Chicago Department of Water Management Nightmare

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Expert Analysis by Patrick McDonough. Please enjoy this exclusive photo of a boiler system in the Jose de Diego Community Academy in Chicago. The Chicago Department of Water Management got a sock in the eye when a water main break was handled by the North District Department of Water Management. The North District suffered multiple embarrassments after drug, gambling, prostitution, hired trucks, and multiple investigations have surfaced the last few years. The North District workers include many Caulkers and Foreman that are not Licensed Plumbers, a political favor that will continue to plague the Department and the Taxpayers of Chicago. Chicago needs the Water Department to review who made the water main repairs, and make sure the proper procedures were followed when a water main is shut down. More on this later. Please click below to read the article. Plumber’s Local 130 must “Protect the Health of the Nation” and review what was done at the water main break. I reviewed the PDF report by the Chicago Plumbing Inspector and reviewed multiple pictures of the boiler room. Why is the CPS hiring handymen and Pipefitters to handle work requiriing Licensed Plumbers. I want Tom McManus and Tom Durkin to investigate on behalf of Plumber’s Local 130 members sitting at home with no work. Photo by Chicago Clout Investigator General Team.

]]>‘It’s not enough’
WATER RATION | For 11 weeks, students at Jose de Diego Community Academy have been given as little as half a glass of water a day, since a water main break Sept. 14 uncovered plumbing problems

November 23, 2007
BY ROSALIND ROSSI Education Reporter/
“I need water.”

That was the plea this week from 12-year-old Kahiara Vazquez, one of 1,100 children at Jose de Diego Community Academy who have been given as little as half a glass of water a day at school for the last 11 weeks.

De Diego officials say they have been told to ration water since a main outside the Humboldt Park school broke Sept. 14.

Afterward, a city Water Management Department inspection uncovered plumbing problems at de Diego, built 116 years ago.

All 14 school water fountains have been taped shut ever since, leaving some kids to feel faint from thirst after gym class, some mothers to worry whether their children will have enough water to take medication, and pregnant teachers to lug bottles of water around with them in the school at 1313 N. Claremont.

After a Chicago Sun-Times reporter visited the school Tuesday and called three city agencies, the water was tested Wednesday. Results are due today, and Chicago Public Schools officials say if all goes well, drinking fountains should be flowing again by Monday

“It shouldn’t have taken this long,” said CPS spokesman Michael Vaughn. “We apologize for that.”

Kahiara’s mother, Judy Vazquez, said the school has been stuck in a bureaucratic limbo since the water main broke during the second week of classes.

“Everyone talks, talks, talks, talks,” said Vazquez, de Diego’s local school council president. “I definitely want something in writing saying the water is clean. We’ve waited 11 weeks.”

A Sept. 21 letter to Chicago schools CEO Arne Duncan indicates Water Management ordered a water fountain shutdown after a post-water main break inspection uncovered “water quality issues … due to internal plumbing problems.”

However, said de Diego Principal Alice Vera, of eight recommended steps, only one was taken: installing new “check valves” that feed into a boiler room water storage tank.

By Oct. 24, CPS managing engineer Joseph Claire forwarded Vera an e-mail from Water Management saying tests indicated the water had “much improved” and the school could lift the water restrictions, as long as it flushed all water fountains and kitchen sinks for a minimum of two hours on the first day of the school week for the next six weeks.

That same day, Vera said, a Building Department inspector showed up, based on an anonymous call about the school’s water quality. Vera said that inspector told her “the wrong check valves were installed, and they were installed improperly.” She later received a fax listing 21 “alleged building code violations” and a handwritten note citing “health & safety issues — children/school/teachers.”

One “alleged violation” ended with an exclamation point: “Throughout premises — check, flush and disinfect the complete potable water supply system, especially the drinking fountains!”

Faced with a long list of Building Department complaints that sounded ominous, Vera said, she wanted written clearance from the Building Department that it was safe to turn on water fountains. She has yet to receive it, she said Wednesday.

“All I received from them is the runaround,” Vera said.

“I want something in writing telling me what’s going on. I’m not a plumber. I can’t determine when something can be on and when it can’t be. … I’m responsible for 1,100 students. All I want is what’s best for them.”

The check valves have since been replaced again, CPS has promised to address other problems — none of which affects water quality — during winter break, and CPS was never formally cited for building code violations, CPS and Building Department officials say.

On Wednesday, extra drinking water arrived in huge bottles. That’s good because all Kahiara knows is she’d like more than 4 ounces of water a day, the amount distributed at lunch in plastic cups with foil covers.

“I drink it, and I want more,” said Kahiara, an asthmatic who is especially parched after gym class. “It’s not enough. I need water.”

4 Replies to “Chicago Department of Water Management Nightmare”

  1. Pat as I said before please quit crying and do your fucking job already,YOU NUTCASE,You are a loose cannon waiting to explode.Daley has bigger things on his mind like trying to budget money for my cta employees.If anyone should be crying it should be the CTA employees.They might not have a pension,loose thier jobs,and most of all cant afford to buy X-mas gifts for thier familys.But now you have guys like yourself,and your ?,who mind you is always crying and complaining to.I wish you guys would grow the hell up and think about the less fortunate as the holidays move on…Beware ? your next!!!!!!!!

  2. Water Dept. foreman accused of gambling on city time

    October 6, 2005
    BY FRAN SPIELMAN and TIM NOVAK Staff Reporters
    An internal city investigation touched off by a laborer’s charge that bribes were traded for overtime in the Chicago Department of Water Management has spread to a new allegation: a foreman participated in gambling on city time.

    Tom Briatta, a foreman of water pipe construction in the department at the center of the Hired Truck and city hiring scandals, was accused of driving to city work sites and either participating in gambling, overseeing gambling by other city employees or a combination of the two.

    Overtime for sale, laborer says

    Briatta is a cousin of John Briatta, one of nine politically connected employees swept out in June for allegedly participating in a payroll scam in the water management department.

    John Briatta was the department’s $94,827-a-year chief equipment dispatcher. He is the brother-in-law of Cook County Commissioner John Daley, the mayor’s brother. Tom Briatta was described by co-workers as a cousin of John Briatta. Tom Briatta could not be reached for comment.

    The allegations about gambling and overtime-for-sale were made by laborer Richard Pacheco during sworn testimony this week before the city’s Personnel Board. Pacheco was testifying under oath at a hearing called to challenge the firing of a co-worker.

    During several hours of testimony, Pacheco charged that lucrative city overtime was for sale. He said he gave cash to a pair of supervisors disguised as Christmas gifts and got overtime in return. During one of the years in question, he made $14,000 in overtime. That reportedly added 25 percent to his base pay.

    Within hours of the testimony, the city’s inspector general’s office, soon to be run by highly regarded federal prosecutor David Hoffman, had seized the work computer of Mike Tierney, water management’s north district superintendent.

    The gambling allegation is also being investigated, according to Chicago Law Department spokeswoman Jennifer Hoyle.

    “I’m hearing third-hand that the individual who testified also said that Tom Briatta was involved at gambling at city’s work sites. We’ve asked the inspector general to investigate that. We have no information beyond what this individual said in his testimony,” Hoyle said.

    Not the first betting charge

    “It’s a violation of the personnel rules and something that has to be thoroughly investigated. If it was happening, any employee involved would be disciplined. We’ve asked for an expedited transcript. The inspector general will have to determine if there’s anything to these charges and, if so, if it’s widespread.”

    If gambling was, in fact, going on at city work sites, it wouldn’t be the first time.

    A few years ago, then-Inspector General Alexander Vroustouris uncovered an alleged sports betting ring at O’Hare Airport. And over the years, city employees allegedly participated in an illegal lottery with a cash payout that rose into the tens of thousands of dollars.

    Overtime is supposed to be doled out by a formalized rotation policy, but that’s not how it actually operated, according to convicted First Deputy Water Commissioner Donald Tomczak.

    In his guilty plea in the Hired Truck scandal, Tomczak acknowledged that he commanded an army of water management employees who did political work for Mayor Daley and others in exchange for promotions, pay raises and overtime.

    “The transcript has not yet been delivered. But, any allegation contained in that testimony will be investigated,” said water management spokesman Tom LaPorte.

  3. Pat,I heard you are scared!Well you should be .You and your mobster wanna be buddy ?.You both have a spotlight addiction,and its realy sick considering that the city water managment is paying you to fuck off on working hours.I really think the polish plumbers should get called before you.Atleast they work,and hard at that.Stop fucking off on city time cause i will take pictures of you and ? and post them on Daleys website then you go away!.

    (Response) I get lots of threats, why?

  4. Those ‘bigger things’ on Daley’s mind are how he’s gonna stay out of BOP custody.

    Da Mare wants to die in his bed, not in a bunk behind barbed wire fences.

    (Response) Ryan needs a bunk buddie.

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