Commissioner Alfonso “Randy” Conner Humble Pie

Commissioner Alfonso “Randy” Conner humble talk June 27, 2019 North District

Today at 7:15 a.m. a humble and contrite Randy ‘Stepping” Conner address a ragtag bunch of North District Chicago City Workers tired from all the heavy work of carrying the political warlords at the Jardine Plant for years. “Regretful Randy” was not acting the brash fool as he had in the past. According to several high-ranking insiders, Randy was not prepared to be a Commissioner and was ill-prepared for the onslaught of powerful insiders. Randy thought when he made Commissioner it would be a high paying party.

Now that he is tied up in several scandals, his demise is near. Randy’s knows now that Alderman Carrie ‘job fixer” Austin and Alderman Burke are toast; he is near the finish line. When Rahm Emanuel was mayor, Randy was a cocky fool, threatening powerful members of Local 130. Real leaders show up on time, but true to form, Randy was late by 15 minutes. This was not the same Randy that was making City Workers wait for him at the Jardine Plant while he was playing with himself, making people wait.

Randy lost his swagger.  He might have partied too much. When stepping at Pier 31 with major players like “Deep Water” videotaping every move, he proved he was just another punk that got a position with no talent or class.

According to my recollection, Randy said there will be many changes at the Department of Water Management, I hope he means Mayor Lightfoot will stomp on the azz of Randy, Hernandez, Chiczewski, and others that brought shame upon the Chicago Water Department. All workers must play by the same rules and the cover-ups must end.

I am hoping to plan a Stepping party for Chicago’s Department of Water Management Goodbye Party. I was thinking Pier 31 at 31st Street to be a great place to say goodbye. Why? Why Not. So, bring your stepping shoes, dry clean your urban suits, (Canto Suit if you are a playa like me, and let’s get started.

The current issues are Lead in the drinking water, fraud, drug testing, accidents, the old post office, Lincoln Yards, cover-ups, political promotions, promotions for getting under the desk, workers compensation fraud, the same ole stuff. Alderman Burke needs to answer for CTR and other that got business at the DOWM. More on this later.

Chicago Clout Hall of Stupid Carrie Austin

Carrie Austin got the Feds on her azz now.

All the Chicago Clout fans know a deep investigation into Alderman Carrie Austin and her extended family started by Jay Stone, the maverick son of former Alderman Stone.

Chicago clout told you years ago, the Water Department was treating her son like a V.I.P. and not like a laborer. Since when did the DOWM management, take a laborer to a City Council Meeting? What was Mr. Austin doing at that meeting down at City Hall? Sleeping. I should release those photos. It was sickening to watch Commissioner Talley kissing this dude’s azz instead of having him dig ditches.

Both Austin fools will be out on the street. Carrie Austin has given more people jobs and promotions making life good for her and goon squad. Carrie will be exposed for her 300-million-dollar medical wheeling dealing with Medical billing and her profitable committee work. Remember when the little Emanuel was priding himself on lying to the Federal Judge and demanding no more Shakman oversight? The Judge should have listened to Jay Stone and me when we warned about the current and ongoing rigged jobs to the Federal Judge.

I am glad the Chicago Media is rocking and rolling now. Time to expose these bums and put them in jail. I asked the Governor of Wisconsin to make a major expansion in the federal prison in Oxford. The Chicago wing of the prison should be ready to handle a entire batch of Chicago politicians, commissioners, and assorted henchmen.

I am making the popcorn now, extra buttered.

Ed Burke’s unplanned gift to Illinois governments by Tribune

Think of it as an unintended gift from Ald. Edward Burke to governments throughout Illinois: A private-sector company now will manage the City Hall workers’ compensation program that Chicagoans long described as Burke’s $100 million-a-year fiefdom.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot has hired an outside claims administrator to manage the program, which she aptly describes as vulnerable to corruption. Let’s see: For decades one alderman, his veins coursing as much with politics as with blood, oversees how the city doles out payments to claimants who say their injuries keep them from working. What could possibly go wrong?

A federal charge of attempted extortion against Burke roiled his, well, fiefdom in January. Mayor Rahm Emanuel moved workers’ compensation from the Finance Committee to City Hall’s Finance Department. Emanuel also launched an audit by accounting firm Grant Thornton. To the surprise of no one, a preliminary draft of that review has found “significant control deficiencies and weaknesses.” The audit describes inadequate controls to prevent cheating, insufficient training of employees to spot suspicious claims and no hotline that would let citizens report suspicions of fraud.

Lightfoot’s expectation is that Gallagher Bassett, a company that boasts of handling injury claims for some 4,800 organizations in 60 countries, will save Chicago taxpayers significant money by professionally evaluating claims, helping employees get back to work in reasonable time and perhaps reclaiming payments on fraudulent cases from the Burke years.

Just as important, public officials statewide stand to learn what happens when a big Illinois government puts an important backshop operation in the hands of an apolitical private-sector company accustomed to big caseloads.[

We’ll pause here while defenders of an ever-larger public sector dredge up stories of this or that company that didn’t do a good job for an Illinois government. But rising public opposition to property taxes, plus the enormous budget pressures driven by unfunded pensions, sooner or later will force Illinois governments to change how they do business. Think of all the backshop operations — payroll, benefits administration, purchasing — that private-sector contractors just might handle better, and for less money. At minimum, Chicago’s City Hall won’t incur pension expenses for Gallagher Bassett employees. That alone is a break for city taxpayers.Read: Audit of city’s $100 million-per-year workers’ compensation program »

So let’s all monitor how the company performs, and for what ultimate cost. We keep urging local governments to consolidate, to economize, to do what private-sector employers have been doing more aggressively for more years: Find new ways of serving citizens and employees.

Who knows, maybe this unanticipated experiment — this gift from Ed Burke — will show public officials and taxed-out citizens statewide that a lot of the work done in government offices ought to be done in the private sector. Gallagher Bassett, we’ll all be watching you.

National attention from William Rabb for Chicago Injured Workers at WORK COMP CENTRAL

Report on Chicago Comp Program Could Be Just the Start of More Investigations

I anit afraid of da feds Burke

 By William Rabb (Reporter)

Tuesday, June 18, 2019 |  10,795 read |  0 | 24 min read

An examination of Chicago’s workers’ compensation program suggests that problems extend far and wide, from overpayments on claims, little attempt at subrogation, minimal fraud prevention efforts and a widespread lack of oversight.

Alderman Ed Burke

But watchdogs and fraud investigators say the report by the Grant Thornton accounting firm, released last week, may only scratch the surface, and more investigations and prosecutions are likely to follow in the months ahead.

Chicago’s new mayor, Lori Lightfoot, announced last week that the city had chosen internationally known Gallagher Bassett, a claims management firm with offices in Illinois, to administer the comp program. The firm will have to cull through thousands of claims to determine how many are legitimate, after years of allegations that Alderman Ed Burke ran the program as a jobs and patronage mechanism that awarded benefits to friends and denied compensation as punishment to others.

That means that some workers who have received benefits could soon find themselves under the microscope.

“Generally speaking, if someone is the beneficiary of a false claim, that violates the act, and it’s something we would look at,” said Robert Bauer, assistant deputy director of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission’s fraud division.

The state commission’s statistics reinforce the Grant Thornton report that reducing fraud was not a priority for the city program. In the last three years, Chicago’s comp program has referred only two suspected fraud cases to the state — one in 2016 and one in 2017, Bauer said.

But the winds of change are blowing. After Burke was indicted in January on unrelated federal extortion charges, he stepped down as chairman of the City Council’s Finance Committee, which for three decades had managed the comp program.

Now with the program moved to the mayor’s office and more investigations expected, some of those Burke-favored workers who had been receiving benefits have suddenly returned to their city jobs and have given up benefits, said city worker Patrick McDonough.

“Some of the guys who were on the mystery ship have made miraculous recoveries,” said McDonough, the lead plaintiff in a federal lawsuit against Burke.

McDonough said he met with FBI agents last week and named five city workers who unexpectedly had returned to their jobs, some of whom had been receiving wage-replacement benefits for years. Since then, several other whistleblowers have given statements to federal investigators, he said.

McDonough, a plumber by trade who was injured in 2013 when his foot was smashed by a city truck, is on other side of the program’s alleged favoritism. After McDonough said he blew the whistle on alleged abuses in the city comp department, his own benefits were halted.

“I’ve been out of work for three-and-half years with no benefits whatsoever,” he said Monday.

The plumber said that he also believes Burke was able to keep prying eyes out of the city’s self-insured comp program for so long because he may have funneled workers’ compensation funds to other aldermen. Burke was able to secure city ordinances through the years that blocked audits of the comp program, an arrangement that has now changed.

Burke could not be reached for comment Monday.

Meanwhile, the examination by Grant Thornton, which was commissioned by the city’s Corporation Counsel after aldermen voted last December to move the comp program to the executive branch, highlights a number of questionable practices and what the report called “suspicious behavior.”

A summary was released to the public in May, but the full, 78-page report was not posted until last week. The accounting firm said the assessment stops short of being an audit, and it did not investigate alleged malfeasance. But the document does spotlight several concerns for 2017 and 2018.

Among the findings:

Clusters of claims. Most of the claims came from the southwest sector of Chicago, which includes Burke’s Ward 14.

“Further review of claims filed by claimants residing in these areas should be considered as the clusters could be indicative of a trend or a potential scheme,” the report said.

Benefits for nonclaims. Several claims were “record only” and should not have resulted in benefits. Yet benefits were paid on these, the report said. It did not indicate the dollar amount of the payouts, but noted examiners found that some adjusters’ average payout per claim was well above the average.

A further analysis “can assist in identifying adjusters with a potential misunderstanding of the payments requirements as defined by the program, adjusters with inadequate training or attention to detail, or other suspicious behavior,” the report said.

Out-of-state medical bills. More than 25% of all payments for medical bills were to providers outside Illinois. Some of that was explained by the program’s “preferred medical prescription company” handling most medication payments, which went to providers in Arizona, the report said. It did not provide further detail on that, but noted that when that was adjusted for, 10% of provider payments still went to medical firms outside the state.

Claims failed oversight tests. The accounting firm sampled 109 claims and tested them against state regulations, industry best practices and procedures in place in the city comp program. All claims failed at least three tests. Many were not reviewed by a supervisor in an initial compensability assessment, and others were not assigned to an adjuster within 24 hours.

“Grant Thornton identified three broad areas for improvement that may lead to more robust claims administration,” the report stated. These areas are “(1) developing thoroughly documented policies and procedures that encompass the entire claim administration process and include monitoring and oversight mechanisms, (2) instituting a formalized training regimen for all program employees, and (3) performing a continual assessment of the systems, protocols, and inter-departmental communication channels for operational effectiveness and efficiency to support the program’s ultimate goal of returning employees to work as quickly and safely as possible.”

Many claims, one law firm. One law firm, Hennessy & Roach, handled more claims appeals and litigation than any other. But the type of legal work the firm did was not evident, the report noted.

“Based upon the documentation made available to us, it is unclear as to the amount and duration of any legal support” for 23 claims that Grant Thornton examined. Of 18 other claims examined, no evidence could be found that the program director had authorized settlements.

The accountants recommended that the comp program develop a list of approved external law firms to handle claims cases, and develop criteria on when claims should be referred to attorneys.

Subdued subrogation. Of 11 claims tested, 10 showed no documentation that third-party recovery had been attempted, a standard practice for most insurance carriers.

Overpayments. The accounting firm tested a sampling of claims and found that six of 39 had been overpaid by a total of $14,073.

“All overpayments were related to indemnity benefits being paid after indemnity benefits were stopped or because of incorrect calculation of indemnity benefits,” the report noted.

The findings come as little revelation to those who have followed the city’s compensation program for years.

“There have always been rumblings about what goes on over there, so none of it surprises me,” said Norman Burdick, an attorney and insurance defense-firm investigator. “I suspect you’ll see a lot of prosecutions now.”

Burdick, a former investigator for the state Workers’ Compensation Commission, praised the selection of Gallagher Bassett to administer the city program and examine the thousands of outstanding claims.

“They are a very solid company and are good at handling claims, from what I have seen,” he said. “That’s very good news.”

He suggested that if suspected fraud cases were not handed over to the state compensation commission’s fraud unit, which still has only two investigators statewide, city officials should ask the Cook County prosecutor to take charge.

Another, long-term solution, he said, would be to allow a commercial insurance carrier to write the compensation coverage, which would provide a profit incentive to sniff out and prevent fraud, waste and abuse.

Chicago Partners With Third-Party Firm to Overhaul Workers Comp Program NBC 5 Chicago

A new audit of the program revealed Thursday showed 1,300 open cases, 600 of which are decades old, costing taxpayers more than $294 million.

By Mary Ann Ahern

Mayor Lori Lightfoot announces a private company will take control of the city’s $100 million a year worker’s compensation program. NBC 5’s Mary Ann Ahern has the details.

(Published Thursday, June 13, 2019)

Lightfoot Announces Changes to Workers Comp Program

An outside firm will take over day-to-day operations of the city of Chicago’s $100 million workers compensation program, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced, calling out Ald. Ed Burke for running a system that’s “ripe for corruption.”

More than 12 years ago, NBC 5’s Carol Marin and the Chicago Sun-Times detailed repeated abuses of the workers compensation program. At the time, Burke, still the long-time chair of the city’s Finance Committee, said he had “confidence that the staff on the committee on finance has done the best that it can in an admittedly very difficult system.”

A new audit of the program revealed Thursday showed 1,300 open cases, 600 of which are decades old, costing taxpayers more than $294 million.

“Under no imagination of best practices did that make sense,” Lightfoot said Thursday. “People have a right to expect when they file a legitimate workers compensation claim, that it’s going to be resolved in a timely fashion.”

The audit also revealed that the staff is inadequately trained, there is no fraud policy and no tip hotline in place to report abuse.

“A lot of this is on paper,” Lightfoot said. “It’s not electronic, so there’s going to be a massive undertaking to get our arms, our collective arms around the universe of claims.”

The third-party firm, Gallagher Bassett, will help create a program that is “consistent with best practices across the country,” she said.

Among responsibilities, Lightfoot has tasked Gallagher Bassett with adopting new technology “to expedite claims review and control medical costs and improve outcomes for injured employees.”

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot says city will hire outside firm to oversee workers’ comp program

Mayor Lori Lightfoot talks to reporters following a City Council meeting at City Hall on June 12, 2019. (Jose M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune)

Gregory Pratt and John ByrneContact Reporters

Chicago Tribune

Chicago will transfer day-to-day control of its $100 million-per-year city workers’ compensation program, which for decades was largely handled in secret under the auspices of now-indicted Ald. Edward Burke, to a private company, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Thursday.

A recent audit, performed by outside auditing firm Grant Thornton, found that the program did not operate according to industry best practices, staff members were inadequately trained, and it lacked “comprehensive policies and procedures governing claim handling, which can lead to inconsistent claim outcomes for workers,” according to the mayor’s office.

Chicago’s workers’ comp program also lacks key protections against fraud, though auditors did not specifically identify any in their report, Grant Thornton said.

To deal with the workers’ comp program going forward, the city is planning to transfer day-to-day operations to Gallagher Bassett, an international public sector claims firm, Lightfoot said. The administration has not yet reached a final agreement on a contract with the firm, Lightfoot said.

“While other cities across the country have long ago reformed and professionalized their own programs, here in Chicago we continue to operate in such an opaque and antiquated manner that even members of our own City Council didn’t know how the program worked,” Lightfoot said. “That all ends now.”

The workers’ compensation program was thrust into the spotlight in November, when federal agents raided the City Hall offices of Burke. At the time, Burke was the powerful City Council Finance Committee chairman who had kept the program under tight wraps during his more than three decades of nearly continuous control of the committee, resisting efforts by the city inspector general to look into the program’s operations.

After federal prosecutors charged Burke in early January with attempted extortion for allegedly trying to shake down Burger King restaurateurs, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced he would remove the program from the committee and instead put the city Finance Department in charge of it.

Emanuel then ordered the outside audit of workers’ compensation, which was completed days before he left office.

In most cities, workers’ compensation is overseen by the human resources or law departments. But in Chicago, it’s been controlled closely by Burke with little oversight.

In 2012, Inspector General Joseph Ferguson sought access to records related to the workers’ compensation program to review it for waste and inefficiency. Burke denied Ferguson access to those records, contending they fell outside the watchdog’s jurisdiction.

That same year, a federal grand jury issued subpoenas for the program’s database, injury records, medical assessments and claim investigation records dating to January 2006. Federal authorities also had subpoenaed similar records in 2006. Nothing appeared to have come of those requests.

In their executive summary, the auditors wrote that the program “is in need of substantial improvement to operate more effectively as well as prevent and detect potential fraud, waste and abuse.”

“While we were not tasked with nor did we investigate potential instances of fraud, we did identify significant control deficiencies and weaknesses that would create an environment where (fraud, waste and abuse) could be present,” the auditors said.

Most workers’ comp claims weren’t in compliance with rules or the program’s own internal claim administration guidelines, the auditors wrote.

The workers’ comp program was operating without any fraud risk policy, offered no anti-fraud training, and did not conduct fraud awareness initiatives, the report said.

It also did not maintain an anonymous fraud tip hotline and did not have “documented policies or procedures to ensure consistent, reliable investigations,” the report said.

The report recommended establishing a fraud risk management policy and annual anti-fraud training, the report said.

Auditors also recommended establishing guidelines for regularly analyzing claims “for the identification of unexpected changes over time,” the report said.

The report recommended checking claims “immediately following a holiday,” as “a high number of claims immediately following a holiday could be considered anomalous, outside of work injuries and is often indicative of (fraud, waste and abuse) in workers’ compensation claims.”

Speaking outside her office about the report, Lightfoot called the audit “a pretty damning indictment of how this program is administered. There’s I think virtually no point on which Grant Thornton believed this program was operating anything close to best practices.”

The review also found that there were nearly 1,300 open workers’ comp claims, and about 600 of those were a decade or more old, Lightfoot said.

“The fact that we’ve got these decades-old cases and we’ve spent about $300 million and these claims are still unresolved, meaning there’s still a potential additional payout on top of that, doesn’t make sense,” Lightfoot said.

Lightfoot said the audit’s conclusion that the program was mismanaged and “utterly ill-equipped to prevent fraud and abuse” should come as no surprise.

Lightfoot also took the opportunity to decry Burke, a frequent target whose legal problems helped catapult her longshot bid for mayor into a victory in the April election. She said the system Burke ran “was ripe for corruption.”

“A program of this size and significance has no business being controlled by a single member of the City Council, not to mention controlled without meaningful oversight controls or transparency,” Lightfoot said.

Asked how much the reform will save taxpayers, Lightfoot said she didn’t know because there will also be startup costs to modernizing the workers’ comp program. Much of its work is currently done on paper, not electronically, she said.

But, she added, “over time, there’s no question it’ll save us substantial sums.”

Copyright © 2019, Chicago Tribune

FOX NEWS on Mayor Lightfoot’s Workers’ Compensation needed changes to modernize Chicago

CHICAGO (AP) – In another move to reform how the city conducts its business, Mayor Lori Lightfoot says Chicago will transfer day-to-day control of its $100 million-per-year workers’ compensation program to a private company.

The program for decades was handled in secret under the control of now-indicted Alderman Edward Burke. The long-time alderman was charged in January with attempted extortion for allegedly trying to shake down restaurateurs.

Lightfoot said Thursday a recent audit of the program by accounting firm Grant Thornton found there were nearly 1,300 open workers’ compensation claims.

Lightfoot noted other cities long ago reformed and professionalized their own programs. She said Chicago continued to operate in an opaque and antiquated manner that even members of the City Council didn’t know how the program worked.