Last week in July, Alderman Edward Burke, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Chicago Committee on Finance was again in another mishap that caused massive internal bleeding and bruising that can cause the end of his storied political career. Chairman Edward M. Burke has been looking very frail for quite some time, has hidden his frailties with fancy suits and his iron grip of the Chicago media. Chairman Edward Burke’s staff at the 14th Ward office told me flowers can be sent to his 14th ward office at any time. They also told me he is missing from work again today.
According to sources at the Mayor’s Rahm Emanuel’s office, Chairman Edward Burke will keep a very low profile and hope he is reelected and Mayor Rahm Emanuel agreed to place Edward’s brother Illinois State Representative Daniel J. Burke after the Aldermanic election. Many 14th ward Hispanics are upset because Edward is not sharing the power and the tens of millions of dollars of contributions from Chicago contractors and those wanting favors from Alderman Burke. Edward Burke has controlled the St. Pat’s day parade, billions in no-bid contracts, and controls all the Chicago judges that look the other way when Edward is doling out campaign contributions to Chicago Alderman.
This is a great time for Hispanics to take control of the 14th ward that looks like a Mexican barrio. The hard-working Hispanic population in the 14th ward have been hoodwinked long enough. Please sent get well wishes and flowers to:
Chairman Edward Burke
2650 W. 51st Street
Chicago, IL 60632
Today, at the City of Chicago Department of Water Management’s Jardine Plant over 300 City of Chicago employees from the Jardine Plant, The Chicago pumping stations, and the DePaul Center employees waited for Commissioner Conners to get his ass to the meeting on time. Conners was at least 20 minutes late and cost the Chicago taxpayers thousands in wasted time. Conners arrived with his posse and launched again into a speech that made no sense at all. According to Conners, Rahm Emanuel is very happy with his subpar performance. Conners made the employees stand the entire time. Some of the ladies complained because he did not provide seating. Conners only had a few well connected private employees attend because the private owners are aware of the new policy to donate greatly to Alderman Burke and Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Coo Coo Conners again wanted everyone to know he is large and in charge. He first said he opened his office to anyone and then stated all employees must follow the chain of command. Coo Coo.
Conners again said the North District General Superintendent Michael Dwyer was not fired, another bold face lie. Conners acted like a Chicago street thug and a man possessed with a need to prove he is in control of a job he can not handle. Look, folks, Conners knows nothing about the importance of a proper drinking water supply. He is getting paid to keep all the current lawsuits and future lawsuits from getting to Rahm Emanuel. Conners wanted everyone to know he is going to promote everyone he wants and do whatever he wants. Rahm Emanuel needs to terminate this goof that just does not have the class to do things the right way. The same crap that got the Department of Water Management into the mess it is in now will continue by the leadership of foolish nonsense. I hope when all the City of Chicago taxpayers sees the new water bills in the mail, they remember this warning, fire Rahm Emanuel.
Look if you need to tell everyone you are the boss, you are not. Time for Rahm to find a replacement, another poor choice, and decision.
If you thought for a moment that the City Council’s most powerful aldermen would ride off into the sunset after 50 years in politics to avoid a difficult election he could lose, think again.
Ald. Edward M. Burke (14th), chairman of the City Council’s Finance Committee, is running for re-election.
“Why would you wonder?” Burke asked reporters Monday.
Burke has a political bulls-eye on his back after his brother, state Rep. Dan Burke (D-Chicago), was defeated by 26-year political newcomer Aaron Ortiz in a race dominated by Edward Burke’s property tax reduction work for the riverfront hotel and condominium that bears the name of President Donald Trump.
But Ald. Burke said Monday he does not believe his brother’s March 20 defeat is a prelude to his own political demise.
“He carried the 14th Ward. Not by enough to overcome the other areas. But fortunately, the people in the 14th Ward did vote for him,” the alderman said.
Ortiz was part of a coordinated campaign led by Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, the Cook County commissioner who easily won the Democratic primary in the 4th Congressional District after being anointed by retiring U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez.
Even more humiliating was the fact that Edward Burke managed to carry his own 14th Ward for his younger brother by just 62 votes. That’s the same 14th Ward where Garcia captured 64 percent of the vote in a 2015 mayoral run-off against incumbent Rahm Emanuel.
On the day after that upset, Clem Balanoff, head of Our Revolution Illinois, a grass-roots political organization that grew out of Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign, made a bold prediction:
“We are coming after Ed Burke,” said Balanoff, who managed the Ortiz campaign.
“Whether he sees it or not, the handwriting is on the wall. Ed Burke will not be aldermen come May of 2019. … We have a young, energetic movement going on the Southwest Side of Chicago. There’s no room for smoke-filled, backroom politicians like Ed Burke, who are only serving themselves and not the public.”
Balanoff and Garcia could not be reached for comment on Burke’s decision to run for re-election.
On the day after the election, Garcia was asked whether he intended to field an aldermanic challenger against Burke.
He would say only: “The Burke dynasty is sunsetting. It’s sunsetting against the emergence of a Latino community that wants to make its voice heard and its vote felt. … This is only logical. The community is seeking to ensure that its vote begins to approximate the population that lives in those communities.”
Burke has run unopposed in 10 of the last 11 elections. He sits on a massive campaign war chest and has never won less than 70 percent of the vote.
But even his political allies have acknowledged that Dan Burke’s March 20 defeat was a gut-punch that should prompt Edward Burke to at least entertain the thought of political retirement and working with Garcia to find a suitable Hispanic replacement.
That would require burying a 19-year-old hatchet. Burke was instrumental in the Illinois Senate race that saw Antonio Munoz defeat Garcia.
“He has an opportunity to put in a progressive Latino and ensure that whatever legacy he has in the 14th Ward will continue. If he doesn’t, he can stay and possibly lose — particularly if Chuy backs someone against him,” a Burke ally told the Sun-Times.
“Ed has to make a decision as to whether he wants to dictate the circumstances of his departure. If he doesn’t give a shit about that, then hubris sometimes will make you stay a little too long.”
For Burke, it would be difficult to voluntarily relinquish the trappings of power he covets so much.
As Finance Committee chairman, he wields enormous influence over legislation, even when he abstains from votes because of the conflicts posed by having dozens of law clients doing business with the city.
His fundraisers are packed. He is squired around the city by bodyguards, though Mayor Rahm Emanuel cut his security team in half.
But during the heat of his brother’s failed fight for political survival, sources said Burke told more than one political associate: “This isn’t fun anymore.”
On Monday, Burke made it clear that the remark was not a prelude to political retirement.
That’s no surprise to retiring Ald. Mike Zalewski (23rd).
“I don’t believe for a second that Ald. Burke is interested in leaving,” Zalewski said last week.
Pointing to the avalanche of tax increases that aldermen have approved to solve Chicago’s $36 billion pension crisis, Zalewski said, “Everyone is gonna have to campaign a little harder next time. Ald. Burke is well aware of that. And I think he’s ready for it.”
When Mayor Rahm Emanuel and 47 alderman approved the 2018 budget for the Committee on Finance (COF), Ald. Edward Burke had misinformed them about the number of employees working for his committee and the amount of money that the city was paying for their salaries. Burke’s budget list 25 COF employees for the 2018 fiscal year.1 The COF said in Feb., 2018 that 65 employees were working in the COF.2 Currently Burke’s COF staff of 65 has 40 more employees than the 25 COF employees listed in his 2018 budget.
In Oct. 2017 the COF said it had 62 employees working in the COF.3 Since the COF admitted Burke’s committee had 62 COF employees in Oct., 2017, it means Burke lied about the size of his staff when he and his colleagues passed his 2018 COF budget for 25 employees in Nov., 2017.
Off book means, “not properly declared for accounting purposes.” Today Burke’s committee has 40 off book COF employees because Burke failed to properly declare 40 of his COF employees in the 2018 budget. Simple subtraction was all that was needed to determine Burke’s 40 off book COF employees (see below).
65 COF employees listed in Feb., 2018 FOIA
(25) COF employees listed in Chicago’s 2018 budget
40 Off Book COF Employees
The COF has 40 employees whose salaries were also unaccounted for in the 2018 budget. The city is currently spending additional money to pay the salaries of Burke’s 40 off book COF employees. In February, 2018, the COF admitted that the current cost of COF employees’ salaries is $3.2 million a year.2 Again, simple subtraction was all that was needed to determine that the city is paying out an additional $1.4 million a year for Burke’s off book COF salaries (see below).
$3.2 Million listed for COF employees’s salaries in the Feb., 2018 FOIA
($1.8) Million listed for COF employees’s salaries in 2018 Budget
$1.4 Million for the Off Book Salaries of Burke’s COF Employees
Burke Stopped the Inspector General Ordinance to Hide His Off Book Employees
In 2016 Burke put together a coalition of 25 aldermen to block the inspector general (IG) from auditing and investigating his COF. There have been countless accusations of Burke’s misconduct during his 39 year reign as an alderman. Stopping the IG from investigating his committee is by far the worse allegation against Burke because Burke had a city ordinance passed to protect his wrongdoing. Burke was improperly hiring and employing his off book staff at the same time he blocked the IG from investigating him. Thanks to the City Council passing the ordinance Burke proposed, no one at the IG’s office can investigate Burke’s committee. Sadly, the IG conducting a simple audit would have exposed Burke’s 40 off book COF employees and the additional $1.4 million yearly cost to taxpayers.
Besides the $1.4 million a year in COF off book salaries, the taxpayers must pay for Burke’s off book employees’ health insurance and pensions. The city is paying for part of every COF off book employee’s health insurance. In addition, taxpayers are also contributing to Burke’s off book COF employees’ pensions.
Burke has 20 COF employees who earn between $23,108 and $29,208 a year.2 Burke pays 20 COF employees in the $20,000 to $30,000 a year range so he can hire more people for his COF staff. Burke uses his COF employees for patronage, so the more COF employees he hires, the more people Burke has to campaign for him and his favored candidates. Unfortunately taxpayers must continue to foot the bill for health insurance, pensions, and salaries for all of Burke’s off book patronage hiring.
Call to Action
Exposing Ald. Burke’s political corruption is one thing, but stopping the corruption and preventing it from happening again is the ultimate goal. Below are four actions that will stop and prevent COF corruption practices that come at a hefty cost to taxpayers.
Pass a Chicago Inspector General Ordinance that allows the IG to investigate aldermanic programs and committees beginning with the COF.
The second Mayor Emanuel signs the IG ordinance, the IG should start an audit of Ald. Burke’s Committee on Finance for the last seven years.
Remove Ald. Burke as City Council Committee on Finance Chairman. During Council Wars in the 1980s, a judge ruled that the City Council is a separate branch of government and has a right to organize itself. Aldermen don’t have to wait until after the 2019 elections to end Burke’s 30 year reign as COF chairman. How ironic that thanks to Burke and the rest of the Vrdolyak 29’s actions in the 1980s, a majority of aldermen may vote in 2018 to remove Burke as COF Chairmen.
Transfer the management of the Workers’ Compensation program from the COF to the executive branch of government. Except for Chicago no city or state in the country has a legislative committee managing it workers’ comp program. Professionals should run Chicago workers’ comp instead of a bunch of political hacks that work for Ald. Burke.
Ald. Burke’s COF Staff Dwarfs the COF Staffs from Other Cities
Rahm Emanuel increased taxes in six of the seven years that he has been mayor. When it comes to saving taxpayers’ money, Emanuel has yet to find the courage to cut the budget for Ald. Edward Burke’s Committee on Finance (COF). Burke has an astounding 50 or more employees on his COF staff than that of COF chairs from other major cities (see table below).
COF Staff Comparisons
Alderman or Council Member City COF Employees Population 2018 Budget
Edward Burke Chicago 65
Paul Krekorian Los Angeles 14 3.7 Million $9.2 Billion
Julissa Ferreras New York 5
Jack Christie Houston 3 2.3 Million $5.2 Billion
The comparison of the number of Burke’s COF employees to COF chairpeople of other cities should disgust every Chicago taxpayer. Receiving votes and winning elections for himself, his state representative brother Daniel Burke, and his wife State Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke are the primary motives for Burke hiring so many people for his City Council committee.
Burke hires employees who are willing to circulate petitions, solicit political donations, and campaign for him, his family members, and his favored candidates. If his employees don’t bring in enough campaign contributions or votes, Burke may immediately terminate his city employees because they are political appointees whom he may fire without cause. Between Oct. 2017 and Feb. 2018 five employees stopped working for the COF. During the same four month period, Burke hired eight new COF employees. This period was also the start of the 2018-19 election cycle.
Burke also hires relatives of influential politicians and union leaders to secure their political support. For example, Burke hired Molly Gabinski, a relative of former alderman and current plumber’s union official Terry Gabinski. During election seasons, plumbers affiliated with Gabinski’s union will campaign for Burke, Burke’s wife and brother or some other candidate Burke is supporting.
Similar to COF Chairman Burke, Commissioner John P. Daley chairs Cook County’s Finance Committee. Daley has only two people working on his COF staff.1 The Cook County budget is $5.2 billion in 2018. Chicago and Cook County governments are in the same building. Since Burke and Daley are both COF chairmen in the same building with similar size budgets, why does COF Chairman Burke have a staff of 65 COF employees and COF Chairman Daley have only two employees?
By virtue of being an alderman, Burke is entitled to three more aldermanic employees. As with the 49 other aldermen, Burke may hire two staff assistants to the alderman and one assistant to the alderman. These three jobs push the total number of Burke’s patronage employees to 68.
Too Many Cooks Spoil the Broth
Currently there is one executive branch department and three City Council committees whose primary focus is Chicago’s budget and finances. It is Mayor Emanuel’s responsibility to draft and submit Chicago’s annual budget to the City Council. Each year the mayor relies on the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to help him formulate his budget. Chicago’s 2018 budget lists 33 OMB employees compared to Burke’s COF staff of 65 employees. Why does Burke have 32 more employees than the OMB when the mayor and OMB write virtually all of the city’s budget?
The Chicago City Council also has a Committee on Budget and Government Operations. According to its website, “The Committee on the Budget and Government Operations shall have jurisdiction over the expenditure of all funds appropriated and expended by the City of Chicago.” The number of employees in this committee weren’t included in the 2018 budget; nonetheless, the budget list the salaries of the committee’s employees as $500,000 a year.
In 2013 aldermen created the Council office of Financial Analysis. According to the original ordinance, some of the Council Office of Financial Analysis duties include a financial analysis of the Mayor’s proposed annual budget, annual budget options, and other analyses upon the request of the Chairman of the Committee on the Budget and Government Operations. The Financial Analysis committee employs four workers at a cost of $300,000 per year.
The table below tabulates the three City Council committees whose focus is the city’s annual budget and finances. In all, the Chicago City Council spends $4.0 million a year to have more than 70 employees work on the city’s finances and budget.2 The plus sign is next to 70 employees because the total number of City Council employees will go up when we learn the actual number of Budget and Government Operations employees.
Total Cost of Three Chicago City Council Budget and Finance Committees
Committee Employees Salaries
Finance 653 $3.2 Million
Unknown $0.5 Million
Financial Analysis 4 $0.3 Million
70+ $4.0 Million
Chicago’s Waste of Taxpayers’ Money
The Chicago City Council’s waste of taxpayers’ money is quite obvious when you compare Chicago City Council budget and finance committees to that of other cities (see table below). To manage New York City finances, the New York City Council has one Committee on Finance, which has sub-committee for the city’s budget. The Los Angeles City Council has one Budget and Finance Committee. The Houston City Council has one Budget and Finance Committee. Chicago is the only major city to have a City Council with three budget and finance committees while the other major cities only have one budget and finance committee.
City Council Budget and Finance Committee Comparisons
Chicago 3 70+ $4,000,000
Los Angeles 1 144 $1,167,4354
New York 1 55 $313.3295
Houston 1 36 $217,5566
The City Council committees on Finance, Budget and Government Operations, and Financial Analysis all oversee the city’s budget. Chicago politicians hiring multiple people to do one person’s job is the Chicago way. Aldermen wasting money on unnecessary committees and staff is true to Chicago’s political motto: “More Patronage, More Votes.” The City Council’s pork barrel expenditures for employees to analyze and slightly modify the city’s budget reminds me of the days when garbage truck crews picked up trash while using four employees. Why should Chicago politicians hire one patronage worker when they can hire three or four at taxpayers’ expense?
“As Chairman of the City Council’s powerful Committee on Finance, Alderman Burke holds the city’s purse strings and is responsible for all legislative matters pertaining to the city’s finances.” If Alderman Burke truly held the purse strings as he claims on his COF website, then the committees on Budget and Government Operations, and Financial Analysis don’t need to exist.
Given Chicago’s hard financial times, you would expect City Council members to show austerity or lead by example. The cost for three budget and finance committees show that the Chicago City Council has a majority of greedy aldermen who waste money on excessive patronage jobs for their own personal and political gain. Members of the City Council lavishly spending taxpayers’ money on their committees is the reason why Burke put together a coalition of 25 aldermen to block the inspector general’s office from investigating his committee and those of his co-conspirators.
To view Cook County FOIA for Commissioner and COF Chairman John Daley’s staff of two, click John Daley Staff.
To view the three Chicago City Council committees on budget and finance as they appear in the budget, click here and scroll to pages 41 through page 50.
To view the list of 65 Chicago COF employees and their salaries in response to FOIA request, click COF Staff February_2018.
To view a list of Los Angeles City Council Budget and Finance Committee employees and their salaries, click COF LA.
To view a list of New York City Council Budget and Finance Committee employees and their salaries, click NY COF Staff. Please note New York City Council COF Chair Julissa Ferreras left the New York City Council on Dec., 31, 2017. I submitted a new FOIA for a list of current New York COF employees and their salaries, including employees and salaries of those work in the Budget subcommittee. I will update this article when I receive my New York City Council FOIA, on or about April 10.
To view a list of Houston City Council Budget and Finance Committee employees and their salaries, click Houston COF Employees.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel Lied in Federal Court
Emanuel Restarts Corrupt Political Practices that Previously Led to 60 Convictions
Mayor Rahm Emanuel told a whopper of a lie on June 16, 2014 in U.S. Magistrate Judge Sidney Schenkier’s standing room only courtroom. Dozens of Chicago style political discrimination victims, journalists, and other interested parties all came together for the historic removal of the federal court monitor. Mayor Richard M. Daley’s administration rigged interviews for job applicants who secretly campaigned for Daley backed candidates for 16 years. Consequently, in 2004 Judge Wayne Andersen appointed Noelle Brennan as a federal court monitor to oversee the City of Chicago’s personnel decisions. About 60 city employees either plead guilty or were convicted for their role in Chicago’s job and election rigging scheme. It took 10 years, a new mayor, the retirement of Judge Andersen, and the City of Chicago spending over $200 million in civil rights settlements, legal fees and human resource changes before Judge Schenkier agreed to end the federal court’s oversight.
Mayor Emanuel and the city agreed to follow a Hiring Plan in return for the removal of the federal court monitor. Some of the Hiring Plan’s anti-corruption rules and procedures were making the Human Resource Department the “gatekeeper” of all city jobs instead of the mayor’s office, giving the Inspector General Office (IGO) hiring oversight and investigative authority. The IGO’s webpage states that it took over the federal court monitor’s duties on the day Emanuel testified in federal court.
Judge Schenkier said, the city has “… a set of rules, procedures and internal policing requirements to keep politics out of hiring.” The IGO’s investigative authority is the “internal policing” that Judge Schenkier referenced. Mayor Emanuel also acknowledged that the IGO must continue its work in order to keep politics out of city hiring. Emanuel testified, “We must remain vigilant, working cooperatively with Inspector General Ferguson and his hiring oversight team to help keep us on this path from which we must never stray again.”
On Feb. 10, 2016 the City Council voted to restrict the IGO’s investigative authority. Thus, 18 months after Mayor Emanuel pledged to work cooperatively with the IGO, Emanuel was complicit in taking away the IGO’s investigation powers that he agreed to follow in federal court. Mayor Emanuel published nine press releases for ordinances that were approved on the day the City Council voted to reduce the IGO’s authority, but none of Emanuel’s nine press releases addresses the hot-button issue of the IGO’s reduced authority that the mayor said was essential to stopping corruption when he spoke in federal court.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel lied in federal court when he promised to stay “vigilant” and “cooperate” with the IGO to keep Chicago moving forward. Emanuel sticking his head in the sand while his political allies passed the water-downed IGO ordinance is obstructionism, not the cooperation that Emanuel publicly pledged. The IGO has the expertise, experience, and resources to root out corruption. When Mayor Emanuel gave his blessings to handcuff the IGO, he was anything but vigilant as he had promised to maintain. If Mayor Emanuel truly meant what he said in federal court, he would have vetoed the IGO ordinance without a moment’s hesitation. Instead of Emanuel being true to his words in federal court, Emanuel acted like a coward by saying he merely went along with the aldermen.
The next section discusses how corruption and another potential civil rights lawsuit have resulted from Emanuel’s failure to veto the ordinance that restricts the IGO’s investigative authority.
Mayor Emanuel’s Lies are Preventing IGO Investigation
On February 23, 2016 I filed a complaint with the IGO because Alderman Burke is managing the Chicago’s Workers Compensation Division through his aldermanic Committee on Finance (COF). The workers’ compensation program belongs in the executive branch of government as it is everywhere else in this country, not in Burke’s legislative committee. The next day Chicago Sun Times reporter Fran Spielman published a story in which attorney Michael Shakman said he agreed with me. Mr. Shakman said he made a mistake by allowing patronage employees to run Chicago’s Worker’s Compensation Division. Four days after my IGO complaint, the Sun Times published an editorial that called for moving Chicago’s workers comp program from Ald. Burke’s committee to a city department.
The Richard M. Daley administration committed political discrimination because it awarded government jobs and promotions in a quid pro quo exchange for campaign work. Candidates, such as Mayor Richard M. Daley and Rahm Emanuel, did not pay for their campaign workers. The city compensated Daley and Emanuel’s congressional campaign workers in the form of new city employment and promotions that came from rigged job interviews. Instead of rewarding campaign workers with jobs and promotions, Alderman Burke is rewarding disability pay and benefits to injured city workers who are affiliated with his and the mayor’s political machine. Mayor Emanuel’s failure to veto the restrictive IG ordinance is creating a liability that could cost millions of dollars in another civil rights class action lawsuit.
The Hiring Plan listed the job titles and job classifications for employees who work in Ald. Burke’s COF. Furthermore, Burke failed to seek the Department of Human Resources (DHR) commissioner’s permission to change 22 COF employees’ job titles as the Hiring Plan required. Ald. Burke also failed to notify the IGO of changes to his employees’ job titles as he was required. When I became aware that 22 of Alderman Burke’s COF employees had one job title for the COF and one job title for the DHR , I filed a second IGO complaint (See table Below).
Committee on Finance Employees who have a Human Resources Job Title Different from their COF Job Titles
NAME DHR Job Title COF JobTitle
Maria Estrada — Legislative Aide — Adjuster
Janet Galvin Legislative Aide Director of Workers Comp
Mao Hong Legislative Aide Systems Administrator
Linda Jagminas Legislative Aide Director of Claims and Rebates
Mary Kate Manion Legislative Aide Secretary of Committee on Finance
Alicia Martinez Clerk of the City Council Adjuster
William Marutzky Legislative Aide Adjuster
Kathleen McNamara Legislative Aide SC Adjuster
Arturo Medina Legislative Aide Adjuster
Andrea Miceli Legislative Aide Secretary of Committee on Finance
Laura Montoya Manager of Information Systems Director of Policy
Michelle Murphy Director of Workers Compensation Assistant Chief Administration Officer
Stephen Niketopoulos Legislative Aide SC Adjuster
Ellen O’Gara Legislative Aide Adjuster
Megan Panik Legislative Aide Adjuster
Kyra Robinson Legislative Aide Adjuster
Moni Rohde Legislative Aide Systems Administrator
Monica Somerville Legislative Research Analyst Executive Director of Claims
Lisa Soto Legislative Aide Adjuster
Marita Thomas Legislative Aide Adjuster
Sherry Williams Legislative Aide SC Adjuster
Ethel Nancy Legislative Aide Adjuster
Ald. Ed Burke also created eight (8) new job classifications for his COF employees (See table below). The job classifications Burke created were not in the budget, nor were these jobs listed in the Hiring Plan. Burke creating job classifications on his own accord violates the Hiring Plan that Mayor Emanuel and the city agreed to follow in federal court. Unfortunately, Mayor Emanuel’s failure to veto the IGO ordinance prevents the IGO from investigating 22 of Burke’s employees using of two job titles and Burke’s creation of eight new job classifications in violation of the Hiring Plan.
Committee on Finance Job Classifications Created by Chairman Alderman Edward Burke
Ald. Burke ordering his employees to use two separate job titles is prima facia evidence of wrongdoing. Burke is purposely being deceitful and duplicitous because he wants to retain as many of his COF jobs for his own personal and political gain. On the one hand, the COF’s proper use of his employees job titles with the DHR keeps Ald. Burke and the COF in good stead with the DHR. On the other hand, COF employee’s use of unofficial job titles in the performance of their work make it appear that members of the Ald Burke’s staff are something other than the patronage employees that they really are. The COF’s abuse of job titles makes it seem COF employees are making independent and fair decisions based on fact, but the sad truth is the COF often decides Workers Comp cases based on political affiliation to Ald. Burke. We will never know the extent of Burke and the COF’s wrongdoing until Mayor Emanuel and the aldermen reinstate the IGO’s investigative power or the Justice Department investigates Burke’s committee for a third time.
Please note that I only said Mayor Rahm Emanuel lied in federal court. Judge Schenkier did not have any of the witnesses who testified on June 16, 2014 swear to tell the truth, including Emanuel, myself, and everybody else who spoke at the hearing. Because he did not swear to tell the truth before he addressed the court, I deem Mayor Emanuel a liar, but not a perjurer.
Political Hacks Run Chicago’s $100 Million a Year Workers’ Compensation Program
Instead of professional employees managing Chicago workers’ compensation, only Alderman Ed Burke’s handpicked political appointees administer the program. Burke has served as Chairman of the City Council Finance Committee for 31 of his 47 years as alderman. According to Burke’s own bio, he is the man who, “holds the city’s purse strings and is responsible for all legislative matters pertaining to the city’s finances, including municipal bonds, taxes and revenue matters.” The problem with Burke’s aforementioned statement is that Burke is using more than city council legislation to oversee workers’ compensation. Burke’s patronage workers administer the entire workers’ comp program. Furthermore, given Chicago’s dire financial problems, if I were Burke I would not brag about controlling the city’s purse strings for 31 years!
Municipal Code Section 2-152-430 states, “The bureau of workmen’s compensation shall be composed of such persons as may be designated or appointed by the chairman of the committee on finance.” Finance Chairman Burke let’s his website readers know that the Chicago municipal code gives him sole authority to administer the workers’ compensation program, but Burke doesn’t tell his readers that an antiquated law wrongfully entitles him to become the workers’ compensation czar. Currently Burke is the only person allowed to approve or disapprove disability pay and medical expense payments for city employees.
There is a zero chance of Burke hiring professional workers’ compensation employees to optimally manage Chicago’s $100 million a year workers’ compensation program. Burke’s handpick employees are mainly political insiders, or they have close ties to political insiders. Burke is an old school, “We Don’t Want Nobody, Nobody Sent” politician. Burke selects employees for his staff on the basis of their political clout or political bloodlines, not on their professional qualifications.
Burke hiring and firing his staff for political reasons is all seemingly legit because the salaries of workers’ compensation employees are funneled through Burke’s finance committee. There is no debate here. Aldermanic and city council committee staff are Shakman exempt employees. However, there are legal questions about the municipal code that need answers: Does Chicago municipal code 2-152-430 that provides Burke with the authority to hire workers’ compensation employees circumvent and violate the Shakman Decrees that the City of Chicago and plaintiff Michael Shakman agreed to in federal court? Do the municipal codes 2-152-430 , 2-152-440, and 2-152-450 violate the venerated separation of powers principle for which all local, state, and federal follow?
This is where Burke and the city run into trouble. Burke’s finance committee has no business running workers’ compensation. Burke is a legislator whose main job is to write, amend and repeal city ordinances. The workers’ compensation program belongs in the executive branch of government since the executive branch is charged with managing city employees and programs. In all other major U.S. cities, the executive branch oversees workers’ compensation (see table below). As a legislator Burke should only be allowed to check and balance workers’ compensation through the budgeting process, committee hearings, and city ordinances. Chicago would be no different than other cities if Chicago’s 80 year municipal code had not allowed finance chairman Burke to improperly conduct business for the executive branch.
This won’t be the first time public officials were caught for improper Shakman exempt job classification for government positions. The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) wrongfully classified hundreds of jobs as “staff assistants” so that politicians could fill staff assistant jobs with political appointees. The improperly classified staff assistants did little or no work related to their staff assistant’s job title and job description. Because of IDOT’s wrongful job classifications, both Governor Rod Blagojevich and Governor Pat Quinn hired politically connected job seekers for IDOT staff assistants regardless of the job seekers’ qualifications or abilities. The Chicago municipal code has allowed Burke to do the same. Chicago municipal code has turned obvious Shakman non-exempt jobs into Shakman exempt jobs by improperly budgeting workers’ compensation for a legislative committee instead of the city’s executive branch of government. Other than policy making positions, the type or nature of workers’ compensation employees work is that of Shakman non-exempt duties. And Burke’s workers’ compensation employees have little or nothing to do with financial legislation that Burke’s committee handles. Since the code requires the city council finance chairman to select the workers’ compensation staff, Burke assumed he was free to hire employees as his handpick political hacks. The archaic municipal code stopped the city’s Human Resources Department from hiring the most qualified and abled employees from managing Chicago’s workers’ comp. Chicago’s municipal code permitting Burke’s finance committee to circumvent Shakman is not about finding a successful loophole to avoid Shakman, rather it’s about the municipal code and Burke’s blatant and wanton violation of Shakman and separation of powers.
To view the department that each city uses to manage its workers’ compensation, click on the department listed in column two on the right hand side of the table. All major U.S. cities’ executive branch of government administers its workers’ compensation program except Chicago which Burke’s legislative committee supervises.
San Diego and Dallas each have separate risk management departments. Risk management is part of Philadelphia’s Finance Department. San Antonio’s risk management is in under both its Finance and Office of Management and Budget departments. Chicago’s Risk Management is currently in the Finance Department. Chicago’s Finance Department is different than Burke’s city council finance committee. Ideally Chicago’s workers’ compensation would move from Burke’s legislative committee to the city’s Human Resources or Risk Management department which are in Chicago’s executive branch of government.
Once Chicago’s workers’ compensation program moves from the legislative branch of government to the executive branch of government, then the designation of workers’ compensation employees will change to the proper classification of Shakman non-exempt, and the city will have to hire the most qualified and abled employees to run the program. A few policy making jobs at the top of the workers’ compensation organizational chart may remain classified as Shakman exempt.
Alderman Ed Burke’s has appointed numerous employees to run Chicago’s workers’ compensation program. Burke’s hiring of workers’ compensation employees are Shakman violations. Chicago Municipal Code Section 2-152-430 is 80 years old, predates the Shakman settlements, and authorizes the City Council finance chairman to hire all workers’ compensation employees. However, Chicago’s Municipal Code Section 2-152-430 does not have the power or authority to supersede the Shakman Decrees. Burke’s workers’ compensation hirings violate Shakman because Burke’s workers’ compensation exempt jobs should have been classified as Shakman non-exempt jobs based on the type of work that the workers’ compensation employees are doing (see attached).
Alderman Burke is a legislator whose job is to write, amend and repeal city ordinances. The workers’ compensation program belongs in the executive branch of government as it is with every major city except Chicago. As a legislator, Burke is not entitled to run a City of Chicago bureau, department, or division as he is doing. Because Alderman Burke is fulfilling the executive branch’s duties and responsibilities, he is violating the separation of powers principle that all city, state and federal governments follow. As a legislator Alderman Burke should only be allowed to check and balance workers’ compensation through the budgeting process, committee hearings, and city ordinances.