Mayor Emanuel’s Workers’ Comp Unjustly Denying Disability Pay and Benefits
Mayor Rahm Emanuel said, “We are aggressively pursuing $15 million in savings from workers’ comp.” Emanuel added, “I know that it (workers’ compensation) needs reforms.” Emanuel did not tell the public how his administration is saving $15 million a year in workers’ compensation, nor has he provided details of his workers’ compensation reforms. Since Emanuel won’t tell you about his dirty secrets and dirty dealings, I will. Emanuel is saving tax dollars by taking money away from a significant number of city workers who are deserving of their disability pay and benefits. Emanuel’s saving plan is to deny as many city employees of their disability pay and benefits as possible, regardless of whether cutting off city employees’ disability pay and benefits is justified or not. Emanuel’s workers’ compensation department is now operating like greedy health insurance companies. The goal is to deny both legitimate and illegitimate claims for the sake of reducing expenses and increasing the bottom line.Rushing mending city workers into lower paying jobs is another way Emanuel’s administration is meeting its goal of saving $15 million a year. The city is involuntarily forcing injured or ill city workers into job retraining without giving city workers enough time to fully recuperate and return to their old jobs. The city doesn’t consult or inform employees of their vocational retraining; instead the city sends injured employees to a contractor who performs job retraining on behalf of the city. Job retraining for injured workers sounds great, but when the city does it without first consulting employees or providing them with informed consent, it smacks of manipulation and deceit.
The most damning evidence of Emanuel unjustly denying disability pay and benefits are his own words. Emanuel said, “We are aggressively pursuing $15 million in savings from workers’ comp.” Emanuel made a priori decision that his administration was going on the offensive to cut $15 million without first determining where or how he could save money. Once Emanuel made the decision to cut $15 million, his hatchet men and women started to deny some city employees’ of their legitimate disability claims.
Emanuel has a reputation for being an obnoxious and aggressive politician, but usually he doesn’t come out and directly say he is planning an attack like he did with city employees’ receiving workers’ compensation. Emanuel purposely prefaced his actions with the word “aggressively” in his statement, “We are aggressively pursuing $15 million in savings from workers’ comp.” The word aggressively means, “Likely to attack or confront. or pursuing one’s aim’s forcefully.” Emanuel used his authority as mayor to forcefully save $15 million from workers’ comp regardless if it was justified or legal.
The way Emanuel proposed and spent Chicago’s yearly budget also led to the unjust denial of workers’ comp claims. Emanuel creates his budget the year before the city actually spends the money. For example, Emanuel submitted his 2016 budget to the Chicago City Council in 2015. When Emanuel decided to cut $15 million from workers comp, Chicago’s Workers Compensation Division was then forced to deny $15 million in claims so as not to exceed its allotment of money in Emanuel’s budget. Legitimate workers’ comp claims were in jeopardy the moment Emanuel reduced the Workers’ Compensation Division’s budget.
Past and Present Workers’ Compensation Investigations
Federal agents have investigated Chicago workers’ compensation two times before. The last time a federal grand jury subpoenaed six years of workers’ compensation records was in 2012. The previous federal investigation occurred in 2006 when the feds were looking for a connection between the Chicago “clout list” and workers’ compensation claims. FBI agents originally discovered the clout list on the City Hall computer of Robert Sorich, who was an aide to Mayor Richard M. Daley. About 60 city employees either plead guilty or were convicted in Chicago’s hiring and job rigging scheme. Almost one in five names on the clout list received workers’ compensation benefits.
Emanuel himself was implicated in Chicago’s hiring and election rigging scheme at two federal court trials. Federal Court witness Donald Tomczak testified that his patronage army consisting of 225 city employees campaigned to elect Emanuel to the U.S. Congress. Another federal court witness said Emanuel went out for beers with the illicit patronage workers after they campaigned for him. Emanuel’s assertion that he wants to clean up workers’ compensation is ridiculous given his previous involvement in its corruption.
Alderman and City Council Finance Committee Chairman Ed Burke is the sole person in charge of processing and settling workers’ compensation claims. Burke is the man who greases and fuels the Chicago machine. At age 24 Burke took over as ward committeeman when his father died in 1968. The following year he became an alderman. Burke has held his two positions as committeeman and alderman for nearly 50 years. Burke has close to $15 million dollars in campaign funds for two jobs that pay a combined $110,000.00 a year. Many of Burke’s campaign contributions are from city contractors, city employees, lobbyists, or other people who have business with the city. Burke used his political connections and organization to get his brother Daniel elected and reelected as a state rep since 1991. Burke’s wife Anne went from law school to an Illinois Supreme Court Justice in 13 years on the strength of husband’s political muscle.
Having Alderman Burke in charge of workers’ compensation and guarding taxpayers money is like having the fox guard the hen house. In 2006 Mayor Richard M. Daley’s chief of staff blamed Burke for city patronage employees exploiting workers’ compensation. There is a major problem of having Mr. Chicago politics running workers’ compensation. Burke in a position to reward the machine’s precinct workers with workers’ compensation when necessary and punish those who dare to challenge the Chicago machine. If another alderman and Burke ally such as Alderman Patrick O’Conner goes to Burke and says keep my precinct caption on workers’ compensation, you can count on Burke keeping O’Conner’s precinct captain on workers’ compensation for as long as O’Conner wants. When it comes election time, O’Conner will return the favor by supplying campaign contributions and precinct workers to help Burke’s wife and brother get reelected to the Illinois Supreme Court and Illinois House of Representatives.
In 20012 Alderman Burke denied Chicago’s Inspector General Joe Ferguson access and oversight of workers’ compensation claims. The Inspector General’s authority to investigate workers’ compensation hovered over today’s city council meeting (Feb..10, 2016) like a plague. The city council voted 25 to 23 to reduce the power and scope of the inspector general. Burke and the rest of his old guard used their influence to protect themselves and workers’ compensation from the prying eyes of the IG. Burke is truly untouchable but for all the wrong reasons.
I have been a thorn in the machine’s side. My website is one example of how I stick it to the machine when I should. I’m also CAN cable TV show producer. I have hosted many cable shows which have exposed Chicago corruption. The machine is using my unfortunate injuries to get me fired from my city job as a plumber. Had I been one of the machine’s good fellas, my workers’ compensation would continue without question. I also have a wife and five children to support.
Help Yourself, Help Me
It’s virtually impossible for one of us to take on the machine’s corrupt policies and practices. If we join together and tell our stories, we may have a chance to right the wrongs that have been done to us. If you are a City of Chicago employee who has been unjustly denied workers’ compensation or benefits, please contact me at [email protected] . I will keep your information strictly confidential unless I have your permission to share your information with attorneys, investigators, or other recognized agencies or authorities.