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August 26, 2007
What a difference an election can make. Back in 2005 and 2006, Mayor Daley’s administration was besieged with federal indictments, convictions and scandals. In a belated attempt to appear to care about stopping public corruption in Chicago, Daley appointed a qualified outsider to be Chicago’s inspector general, David Hoffman.
Daley promised to provide the resources to make sure Hoffman could do his job to prevent and root out misconduct and corruption. Then in February 2007 Mayor Daley was re-elected. No longer constrained by the political need to convince voters he cares about good government ethics, Daley has stopped his support of Hoffman.
Earlier this year, Hoffman asked for more staff to handle the responsibilities of monitoring City Hall’s notoriously corrupt hiring process. Daley refused to provide the additional necessary resources, a cynical attempt to make Hoffman choose between fulfilling his traditional inspector general duties or his new hiring monitoring duties flowing from the settlement of the Shakman litigation.
Despite such budgetary restraint when it comes to funding a legitimate watchdog, Daley recently has showered new money and resources on a newly created lapdog, the Office of Compliance. City Hall says its purpose is to detect hiring issues before they become problems. Practically it will act as an early warning system for City Hall because they can’t rely on Hoffman to leak them information of his investigations, and it will undermine Hoffman by performing parallel functions.
It is one thing for the Daley administration to insult our intelligence by asking us to believe that it can be trusted to voluntarily clean up its hiring practices. It is another to spend our tax dollars on a sham organization built to undercut one of the few independent checks on Daley’s sweeping authority.