Crisis looms in Illinois workers’ compensation system thanks to Emanuel and Alderman Burke

Rahm Emanuel Picture.jpg The News-Gazette

By DR. DAVID FLETCHER

There’s a crisis looming in our state’s workers’ compensation system. If allowed to fester, it will keep workers from receiving timely medical treatment for workplace injuries. It will delay workers’ recoveries and their return to their jobs. And it will end up costing more for the very businesses and insurers seeking efficiencies in the system.

This crisis is not one you’ve heard about from the business and insurance communities. It’s a crisis created by their failure to implement laws that have been on the books in Illinois for more than a decade.

As doctors who care for workers compensation patients, here are our concerns: Illinois law spells out the right for medical professionals to receive prompt payment for the care we give to patients with workplace injuries.

Just like any other business or profession, we need to be paid for that care we give, so that we can compensate our employees and keep open the doors of our medical practices.

Yet, many Illinois workers’ compensation insurers completely ignore the prompt payment law. To date, there has been no remedy for doctors and other caregivers who remain unpaid for months and months at a time.

Furthermore, state law mandates that insurers accept electronic billing and documentation for workers’ compensation claims. This expedites the process.

Yet, many insist on an obsolete paper-based medical billing system, which delays medical care to injured workers and wastes resources.

Add to this bleak reality a recent, alarming increase in delayed payments for already-approved workers’ compensation medical care claims. The result is more and more physicians unable or unwilling to treat injured workers.

Since 2005, the Workers’ Compensation Act has allowed medical professionals a late interest penalty for approved workers’ compensation medical care.

Yet there is no way for doctors and others to enforce or collect this interest.

Even if the workers’ compensation insurer approves care for an injured worker, it can and often delays payment for the medical treatment rendered. These delays can last for years.

A recent court ruling found that medical professionals can’t even go to court to collect this interest.

Since the court decision, these payment delays have worsened to the point of doctors dropping out of the system.

What’s lost in the current debate on workers’ compensation policy is that medical professionals — the physicians, surgeons, hospitals and specialists — actually provide the care that supports our entire system.

Medical professionals are the ones who get injured employees back to work, reduce employer costs for time off and long-term injuries and work with employers to prevent work-related accidents from even happening in the first place.

We are often blamed for the system’s ills, even though we are in a unique position to make that system function.

When workers are hurt on the job, they need timely access to dedicated physicians, surgeons and specialists to treat their injuries. We in the medical community stand ready with solutions to the problems that are threatening the health of our workers’ compensation system.

It’s time to pass legislation that forces workers’ compensation insurers to start following the law. The alternative is having doctors and care centers rush to the exits.

John Maszinski, who works for the Illinois State Medical Society, submitted this piece by Dr. David Fletcher of Champaign.

Vocamotive Vocational Training you do not need or want

I hope this video is an introduction to how the City of Chicago, Alderman Burke, his Committee on Finance, The City of Chicago Departments, The Illinois Workers Compensation Commission, The Illinois Workers Compensation Lawyers, The Illinois Board of Higher Education, Vocational Rehabilitation, Vocamotive works.
The graphics are simple, but powerful. Please wait through the entire video so you can see them all. Then you can put two and two together for yourself. I have much more information on the way, but too much gets people bogged down. So, this is a five +minute presentation and I hope it helps anyone hurt at work in Illinois.

If you are hurt at work while at the city of Chicago, I suggest you make sure you take an ambulance to the hospital. I hope you take every test you can to figure out what is wrong with you. I also suggest you take pictures when you get hurt, when you enter the ambulance, when you are at the hospital. Ask a friend to take pictures of everything. Pictures are your best friend and they will refresh your memory later.

Most things after this are on cruise control. The city will ask you to go to Mercy Works for a doctor’s visit, the city will drug test you, the Mercy works doctors will make some recommendations for medical care. Many times, they will tell you take some pills and go back to work. Sometimes they recommend more tests and will give you some time off.

If you do not cooperate with Mercy Works, they might say you have “conduct unbecoming a city worker.”

As soon as you can, hire your own doctor to get the care you need. Many doctors do not want to deal with Chicago Workers Compensation cases because they wait years for their money.

I strongly suggest you listen to your doctor and do what he says. Your health is important for the rest of your life. The City of Chicago does not give “light duty” unless you have Clout. Many Chicago City Workers go back to work hurt and end up addicted to pain killers and opiates.

After that get a good lawyer. Again, most worker’s compensation lawyers in Chicago talk a great game when you first meet them. They want to lock up and tie up your claim. Most Chicago Workers compensation lawyers do not want to deal with the city because the city withholds workers’ disability pay and medical care. The Chicago Committee on Finance has been a clout dumping ground for patronage workers. Could you imagine a hair dresser or a dog walkers handling your case? The COF is also a place where Alderman Ed Burke shakes down health care providers for his campaigns and the democrat party.
There is no place to make complaints because the Illinois Workers Compensation Commission only takes complains against private Insurance companies. Chicago is left free to run a clout patronage empire that enriches all the insiders.

Most Chicago City Workers return to work after a nice winter on Workers Compensation. The clog up the system from folks that have a legitimate claim.

Some workers are left on duty disability for the rest of their lives and some are sent to Vocational training.
Vocational Training is the City’s way of removing employees with serious health problems. More on that later.
Vocational Training is a way the City of Chicago has private contractor to do their dirty work. This shields companies from FOIA and accountability. Chicago never uses Reasonable accommodations unless the Mayor’s Office tells them, so the city can keep patronage workers on the payroll.

Vocational training consists of an assessment and recommendations that allow the City to remove workers and reduce their liabilities. The companies like Vocamotive take the City employee far away from the city and teaches basic typing and Microsoft classes. Many old trade and construction workers have had problems with this new technology. The Committee on Finance does their part to ensure failure by withholding duty disability payments. The checks are printed on time, sent for postage, and then sent back to the claims adjuster. The Claims adjuster sits on the checks until they are ordered by Monica Somerville to release them. This allows the city to provide more hardships to already injured workers. The U.S. Postal Service has done nothing to stop this practice.

Please remember, The City Law Department, the workers’ compensation lawyers, the Illinois Workers Compensation Board, the Committee on Finance, The Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors, the City medical providers, the city consultants, deal with each other year after year. They do not care about you. They make piles of money, reward and enrich each other.

You must do everything to protect you, your family and your heath. Document, Document, Document. Talk to you soon.
I hope I can help, contact me at [email protected] . Special Thanks to Jay Stone, The smartest man in the room.

Vocamotive Vocational Training Illinois Workers Compensation

Vocamotive Alderman Burke final picture.jpg

The City of Chicago Committee on Finance is run by Alderman Burke. For some time, Jay Stone, a reformer and political expert in Chicago has taken on the machine. When Jay Stone was investigating the Committee on Finance he ran into a level of corruption that would make Mayor Rahm Emanuel blush. The Chicago Inspector General Joe Ferguson was alerted and if history is any indicator, Joe will do nothing. Shame.

Many Chicago City Workers are injured due to negligence on the part of the city. As a current City of Chicago Department of Water Management Plumber, I firsthand experience a lack of interest making the job safer. I made serval complaints to the Chicago Inspector General, newspapers, and the mayor’s office to make a proper work environment. I was concerned about lead and fecal matter in drinking water. Water main quality and shoring was a major concern. Many of the water main repair crews still carry around shoring and it never leaves the trailers. It is just for show. If someone is injured, the shoring is placed next to the ditch. False reports are made every day showing safety procedures are followed.

The City of Chicago has still failed to complete across the board drug testing, and as a result many workers are crippled no fault of their own. The City of Chicago treats injured workers different. Clout and Corruption rules supreme.

Not long ago, I was injured and I still have serious lasting problem from two injuries. One in July of 2011 after an attack by an off-duty police detective. This incident is finally under the radar by the U.S. Department of Justice. I also have an injury from September of 2013. I will give details when the time is right.

I was not going to write about these incidents, but many additional injured workers complained to me, I knew something needed to be done. We made some videos. We talked to major newspapers. We talked to reporters. Jay Stone became an important advocate for those with no voice. Jay Stone is an inspiration to me. Some videos were made which exposed black workers that were denied treatment. They were later fired for b.s. reasons. Some black workers lost their jobs through an unfair system.

Jay Stone uncovered a pay to play system at the Committee on Finance. Many contractors that provide services to Chicago are expected to pony up to Alderman Burke and the Democratic Party. One person at the Committee at Finance, had a family member working for a contractor that did hundreds of thousands of dollars of work at the Department of Water Management. To this day, there is not proof any work was done. The lawyers are expected to pay up for democratic candidates. The judges make completely different decisions on relatively same cases. None of the lawyers expose this corruption as it is the way the system works. In fact, Illinois lawyers routinely run a puppy mill in workers’ compensation. The more cases you settle the more money you make. Preparing for cases takes time and money. The real money is in the back end when the medical bills are settled and additional services.

Nestled in the beautiful suburbs of Hinsdale, lies a Chicago subcontractor to Alderman Burke’s Committee on Finance. It is Vocamotive. Vocamotive is a nice business because they a service to employers and Insurance companies. They also provide a service to lawyers. Lawyers “make the deal”, to obtain this service and get a slice of the pie! What better way to move a workers comp case along than to have a lawyer send his client to Vocamotive for “Job Training”. Let me make something perfectly clear, Vocamotive is only there to reduce the liability to insurance company or to the city of Chicago. They give political contributions to Alderman Burke. Nice? When I reviewed what Vocamotive does, I was shocked. They look for every single thing wrong with the student. The reports they write have no dignity at all. They make injured workers look like assholes, it is great for the insurance companies looking for any way to get off the hook. It also works great for plaintiff lawyers because when the city stops the duty disability payments, it forces cripples to settle on the penny. Vocamotive also is another way of hiding records from the injured as they refuse to release records directly to the injured. They hid behind a veil.

On September 15, 2016, I went to the awesome suburbs of Hinsdale. It is a shame Chicago does not use a company in the city as blacks have the lowest employment rate.
I gave Vocamotive a copy of an order to release my records for evaluation by a licensed state agency. I have to pay for my own Vocational Rehabilitation now. The receptionist was nice and was looking for permission to release my records in the back room. It was then I notice the humiliating jobs injured people get from Vocamotive. Ladies were sent to maid duties as a job alternative. Nice eh? The trick is to discourage people and make them quit. Humiliate people that are injured. They are “reservicing” people with costly computer training that are old, and injured. One lady I interviewed, had a stroke is very near retirement; She is applying for positions she is not capable of doing. Amazing how Vocamotive is not under closer scrutiny. She informed me employers are looking at her as a complete liability, no one want to hire a person that can only talk out of part of their mouth. When she had the stoke the Department of Water Management withheld her pay for a couple of years. She had the stroke when she was at Vocamotive and was told to keep working. Nice?

Back to me, the receptionist at Vocamotive returned and told me to return early the next morning to talk to a higher up to obtain the records. Next thing I know, I received an email stating if I returned to Vocamotive, the Hinsdale Police would be called. Vocamotive insinuated I was unprofessional and with a gang of thugs. Something is amiss.

I filed a second complaint against Vocamotive with the Chicago Inspector General and also with the Illinois Board of Higher Education. This company needs to be investigated for discriminating against people. There seems to be a major problem with workers’ rights. People that are injured and file a Workman’s Compensation Claim should be treated better. Not all Chicago City Workers that are injured are sent to Vocational Training. Only the ones that do not engage in politics and those Alderman Burke doesn’t want, are forced out. I contacted Plumbers’ Local 130 and their lawyers responded to this being an Illinois Workers’ Compensation issue, despite the bargaining contract that should to protect workers. I also contacted friends in the media and they felt there is two sides to the story when it comes to injuries. I agree. Only in Illinois could any system be this broken and corrupt. More on this soon.

Some time Alderman Burke and the Chicago Workers’ Compensation System needs a second look

Steve Collier Final City of Chicago Hoisting Engineer Former Green Bay Packer Football player and City of Chicago Hoisting Engineer wants a look at his records keep by Alderman Burke and Monica Somerville at the Chicago Committee on Finance. Mr. Steve Collier went to the Mayor of the City of Chicago’s administrative officer to make sure his FOIA does not get lost. I suggest if you work for the City of Chicago, past and present, to review all document the City keeps on you. Jay Stone wrote many articles on Alderman Burke and Monica Somerville, I suggest to enlighten yourself. “You can accept or reject the way you are treated by other people, but until you heal the wounds of your past, you will continue to bleed. You can bandage the bleeding with food, with alcohol, with drugs, with work, with cigarettes, with sex, but eventually, it will all ooze through and stain your life. You must find the strength to open the wounds, stick your hands inside, pull out the core of the pain that is holding you in your past, the memories, and make peace with them”
― Iyanla Vanzant, Yesterday, I Cried Photo by Chicago Clout Steve Collier FOIA REQUEST.pdf
Former Green Bay Packer Football player and City of Chicago Hoisting Engineer wants a llok at his records keep by Alderman Burke and Monica Somerville at the Chicago Committee on Finance. Mr. Steve Collier went to the Mayor of the City of Chicago’s administrative officer to make sure his FOIA does not get lost. I suggest if you work for the City of Chicago, past and present, to review all document the City keeps on you. Jay Stone wrote many articles on Alderman Burke and Monica Somerville, I suggest to enlighten yourself. “You can accept or reject the way you are treated by other people, but until you heal the wounds of your past, you will continue to bleed. You can bandage the bleeding with food, with alcohol, with drugs, with work, with cigarettes, with sex, but eventually, it will all ooze through and stain your life. You must find the strength to open the wounds, stick your hands inside, pull out the core of the pain that is holding you in your past, the memories, and make peace with them”
― Iyanla Vanzant, Yesterday, I Cried Photo by Chicago Clout

Sun-Times Editorial: Pull back curtain on Ald. Burke’s workers comp fiefdom

Sun 2/28/2016 6:58 PM

WRITTEN BY SUN-TIMES EDITORIAL BOARD POSTED: 02/28/2016, 02:07PM

For more than a century in Chicago, a mere City Council committee — now tightly controlled by a single powerful alderman — has called the shots on all worker compensation claims, in recent years shelling out what experts say is a “staggering” amount of money.

Feel free to scream about that the next time Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Council decide to jack up your property taxes. Demand that they take Ald. Ed Burke down a peg first and bring the Chicago Bureau of Workmen’s Compensation into the 21st century.

Across the country, big cities have placed the responsibility for overseeing millions of dollars in payments to municipal workers injured or killed on the job under the control of a city department.

The New York City Law Department handles the Big Apple’s worker compensation claims. In Los Angeles, the city Personnel Department administers them.

But in Chicago? Here, the Bureau of Workmen’s Compensation, bizarrely, is under the purview of the City Council Committee on Finance. Under the city’s municipal code, it’s been that way since at least 1913.

That means the city’s $100 million-a-year workers’ comp fiefdom is headed by Burke, alderman of the 14th Ward and longtime Finance Committee chairman.

The municipal code also gives Burke alone the power to hire workmen’s comp employees. Audits of the bureau’s claim decisions are not required.

Inspector General Joseph Ferguson has no auditing oversight, thanks to a recent City Council “IG-Light” compromise that walled off workmen’s comp and other programs controlled by aldermen from IG audits.

Eugene Keefe of the Keefe, Campbell, Biery & Associates workers’ compensation defense law firm once called the city’s $115 million payout in 2011 workmen’s comp claims “staggering.”

“No municipality in the United States pays that much or anything close to that much for workers’ compensation benefits,” Keefe wrote back in 2012. “Finance Chairman Ed Burke has been running that money-hemorrhaging program with an iron fist and as secretly as it can be run for decades.”

We’ve seen little evidence that much has changed since – except that the city’s finances have worsened to crisis levels.

At a time when Chicago faces budget woes up the wazoo, the organizational structure of the Bureau of Workmen’s Compensation is a blazing example of bad government. It is rife with the potential for cronyism, waste and inefficiency just when Chicago has no pennies to spare.

Two aldermen are trying to bring this more than 100-year-old anomaly into the modern era.

A resolution by Aldermen John Arena (45th) and Scott Waguespack (32nd) calls for hearings into the city’s workmen’s comp practices by the City Council’s Committee on Budget and Government Operations.

The aldermanic pair want to hear exactly what procedures the Finance Committee uses to investigate and process claims and to check for fraud. They want to explore if it makes sense to move all these functions into the city’s executive branch — and if so, where.

They have suggested the city Law Department as one destination, although that city bastion could be busy at the moment battling nagging questions about police shootings.

Finance Committee officials insist workmen’s comp auditing is done. For at least the last two years, Aon Risk Solutions has conducted a “Workers’ Compensation Reserve Analysis and Forecast.” Those numbers are eventually plugged into the city’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.

The problem is, Waguespack said, the number crunchers “are given dollar amounts and they add them up and see if 2 plus 2 is 4. But they don’t look at how you got 2 plus 2.”

Pulling back the curtain on the operations of the city’s workmen’s comp program with a public hearing would be a welcomed move.

And graduating from such a hearing to a successful City Council ordinance that would amend the Municipal Code and put workmen’s comp in the executive branch would be even better. Doing so would make workmen’s comp subject to IG audits that aldermen recently prohibited with their gutted IG ordinance.

But this is Chicago.

Chances are, the Arena-Waguespack resolution will never make it to a hearing. The parliamentary maneuvering has already begun, aldermen say, with moves afoot to transfer the resolution to Burke’s Finance Committee. Or, it could sit forever in the Rules Committee, never to see the light of day.

And Chicago could remain stuck in the 1900s when it comes to workmen’s comp — but with 21st-century-sized workmen’s comp bills.

Ald. Ed Burke’s Workers’ Compensation Program Under Increased Scrutiny

Paris Schutz | February 25, 2016 6:23 pm WTTW Chicago Tonight

Powerful Ald. Ed Burke (14th Ward) is facing more heat in his role as chairman of the City Council’s Finance Committee, which operates Chicago’s $100 million city workers’ compensation program.

Whistle-blowers this week filed a complaint with the city’s inspector general alleging the program, which pays disability to injured city workers, is fraught with patronage and political hiring. But can Inspector General Joe Ferguson actually investigate it?

Ferguson had no comment on whether they’d have that authority. A recent ordinance gives him the authority, starting next month, to expand his reach to investigate possible misconduct by aldermen – but stops short of being able to investigate committees they control – like Burke’s Finance Committee.

Nonetheless, a complaint filed by former city workers, including one who is the son of the late, longtime Alderman Berny Stone, is asking the inspector general to look into the city’s $100 million workers’ compensation system run by Burke. It alleges that the whole system is fraught with political favoritism.

“It’s an opportunity for Ed Burke to collect political favors,” said Jay Stone. “There’ll be other aldermen, committeemen, state reps, etc. going to Ed Burke saying, ‘My precinct captain is on disability, please take care of him,’ so now he has a political favor.”

When asked if he had any evidence that that actually happened, Stone responded:

“My father was an alderman for 38 years. I know how the system works. That’s how it works.”

Burke is ultimately in charge: he makes the hires, he ultimately signs off on the claims. He’s been very close to the vest on the program; no aldermen we spoke with even know exactly how it’s run.

The director of the program is a legislative aide named Monica Somerville, but they’ve hired consulting companies like Coventry Health Care to administer a lot of the program – there are no records of contracts awarded to this company.

We spoke with one employee, a plumber in the city’s water department, who has been injured since 2013 but says the Finance Committee cut off his disability pay last month without any process for appeal.

He says he believes the system is built to benefit city workers who are politically connected, and leave others who are not out in the dark.

“The process is, as soon as you get injured, you have to go to a city emergency care center. If you have clout you get to go to a doctor of choice,” said Patrick McDonough, a former plumber in the city’s water department. “If you’re not clouted, you have to go to all the city doctors, all the city specialists, whatever it takes to get you back to work. If you’re not perfect by the time you’re done, the city does everything it can to get rid of you.”

McDonough was also the worker who blew the whistle years ago on the city’s hired truck scandal that sent numerous public officials to jail and stained the administration of then-Mayor Richard M. Daley. McDonough says he sustained his injury in a forklift accident and says he believes Chairman Burke personally wants him out of a job. He says he was offered a settlement of a year’s pay to leave.

We tried to contact Burke and various officials in the Finance Committee numerous times, to no avail.

Stone’s contention that the inspector general has the authority to investigate the workers’ compensation system is a long shot at best. He says the program violates the Shakman Decree which limits the amount of political hiring that can go on in the city. Attorney Michael Shakman himself told the Chicago Sun-Times that he believes workers’ comp employees should be non-political hires, and that he made a mistake in exempting them in a deal he negotiated with the city to get out from federal hiring oversight.

He, along with the complainants and some aldermen, believe the program should be taken out of Burke’s hands and the legislative branch altogether and be recast in a non-political role in the executive branch of government.

Ald. John Arena (45th Ward) filed an ordinance to have hearings to discuss such a move.

“If we have a closet that can’t be looked into, that’s a concern,” Arena said. “We need to have oversight of that. But the Finance Committee’s function is to manage the finance of the city, not to manage medical and workmans’ comp issues. It’s just not the place for that to happen.”

Arena and others note that Chicago is the only major city that runs the workers comp system like this – others run it out of their law departments or human resources departments.

Burke fought very hard behind the scenes to pass an ordinance that would prevent Inspector General Ferguson from having the ability to audit programs like this. We’re told by several aldermen there was horse trading offered until the last minute. He narrowly won by two votes.

Follow Paris Schutz on Twitter: @paschutz

Shakman: Workers’ comp jobs should be ‘non-political’ hires

Written By Fran Spielman Posted: 02/24/2016, 12:50pm Chicago Sun-Times

Chicago’s $100 million-a-year workers’ compensation program is an “executive branch responsibility” with jobs that should be “filled under the city’s non-political hiring plan,” attorney Michael Shakman said Wednesday.

Shakman filed the complaint that culminated in the federal ban on political hiring and signed off on a 2014 agreement that persuaded a federal judge to release Chicago from the 42-year-old Shakman decree that bears his name.

He painstakingly negotiated a hiring plan that made all City Council employees exempt positions.

On Wednesday, Shakman acknowledged that he made a “mistake” by exempting worker’s comp employees in the City Council’s Finance Committee chaired by Ald. Edward Burke (14th).

“It sounds like something that belongs in the executive branch and, therefore, should be a job filled under the city’s non-political hiring plan,” Shakman said.

“With respect to City Council employees, we should have done more and I regret not having done more. We did have an effort to bring the City Council into the fold . . . It didn’t go anywhere. The judge was not very sympathetic to the argument, and we didn’t push it. That was focused on all aldermanic employees — not on worker’s comp people. It was a mistake on our part.”

Still, Shakman argued that Jay Stone, maverick son of former longtime Ald. Bernard Stone (50th), has other legal hurdles to clear if he hopes to make the case that Burke administers workers’ comp in a way that violates the Shakman decree.

“Stone would still have to show, No. 1 that it’s impermissible for the City Council to allocate an executive job to a legislative officer and No. 2 that . . . Burke is using those jobs as patronage jobs,” Shakman said.

Still, Stone called Shakman’s support for the complaint he filed against Burke with Inspector General Joe Ferguson the “highest honor possible that I could receive.”

The late alderman’s son said he has no doubt that he can make the case that Burke has filled those worker’s comp jobs with “political hacks,” as he put it.

“Growing up and living in politics, that’s the way it works,” Stone said.

In 2008, Stone won a $75,000 award from the $12 million fund created to compensate victims of City Hall’s rigged hiring system.

A federal hiring monitor believed his claims that he lost his 2003 aldermanic election against Ald. Ted Matlak (32nd) because Matlak had the support of the political army commanded by now-convicted former First Deputy Water Commissioner Donald Tomczak.

Stone said he decided to file the complaint against Burke after his friend, Pat McDonough, a city plumbing inspector who spoke out about abuses in the city’s Hired Truck Program, got a letter from the Finance Committee last month cutting off his disability pay. (January 8, 2016)

“The hair on the back of my neck stood up. I could not understand why the Finance Committee was administering duty disability. And more importantly, my friend was denied due process. They just stopped his pay. The letter said he was non-cooperative. It didn’t say how or who said so,” Stone said.

“My friend is a three-time whistleblower. He reported corruption. They could use the giving or taking away of workers’ comp to help those who are precinct captains and punish those who work against the machine.”

Referring to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s City Council floor leader, Stone said, “If Ald. [Pat] O’Connor goes to Ed Burke and says, `One of my guys was injured on the job. Take care of him,’ you can be sure Burke is going to take care of him. But if a political upstart who raises trouble gets duty disability, they’re not going to get the same treatment. Workers’ comp has got to be taken out of the political process.”

Before empowering Ferguson to investigate aldermen and their employees, the City Council voted 25 to 23 to deny the inspector general the right to audit workers’ comp and programs administered by aldermen.

Even so, Stone maintained that Ferguson has the power to investigate Burke after assuming the all-important power of policing city hiring in the post-Shakman era when federal hiring monitor Noelle Brennan was dismissed.

“The federal decree trumps any ethics ordinance. It’s a higher authority. They can’t use an ethics ordinance to block or circumvent an agreement signed in federal court,” he said.

No matter what Ferguson does, Stone urged Emanuel to move immediately to seize control over the workers’ comp program.

“Mayor Emanuel has abdicated his workers’ comp duties and responsibilities to Ald. Burke,” Stone said.

“He has gone after the teachers. But he wouldn’t dare go after Burke because of Burke’s knowledge and control over the Finance Committee.”