Paris Schutz | August 7, 2019
Katherine Ealy (WTTW News)
More employees at the Department of Water Management are speaking out about what they call a toxic culture at the city agency. The claims come two years after a scathing report by the inspector general cited rampant racism, sexism and even illegal gun dealing in the department.
Katherine Ealy, a former chief operating engineer who left her job last month, is speaking out about the culture of fear and harassment she faced. She is one of eight plaintiffs named in a lawsuit alleging a pervasive culture of racism, sexual harassment and hostile work environment at the department, in which blatantly racist emails were sent by former top-ranking officials.
Ealy says she’s been the subject of retaliation and called every name in the book.
“Besides being called a ‘black b**ch’ several times, besides being called ‘an effing whore,’ I had to fight to be treated equal to the white male chiefs,” Ealy said.
The lawsuit was filed in 2017 and Ealy says nothing has changed at the water department since then. At the time, former Mayor Rahm Emanuel cleaned house and installed Randy Conner, who is black, as commissioner.
“Even under the new commissioner, they talk about a reset button. But it’s an ongoing joke that the reset button is broken. Blacks are still being mistreated. Nothing has changed,” Ealy said.
Ealy’s attorney, Victor Henderson, says the city won’t turn over pertinent documents in the case. The city’s law department denied that claim.
“Any claims that the City has not provided records are categorically false,” said law department spokesman Bill McCaffrey. “In fact, last week both parties reported to the judge that discovery was progressing and no complaints were raised before the court. The City has already produced more than 17,500 pages of documents, and last fall offered to provide plaintiffs’ counsel access to employment records that would clearly demonstrate that race did not factor into promotions or unwarranted discipline. No response was ever received to this offer.”
The plaintiffs may have received a treasure trove of documents, but they are almost entirely redacted.
Henderson said he fought the previous administration tooth and nail.
“We expected a battle under Mayor Rahm Emanuel, in part because former Commissioner Barrett Murphy was a friend of his,” Henderson said. “But we’re hoping for a change. We don’t want a fight, we want them to be honest, transparent, candid and let the chips fall where they may.”
Henderson says there are hundreds of unnamed current and former water department officials who are part of this class-action lawsuit who can attest to the rampant culture of racism, favoritism and political cronyism.
Historically, the water department has been a city office where many clouted employees land. A high-ranking former official named Paul Hansen, son of former 44th Ward Ald. Bernie Hansen, spread many of the racist emails. But there is another federal lawsuit, filed earlier this year by a man named Dilan Abreu, alleging the same pattern of racism and retaliation against him and other members of the Latino community.
A clerk we spoke with says she was just put on paid leave, unfairly, after working at the water department for 30-plus years. She says she wants the new mayor to talk with employees like her who are still subject to what they call a torturous work environment.
”We want her to come, we need her to talk to us,” said Maria Garza, a clerk in the department. “She needs to fire all these people. It’s because of clout that a lot of them are there. They don’t know what they’re doing, but they’re getting paid to do the jobs and their disciplining anybody. Go to the water department and clean it out.”
We reached out to the Department of Water Management for comment, but they declined, citing ongoing litigation.
Former employees contend discrimination persists two years after a white commissioner was replaced by an African American in response to racist, sexist and homophobic emails. By Fran Spielman Aug 1, 2019
Mayor Lori Lightfoot was urged Thursday to “take a water hose and clean out” Chicago’s Department of Water Management where, former employees contend, discrimination persists two years after a white commissioner was replaced by an African American.
Katherine Ealy was promoted to chief operating engineer at the Eugene Sawyer Water Purification Plant shortly after a 2017 housecleaning triggered by racist, sexist and homophobic emails; gone were Water Management Commissioner Barrett Murphy and his top deputies and supervisors.
Veteran City Hall insider Randy Conner, an African American, replaced Murphy and was given carte blanche to clean house. He chose Ealy, a black lesbian and a Navy veteran of Operation Desert Storm — and a plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit triggered by the department’s hate-filled culture.
Before her promotion, Ealy claimed, she had been called a “f——- whore” and a “black b——” by a co-worker; her written complaints were ignored. So, she said, she was “hoping and praying” a “new day” had dawned at the scandal-scarred department.
She was wrong.
“I learned pretty quickly that things were not going to change — even after they appointed a black commissioner, Randy Conner,” Ealy, fighting back tears, said Thursday at a news conference at her attorney’s office.
“As the only black female and openly gay official, I was constantly micromanaged. I was disrespected by co-workers both below and above me, even deputy commissioner and former Ald. John Pope. I was even told that the only reason I was promoted was because I was black and a woman.”
Ealy said she was “forced” to resign from her “dream job” on July 19. She refused to discuss the circumstances except to say it was a “trumped up” and erroneous charge.
“I am black. I am a strong woman. And I am openly gay. I continue to feel each and every day that the culture at the Water Department has not changed and that upper management — from Commissioner Randy Conner on down — was setting me up to fail. I could see it. I could feel it,” Ealy said.
Flanked by other Water Management alums, Ealy spoke directly to Lightfoot.
“If anybody can understand the battles that I face as a black person, a woman, and someone who is openly gay, it should be the mayor,” Ealy said.
“We are asking the mayor — the first black female mayor of Chicago and the first openly gay mayor of Chicago — to stand with us in our fight for justice and respect.”
Attorney Victor Henderson filed the still-pending lawsuit accusing Chicago’s Department of Water Management of creating “a hostile and abusive work environment,” of violence, intimidation and retaliation that denied African American employees promotions, transfers and overtime.
Henderson made three demands of Lightfoot.
• Hold a closed-door, town hall meeting at the Department of Water Management to listen to the stories of black employees, both active and retired.
• Stop fighting the employees’ demand for all of the emails and personnel records they need to support their lawsuit.
• Above all, change the culture.
“Take a water hose and clean out the water department. Get rid of the cronyism. Get rid of the racism. Get rid of the nepotism. Get rid of the homophobia. Clean the place out. And that includes Commissioner Randy Conner, who’s an African American,” Henderson said.
As for the new leadership, he said, “It doesn’t matter what their color is. It doesn’t matter what their gender is. It doesn’t matter what their race is. … When you have African Americans who are saying, ‘Get rid of an African American water commissioner,’ what does that tell you? All they want is fairness.”
Law Department spokesman Bill McCaffrey refused to comment on the pending lawsuit. But he called Henderson’s claim that the city has withheld records “categorically false.”
McCaffrey said the city has produced “more than 17,500 pages of documents” and offered last fall to give Henderson access to employment records that, the city claims, would “clearly demonstrate that race did not factor into promotions or unwarranted discipline.”
Henderson likened the city’s stonewalling to former Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s decision to withhold the Laquan McDonald shooting video until after he was safely reelected in 2015, and even then only after a court order.
“This city has a history of ignoring racism. … A sordid history. … This time around, it should be different,” Henderson said.
“Stop fighting the FOIA requests. Let the truth come out. Shine the light.”
Lightfoot played on her name with a campaign promise to “bring in the light.”It helped the former federal prosecutor portray herself as a change agent in a change election dominated by the City Hall corruption scandal that culminated in the racketeering indictment against Ald. Edward M. Burke (14th).
Many Chicago City of Chicago employees used to call their boss when they were injured. If you had a crap boss they would order you to go to the yard because they refused to go to the scene of the injury. One of the best ways to limit liability is to have an officer of the department go to the scene and make notes. The City of Chicago Department of Water Management used to send the safety department out to access the situation to limit liabilities and document everything. It makes sense to me. Now that they hired more political hires at the Safety Department, they give them less to do. Typical.
The City of Chicago has changed the protocol and now wants injured workers to call layers of management companies under the control of Gallagher-Bassett. Lori Lightfoot stuck a boot in Alderman Burke’s ass after finding out all the money he was scamming from Hennessey and Roach for legal bills to pad his political accounts. Still, the City of Chicago should have fired the entire Committee on Finance employees, but they have failed to do so. Now Chicago taxpayers pay double while they try to sort out all the corruption at the Department of Finance.
Now if you are injured while working in the ditches, or shot while working, you are to call PC365 at 1.833.204.0067 and a nurse will answer in a Texas call center. The Nurse in Texas will decide with no visuals on the best way to treat your injuries. The idea is to continue to screw injured workers out of workers’ compensation benefits. Commissioner Conner approved this for the DOWM. This is again not thought out.
You can call your boss after and the taxpayers will have one less thing for these $125,000.00 hacks per year to do. Chicago is already rated as the worst workers’ compensation system in the country so far, can they go lower? This system is working in Milwaukee Wisconsin. Let see what the results are. Better yet, let’s follow the money. Alderman Burke and Alderman Carrie Austin are on the outs, let’s see who gets paid. Work Safe.
It was a great day for the City of Chicago when Paul Hansen was fired. He drove home in his big Chevrolet Black Suburban while his black cat sat in the front window. Paul was given a powerful position left vacant by and Caulker Mike Tierney. The position was North District Superintendent, it was a great chance to make points with the Plumber’s Local 130 Union and sell tickets for political events. It was also a moneymaker if you were around when Hired Trucks rolled in Chicago. Also, you could obtain a Plumber’s License if you were a real standout. Hell, you would not even have to go to school.
Paul used his position to empower himself and was nothing less than a troublemaker when he had the position. The Bosses at the DOWM always looked the other way because Paul had the protection of Alderman Tunney. Despite the many complaints made against Paul to the Illinois Department of Human Rights, the City Inspector General, and other agencies, Paul was always protected. When Paul broke into the North District General Superintendent’s locker, they moved the GS. I am certain the ex-cop Bresnahan enjoyed Paul’s activities.
Paul would make charges against people and would behave like a seasoned alcoholic or drug addict. His misuse of the position was legendary. Paul would drive into the North District at high speed like a weirdo. When Paul was in his office, he loved to wield power and was considered a loser. Paul told people to lie at hearings and the employees complied. When Paul lost his job for emails that were racial and homophobic, you think the City of Chicago DOWM would have reviewed all complaints Paul made against city workers. Paul should have been fired when he received a D.U.I and continued to collect mileage reimbursements. Instead, he was promoted. Thank Joe Ferguson for that, he was busy trying to figure out who took a box of pencils from streets and sanitation. When the Inspector General investigated, the DOWM Commissioner tipped off the investigation and warned all parties to prepare. The fix was in.
Paul also sent whistleblowers to different districts, interfered with workers comp benefits and continued to make an ass out of himself. Paul promoted his friends.
When Paul lost his job, his wife dumped his ass like a bad habit. Smart move. Next, the big old Suburban disappeared, and the house disappeared. Things appeared to be falling apart for Paul. It is times like that when you need to look inside and make changes. You need to think, what am I doing that is making things fall apart? Is it drugs? Is it heavy drinking? Is it a shit attitude?
Many Chicago employees were pleased when Paul left. The north district started to stabilize. After a time of a couple of wannabees, things are almost sensible. Back to Paul.
Just recently Paul came under my radar again. His actions are pretty much on par with what he has always done. Paul decided to date another girl after his divorce. I am certain even Paul Hansen was tired of looking in the mirror. It looks as though Paul would get his gander up when he was drinking. Something he allegedly takes pride in. Paul was dating a girl that is small and petite. He reputably attempted to choke her and control her with a brutal assault. Paul liked to call her and make her cry with his bullshit. Threats and other actions against women are completely out of line and certainly let you know what a person is really like.
On May 3, 2019, Paul was arrested (2nd time?) for assaulting this little woman. The six foot and 220 lb. Paul was arrested, throw in jail and had to turn over his guns. Paul said he had them locked in his gun vault in the basement of the 6300 block of North Kilpatrick. The victim went to court, but the court case was changed to the morning and dismissed. The victim was not notified. The victim went to court in the afternoon and then told the case was dismissed. Amazing how that works.
Paul then applied to get his weapons returned. He told the court he was an employee of the Chicago Police Department and the gun was his service revolver. The CPD said Paul was never an employee of the CPD, ever. When Paul got his D.U.I. he was under orders to get counseling for drinking and anger management, I guess that didn’t work out so well. Being the son of an Alderman means you never got enough attention from your adopted pops. Certified letters went out to Judge Kathleen Lanahan and the States Attorney. Certified Letters went to the Illinois State Police. Let’s see what they did to protect us from Paul.
These are the people Rahm Emanuel and the City of Chicago promoted. I know of many lawsuits against the City of Chicago because of Paul. I also know of more on the way.
When the Department of Water Management continues to coverup for the political class, they cost taxpayers millions. More on this later.
Maybe Mike Tierney of Local 130 could ask Paul why he has an unlicensed Plumbing and sewer business out of the 6300 block of North Kilpatrick? Allegedly.
By JOHN BYRNECHICAGO TRIBUNE |AUG 01, 2019
Plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit alleging racial discrimination at the city water department called on Mayor Lori Lightfoot Thursday to stop fighting the release of records they say could bolster their case.
Victor Henderson, lawyer for the six plaintiffs, said city lawyers have been trying to stop them from getting their hands on emails, hiring records and other information they’ve requested as part of the discovery process in the 2017 suit.
The plaintiffs say African American employees of the department routinely were denied promotions, subjected to racial slurs and sexually harassed because of their race.
Noting that Lightfoot is an openly gay African American woman who pledged during her campaign to “bring in the light” to city government, Henderson said the city should cooperate with the plaintiffs’ requests.
“The city has a history of ignoring racism, a history of it, a sordid history,” Henderson said at a news conference at a downtown law firm. “This time around, it should be different. What we want the mayor to do is, tell the lawyers at the city and the lawyers that they’ve hired to stop fighting the request for the information. Turn the information over.”[
City Law Department spokesman Bill McCaffrey called claims the city did not provide documents in the case “categorically false.”
“In fact, last week both parties reported to the judge that discovery was progressing and no complaints were raised before the court,” McCaffrey said in a statement.
Henderson said his clients also want Lightfoot to fire Water Management Commissioner Randy Conner, the African American man who Mayor Rahm Emanuel brought in to clean up the water department when the city inspector general turned up racist and sexist emails in 2017. In the two years since Conner was appointed, the environment has not changed in the department, Henderson said.
Another Illinois politician is going down the tubes thinking they would never get busted.
I am especially happy because this is another politician involved with fixing workers’ compensation cases in Illinois. I explain the confusion, when arbitrators are picked it is a secret process, you can not make a settlement in Chicago unless you know how to work the system. Cases are dragged on forever, workers are forced with starvation, and lawyers fail to take any steps to litigate cases. The fix is in.
Lawyers always make kickbacks to Alderman, union fix cases, state reps, and state senators, get nice campaign contributions for greasing cases. They all meet and exchange envelopes at golf outings. Powerful Unions force settlements for favored members. About a year ago, cards were placed at the IWCC 8th floor of the James Thompson Building. Several disgruntled attorneys agreed to wear wires at hearings.
The conversations were never about the injured worker, it was about lunch, settlement terms, and the weather. What was in it for the lawyers? Lawyers seemed unfazed as their clients did not receive disability payments for years. “We will get there” was a typical statement. The longer the cases went on, the more money the lawyers made.
Cullerton is now the tip of the iceberg. The Feds are climbing up the latter fast. More are talking because of all the wires. Alderman Edward Burke got lots of cake from the lawyers, now he will need to return most of it. Funny, when you don’t know when to leave, you are shown the door. The is not a ticket to an event, it is massive amounts of money.
Discrimination complaints lead to calls for Chicago’s Water Commissioner to be fired
Allegations of persistent discrimination at the Chicago Water Department are prompting calls for the mayor to shake up the department.By Craig WallCHICAGO (WLS) — Allegations of persistent discrimination at the Chicago Water Department are prompting calls for the mayor to shake up the agency.
An African American and openly gay engineer recently resigned over what she described as a hostile work atmosphere. Now, she and others who have sued the department are pressuring Mayor Lori Lightfoot, the city’s first openly gay mayor, to fire the African American commissioner.
Katherine Ealy worked for the Chicago Water Department for nearly 20 years. She quit her position as chief operating engineer at the Sawyer water treatment facility two weeks ago because she said racism and homophobia made for a toxic work environment.
“During my entire time there my gender, sexual orientation or color was always an issue,” Ealy said.
Ealy is a plaintiff in a federal lawsuit filed two years ago. She alleges that she was constantly micromanaged and disrespected by her supervisors and those who worked under her because she’s black and gay.
The city claims that Ealy was suspended last year for not properly supervising subordinates and for not providing a new mother a private pumping room.
For years, allegations of pervasive discrimination has dogged the city’s Water Department.
Ealy said nothing has changed, despite the appointment of Randy Connor as commissioner two years ago under former Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
“I continued to feel each and every day that the culture at the Water Department has not changed and that upper management from commission Randy Connor on down was setting me up to fail,” Ealy said.
“The mayor ran on hope and change and said that she was gonna shine the light and so we hope that she shines the light on the Water Department,” said Victor Henderson, plaintiff’s attorney.
Henderson is calling on the mayor to fire Commissioner Randy Connor.
“What we want is for her to take a water hose and clean out the Water Department, get rid of the cronyism, get rid of the racism, get rid of the nepotism, get rid of the homophobia. Clean the place out,” Henderson said.
The chairman of the City Council’s Black Caucus defended Connor, saying he’s doing a good job in a tough situation.
“We’re not condoning any discrimination whatsoever, we just know it’s not as simple as switching a switch and it just goes away,” said Alderman Jason Ervin. “Again, these are attitudes and years of stuff that’s built up in people and I know that he’s doing the best he can to remedy those situations.”
The plaintiffs are also asking the mayor to hold a closed-door meeting with Water Department employees to hear directly from them.
They also claim the city is withholding documents and emails in the lawsuit, which a Chicago Law Department spokesman disputed.
Victor P. Henderson, Attorney for Henderson Parks, LLC is again going to expose more of the racism at the Department of Water Management at a press conference Thursday, August 1, 2019 at 11:00 a.m. at his offices at 140 South Dearborn Street Suite 1020 in Chicago, Illinois. I am hoping all my members of the Chicago press attend and expose at the ongoing ways the Chicago Department of Water Management continues to be a pawn for the white power elite of Chicago. The Department of Water Management has placed people in powerful positions to continue the secret theft of millions of dollars in contracts, promotions, workers compensation fraud. The first people to out the DOWM was Frank Coconate a safety specialist. Safety specialists were ordered to go after blacks and whistleblowers injured on the job. Whites were given immediate treatment and workers compensation benefits with large settlements.
A lawsuit filed by advocate Jay Stone and City Plumber Patrick McDonough exposed Alderman Edward Burke 14th ward and lead to his demise. A new revised federal lawsuit is in order including many more injured workers. Attorneys are being advised of the strategy.
Many Chicago Unions were sued in the past, such as Plumbers’ Local 130. Racism is a way to control blacks and keep them from having a good life. Unions have failed to protect members and were more worried about making millions from judge making and providing members to assist Alderman and Mayors for leverage.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot needs to step in and make right all the suffering blacks have gotten from the Chicago water department. Blacks in power told what to do and how to do it is making a mockery of progress. Democrats in the newspaper blame Trump for everything, but they need to take this one and answer for it. If you look at all the millions of consulting contracts at the DOWM, you will see most blacks get nothing but crumbs. Contact Mr. Henderson at 312.262.2900 asap to attend.