State worker retiring amid probe of racist emails in water department scandal

Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission Picture.JPG

A veteran state employee whose personal email address was a source of racist, sexist and anti-gay emails that circulated among bosses in the Chicago water department is retiring, state officials said.

Frank Capuzi’s decision to retire effective Monday comes as the state began a review of his conduct following Tribune inquiries into offensive emails sent from his address to a high-ranking water department official and others. Among those emails was one describing a fake “Chicago Safari” adventure tour that made light of the shootings of children in black and Hispanic neighborhoods.

Capuzi, an investigator with the Workers’ Compensation Commission, “gave notice of his retirement” on Thursday, said commission spokesman Ben Noble.

Noble indicated that the commission’s investigation was not over and said that Capuzi left on his own. “Capuzi freely exercised his right to retire,” Noble said. “The commission cannot comment on an ongoing investigation. It takes seriously these allegations.”

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Diana Rickert, a spokeswoman for Gov. Bruce Rauner, confirmed that Capuzi is leaving his state job. “We take these allegations extremely seriously, and we’re not going to tolerate any type of misbehavior that we are aware of,” she said.

Capuzi, 62, has worked for the state for more than four decades and makes more than $114,000 per year. He could not be reached for comment Friday.

He was a longtime GOP committeeman on the West Side, having won the 26th Ward post as recently as 2008 and the 27th Ward at least as far back as the early 1980s, according to records from the Chicago Board of Elections. He is the son of a former Republican state lawmaker, Louis Capuzi of Chicago.

Racist emails scandal moves beyond Chicago as Illinois opens investigation into state employee’s role
Earlier this month, the Tribune revealed that Capuzi’s AOL address was a source of emails at the center of a widening scandal in the city’s water department. The “Chicago Safari” email was among at least four of the most offensive ones that circulated among water department bosses that came from Capuzi’s personal email address.

Even though Capuzi did not use his government email address, ethics experts told the Tribune that this type of matter should be looked into to determine whether any violations of state law, rules or policies have occurred, including conduct unbecoming a state employee.

The Rauner administration’s code of personal conduct states, in part, that employees should conduct themselves “with integrity and in a manner that reflects favorably upon the state.” That code, a union bargaining agreement and the state ethics law are all part of the review, the commission said.

Racist emails show Chicago official joked about ‘safari’ tour to see violence in black neighborhoods
City Inspector General Joseph Ferguson uncovered a string of racist, sexist, anti-gay and anti-Muslim emails while investigating another matter in the water department. His findings led to five water department bosses being ousted, including Commissioner Barrett Murphy; his deputy, William Bresnahan; and Paul Hansen, a district superintendent and the son of former Democratic Alderman. Bernie Hansen.

The Tribune obtained nearly 1,300 water department emails from the water department via a public records request, including several emails forwarded from Capuzi’s address to Hansen.

The Chicago Safari email, sent in July 2013, states that if “you didn’t book a Chicago safari adventure,” for the Independence Day weekend, “you missed” the shootings of a 5-year-old boy and two others in West Pullman; the shooting of a 7-year-old boy in Chatham; and the fatal shooting of a 14-year-old boy in Humboldt Park.

“We guarantee that you will see at least one kill and five crime scenes per three day tour. You’ll also see lots and lots of animals in their natural habitat. Call and book your Chicago Safari today,” the email reads. An image depicts four white people in safari gear taking pictures of black people trying to break into a car.

Others included a July 2014 email titled “Watermelon Protection” that included an image of a scarecrow dressed in a white KKK robe amid a watermelon patch; an April 2017 email titled “Today is Heterosexual Male Pride Day;” and a March 2014 email about an essay contest that had to include elements of religion, royalty, racism, disability and homosexuality. The “winning” essay read: “My God,” cried the Queen, “That one-legged nigger is a queer.” Chicago tribune Ray Long

James D’Amico massive presence felt at Chicago Voting Precinct November 8, 2016

James D"Amico.jpg
John D’Amico was not happy when the cops were called as he was electioneering for the D’Amico and Laurino family and interests. The authorities were called because James was on the wrong side of the cones, or less than 100 feet from an entrance of a voting precinct. Last time James D’Amico was on Chicago Clout, he was smoking. Now he quit which is good, but he is very plump. Thanks to John C. Amico, big Jim keeps getting out of trouble.
Little work and big pay. The D’Amico way. No wonder why Hillary lost the election!!!!

Ald. Burke accused of hiring ‘political hacks’ to run $100M-a-year workers’ comp program

Alderman Edward Burke 14 Ward.jpg

Written By Fran Spielman Posted: 02/23/2016, 08:00pm

Chicago’s most powerful aldermen was accused Tuesday of violating the Shakman decree by allowing “political hacks” to administer a $100 million-a-year workers’ compensation program that belongs in the executive branch.

Jay Stone, the maverick son of former longtime Ald. Bernard Stone (50th), filed a complaint with Inspector General Joe Ferguson, asking Ferguson to investigate Ald. Edward Burke (14th), chairman of the City Council’s Finance Committee.

In the complaint, Stone accused Burke of turning the workers’ comp program over to “his handpicked political appointees” in violation of the Shakman decree banning political hiring.

The 2014 agreement that persuaded a federal judge to release Chicago from the 42-year-old Shakman decree made City Council employees exempt positions. Stone’s complaint attempts to get around that loophole by claiming that the workers’ comp program “belongs in the executive branch of government.”

“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,” Stone wrote in the complaint, forwarded to the Chicago Sun-Times.

“Once Chicago’s workers’ compensation program moves from the legislative branch of government to the executive branch, then the designation of workers’ compensation employees will change to the proper Shakman non-exempt classification, and the city will have to hire the most qualified and abled employees to run the program.”

Stone notes that the executive branch administers workers’ comp in “all other major U.S. cities.” Chicago would be no different, if an “archaic” municipal code had not allowed the Finance Committee Chairman to “improperly run” the program.

Burke could not be reached for comment.

The late alderman’s son likened Burke’s alleged hiring violations to the Illinois Department of Transportation’s decision to “wrongfully classify” hundreds of jobs as “staff assistants.” That paved the way for the hiring of political appointees under two former governors, Rod Blagojevich and Pat Quinn.

“The Chicago municipal code has allowed Burke to do the same. [It] . . . has turned obvious Shakman non-exempt jobs into Shakman-exempt jobs,” Stone wrote.

“The municipal code sanction of Burke’s Finance Committee . . . 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.”

Before empowering Ferguson to investigate aldermen and their employees, the City Council voted 25-23 to limit Ferguson to investigating potential violations of the law by aldermen and their employees.

Program audits that Ferguson routinely conducts to determine whether taxpayers’ money is being wasted will be off-limits when it comes to the City Council. The workers’ comp program will be safe from Ferguson’s scrutiny. So will the $66 million-a-year aldermanic menu program.

The question now is whether the watered-down ordinance prevents Ferguson from investigating Stone’s claim that Burke is violating the Shakman decree.

Michael Shakman, who filed the landmark complaint, could not be reached for comment on Stone’s claim that city employees who administer the workers’ comp program should be non-exempt.

Two years ago, Ferguson assumed the all-important power of policing city hiring in the post-Shakman era after U.S. Magistrate Judge Sidney Schenkier released Chicago from the Shakman decree and dismissed federal hiring monitor Noelle Brennan.

Ferguson refused to comment on Stone’s complaint. The ordinance empowering him to investigate aldermen and City Council employees does not take effect until March 16.

At the same City Council meeting where aldermen walled off the worker’s comp program from Ferguson’s watchful eye, Ald. John Arena (45th) introduced a resolution urging the City Council to explore transferring control over the program from the Finance Committee to the city’s Law Department.

It’s not the first time that Jay Stone has ruffled feathers at City Hall.

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

Brennan believed his claims that he was a sure loser in 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.

“I’m in shock. I’m in awe,” Jay Stone said at the time.

“The message is we should hold fair and competitive elections in Chicago. I never stood a chance because I was up against a seasoned political army that was being paid for by the taxpayers of Chicago,” he said then.

Veteran aldermen branded the award “outrageous,” calling it evidence that Brennan “doesn’t have a clue.”

“We’ve got potholes to fix. We spend $20 million on snow removal, and the federal monitor decides in her infinite wisdom to give somebody $75,000 because they lost an election? Can I sign up for that program?” said then-Ald. Tom Allen (38th) who is now a Circuit Court judge.

“Somebody lost an election and, somehow, that’s an injury the city is liable for? It’s an outrage. This is crazy. What about all the people who lost elections against the union machine? This monitor has no clue,” said Ald. George Cardenas (12th), who was elected and re-elected with support from the now-defunct Hispanic Democratic Organization at the center of the city hiring scandal.

At the time, Brennan attributed the barrage of criticism to the fact that “aldermen and the mayor don’t have access to the same information that I do” about the impact of Tomczak’s army on Jay Stone’s campaign.

In 2012, Burke clashed with Ferguson over access to workers’ compensation claims administered by the Finance Committee.

At the time, Burke denied the inspector general access to databases related to the workers’ comp program for civilian employees on grounds that “duty disability” is governed by state law, not city ordinance; that Ferguson’s investigative powers are limited to misconduct, and Finance Committee staffers fell under the jurisdiction of the now-departed Legislative Inspector General.

Ferguson countered then that he routinely conducts audits to review city programs, identify waste and inefficiency, and recommend ways to prevent it. He referred to Chicago Sun-Times stories that identified waste, abuse and mismanagement in the $45 million-a-year disability program for police officers and firefighters.

“Blocking (my office’s) access is especially egregious in this case, as recent press reports have detailed anecdotal evidence of a city program very much in need of outside review, hopefully leading to improvements and savings to taxpayers,” Ferguson wrote. “The best way to determine whether there is waste, fraud or abuse in this city-funded program administered by the city for the benefit of city workers . . . is to subject the program to a thorough review.”

Another Cover-up for Daley's Hired Truck Royal Family. Water Department scams public!

Thursday April 27, 2011 was another great day for the Daley faithful at the City of Chicago, Department of Water Management. Thomas “Tom” Tadin enjoyed another party on the taxpayer’s dime. The morning party was described a “just a coffee” by the Commissioner’s office. I asked Tom LaPorte, the department’s spokesperson what happened on Thursday and he stated, “I have no idea what you are talking about”. These type answers calls for the termination of this joker. Will Rahm Emanuel keep folks like this on the payroll? Just a decade ago, the Jardine Plant was known as “Plato’s Retreat”. Wild City Workers enjoyed everything but an honest day’s work. Clouted City Workers usually turn in their I.D.s in the morning of their last day, turn around and go home. They just need to stick it to taxpayer’s one last time. Maybe Tom will tell us about Friday morning. On another note, insiders at the Water Department need to look closely at the picture in this story, do go too far when you retire, you will be back! Will Rahm Emanuel fire all these Level 51 party animals, or get seduced by the loose money and temptation? God only knows! NEXT TIME: post all notices of your parties, I will find out anyway! Photo by Patrick McDonough. ]]> Continue reading “Another Cover-up for Daley's Hired Truck Royal Family. Water Department scams public!”

The only reason Rahm Emanuel is Mayor of Chicago is the Chicago Plumber's Union.

Tom McManus and Rahm Emanuel final.jpg Look at this picture very close. Just before Rahm Emanuel was made Mayor of Chicago, he looked into the face of arguably the most handsome plumber in America. If you look closely at this picture, you can see Tom McManus, a Local 130 goon, pulled Rahm Emanuel’s hand down to humble this guy and let him know who the real boss of Chicago is. Rahm Emanuel seems a little upset that this heifer has the balls to manhandle a former Obama Chief of Staff of the firkin United States of America. Rahm might have you thinking he is the Mayor of Chicago, but he is a pawn of the most political union in the country. Many folks in Chicago know if you want to become an elected Judge, get on the ballot, and win a judgeship, you better start snooping around the Plumber’s Union. Some folks say the fix is in and having a brilliant career in law is just not enough, they are correct. If you want to become a judge in Chicago, you will need to fork over tens of thousands of dollars for the ballot access and then for the ward bosses to make sure your name is on the palm cards. Judges are commodities, sold to the highest bidder. You need not look closer than Rahm Emanuel’s fraudulent residency to know who runs Chicago, it ain’t Rahm folks, and it ain’t Rahm. The Judges are just a bunch of pawns also, just doing as ordered. Welcome to Chicago Rahm, stand in line tough guy and do what you’re told. I know who runs Chicago and so do you. Photo of Tom McManus and Rahm Emanuel.

Chicago Inspector General covered this up, more Daley Corruption

Human Resources Board Policy Keeps Convicted Employees on the Payroll
By Michael Volpe
On September 23rd, 2010 Jose Hernandez became the fifteenth city building inspector to be convicted of taking payoffs in what's been termed operation crooked code. Yet, according to Bill McCaffrey, spokesperson for the buildings department, Hernandez continues to draw a paycheck. Worst of all, McCaffrey says this occurs because Hernandez was able to manipulate a mandate put in place by the Human Resources Board. This board has had its own history of corruption, the latest involved a Reverend, Lucious Hall, who was taking money to look the other way on cases involving city workers with clout. This rule allows anyone facing formal charges to appeal any potential final termination until their sentencing. Yet, all of these folks are still fired though not terminated. What that effectively means is that they draw a paycheck without doing any work. In fact, when this was first revealed, the city actually had these guys go back to work supposedly doing menial administrative work.
Of course, Hernandez is not the only building inspector to do this. That's what's happened in the cases of Michael Reese and Mario Olivella, both convicted of bribery related charges. Reese, convicted in the fall of 2009, remained on the payroll until August 15th 2010. Meanwhile Olivella is still on the payroll. They remained on the city's payroll according to the same rules set up by the Human Resources Board. McCaffrey referred to that rule as making him "frustrated", however that was the reason given for why they remained (or remain) on the payroll so long. McCaffrey said that most city employees stay on the city's payroll until they are sentenced, not convicted, because that's when the Human Resources Board considers the legal process over. Reese was finally sentenced in August and so his termination was finalized on the 15th of August. Olivella has yet to be sentenced and so he still remains on the city's payroll.. Each made about $90,000 yearly.
Meanwhile, at least two others who were also convicted and sentenced were fired long before that ever happened. In the cases of Travis Echols and Jon Chamberlain, both were terminated around a year before they were sentenced. This dichotomy is peculiar and McCaffrey didn't immediately return an email for explanation. In the simplest of terms, this happens because of something we all cynically the Chicago Way. If we wanted to understand it more broadly, one way to do it is to examine the records of the two that got a pass. You'd expect that since they got a pass, their record prior to this should be strong. If it wasn't, you'd say the whole process is corrupt.
Both Olivella and Reese were convicted of taking bribes while working for Building Department as part of the larger Operation Crooked Code sting run by the FBI starting in 2007. This is a sting started after the FBI caught Dave Johnson, a building department employee of taking bribes. Johnson flipped, wore a wire, and testified for a significantly reduced sentence. From there, it blew into an operation that nabbed dozens of dirty officials, expediters, and users of the buildings department. Johnson is part of another of Chicago's doorways to corruption, the so called Clout List. That's a list of about five thousand names of city employees and where they got the clout to get their city job. In order to get clout for a city job, one had to perform enough political activity for a person or entity with clout. The list was developed by disgraced former Daley deputy Robert Sorich. Sorich was one of several top Daley deputies to be imprisoned in connection to the Hired Truck Scandal. Another name on this clout list is the name, Mario Olivella. According to the list, Olivella got his clout from the Local Plumber's Union. Johnson got his clout from Jesse White. Hernandez, who worked for the city since 1988, wouldn't be on this clout list, which was reserved for those that initially got jobs in the beginning of the last decade.
Meanwhile, within Operation Crooked Code, all three are linked by Catherine Romasanta. Romasanto was what those in this business called an "expeditor". It was her job to move the process of receiving the multiple licenses necessary to move real estate forward as quickly as possible. The field of expeditors displayed the kind of corruption we here in Chicago are used to. Romasanta received a reduced sentenced after she testified against Hernandez, Reese and Olivella's trials along with the trials of several other inspectors. Both Ollivella and Reese were also among more than a dozen city inspectors implicated in 2005 of accepting $100 gift cards from expiditors like Romasanto.
On January 5th, 2010, Mario Ollivella was convicted of two counts of bribery and conspiracy. It's alleged that Ollivella took bribes to look the other way on issues with a property at 1637 W. Granville In fact, former department of buildings inspector Charles Walker remembers that Olivella inspected 1637 W. Granville at least once before the time frame of the bribes he was convicted.. Meanwhile, plumbing inspector Michael McGann says that Olivella also covered up a contaminated water leak at Jose De Diego Grade School on the 1300 block of North Claremont in 2007.
"Yes, without a doubt from the beginning! Mr. Olivella went behind my back after my two page violation notice was submitted to Chief Frank Bathauer and PIC Olivella. Both Olivella and Deputy Peter Ousley went behind my back to the school to discredit my inspection report through a meeting with the principal. The principal, Alice Vera however, was not having any of their rhetoric. Ms. Vera explained to Olivella and Ousley that we (the principal, the building engineer, the Chief engineer on speakerphone, the regional manager and Inspector McGann) had consensus at our meeting days before and had agreed all the violations would be abated over the Thanksgiving holiday by a Licensed Plumbing Contractor! Both Olivella and Ousley told Ms. Vera that I was out of control and caused hysteria regarding the seriousness of the violations! Mr. Ousley went even further and played down the serious context of the violation notice in an official City of Chicago Memo letterhead! Mr. Ousley left the Department of Buildings shortly after writing this memo!"
Olivella wasn't through. Finally, a conttactor was called but Olivella signed off on an all good order days later. Here's what McGann said happened next. "The very next day (on January 11, 2008) the Department of Health shut down the school due to dangerous water quality!! This speaks volumes regarding the incompetence and arrogance of a person who was handed the position by the Plumbers Local Union 130 Business Manager James T. Sullivan. There was no regard for seniority or qualifications of all the candidates (including myself)! Mr. Olivella's oversight regarding the water quality is huge and must be highlighted as 1,100 children's welfare and well being were on the line! This school had a full kitchen for supplying lunches, drinking fountains throughout the hallways and a swimming pool with full showering capabilities!"
Incredibly, it was McGann and not Olivella that would ultimately face punishment as a result of this incident. The department of buildings gave McGann first a three and then a fifteen day citation. Meanwhile, the FBI first indicted Olivella two months following the end of McGann's second suspension.
When McGann heard that Olivella was still on the city payroll six months after being convicted of taking bribes, he was unfortunately totally unsurprised, " No, this is the City that works! The bribes, contractor kickbacks and payoffs were only the beginning. The illegal monies were used to take trips to Las Vegas to gamble, among other things! When someone is indicted they continue to receive their paychecks until they are convicted!! He was totally unsurprised to hear that Olivella took bribes to look the other way since, "that's exactly what he did when I inspected that property earlier." He was totally unsurprised to hear that Olivella took bribes to look the other way on that same address since, "that's exactly what he did when I inspected that property earlier."
In fact, he says both Olivella and Reese have the same habit, "As soon as I would write up a violation, they (Reese and Olivella) would downgrade or totally eliminate them."
Walker says he also has experience with corruption perpetrated by Michael Reese. He once inspected a building on 5835 South Indiana. On January 19th, 2005, the fire department wrote up a violation of that building saying, "squalors living in building." This triggered a building department inspection that wound up being conducted by Walker. When he came to the building he found at least ten people inside. Walker concluded after the inspection that this property should be considered a hotel or other multi unit residence. He was shocked to learn that the building was in fact zoned as a single family dwelling. He immediately submitted a report with Reese noting that among a series of violations. On September 25th, 2006 that same property filed for a permit with the city. At the time of this permit, tt was still listed as a single family dwelling and the expeditor on this permit was Catherine Romasanto.
Walker says he was fired from the Building department after he missed a crack in scaffolding on a building at 937 West Belmont. He says that it was more than a year before that crack was fixed on that same building. Walker is also not surprised that both were still on the city's payroll long after they'd been convicted of taking bribes while performing their duties. "The building department is a criminal enterprise. The higher ups are insulated."
While there appears to be no rhyme or reason why it is Hernandez, Olivella, and Reese got a break and all the others lost their income earlier, in fact, there's a twisted logic to all this. First, all three have clout. Olivella and Reese are on the clout list and the only reason Hernandez isn't is because he's been a city employee so long he would appear on a list that would have been made many years before the clout list, which was made in the early part of 2000's.
Also, all three of their cases were complicated. In the cases of several of those that were dismissed already, only the Inspector General's office of the City of Chicago was running the operation. In fact, most of those that got out early, only "dipped their hands in the cookie jar" once so to speak. The cases against Hernandez, Reese and Olivella were much more complicated, involved the FBI, and often involved informants wearing wires.
Of course, it's the second that's more difficult to prove. So, that allowed all three to stay on, especially since the FBI didn't necessarily want to share what they had on each until they had to for trial, not to get them fired. That's really beside the point. The idea that some board with a history of corruption would allow for such a rule should offend everyone reading this. We should all demand that the rule be changed immediately.

5700 Block of North Lincoln Avenue Chicago Taxpayer's money goes to more Hispanics

Lincoln and Fairfield Construction Project Mayor Daley gives more work to Hispanic workers as Chicago Union Workers sit home and starve. Most people need to look at all the construction sites on Chicago streets. Almost every worker in the North side of the city is Hispanic. Where are the women? Not good enough Mayor Daley? Where are the blacks Mayor Daley? Not good enough? Construction jobs to people just speaking Spanish is out of control in Chicago. Go to the 5700 block of Lincoln in Chicago. See if what I say is true. Look at all these stories below. I am not against Hispanic folks, I am asking about a balance for all people. This is out of control in Chicago. Mayor Daley is out of his rocker. We need the FEDS to overlook all the minority cuts and no bid contracts. Do it now in case the Chicago economy gets worse. You will really have big problems than. Photo by Patrick McDonough