Excellent article by Fran Spielman of the Chicago Sun-Times. Michael McGann is one of the most intelligent Plumbing Inspectors in the City of Chicago. I read his report and he is 100% correct in his review of the troubled plumbing in the Chicago School. Read here: ‘They’re trying to make me the fall guy’ SCHOOL’S WATER WOES | City inspector may be disciplined for faxing report on dangerous plumbing to principal
November 30, 2007
BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
An $85,068-a-year city plumbing inspector who uncovered “two pages worth” of building code violations that left 1,100 children at Jose de Diego Community Academy without water for weeks is facing disciplinary acton for faxing a copy of his inspection report to the school’s principal.
Michael McGann, a 14-year inspector assigned to the city’s Department of Buildings, said he gave the Oct. 24 report to de Diego principal Alice Vera so she could use the information to try to expedite repairs that had languished for weeks, endangering students at the 116-year-old school at 1313 N. Claremont.
He can’t believe he’s being punished for it, simply because the embarrassing story of his bosses’ bureaucratic bungling — that prompted the school’s 14 water fountains to be taped shut for weeks — ended up in the Nov. 23 Sun-Times, with a copy of the inspection report posted on the newspaper’s Web site.
The report contained two pages of code violations with “dead-ends everywhere … uncirculated distribution lines that connected to and endangered” the integrity of the drinking water system, McGann said. It was faxed to Vera earlier this month.
“It’s a disgrace. They’re being exposed for not doing their job and, because I’m the one who made the inspection, they’re trying to make me the fall guy, the scapegoat,” said McGann, 52. “They should have processed the violation notice immediately . . . . Instead, they sat on it and did nothing.”
Water reportedly back on
He added, “The principal was frustrated. . . . Nothing was happening. . . . She called me and we kept in communication. . . . It had gone weeks without any word from any of my superiors about getting the water back on in the building so the water was safe for the children. So, I sent her my report so she would know the severity of the violations and how they were to be resolved. . . . My motive was to protect the health and safety of the children of the school.”
Buildings Department spokesman Bill McCaffrey said McGann faces disciplinary action — to be determined after hearings that got under way Thursday — for violating internal rules that prohibit preliminary inspection reports from being shared with outsiders until approved by higher-ups. “Inspection reports are subject to review by immediate supervisors and chiefs. Until the report is approved, it is still a draft document. Once it’s finalized, it can be distributed outside the department,” he said.
Vera could not be reached for comment.
Last week, de Diego officials told the Sun-Times they had been instructed to ration water since Sept. 14, when a water main broke outside the school in the Humboldt Park/Wicker Park area. That meant giving students as little as a half a glass of water a day for eleven weeks straight.
According to McCaffrey, the water was turned back on at de Diego on Monday after new “check valves that prevent water from flowing backwards through the system” were installed to remedy concerns about “dead-end piping.”
The school is also planning to take other steps to “remove some of the pipes that just end,” he said.
Sounds like whistleblower retaliation, and I know whistleblower retaliation.
But remember, dead ends must be removed, check valves do not correct dead ends, Patrick McDonough.
Photo by Jean Lachat, Patrick McDonough