« December 2007 | Main | February 2008 »

January 27, 2008

Alderman Howard Brookins Runs For States Attorney

Alderman Brookins.jpg Please enjoy this picture of Alderman Howard Brookins and my daughter Brigid McDonough. Alderman Brookins is hoping to be the next States Attorney after Dick Devine. I know this race is up in the air, but good luck. http://www.aldermanhowardbrookinsjr.com/ Photo by Patrick McDonough

January 26, 2008

Endorsement: Re-elect Commissioner Frank Avila

Chicago Clout is a political website that closely observes the use of Clout in Chicago. Clout is a powerful weapon than can be used to make citizens lives better. Clout can be use in the wrong manner. I am pleased to recommend Commissioner Frank Avila to return to the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRDGC). The body has performed well with very little controversy. Commissioner Frank Avila has a wonderful family and two children that are advocates for those without a voice. Audrey Avila made a webpage about her father, my space profile Commissioner Frank Avila has also allowed children to learn more about the Environment through Cable Access Shows. Patrick McDonough

January 23, 2008

Chicago Northside broken Water Main

Chicago Northside broken water main.jpg Remember, if you sleep through a broken water main, millions of dollars of damage will occur. This broken water main at Wolcott and Montrose will cost a fortune to repair. I was amazed at all the workers waiting around to do something. To leave all these city workers standing around doing nothing is mismanagement. It might look good for the night news, but the cost is staggering. I hope when that piece of pipe is cut out, Spatz will investigate the cause. If the broken pipe is left in the yard rusting like the Lincoln Park Water main break, nothing will be learned. This is the type of water main break where an expert like James LoVerde should have taken command. Why is he retired and not on the public payroll like the other political hacks at water partners. Photo by Patrick McDonough

Chicago Fire Department helps Water Department

Chicago Fire Department help Water Department.jpg Blocks away from the Ravenswood broken water main is a group of Chicago Firefighters. The damage from the broken water main spread for blocks because someone in charge refused to understand the seriousness of the water main break. We need personnel to either give this control back to the district level or make management go out to the job-site and determine the seriousness. The need for all these extra support staff proves the lack of professionalism in the North District Department of Water Management. Remember, a former Deli Manager at Jewel, is not a licensed plumber, although the taxpayer pays them the same amount of money. Time to take the politics out of the North District. Photo by Patrick McDonough.

January 22, 2008

Chicago Water Main Break Floods Chicago Businesses

Chicago Water Main Break 1.jpg The City of Chicago Department of Water Management North District dispatched an Investigator Crew last night. The crew called in the emergency and the person-in-charge did not authorize a crew to respond to the major emergency. After a three day weekend overtime feast consisting of time and one half, double time, and triple time, a choice was apparently made to not respond to this major emergency in a timely manner. I hope someone from the Mayor's office reviews the time from the first 311 and or 911 call was made, until this 36 inch feeder main was shut down. I also want to know if personnel from the Central district was dispatched due to incompetence in the North District. I want to know when the Emergency Shoring was dispatched to the job. It was not. I want to know who let this get this far out of hand. I ask you, if Patrick McDonough was making repairs to 48 inch water mains all by himself, why does this water main repair require, the Fire Department, including a Command Center, the Gas Company,, the Electric Company, Streets and Sanitation Crews, Tow Trucks, The Sewer Department, Orange peels, vactors, Semi Trucks, Layers of Politicians, (I mean Water Department Management), Chicago Police, Traffic Aides, to name a part of the support staff. Bottom line, Incompetence cost money every time. According to Newspaper reports, the Department of Water Management has a monitoring system to avoid these breaks. These non-union companies are a scam deluxe and wasted money. They hire kids and workers that sleep while on the public dime. Who is getting a piece of that deal Boyz? The Chicago Inspector General is useless to regulate anything, so just pay more in taxes Chicago! The Montrose and Walcott water main break damage should have been avoided. Photo by Patrick McDonough.

January 18, 2008

Commissioner Avila wins Chicago Tribune Support

Commissioner Frank Avila MWRD1.jpg Commissioner Frank Avila was endorsed by the Chicago Tribune. Mr. Avila has shows that feature children asking about our environment. If you are worried about global warming in Chicago and Cook County, re-elect Commissioner Frank Avila. Photo by Patrick McDonough. • In 2002 we urged voters to add M. Frank Avila, an engineer experienced in sewer design and flood control issues, to the board. He won a seat, and his attention to technical and environmental issues earns him a second term, although he could be a more assertive board member. (Lest voters be confused: His son, Frank Avila, ran unsuccessfully for an MWRD board seat in 2006.)

Shakman Victories Continue for Chicago City Workers

Enjoy the article below. More lawsuits for Chicago City Workers at Taxpayer's expense. Patrick McDonough. Chicago judge OKs plan to bar political patronage hiring Friday, January 18, 2008 | 5:50 PM CHICAGO -- A federal judge approved Friday a plan to end political patronage hiring at Chicago's City Hall after modifying it to require officials to log all contacts about hiring from aldermen or the mayor. U.S. District Judge Wayne R. Andersen also warned city officials that court-ordered monitoring of their hiring practices will not end until they stamp out the tradition of giving city payroll jobs to campaign workers. "Court oversight will continue until the city is in substantial compliance," Andersen said in his eight-page order. Patronage -- the practice of giving city jobs to doorbell-ringing precinct captains who get out the vote for the mayor and his allies -- has been part of Chicago politics since anyone can remember. A court decree banning it has been in effect for decades but has been all but ignored. Andersen approved a patronage-ending blueprint submitted by the city with one modification. The plan requires city officials to report calls involving hiring to a newly appointed hiring process compliance monitor. City officials wanted such reports to be made only if such calls represented "an improper contact based on political reasons or factors from any elected official." Andersen said that placed too much responsibility for deciding what was improper on those getting the call. He ordered officials to log all calls involving hiring. But Andersen found in favor of city officials on another issue. Andersen already has appointed Chicago attorney Noelle Brennan as the monitor to oversee efforts to end patronage practices. But the blueprint he adopted Friday calls for a separate, hiring process compliance monitor to be hired by the city to oversee the plan. Brennan and critics of City Hall such as attorney Michael Shakman had wanted the compliance monitor to report directly to the city's inspector general, David Hoffman, a well regarded former federal prosecutor. Andersen said Hoffman "appears to be doing an excellent job." But he agreed with city officials that there was no reason why the new compliance monitor should not report to the head of the city office of compliance. He said that would work as long as city officials were sincere in trying to make the process work. "He's more optimistic than I am about the willingness of the city to change its ways," said Shakman, for many years the most outspoken critic of the patronage system. He said he doubted that there has been "the kind of change in culture you need to make reforms stick." The battle over patronage hiring at City Hall has been raging in the courts for decades. It was Shakman who in 1969 filed a lawsuit that is still alive before Andersen seeking to wipe out the patronage system. Shakman filed the suit after he was beaten in a race for delegate to the 1970 Illinois Constitutional Convention. He blamed the help his opponent got from a horde of precinct captains and other doorbell ringing campaign workers who had jobs on the city payroll.

John Stroger Died Today. Rest in Peace.

Thanks for the fun and the kindness. Patrick McDonough

January 16, 2008

State of Illinois addresses Whistleblower Issues

The State of Illinois must continue to enforce the protection of Whistleblowers. The Chicago Whistleblower ordinance is a bust. Please read the article below from the Chicago Tribune. Patrick McDonough. New law pays whistleblowers January 16, 2008 There's a Latin phrase, qui tam, that elevates the often lonely and miserable work of the government whistleblower. The legal provision loosely translates as a private person standing in the king's shoes, or a private person who represents the state's interest. But for the whistleblowers, who identify the fraud and then risk their livelihoods, those shoes feel anything but kingly. That's why we applaud an important change in our state whistleblower law, which went into effect Jan. 1. The law, first passed in 1991, protects whistleblowers from retribution and offers rewards. If the government recovers money from contractors defrauding state government, the whistleblower can take home up to 30 percent. Until last week, the law only applied to whistleblowers in state government and a handful of Illinois municipalities. Now, the Whistleblower Reward and Protection Act offers protections and rewards for people who identify fraud in all forms of government -- from counties to the CTA and the local Water Reclamation District. For Illinois, which has more units of local government than any other state, 7,000 to 8,000, that matters. "The state of Illinois gets a fair amount of scrutiny, but in a lot of other communities, without large media outlets and nonprofit [watchdogs], no one is watching them at the same level, so this is a pretty useful tool," said Jay Stewart, executive director of the Better Government Association, a watchdog group. Health care fraud is most commonly targeted through this law, particularly Medicaid fraud. Cases have included overbilling by drug companies, bill padding or "upcoding" medical problems to get a higher reimbursement. The law, pushed by Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn, offers incentives for whistleblowers and also can serve as a powerful deterrent. If the government proves fraud, the contractor must repay the government three times the damages plus fines. The contractor must also pay legal fees both for the whistleblower and the government. And we're not talking about petty cash. In a recent case initiated in Illinois by the Goldberg Kohn law firm, the Illinois attorney general's office and federal authorities, the insurance company Amerigroup was found liable for $334 million for discriminating against pregnant women. The Vietnam veteran who identified the fraud is eligible for between 15 percent and 30 percent of that money. The Illinois attorney general's office, along with private attorneys, have aggressively gone after these cases since Lisa Madigan was elected in 2002, netting more than $45 million for the government, plus $162 million in the Amerigroup case, which is on appeal. Under a similar federal law, the government has recovered more than $20 billion since 1986. More than $2 billion went to whistleblowers, according the U.S. Department of Justice. Nearly all those federal cases were initiated by whistleblowers. "Without whistleblowers, the government would find 80 percent less fraud," said Patrick Burns of Taxpayers Against Fraud, a Washington D.C.-based not-for-profit. We're not naive enough to believe the expansion of the Illinois law will create a stampede of whistleblowers. These cases take years and often result in a firing and public scorn. Many of these whistleblowers -- doctors, nurses, pharmacists -- have a lot to lose. "I don't know any [whistleblower] who would do it again," said attorney Michael Behn, who has secured three or four successful settlements for Illinois whistleblowers in the last few years. "It's a miserable existence. The money certainly helps after going through all this. But in the interim, after being fired for being a whistleblower, it's very difficult." But for those willing to stick their necks out, Illinois has done what it can to make it worth their while. It now has a comprehensive law that offers meaningful incentives for whistleblowers and deterrents for wrongdoers. Illinois also has an attorney general who, by all accounts, has empowered a strong staff to take on these cases. In the fight against corruption, this law is another tool in our toolbox, the BGA's Stewart says. We'll take it. In the corrupt Land of Lincoln, we can use all the help we can get.

January 13, 2008

And so you watched this happen and did nothing?

Chicago City Workers Pension Broke

Mayor Daley Chicago.jpg Daley creates commission to confront choked pensions BILLIONS UNDERFUNDED | Benefit cuts, 401(k) plans may be options January 13, 2008 BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter/fspielman@suntimes.com Mayor Daley on Friday created a commission drawn from labor, business and banking to confront a problem that threatens to choke future generations of Chicago taxpayers: underfunded city pension funds. The comprehensive solution Daley is seeking within 18 months could include everything from benefit reductions and increased employee contributions to a shift away from "defined benefit" pension plans and toward the "defined contributions" or 401-K plans favored by private industry. The city could raise the age for new employees to become eligible for full pension, as the CTA has done. If union leaders agree to make sacrifices, half the net proceeds from the proposed privatizing of Midway Airport could be pumped into the pension funds, under legislation approved by the Illinois General Assembly. The only thing certain is that something's got to give. The city's four pension funds alone have $10 billion in unfunded liabilities to employees and retirees. If they run out of money, Chicago taxpayers get stuck with the tab. "They need to reduce the benefits. They need increased contributions by employees and... benefits more in line with what's offered in the private sector," said Civic Federation President Laurence Msall. The 32-member commission that will confront the pension fund crisis at the city, Park District, CTA, CHA, City Colleges and Chicago Public Schools will be co-chaired by Daley's Chief Financial Officer Paul Volpe and by Volpe's predecessor, Dana Levenson, who now serves as head of North American Infrastructure for the Royal Bank of Scotland. "There are no easy answers," Levenson said. Volpe stressed that the pension crisis is "not an immediate problem," nor does he view the commission as "a forum by which we reduce employee benefits." But, he said, "The longer we wait, the harder this problem will be to solve." At the end of 2006, the firefighters pension fund had assets on hand to meet just 40 percent of its liabilities. The ratio was 49 percent for police, 67 percent for municipal employees and 92 percent for laborers. Fraternal Order of Police President Mark Donahue questioned why the city's two largest unions -- police and fire -- were not represented on the 32-member commission. Donahue said his members are "realistic" and willing to consider increased contributions. But the FOP president said he would insist on maintaining defined benefits. And he rejected the widely held belief that pensions for city employees who get sharply reduced Social Security benefits are overly generous. "Public service employees deserve better because of the sacrifice and commitment they make to the communities they serve. That's the trade-off. There are more opportunities in the private industry for advancement and greater wage earning," he said. Last year, pension obligations cost the city $475 million -- more than 15 percent of Chicago's corporate budget. The Chicago crisis mirrors the pension dilemma facing government agencies and private companies across the nation. Levenson sounded the alarm about the pension crisis in June 2006, but his call for a dialogue with city unions went nowhere. At the time, Chicago Federation of Labor President Dennis Gannon reminded top mayoral aides of what happened in 1997, when the city robbed Peter to pay Paul -- and made the pension problem worse. With union consent, City Hall reduced its contribution to the well-funded Laborers and Municipal Employees pension funds and funneled $20 million of that money into the underfunded police and firefighters pension funds. The landmark deal also paved the way for a $20 million property tax cut and $200 million worth of neighborhood improvements. "I read 'em the riot act. I said, 'You came to us 10 years ago and we gave you relief.' We saved them hundreds of millions of dollars. They took money out of two good funds and gave it to police and fire. Now, they're saying those two good funds are in the same mess. And I reminded them that early retirement [which made the problem worse] was their idea," Gannon said then. Great, Mayor Daley and his family will find a way to steal more pension money, said Patrick McDonough. Photo edited by Patrick McDonough.

Chicago Clout Salutes John Daley's 11th Ward Calendar

Chicago Clout 11th Ward Armour Park.jpg This is a picture of Carl Segvich and Paul. These men want to know why John Daley's 11th Ward calenders are still hung on the walls of Chicago Public Property. Carl is running for Republican Committeemen in Chicago's 11th Ward. The Daley Boys are not very good looking, but they know politics. Remember this post Mr. Inspector General http://www.chicagoclout.com/weblog/archives/2007/07/armour_park_square_park_chicag.html Photo by Patrick McDonough.

January 12, 2008

Mary O'Connor Chicago 41st Ward for Committeeman

Mary O'Connor 41st Ward Chicago.jpg Today I had the pleasure of meeting the owner of a fine Irish business. Mary O'Connor is running for 41st Ward Committeeman in Chicago. I have been to her establishment many times when I worked for the City of Chicago Department of Water Management in the North District. The O'Connor's have a great work ethic. Mary is a very important part of the 41st Ward. She is committed to Chicago City Workers. There seems to be much tension in the race. I left a check to help achieve her goal. Her opponent has not contacted me. Good Luck Mary. Please go to her website http://www.votemaryoconnor.com Photo by Patrick McDonough.

Chicago Inspector General Shows Integrity

City worker fired for alleged shoplifting INSPECTOR GENERAL'S OFFICE | Employee denies stealing January 12, 2008 BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter fspielman@suntimes.com Mayor Daley's corruption-fighting inspector general fired one of his own employees Friday, six days after the $77,784-a-year assistant chief investigator was arrested for allegedly shoplifting at a Chicago grocery. Fourteen-year veteran investigator Tracy Buckley was charged Jan. 5 with misdemeanor theft after Whole Foods employees watched her walk out of a store at 6020 N. Cicero with $131.43 worth of unpaid items, officials said. Before deciding Buckley's fate, Inspector General David Hoffman said he conducted interviews, read reports and viewed tape recordings made by Whole Foods security cameras. They reportedly showed Buckley walking through several aisles of the store, past a bank of cashiers and into an elevator leading to an underground parking lot without paying for a shopping cart full of food. Stolen items allegedly included a $44.84 boneless lamb stew and pork chops worth $21.17. Buckley could not be reached for comment. She allegedly told police she was going to her car to get a different charge card that she intended to use upon returning to the store to pay for the items. Hoffman apparently didn't buy it -- and he didn't wait for the outcome of her criminal case. "All city employees should be held to high standards of integrity, but these standards must be especially high for higher-ranking and prominent city officials. This higher standard definitely applies to employees of the inspector general's office," Hoffman said in a prepared statement. "Since our office is the city office that investigates city employees and makes disciplinary recommendations to city departments, it is especially important that the employees of this office be held to a very high standard regarding their conduct." Buckley is scheduled to appear in court Feb. 25.

January 7, 2008

WBBM News Radio 78 Chicago Buckley

City Employee Charged With Theft From Grocery Store CHICAGO -- Tracy Buckley, 36, a female employee of the Chicago Office of the Inspector General was charged with theft from a Northwest Side grocery store Saturday afternoon. About 12:55 p.m. she allegedly stole items from a Whole Foods Market grocery store at 6020 N. Cicero Ave., according to police News Affairs Director Monique Bond. Buckley is charged with misdemeanor retail theft for apparently stealing grocery items from the store, Bond said. Inspector General David Hoffman confirms the suspect is Buckley. Buckley has worked for the Inspector General’s office since Jan. 18, 1994. As of January 2006, Buckley was a supervising investigator with the office. Further details are not available, according to Bond.

Mayor Daley's City Inspector Under Investigation

City Inspector Under Investigation The City of Chicago's office of the inspector general is currently investigating one of its own investigators. Chicago police say Tracy Buckley, an assistant chief investigator for Inspector General David Hoffman, was arrested over the weekend on shoplifting charges. Officers say Buckley, who earns about $70,000 a year, was allegedly caught walking out with unpaid grocery items from a Whole Foods Market on the city's northwest side. Hoffman has placed Buckley on administrative leave, but he says he wouldn't be surprised if it turned out that the allegations against her were a mistake.

Mayor Daley's Chicago Inspector general employee arrested

Inspector general employee arrested N.W. SIDE | Placed on leave, facing shoplifting charge January 7, 2008 BY PATRICK REHKAMP Staff Reporter/prehkamp@suntimes.com Instead of examining other city agencies, the City of Chicago's office of the inspector general will be investigating one of its own. Tracy Buckley, an assistant chief investigator for Inspector General David Hoffman, was arrested Saturday on charges of shoplifting, police said. Buckley, who earns about $70,000 annually, according to 2006 city data, was allegedly caught walking out with unpaid items from a Whole Foods Market at 6020 N. Cicero. "I was notified by the Police Department," Hoffman said. "I placed her on administrative leave. I wouldn't be surprised if it was a mistake. We're going to look into it." Whole Foods employees allegedly saw Buckley, of the Northwest Side, walk past several aisles and enter an elevator without paying. She tried to steal about $100 worth of merchandise and was charged with misdemeanor retail theft, police said. "We have a parking garage below us. Once you're in the elevator, the only place you're going is the garage," a Whole Foods manager said. "The elevator is right by the exit door. It's the same as if they were going out the front door." Efforts to reach Buckley, 36, were unsuccessful. Buckley has been employed by the inspector general's office since 1994. Hoffman said he placed her on administrative leave, meaning she will be paid "at first" but not working while the department sorts out the matter. Hoffman said this is the first incident of this kind since his appointment in 2005. "She's kind of a senior investigator," Hoffman said. "I think we need to look into the matter more."

Is Mr. Hoffman being fair regarding Tracy Buckley?

Inspector General investigator charged with shoplifting Monday, January 07, 2008 | 9:07 AM CHICAGO -- The City of Chicago's office of the inspector general is currently investigating one of its own investigators. Chicago police say Tracy Buckley, an assistant chief investigator for Inspector General David Hoffman, was arrested over the weekend on shoplifting charges. Officers say Buckley, who earns about $70,000 a year, was allegedly caught walking out with unpaid grocery items from a Whole Foods Market on the city's northwest side. Hoffman has placed Buckley on administrative leave, but he says he wouldn't be surprised if it turned out that the allegations against her were a mistake.

January 6, 2008

Dumb and Dumber to talk about O"Hare expansion

George Bush will talk to Daley about getting his family a piece of the expansion pie when he retires. George Bush should cut a deal with Daley regarding the next president. I hope Daley has a thick envelope ready for Bush, George Bush has kept Patrick Fitzgerald off Daley for a long time. Daley, Bush to talk over Olympic bid January 6, 2008 BY ANNIE SWEENEY When President Bush hits town Monday, Mayor Daley plans to huddle with him about the city's bid for the 2016 Olympics. Bush is coming here Monday to visit a school and speak on the economy, the mayor said Saturday. But Daley also plans to talk to Bush about the new runways going in at O'Hare Airport and Chicago's bid for the Olympics. Daley said any city hosting such an event needs the federal government's help in transportation and security. "We are going to make sure we are working with both our senators, the Illinois delegation and making sure that America truly wants to host this wonderful International Olympic and para-Olympic event," Daley said.

January 5, 2008

Victor Crown moves forward again

VICTOR CROWN GAINS LEGAL STANDING ON WHISTLEBLOWER CLAIMS Chief US District Judge James Holderman has entered a federal court order which will permit Mr. Victor M. Crown to bring a motion after June 13, 2008 and unseal certifications that will exonerate MS. MIRIAM SANTOS and order payment of qui tam funds from the STATE OFILLINOIS. The written material and certifications submitted under the federal False Claims Act and the Illinois Whistle blower Reward and Protection Act include time sheets from the Office of City Comptroller negating Counts 6 and 7 relating to a false claim applied to political work on city time and records obtained under court order from the City of Chicago Board of Ethics negating each of the other 10 counts in the original indictment.. The federal court order by the Chief Judge in the Northern District represents a major defeat for the Daley administration [and the City of Chicago] since it previously argued in 2005 and 2006 that Mr. Crown didn't have the legal standing to gain compensation relating to whistle-blowing activities and a false arrest from 1996 by the City of Park Ridge police department.. Victor Crown has now earned a major legal victory against the Office of Corporation Counsel. I like Victor Crown and I hope he keeps moving forward against Chicago Corruption. Patrick McDonough.

January 3, 2008

Mayor Daley's "Green Smokestacks"

Chicago Smokestack pollution.jpg This smokestack throws millions of tons of poison into our air. Chicago needs a "Green Policy". Most people need to open their eyes and realize the pollution in Chicago is a great problem. Chicago power generating plants could be better. Demand clear air Chicago. Photo by Patrick McDonough.