Lawsuit: City rules allow Ald. Burke to turn Chicago Workers Comp office into patronage 'army'

Lawsuit: City rules allow Ald. Burke to turn Chicago Workers Comp office into patronage ‘army’
FILINGS

By Jonathan Bilyk | Jul 31, 2018

Saying the mayor’s refusal to wrest control of the city’s workers compensation division has allowed Chicago’s most powerful alderman to turn the office into a political patronage “army,” giving preferential treatment to loyal city workers, a lawsuit brought by a city worker who helped expose the Hired Trucks scandal has asked a federal judge to declare unconstitutional Ald. Ed Burke’s management of the office that handles Chicago city workers’ workers’ comp claims, and force Mayor Rahm Emanuel to oversee operations there, despite city rules delegating the task to Burke.

Saying the mayor’s refusal to wrest control of the city’s workers compensation division has allowed Chicago’s most powerful alderman to turn the office into a political patronage “army,” giving preferential treatment to loyal city workers, a lawsuit brought by a city worker who helped expose the Hired Trucks scandal has asked a federal judge to declare unconstitutional Ald. Ed Burke’s management of the office that handles Chicago city workers’ workers’ comp claims, and force Mayor Rahm Emanuel to oversee operations there, despite city rules delegating the task to Burke.

On July 30, plaintiff Patrick McDonough, who works in the city’s water department, filed suit in Chicago federal court on his own behalf, along with citizen activist Jay Stone, of Pleasant Prairie, Wis., alleging the arrangement created by Chicago city code, giving the chairman of the city’s Finance Committee control of the city’s workers comp division violates Illinois law, the Illinois state constitution and U.S. Constitution, by improperly giving control of an executive office function to a member of the legislative branch.

Specifically, the complaint alleges the city’s ordinance giving Burke, who represents the city’s 14th Ward and chairs the City Council’s Finance Committee, does not comply with Illinois state law, which gives Chicago’s mayor “the power and duty to appoint and remove all City of Chicago department and division heads.”

Further, the plaintiffs argue Burke’s oversight of the workers’ comp division violates state law prohibiting aldermen from serving as both alderman and an administrator of an executive office. In this case, the complaint asserts Burke should be barred from serving as alderman and “Chief Administrator for the Chicago Workers’ Compensation Division,” as the “dual roles” create “inherent conflicts of interest,” as he is able, as the City Council’s Finance Committee chairman, to access $1.4 billion in “water, sewer and vehicle tax funds,” and then spend that money through “workers compensation vouchers.” The complaint does not specify how much of the “water, sewer and vehicle tax funds” the city may spend on workers compensation claims.

14th Ward Alderman Ed Burke
However, for more than three decades, the lawsuit alleges Chicago’s mayors, including Mayor Rahm Emanuel, have allowed Burke to run the workers’ comp division. Further, the lawsuit alleges, this arrangement has permitted Burke to use the office to hire workers essentially off the books, sidestepping federal court decrees regulating the hiring of unqualified political patronage workers, and then using the workers’ comp office workers as political operatives to bolster Burke’s Democratic organization.

According to the complaint, McDonough took note of the alleged arrangement when the city allegedly mismanaged his workers’ comp claims. According to the complaint, the correspondence regarding that claim was sent by a Burke employee identified as Monica Somerville, a former top assistant Chicago city attorney whose name had appeared on so-called “City of Chicago Clout List,” uncovered by the FBI during its investigation of job-rigging in city departments.

Somerville had been fired by the city’s Law Department “for incompetence” less than 18 months after she was first hired, according to the complaint. She then attempted to sue the city for “racial discrimination and sexual harassment,” the complaint noted.

Yet, despite her problematic history, Somerville was hired by Burke, ostensibly as a legislative aide. Yet, in correspondence with McDonough, the complaint said she identified herself as “Director of Workers Compensation,” a title claim the complaint asserts is false.

The complaint alleges Burke has also used such hiring patterns to fill other staff positions at the workers comp, hiring “political appointees who lacked the requisite workers’ compensation education and experience,” including employees whose prior work experience was “as a dog groomer, dog walker, hairstylist, waitress, and other jobs unrelated to the administration of Workers’ Compensation.”

“Alderman Burke’s unprofessional recruitment and management of his workers’ compensation subordinates create a politicized environment that encourages workers’ compensation employees to make bias (sic), unfair decisions based on politics, not merit,” the complaint alleged.

If the hiring decisions were handled through the mayor’s office, the complaint asserts hiring would need to comply with standards spelled out in the so-called “Shakman Decree,” a federal court order directing city departments to evaluate candidates using merit- and qualification-based standards when filling job openings, to reduce political patronage hires.

However, positions classified as legislative are generally exempt from the Shakman rules. By classifying workers comp employees as “legislative” hires, Burke is able to sidestep the Shakman rules, the complaint alleges, giving him direct control of 65 political jobs.

Further, the complaint asserts the workers comp division jobs are not included in the formal budget requests Burke submits to the City Council for the Finance Committee, causing him to submit “annual budgets that were far less than the actual amount his Committee on Finance expended each year” and “deliberately” underreport “the number of employees working for him and the amount of their salaries from at least 2011 to present.”

The complaint asserts the mayor is willing to abide by the arrangement to help secure Burke’s support on the City Council for legislation and other initiatives supported by the mayor.

And, the complaint noted, Burke has opposed attempts to allow the city’s Inspector General’s Office to audit the workers’ comp division.

“Alderman Burke hires his Workers’ Compensation subordinates based on their ability to help him secure votes for himself and his favored candidates,” the complaint alleges.

“Alderman Burke provides preferential treatment, including disability pay, benefits and settlements to injured city workers when they are also precinct captains for political bosses throughout Chicago and Cook County,” the complaint further alleges. “During election seasons, the City workers – who received preferential workers’ compensation benefits from Ald. Burke – campaign and deliver votes for Alderman Burke and his favored candidates.”

The complaint asks a federal judge to declare the city rules giving Burke control of the workers comp division illegal and unconstitutional, and “to move the administration of (the city’s) Workers’ Compensation Division from the legislative branch of government to the executive branch of government for the purpose of having Mayor Emanuel and Ald. Burke comply with the U.S. Constitution, Illinois Constitution and (state laws.)”

And the complaint asks the judge to give the Inspector General “permission to conduct a … financial audit and claims review for the last seven years and allow OIG to release its findings to the public.”

McDonough, who works as a plumber in the city’s Water Department, was fired in 2005, ostensibly for violating city worker residency rules. Mr. McDonough won his job back after a legal battle won by John Loevy of Loevy and Loevy in Federal Court. However, McDonough had four years earlier complained to the city’s Inspector General of payments improperly made to politically-connected trucking firms, whose trucks were supposedly being used for city projects, yet were actually sitting idle. The resulting investigation of the so-called Hired Trucks scandal also led to a federal investigation of city job-rigging practices, together resulting in indictments and convictions of former city officials.

Ed Vrdolyak Law Firm Workers Comp actions in question

Cynthia Davenport Illinois Injured Worker The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Program is under fire again as insiders game the system for their benefit. The City of Chicago, The Department of Water Management, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Alderman Burke, Illinois Lawyers have been fixing workers compensation cases for decades. One of the best tricks is the MMI maximum medical improvement doctors give to aid in the remove of employees and forcing settlements. The City of Chicago refuses to allow workers to return unless they receive a full Doctors release. The City of Chicago, under Alderman Burke’s direction, still allow major settlements for well-connected lawyers and employees that game the system year after year. Despite the major settlements, the City signs off on the loss of the person, quite opposite the full release. What? When you settle the Illinois Workers Compensation claim, you sign off the permanent loss. So, if you have a permanent loss, how can you return with no restrictions? The Illinois Lawyers have been working that angle for years and it is Insurance FRAUD. Alderman Burke takes hack Chicago law department lawyers off the cases and puts his private law firms to handle the cases for massive campaign contributions.

A major shuffle at the Chicago Committee on Finance will not save Crooked Burke. According to several Chicago Mayoral candidates, it will be an issue this next two years.

Please enjoy a lady I am going to write about and tell you about the criminal treatment she has received. Cynthia reported her poor treatment by Ed Vrdolyak and his workers’ compensation lawyer Mr. Casey. Mr. Casey seemed too busy to help Cynthia when she had a major stroke and was subject to abuses by the City of Chicago. When Mr. Casey was removed from her case, Mr. Casey went to the new Attorney to make sure he gets a cut “of the action”. This happened at the Illinois Workers Compensation Commission when the transition was made. Amazing what you see and “hear” in those hallways. Cases like these result in crippled workers getting less money and lawyers on both sides splitting the fees.

Alderman Burke has made a great life for him and his old lady, too bad he did so on the back of 65-year-old women, that just lost her husband, and got screwed out of her lawful benefits. Hey Alderman Burke, you keep the Chicago newspapers quiet about your lavish lifestyle, take a look at a lady whose life you have destroyed for greed.

Time to get my Irish Video hat on soon.

Mayor Daley makes a patsy of Dennis Gannon and Chicago Unions

Chicago Replacement Workers.jpg I have been very busy getting ready for the fall of the Chicago Union worker. I am a Democrat from way back when. I never thought I would see such a lack of leadership in the Chicago Union; people so scared and crippled as Dennis Gannon and the Chicagoland Union Management team. Dennis looks like a wounded puppy every time he is pictured at the latest City Hall bargaining sessions. Chicago labor bosses live like kings and their laziness is quickly destroying the union worker in Chicago. President Barack Obama enjoyed the Union money that made him a leader of the free world, but what did he do to deserve it? He bailed out the banks and America is quickly falling apart. George Bush made sure Chicago City Workers still had a job, despite his half baked leadership. Chicago Union leadership does not allow Union members to vote the amended contract. Union cowards refuse to listen to the input of their members. Labor has a ten year contact; Daley will break it, but still do everything in his power to keep the Olympics.
This is what the future of construction in Chicago looks like. The lousy construction work over the last few decades will continue to cause large expenses for homeowners. The lack of honest inspections and lack of enough inspectors will cause great pain and sorrow for homeowners. The waste and corruption from Daley and his goons have permanently crippled Chicago. Unskilled labor seems to save money in the beginning, but we will end up paying again and again.
This picture shows a group of workers that do not live in Chicago. They do not have the license or training to complete this job they started. Chicago Plumber’s Local 130 does nothing; this company is protected by Daley’s people. None of their vehicles have Chicago City Stickers or have signs indicating who they are. They are contracted to Mayor Daley’s Sewer program. They block streets, act like city workers, and in doing so, they also break laws. Mayor Daley’s engineering pals supervise these companies adding more expenses to taxpayers. No authorized Chicago personnel supervise these workers. No one from Chicago is verifying who they are and what they are doing. They do not swipe in or out. They do not live in Chicago. Some get paid to drive all the way to Lake County and back every day. Chicago Taxpayers get billions stolen and wasted year after year. I admire the Unions that stand up and demand the facts. The Unions better prove they did due diligence for this round of labor negotiations. They also better prove Daley has bankrupted Chicago before a single man or women lose their job. The many people that will lose their jobs from the city is because of the Shakman Violations. Many black and minority workers that got a chance thanks to our hard work might lose their jobs. Rahm Emanuel, Barack Obama, and Jesse Jackson Sr. have been mighty quiet. Two Aldermen have been chumming up to Daley lately selling out for their own advances. That was labor money that got them in their seats. Remember when the economy was cooking and not a peep was said about city workers – what happened? Let’s have some yuppies work behind a garbage truck for a while, see how long they last. Mayor Daley has destroyed this city and the checks and balances of union labor are crumbled. Photo by Patrick McDonough/ChicagoClout

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