Commissioner Randy Conner looks the other way again on workers

Bricklayer truck final.jpg The City of Chicago Commissioner Randy Conner said he will buckle down on the Department of Water Management employees that continue to walk around doing nothing as Chicago Citizens are leaving Chicago. New Chicago Water Rates are going to make more people move soon.

Today at 9:30 p.m. a Chicago Water Department driver of a bricklayer crew went to 5509 North Harlem Ave. to walk around and talk on her private phone to friends. Sister PLEASE, do not talk so loudly that everyone can hear you. When she went to Taco Burrito King she forgot to wear her hard hat and safety vest. Sister PLEASE. She left the place after complaining about the high price of pop and decided to get a drink at a lower price. Please flush next time.

She walked out of the place of business after leaving her truck unattended with a full load of FA6 backfill, expensive cast iron sewer grates, expensive material, and tools. Sister PLEASE.

She got into her truck, got in the left lane, went south on Harlem, and went to the Wendy’s for some more affordable drinks. She enjoyed the air-conditioning and continued talking on her personal cell phone while at the counter. What a great job Randy Conner made for this young thing. Thanks, Randy, your reforms include employees doing the same old stuff as the last management team. I really hate to see an empty truck, not on a job site, and not earning money for Chicago’s taxpayers. It is time theft.

Back at the Sunnyside yard, another bricklayer crew was getting disciplined for another round of loafing. Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Inspector General can control the Chicago Newspapers all they want, you can not hide this stuff, or make it up.

Exclusive Inspector General Video Footage of Chicago Employee at Vocamotive

Please watch out if you are a city of Chicago Department of Water Management employee crippled on the job. Careful, because the Inspector General is making video of you and Alderman Burke and Manica Somerville is going to stop your benefits. Pete O. is a Chicago Department of Water Management employee that had four back surgeries. The City of Chicago’s Alderman Burke forced Pete O. to attend Vocational Rehabilitation at Vocamotive. This is a waste of taxpayer money, because the guy can not even walk normal. This is a classic waste of money. At least Alderman Burke can shake down vendors for campaign loot.

Gun deal emails spurred city probe into racist, sexist Water Department messages

Emails about gun deals played a key role in a city inspector general’s investigation that led to last week’s shake-up at the Water Department, sources familiar with the probe said Monday.

One source with knowledge of the investigation said the City Hall watchdog initially began looking into emails regarding the gun deals and uncovered several that were sexist and racist, including messages about former President Barack Obama that dated back a year or two.

The disclosure that racist emails were sent about the nation’s first African-American president added another layer to the scandal, given that Obama called Chicago home and his first White House chief of staff was Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Inspector General Joseph Ferguson, who last week was appointed to a third term by Emanuel, is continuing his investigation of the Department of Water Management, City Hall sources said. One source said more agency employees were summoned for interviews and that workers were “lawyering up.”

The gun deal emails were found on the computer of Paul Hansen, a City Hall source said. Another source said the inspector general seized Hansen’s computer as part of the investigation, which began about eight months ago. Hansen, the son of former 44th Ward Ald. Bernard Hansen, resigned Thursday as a district superintendent of water distribution, officials said.

Barrett Murphy, who was water commissioner since April 2016, resigned Friday amid the probe at the agency he led. He’s a city government veteran married to Lynn Lockwood, who is the former chairman and treasurer of one of Emanuel’s political funds, as well as a friend of Chicago first lady Amy Rule.

In addition, officials confirmed Friday that a top deputy, William Bresnahan, also resigned.

The Water Department is an agency long rattled by negative headlines under Mayor Richard M. Daley’s administration, which was rocked by the Hired Truck scandal and an illegal jobs scam operated under former top water official Donald Tomczak, who served time in prison.

Under Tomczak, jobs and promotions were handed out in exchange for political work that created an army of ground troops for multiple politicians, including Emanuel in his successful 2002 bid for Congress.

Now Emanuel faces his own crisis. On Monday, the City Council Black Caucus called for an audit of the department “to get to the root of the culture of racism” and requested “additional diversity in promotion.”

“While we are deeply disturbed by reports of blatant racist language and behavior by these high-level city employees, we only wish we could say we are surprised,” said 6th Ward Ald. Roderick Sawyer, the caucus chairman. “The pervasive culture of racism at the Water Department has been an open secret for years. We hope that this moment can serve as a wake-up call for all those in the department and in other departments where this behavior is still tolerated or even encouraged.”

At an unrelated event Monday, Emanuel said he was made aware by Ferguson’s office of a problem with “one particular employee” and “in that process, it exposed a culture in the Water Department workplace” that doesn’t represent city values.

Emanuel said Murphy, the water commissioner, agreed there should be a reset in the culture at the agency, which is now headed by Randy Conner, who moved over from the Chicago Department of Transportation.

Hansen could not be reached for comment Monday. In April 2010 he was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol in northwest Illinois, according to public records from Jo Daviess County. He later pleaded guilty to reckless driving. City payroll records show that he was promoted to his most recent position in December 2010, which is after the court case was resolved.

Letter to Joseph Ferguson Chicago Inspector General: The 2nd Inspector General Complaint

I am a two-time victim of fraud committed by a Chicago City Council Finance Committee employee named Monica Somerville. Ms. Somerville’s job title is a “legislative aide” though she has fraudulently written in her letters to me that she is the “Director of the Workers’ Compensation Division.”

Monica Somerville sent me letters on October 19, 2015 and January 7, 2016 to inform me that my benefits were being stopped for “Not participating in vocational rehabilitation” and “Non-compliant.” Somerville typed the word “Director” next to her name in both letters (see PDF of my October 19, 2015 and January 7, 2016 letters). Underneath her name and title of “Director,” Somerville typed, “Workers’ Compensation Division.”

Somerville is not the Director of the Workers’ Compensation Division. According to Human Resources, Robert Serafin is the workers’ comp Director and Somerville is a legislative aide (see Human Resources work history of Somerville and Serafin PDF). Somerville committed fraud by falsely claiming she was a director when she has no legal authority or legal power to do so. Furthermore, Somerville deceptively listed herself as the “Director of Workers’ Compensation Division” in the professional website called “Linkedin” (see Linkedin PDF).

Fraud is defined as, “a person or thing intended to deceive others, typically by unjustifiably claiming or being credited with accomplishments or qualities.” Commit fraud is exactly what Somerville did. She purposely deceived me by falsely claiming she is the workers’ comp director when her job title is legislative aide. Somerville expressed she had more power and authority from her phony “Director” job title than she actually had. Somerville’s overstatement of her position and authority with the job title of “Director” is very relevant because in both her letters to me she stopped my duty disability pay and payment of my medical expenses.

City employee Reginald Williams Sr. also received a letter in which Somerville committed fraud with her false claim that she is the director (See Williams Sr. Article). In Somerville’s letter she denied Williams Sr. surgery and said he can return to unrestricted duty though he is taking the strongest painkiller available. Williams Sr. and his personal physician both maintain surgery is necessary and only hope of Williams Sr.’s recovery. Since Somerville is deceiving injured city employees with her false job title of “Director,” you have to wonder what other things is she lying about or doing wrong.

The four exhibits and supportive evidence mentioned in this fraud complaint against Monica Somerville are as follows:

1. A copy of my complaint
2. Monica Somerville’s letters dated October 19, 2015 and January 7, 2016
3. Legislative Aide Monica Somerville and Workers Comp Director Robert Serafin’s work history from the Human Resources Department
4. Monica Somerville’s false Linkedin claims
5. Article featuring Reginald Williams Sr. and self-titled workers’ comp “Director” Monica Somerville’s bewildering response

Patrick McDonough

Injured City Worker

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

Rahm Emanuel visits City Water Management Workers for Politics

Rahm Emanuel talks to City Workers Politics on City time Final - Copy.jpg Here we go again with Rahm Emanuel visiting Chicago Department of Water Management employees attempting to stay out of politics. It is hard to complete a day’s work for a day’s pay when Rahm Emanuel wants to again pretend he is the go to guy for City Workers. Just four years ago, Rahm used many City Workers and Union Goons to get him elected. Those guys quickly got promotions and City Jobs. Some also became foreman in record time. A lousy Inspector General in Chicago just walks away from these investigation so he could get another four years paycheck for himself. Most folks that follow politics, know Rahm was not seen with peon city workers for four years. His “lifetime” job allowed him to travel the world on taxpayer’s dime and go to fancy hotels living like a player. Rahm, this election, has fallen back in love with black folks now that his lifestyle is in jeopardy. At the debates, Rahm had some scary cold sores on his lips showing he is in a real panic. He had some goofy freak at his Election Day rally in the background that could not stop crying. I hope more people come out and vote. I also hope Chuy and Rahm debate this time. I am suggesting all City Workers take a massive pay cut to help the city out of debt. We also need to undo every promotion Rahm has made in the last four years. I suggest Rahm gives every city workers a 25% pay reduction until the books are balanced. Rahm also needs to stop using Chicago Police as his personal gestapo. I also hope Rahm and the Jeffrey Epstein mess does not take a toll on Rahm. More on this later.

Rahm Emanuel holds up City Water Department Crew for Photos

Rahm Emanuel Water Department Employees.png The Chicago Inspector General was told to “Stand Down” while Rahm Emanuel is using Chicago Water Department Employees for political purposes. The crew said they waited over three hours for Rahm to show up in the newly issued clean clothes for the photo op. One Water Department Plumber said, we are working our tails off and this crew is sitting around smiling. The trench was left open and a kid could have fallen in and died. The Chicago Inspector General did nothing again and only retaliates against whistleblowers (snitches) The Chicago Law Department should stand at home plate and demand no more photo secessions while on city time. Misusing the City emblem and city trucks for political purposes is just straight up cray cray. Photo by trey.

Chicago Law Dept. and Inspector General demand Rahm to stop using City Workers

Rahm Emanuel Pic with City Workers.png Rahm Emanuel is using Chicago City Workers for backdrops and photo ops to bolster his run for the upcoming Mayoral Race. City Workers were attempting to pick up garbage and complete their tasks when a Commissioner ordered them to wait all morning for Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Media to take pictures for the news. City Workers that were black and Hispanic were ordered to the front for pictures. Workers wore City Uniforms and the trucks were clean as a whistle. One City Worker said, he did not see a fly or a foul smell for once. This beats pickin up trash said one employee. The Inspector General has told Rahm and City employees to keep away from the press. The Law Department is very angry as Rahm is making lawsuits against the city run afoul. Rahm used the Water Department for photo shoots for years. It is a backdrop for votes. One City commissioner said” it is Rahm being Rahm”. The Inspector General is still not going after Rahm for using City funds for his personal use. Joe said, “I still got a job”. Photo by Nancy Stone of the Tribune.