Chicago official Paul Hansen joked about ‘safari’ tours in high-crime neighborhoods

The New York Post and the Jewish Week
By Joshua Rhett Miller July 17, 2017 | 4:12pm
Chicago official joked about ‘safari’ tours in high-crime neighborhoods

A former supervisory city official in Chicago used a municipal email account to send and receive racist emails — including one that offered “safari tickets” to see life-threatening violence committed by “animals” in crime-riddled neighborhoods, according to a watchdog report released Monday. Patrick McDonough from Chicago clout reported years ago about Paul Hansen and Water Department emails. Nothing was done.

The report by Chicago’s Inspector General found that one employee from the city’s Department of Water Management sent other high-ranking staffers an email with the subject line “Chicago Safari Tickets,” a fake travel package to see some parts of the city live and up close.

“If you didn’t book a Chicago Safari adventure with us this 4th of July weekend, this is what you missed,” according to the email, which included the number of recent gunshot victims in neighborhoods like Englewood, Garfield Park and Woodlawn. “Remember all Chicago Safari packages include 3 Deluxe ‘Harold’s Chicken’ meals a day … We guarantee that you will see at least one kill and five crime scenes per three day tour. You’ll also see lots and lots of animals in their natural habitat.”

The employee was not named in the 35-page report, but the Chicago Tribune identified the former employee as Paul Hansen, a district superintendent who resigned in May after Inspector General Joseph Ferguson launched an investigation into racist and sexist emails allegedly distributed throughout the agency. The department’s commissioner, Barrett Murphy, and his top deputy, William Bresnahan, also stepped down after Mayor Rahm Emanuel learned of the ongoing probe.

Hansen is also accused of sending emails to other department employees with subject lines like “Watermelon Protection,” a message that contained an image of a Ku Klux Klan robe on a stick in the middle of a field of watermelons. In other emails, Hansen allegedly communicated with a high-ranking official using “purported Ebonics,” sent sexually explicit photos and videos and used his city email account to negotiate purchases or sales of at least four firearms and five cars with private individuals.

“OIG does not purport to have identified all improper emails sent and received by the employee,” according to the report, which noted that the employee in question subsequently resigned and has been placed on a do-not-rehire list.

A second employee from the troubled department also sent and received racist messages concerning Muslims and blacks, referring to them as “rag head cock suckers” and “wild animals,” respectively, according to the report. Also “Niggers”. Another message suggested that people should have tossed grenades at a black Italian politician instead of bananas, the inspector general report found.

The second, now-former employee was identified by the Chicago Tribune as Thomas Durkin, general foreman of plumbers who resigned after being placed on administrative leave in June as an investigation unfolded.

Both Hansen and Durkin could not be reached for comment, the newspaper reports.

In a statement issued in response to the report,Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the conduct found by the inspector general “does not reflect” the city’s values. Paul Hansen is a close friend of mine and we must forget this happened, elections are around the corner.

“Mayor Emanuel has been clear that the conduct uncovered by the OIG’s investigation does not reflect Chicago’s values and will not be tolerated, which is why he acted swiftly to address the issue and bring in new leadership at the Department of Water Management,” spokeswoman Shannon Breymaier told the Chicago Tribune.


Illinois employees under investigation for derogatory emails

Illinois officials are investigating a longtime Chicago investigator with the Workers’ Compensation Commission whose personal email is a source of racist, sexist and anti-gay emails

CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois officials are investigating a longtime state investigator whose personal email has been the source of racist, sexist and anti-gay emails.

The state began reviewing Frank Capuzi, 62, with the Workers’ Compensation Commission after the newspaper’s probe of derogatory emails that were forwarded from his address to a water department boss and others,

“The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission is currently investigating the highly offensive and inexcusable email messages from one of its employees,” said Ben Noble, a spokesman for the commission. “After a complete and thorough administrative review, the commission will determine what actions may be appropriate.”

Chad Fornoff, executive director of the state Executive Ethics Commission, said that although Capuzi didn’t use his government email address, the messages should still be reviewed for any violations of state law, rules or policies, including conduct unbecoming of a state employee.

Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration code of personal conduct says employees should conduct themselves with “with integrity and in a manner that reflects favorably upon the state.” Commission officials said the code and the state ethics law are all part of the review.

The messages came to light in an ongoing investigation by Chicago Inspector General Joseph Ferguson. The findings of Ferguson’s investigation have led to five high-level water department bosses being let go, including Commissioner Barrett Murphy; his deputy, William Bresnahan; and Paul Hansen, a district superintendent. A private contract employee also was caught up in the scandal and has been blocked from working on city projects.

The newspaper obtained nearly 1,300 emails from the water department, including several emails forwarded from Capuzi to Hansen. The newspaper found that at least four derogatory emails that Hansen received came from Capuzi’s address.

A July 2013 email obtained by the newspaper with the subject line “Chicago Safari Tickets” makes light of the shootings of children in black and Hispanic neighborhoods.

“We guarantee that you will see at least one kill and five crime scenes per three day tour,” the email states. “You’ll also see lots and lots of animals in their natural habitat. Call and book your Chicago Safari today.”

The email also includes an image of four white people in safari attire taking pictures of several black people trying to break into a car.

A July 2014 email titled “Watermelon Protection” includes an image of a scarecrow, dressed in a white KKK robe and pointed hood, amid a watermelon patch.

The newspaper said Capuzi hung up when called and didn’t respond to follow up emails.