Since at least 2017, the City of Chicago Department of Water Management has dealt with issue after issue regarding aging infrastructure and incompetent management of its properties. I have written several stories about how the city refuses to change the way they do business. Promotions are based on politics. Stupidity and ignorance are the way things are done. At Chicago, instead of properly identifying a problem and implementing steps to organize a solution, an egocentric management team bumbles and fumbles project after project.
When I reviewed several documents and interviewed several people regarding the handling the massive washouts at the Sawyer Plant, I really thought a logical plan of attack was needed. If you have sanitary backups in a filtration plant, it is imperative to protect the safety of the potable water supply. I would have taken someone like James LoVerde, former Superintendent of the Central District out of mothballs, and hired him to oversee the project. People like James LoVerde were not always the easiest to get along with, but his skills were impressive. Resolving issues means sticking with the problem, applying engineering skills, practical common sense, and listing to the guys with experience. It means putting down your ego. After the problem is solved, a complete restoration of the property and a safe workplace for all.
In Chicago, I will tell you how it works in real life. First, hire a Commissioner with political connections and no experience. Make sure the person in charge is a close pal of Alderman Carrie Austin or Alderman Burke. Make sure you have people with no experience, no professional engineer’s license, no experience in water distribution, and if possible, makes up a college degree. Make sure that person hires and promotes pals that have the same qualifications or less. Make sure the management team retaliates against workers that know what they are doing. Make sure you keep rigging all promotions with yes persons. Keep team players close and keep lots of fighting and discontentment. Make sure you listen to the companies that really run the water department and pay the consultants handsomely. Cover-up all mistakes, deny FOIA, pay off auto accidents, repeat. Transfer excess profits and excessive billings to political operatives. When ordered, ignore city employees and engineers, and hire private companies to ensure plenty of kickbacks. When the private companies have no safety experience and get busted by Illinois Department of Labor or Federal OSHA, allow a massive overage to pay the bill. Make sure the contractor is a “minority business” to continue no-bid work. Make sure the Inspector General has employees that are just passing through and have absolutely no idea of what is going on. Rinse and repeat. When money gets low, have rate increases. Promote more friends. Have more gift cards spread around! Have concert tickets downtown and paid hotels. Drag lawsuits on for years. Hire law firms that give generous kickbacks to the Mayor and Alderman.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot just placed a hiring freeze, it is months too late. Rahm Emanuel dumped his pals all over the city departments and Mayor Lightfoot will most likely keep all the political hires at the old committee on Finance. Rahm Emanuel and Bill Daley still run the City of Chicago folks. Look at the arrows on the picture, they should be green with all the money stolen.