Recently, an arbitrator took umbrage at a Chicago Inspector General Office’s  recommendation to fire 54 firefighters who admitted to stealing hundreds of  thousands of dollars of taxpayer money over several years by falsifying city  records. The city moved to fire only four and suspend the rest.

The arbitrator overturned the firings and reduced the suspensions, arguing  that the theft was so rampant, so widespread and so long-running that it had  become a de facto work rule tacitly condoned by supervisors.

Last year, my office determined that work rules in Chicago’s contract with  its motor truck drivers were costing the city $18 million annually for employees  it did not need but could not redeploy or terminate because of the contract.

To read the article, click here


Arbitrators and the Public Good. Or not.

From the Chicago Tribune

Let’s start with the facts, which are not in dispute. Veterans in Chicago’s Fire Prevention Bureau flagrantly padded their mileage reports, stealing thousands of dollars in bogus reimbursements. They got caught.

City of Chicago, Inspector General, Joseph Ferguson

Last year, Chicago Inspector General Joseph Ferguson recommended that 54 firefighters be dismissed.

Instead, Chicago Fire Department Commissioner Robert Hoff imposed suspensions on most. The firefighters appealed to an independent arbitrator.

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The Inspector General’s Warning

From the Chicago Tribune

As City Council members prepare for a Tuesday debate on Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s proposed Chicago Infrastructure Trust, one voice hasn’t been heard. Until now. In a 1,500-word response to an aldermanic request for his legal judgment, the city’s top oversight official warns of serious gaps in a financing plan he praises as potentially beneficial.

Inspector General Joseph Ferguson

Inspector General Joseph Ferguson’s verdict is that the Chicago Infrastructure Trust — it would parlay private investments into construction projects — needs more, and more specific, protections for the city and its taxpayers: “(T)he best practice and the only basis for public confidence respecting oversight jurisdiction would be to write these provisions into the CIT ordinance directly,” he writes in the document the editorial board obtained.

We hope that before they authorize a new way for City Hall to borrow more billions of dollars, the mayor and the aldermen do add the needed protections.

Read the article here: Chicago Tribune


Illinois Remains A Wasteland

From the Chicago Tribune

Even if you suspected our cash-strapped state and local governments had lost their way, you wouldn’t expect GPS to show how far off course they veered.

Yet there’s Chicago’s Department of Aviation shelling out for locater services on 53 vehicles and 155 cellphones, ostensibly to improve its operations. Unfortunately, the GPS services were used on only about 30 percent of the souped-up phones and vehicles, representing a waste of least $171,000 over four years, the city’s inspector general reported.

With so many people and businesses concerned about the tax climate and budget shortfalls that jeopardize the quality of life and commercial stability, throwing away tens of thousands of dollars on tracking services that don’t work or aren’t worth turning on is waste and stupidity that Illinoisans, already paying a hefty price for political corruption, can’t afford.

Read the article here: Chicago Tribune


The Watchdogs: Inspector General wants McMahon Business Banned from City Work

From the Chicago Sun-Times

A few months after Mayor Richard M. Daley took office in 1989, Nancy McMahon and her sister-in-law Kathleen McMahon — two stay-at-home moms — went into business. They started Windy City Electric Co., which would go on to win millions of dollars in work from the City of Chicago — including contracts set aside for women contractors.

Under its two current deals with City Hall, Windy City Electric has been paid more than $10 million over the past five years.

Now, Joseph Ferguson, the city of Chicago’s inspector general, is urging Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration to permanently ban Windy City, its owners and their husbands from doing any more work for the city. Ferguson says that, eight years ago, the sisters-in-law falsely claimed they were the operators of Windy City so they could be certified by the city as a woman-owned business enterprise. That made them eligible for city work set aside for women-owned businesses.

Read the article here:  Chicago Sun-Times