Harry Osterman asked to step down in 48Th Ward

Harry Osterman the brown-noser exposed again

City official testified Ald. Harry Osterman was part of Daley’s hiring scandal

Ald. Harry Osterman never was charged nor disciplined in City Hall hiring scandal but played a key role in putting politics first in employment decisions in Chicago’s Department of Streets and Sanitation, a city official told a federal court monitor, according to records obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times.

Ald. Harry Osterman never was charged nor disciplined in City Hall hiring scandal but played a key role in putting politics first in employment decisions in Chicago’s Department of Streets and Sanitation, a city official told a federal court monitor, according to records obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times. | Rich Hein / Sun-Times

By Tim Novak and Robert Herguth

For much of Mayor Richard M. Daley’s record reign, City Hall operated an illegal hiring scheme, skewing test results so political supporters of the mayor and his allies got jobs and promotions.

Federal prosecutors proved that, with some of Daley’s top aides going to prison, including patronage boss Robert Sorich and Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Al Sanchez. Others faced disciplinary action.

Ald. Harry Osterman never was charged in the scandal, nor was he disciplined, but he played a key role in putting politics first in employment decisions at Streets and Sanitation, a city official told a federal court monitor, according to records obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times.

Osterman’s role was detailed by William M. Mahon — now a $116,000-a-year Streets and San deputy commissioner in Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration who in 1997 and 1998 was “personnel liaison” for the city agency under Osterman, then the personnel director.

Mahon was interviewed Dec. 4, 2012, by a monitor appointed by a federal judge to help clean up city hiring. According to the newly obtained records, Mahon described how the names of favored job applicants passed from the mayor’s office to those doing the hiring.

“So did you ever receive names from Harry Osterman?” Mahon was asked.

“Yes,” he responded.

“And would he provide you names of individuals who were preferred candidates?” he was asked.

“Yes,” Mahon said.

Mahon told the monitor he gave those names to the people responsible for interviewing job candidates and that these preferred candidates were then “scored higher than other individuals” and thus more likely to be hired.

“When you would inform the other interview panelists of the preferred names from Harry Osterman, what would you tell them?” the federal monitor asked Mahon.

“I would say here is three candidates that downtown is interested in, and they would conduct interviews,” according to Mahon.

Mahon’s first job at City Hall, in 1989, was working for Osterman’s late mother, former Daley aide Kathy Osterman, who ran the Mayor’s Office of Special Events.

Six years later, Mahon transferred to the Department of Streets and Sanitation, which handles garbage pickup and snow plowing in Chicago and is one of the city’s biggest agencies. He worked in Streets and San’s Bureau of Traffic Services “under the personnel liaison” and in 1997 became the office’s personnel liaison, reporting to Harry Osterman.

At the end of 1998, Mahon got a promotion within the department, no longer reporting to Osterman.

Osterman left the city payroll and took office in 2000 as the state representative for a North Side district that includes Edgewater. He served in the Legislature until 2011, when he was elected alderman, and he’s on the Feb. 26 city ballot, seeking re-election.

Osterman, 51, who on his website describes himself as “a progressive, independent voice committed to serving his community,” declined Sun-Times reporters’ requests to speak with him. Nor would he say whether he was interviewed by federal authorities who prosecuted his former colleagues.

Instead, the alderman responded with a written statement, saying: “In over 30 years of public service I have never been accused by any authority; city, state, or federal; for any wrongdoing of any kind, much less any criminal behavior. I have tried, in every position I have been honored to hold as a public servant, to serve the interests of citizens to the best of my ability.

“Decades-old unsubstantiated allegations, never acted on by any legal authority, can’t change that.”

Noelle Brennan, the attorney appointed by a judge as monitor to enforce anti-patronage court orders, took steps to punish city employees who were identified as having roles in the political hiring schemes but not charged with any crime, among them Mahon.

Brennan wouldn’t discuss Osterman but said, “We didn’t investigate anyone who wasn’t a current employee.”

Mahon’s attorney Thomas Breen wouldn’t comment, other than noting the hiring scandal occurred years ago.

As a result of Brennan’s investigation, Mahon got suspended from his job for 45 days and was barred from being involved in hiring decisions.

Mahon grew up in Bridgeport, where his family was neighbors with the late Mayor Richard J. Daley. He started working at City Hall after the younger Mayor Daley was first elected to that office in 1989.

In 2006, City Hall’s inspector general’s office found that Mahon had “repeatedly engaged in personal activities” while on the clock at City Hall — including attending a White Sox game. The inspector general recommended that Mahon be fired. Instead, the Daley administration handed him a 29-day suspension.

Epic Failure at Chicago Water Filtration Plants

Chicago Water destroying drinking supply

The City of Chicago has always been proud of its flagship moneymaker, The Department of Water Management. The building of the Chicago Water Filtration Water Plants is a modern marvel. Built in the 40’s the South Water Filtration plant was successfully providing water to Chicago and providing political jobs to the Mayor’s friends, family, and supporters. A couple decades later The Jardine Water Purification Plant come online and became the jewel of the Chicago Water Department.

The Jardine Water Plant was a wonderful building and a mechanical miracle that was the pride of Illinois. The Chicago Water System provides water to millions and had a reputation of some of the best tasting water in the world. This reputation was well deserved due to high quality hires and a successful team approach to problems.

After a series of scandals, the department was renamed the “Department of Water Management. When the Daley family-controlled Chicago, they started making Water Department the dumping ground for unqualified family and friends. These political hacks were unable to run the department and they burdened the taxpayers with consultants, private contractors, and the direct and indirect payroll ballooned.

Greedy Commissioners, unethical union goons, private contractors, Alderman’s kids littered the department and discontent started to escalate. Many of the workers at the bottom saw the opportunities to get ahead expire, the working environment decline, and discontent rise. The Bosses were in many case two-bit hustlers, and many were attempting to wheel and deal, skimp and scam. The worse the thefts, the worse the bosses mistreated workers, resulting in decreases the job satisfaction and personal pride.

As more and more management were hired, the worse things became. It quickly because a cesspool of thieves and crooks and a workforce harassed and disenchanted.

The Mayor’s office started stealing every penny from the Water Department to pay other bills and the situation compounded. Daley and then Rahm Emanuel attempted to cover-up all the negative press by bulling workers that were contacting the press every day.

First it was “Hired Truck Scandal, hiring scandal, email scandals, lead in the drinking water, and a host of whistleblowing activities. Many Whistleblowers were tipped off by the Inspector General by faxes to the different department. What a mess. The Unions stayed in the background and always sided with the Daley-Emanuel team. Finally, a disgruntled Commissioner, gave up full access to emails, security cameras, contracts, private phone conversations. Amazing.

The situation is now past critical. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment and supplies are missing, and payroll fraud is out of control. Contractors also provide services to Commissioners home and summer homes. Supplies are missing and the Jardine plant is tossing out more and more employees to satellite offices. The Department has denied workers compensation payment to non-clouted workers putting off the needed medical care, leaving seral employees bedridden.

The actions by the Daley-Emanuel bleeding the Department of Water Management blind, is now long past the cross roads. There is approximately over $100,000,000.00 in long over due emergency repairs.  The water filtration plants are sending millions of gallons of tainted water to the public. Every time it rains, snow melts, wind blows, the untreated water full of pollution, bird waste, tar, roofing compounds enter the Chicago drinking water supply. Every time it rains, hundreds of thousands of gallons of water rains on equipment, controls, and filter beds.

According to one source that wishes to remain nameless, the Daley family is involved in a deal to sell the Chicago Jardine and Sawyer Water Filtration Plants. By letting the plants fall apart, they can lower the price and make the privatization easier for a Parking Meter type takeover. J.B. Pritzker has not enforced the laws to protect the Chicago drinking supply. Something must be done now.

In 2016, Alderman Edward Burke pushed through the council and ordinance to rename the South Plant after Eugene Sawyer. Mayor Rahm Emanuel cut the ribbon. You think these bums would have had enough class to fix the plant first. No excuse for the premeditated destruction of Chicago.

The Chicago City Council has another Alderman Burke in Its Midst

Chicago Aldermen Prove Again They have No Shame

Budget and Government Operations Chairperson Carrie Austin oversees Chicago’s $308 million a year employee healthcare program. The budget entries that allow Alderman Austin to administer $308 million in employee healthcare expenses is eerily similar to the language Alderman Burke used for workers’ compensation.

To allow Budget and Government Operations Chairperson Austin to expend $308 million on healthcare, the budget states:

“For the Costs of Claims and Administration for Hospital and Medical Care Provided to Eligible Employees, Provided However, That All Payments to the Independent Utilization Reviewer Shall Be Subject to the Approval of the Chairman of the Committee on the Budget and Government Operations.”

The budget line items that allowed former Committee on Finance Chairman Edward Burke to expend $115 million for workers’ compensation stated:

“Claims and Costs of Administration Pursuant to the Workers’ Compensation Act.”

Is Mayor Emanuel Running Chicago?

Alderman Austin has controlled employee healthcare expenses during the entire eight-year tenure of Mayor Emanuel. When voters elected Emanuel in 2011 and 2015, Illinois state law bestowed upon him the title of, “Chief Executive Officer.” Alderman Austin is the final decision maker for each and every healthcare claim and administrative expense, not Mayor Emanuel or one of his subordinates as the law required. If an employee from the benefits office in Chicago’s executive branch of government managed healthcare, then the healthcare administrator and expenses are under Mayor Emanuel’s direct supervision as state law requires. The healthcare claim and administration wording in the budget provides Alderman Austin with the final authority on employee healthcare matters. Since Alderman Austin is not under Mayor Emanuel’s supervision, she is spending the $308 million of taxpayers’ money without oversight or audits, like Alderman Burke did with his $115 million a year workers’ compensation budget.

I filed an Inspector General complaint regarding the improper placement of workers’ compensation in a legislative committee in 2016 and a lawsuit over the same issue in 2018. It took Mayor Emanuel two years to finally agree to move workers’ compensation from the legislative Committee on Finance to the executive branch. I’m hoping a public outcry will speed the process of transferring the administration of Chicago employees’ healthcare plans to the executive branch. Political reporters, candidates for alderman and mayor, please start making lots of noise.

If you want to view some or all of a video on recent Chicago corruption, click here. When I recorded this video, I was only aware of Alderman Austin managing $55 million in funds, not $308 million that I recently uncovered.

Notes:

If you choose, you may verify my claims about the source and amount of Alderman Austin’s healthcare funds. First click here. Go to the budget’s page number in Column 3 in the table below. Look for the text on the page that states, “For the Costs of Claims and Administration for Hospital and Medical Care Provided to Eligible Employees, Provided However, That All Payments to the Independent Utilization Reviewer Shall Be Subject to the Approval of the Chairman of the Committee on the Budget and Government Operations.”

Rahm Emanuel puts his Pal in cushy job at Department of Water Managment

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has again directly interfered with promotions at the Chicago Department of Water Management. Going over the bald head of Randy Connor, the Commissioner, Rahm Emanuel ordered John Pope, the former Alderman that was voted out, to take a real job after hiding at the Department of Water Management making $125,000.00 per year to sit around and take orders from the entire crew that was just fired due to the Paul Hansen racist emails that rocked the Water Department.

John Pope might need to brush up on safety laws and rules, workers compensation rules, and try to control the personnel department and the Committee on Finance. John knows nothing about safety, trench safety, crushing injuries, medical reports. According to my sources in the Inspector General’s Office, this is another perfect example of Rahm Emanuel breaking his promise to the Federal Judge when the Shakman Accord was finally over.

According to Frank Coconate, a former Safety Specialist with the Department of Water Management, a powerful boss that ran the Safety Department is completely irreplaceable. The gentleman that ran the Safety Division was well respected in the street, workers were very cooperative, and the Safety Department numbers were getting in line with the outside contractors, or better. It was an amazing transformation at the Water Department to hire a competent leader. The former leader of the Department was Edward Lefevour and according to the Commissioner’s Office he left suddenly.

Ralph Chiczewski, the commissioner of safety was completely unable to handle the position. Now the taxpayers are going to pay Ralph Chiczewski and John Pope over $250,000.00 , plus benefits and water department cars to take home to do the last guys job. These two clowns supervise three employees. WTF. When I asked my connection at Commissioner Connor’s office what they are doing, they stated Ralph Chiczewski can not do the job because he steps into the Jardine Plant late every day. Ralph is collecting a nice juicy police pension and hides Rahm Emanuel’s private contractors from prying eyes.

In another reputed scam, Julie Hernandez-Tomlin had private security work done at her home and the contractor does a massive amount of work at the Jardine Plant. Photos were sent to law enforcement. Julie did not pay a penny for her security upgrades. Somehow, the taxpayers are going to pay for the parts and labor, with an additional bill made to the Jardine Plant. Remember, Julie reputedly used Courtesy Electric for her needs.

Special thanks to Rahm Emanuel for promoting his friends to jobs they are not capable of doing.

Robert “Bob” Swiech Union Teamster Passed Away

Dear Robert “Bob” Swiech Family. We at Chicago Clout are sad at the passing of your wonderful husband and father and Union Man and Teamster and Chicago Employee, and Harley Man and an American, and a Carpenter, and all American badass. When I first met Robert, he would be in his truck at work, always on time, always professional, and always safe. Robert stayed away from the nonsense and took pride in his work. After we worked together more, he told me about his daughter Stephanie and her acting ability. Robert and his wife Jill went to the CAN-TV studios and his daughter recited a long-acting part from a play. What a memory! Robert and Jill were so proud!! I was really surprised when Robert told me at work, “The F-ing FA-6 and stone is killing me”. Robert would be on job sites and at the Sunnyside Yard and kept breathing the limestone. He told me he is coughing up a white paste and I saw it in his hand. As more time passed, Robert had a more difficult time breathing and he left the Chicago Department of Water Managment. Robert told the folks at work and Alderman Burke and the Committee on Finance said his illness is not work-related. Robert finally did a video on Youtube called “Robert Swiech calls out Alderman Burke and the Committee on Finance”. Please watch. Prior to that video and past that time Robert wanted to warn his fellow city workers about this deadly backfill. Robert could hardly breathe and suffered for years. He did so bravely, I am certain he never wanted his wonderful family to watch his slow demise. Robert has a set of pipes on him and could crush anyone. Robert was born on August 27, 1955. Robert is the beloved husband of Jill, father of four, Crystal (late) Jennifer, Robert, and Stephanie. He has three grandkids, Neal Jr, Carter, and faith. I can attest, no man ever loved a wife more than Robert. Robert will always be in the hearts of every City of Chicago Department of Water Managment employee. Rest in peace brother, you are the best. Love Patrick McDonough. Thanks for your time.

Alderman “el pañal” Burke’s power pals. Sun-Times gets Gold Star.


Ald. Edward M. Burke on the first day of the filing period for the February 2019 election. | James Foster / Sun-Times

A state senator. A City Hall lobbyist. A banned former city contractor. And a smattering of city workers.

They’re all part of Ald. Edward M. Burke’s political army, which gathered 7,193 signatures on the nominating petitions he submitted to election officials last month to secure a spot on the February ballot.

It’s the toughest election fight the 74-year-old power broker has faced since replacing his late father on the Chicago City Council in 1969.

Burke is in the crosshairs of an investigation that saw FBI agents raid his City Hall and 14th Ward offices over the past few weeks as he’s battling four Hispanic opponents who say it’s time for voters in the predominantly Hispanic ward to end the 50-year reign of the longest-serving alderman in Chicago history.

His fate could be in the hands of his longtime political operative Peter Andrews Jr., a retired Chicago Park District plumber, who found federal agents on the porch of his house shortly before they raided the alderman’s offices.

Andrews, who moved out of Burke’s Southwest Side ward about two decades ago, headed the volunteer army that collected far more signatures for Burke than the 473 that aldermanic candidates needed to be on the ballot for the Feb. 26 election.

Like Andrews, who has declined interview requests, 80 percent of the 73 volunteers who collected signatures for Burke’s re-election bid can’t vote for him because they don’t live in his ward. Ten of them live in the suburbs, from Park Ridge to Lemont.

Burke’s volunteers included 23 who, in addition to helping to get him on the ballot, collected 1,351 signatures for Gery Chico, a longtime Burke ally who is among the 21 candidates vying to succeed Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Chico spokeswoman Kelley Quinn says Burke “was one of many dozens of people across the city to help Gery circulate petitions and collect signatures.”

Twenty-three of Ald. Edward M. Burke’s volunteers also collected 1,351 signatures for Gery Chico, a longtime Burke ally running for mayor. Another Burke volunteer, Michael J. Synowiecki, gathered 121 signatures for mayoral candidate Susana Mendoza, who was married by Burke’s wife at the Burkes’ home.

Another Burke volunteer, Michael J. Synowiecki, gathered 121 signatures for mayoral candidate Susana Mendoza, who was recently won re-election as Illinois’ state comptroller. In a ceremony performed by Burke’s wife, Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke, Mendoza and her husband were married at the Burkes’ home in December 2011, a week before they were married by a priest in Joliet.

Synowiecki, 32, who lives in Burke’s ward, was one of the alderman’s top volunteers, getting nearly 400 signatures for him. Synowiecki once worked as an attorney for the City Council Committee on Finance that the alderman has run for decades.

Now a lawyer with the law firm of Daley & Georges, headed by mayoral candidate William Daley’s brother Michael Daley, Synowiecki is a registered lobbyist at City Hall. One of his clients, Utility Transport Services, has been awarded three contracts totaling more than $144 million to provide rock and other materials to the city’s water department for construction projects. Utility Transport’s owner, James Bracken, has another company, Brackenbox, that has a $60 million contract to provide roll-off dumpsters at city work sites.

Synowiecki’s wife Meaghan Cleary Synowiecki works for the city council finance committee. She notarized 173 nominating petitions for Burke and 293 for Chico.

State Sen. Martin A. Sandoval, D-Chicago, whose district includes part of Burke’s ward, collected 60 signatures for the alderman.

Burke turned in 20 signatures gathered by Anthony McMahon, a Park Ridge resident who got caught up in a scandal involving Windy City Electric, a company owned by his wife and sister in law. The company was barred from getting any city work after the city’s inspector general determined that McMahon and his brother controlled the company as it was landing contracts set aside for businesses owned by women.

One of Burke’s staff assistants on the finance committee, David Espinoza, collected 121 signatures to help his boss seek re-election. Espinoza also notarized nominating petitions with 4,081 signatures for Burke and 126 signatures for Chico.

Raul Reyes, an employee in the Chicago city clerk’s office who once worked with Burke’s brother, outgoing state Rep. Dan Burke, gathered 61 signatures for the alderman. Reyes has also filed a challenge to the petitions circulated by one of Burke’s opponents, Tanya Patino, in the aldermanic election.

Burke himself circulated seven petitions, collecting 67 signatures towards his re-election bid. The alderman, his wife and their son Travis Burke signed a petition on Nov. 3, a few weeks before federal investigators raided his offices.

Andrews had circulated that petition, which was notarized by Synowiecki’s wife, one of the employees on the alderman’s city council payroll.