A final salute to Michael Dwyer General Superintendent DOWM North District

If you read the below column by Fran Spielman, you have a great interpretation of the Department of Water Management. The City of Chicago Department of Water Management is the worst run water department in the United States. In the article, Fran Spielman laid out the termination (firing) (AKA retirement) of Michael Dwyer. Michael was in my opinion, one of the best foreman in the Department. The Department of Water Management rarely promotes people that are capable of leadership. When Michael was foreman, he was very competent although sometimes too demanding. Michael was very loyal to the Chicago Water Department and seemed thankful for his job. Not long ago, Michael was a shooting star and went from Assistant District Superintendent to Superintendent, to General Superintendent. (a non-union position)

When Michael was my boss, he was very direct but knew how to be thankful for a job well done. Michael also expected a certain amount of work. A good boss has a reasonable amount of expectations from people under his authority. When Michael was an Assistant Superintendent, his manners were outstanding. He made requests from the Investigator Crews and always prioritized by need, not by political connections. I never saw him request an emergency investigation because of an Alderman, or Commissioner special demand. So, in my regard, I rate him extremely high in the type of person that should lead.

I was not around when Michael Dwyer became Superintendent. I heard from many workers he was too demanding and making changes the political folks did not want. “He is stepping on the wrong toes”. I just want everyone to know, they fired Michael Dwyer. Plain and simple. I remember Michael was severely injured when he fell into a ditch years ago. There is a certain group that really run the Department of Water Management, I am going to do a story on these slobs. Just absolute scum. My friends at the Jardine Plant told me, Michael Dwyer was given an ultimatum of firing or retiring in just a few minutes. Time for Chicago Clout to work these scumbags out of a job a.s.a.p. Count on it. Randy Conner appointed Michael Dwyer, so this is on him.

Housecleaning at Water Department spurs request for police protection

Two African-American former employees of the city’s Water Department are so afraid of what could happen if they testify against a co-worker, they are seeking police protection.

David Reed and Christopher Harris said they complained about the racist and violent culture at the Water Department for more than a decade, but their complaints fell on deaf ears.

“We tried to get relief. We contacted management, talked to the city’s Inspector General’s office, and the EEOC, and nothing happened,” Harris told me.

“Now the same individual that they allowed to intimidate us and harass us, they have subpoenaed us to testify against,” Reed said.

Anthony Nguyen was fired in May. The men are being asked to appear on Friday and again on Aug. 10 before an arbitrator in a hearing in which Nguyen is trying to get his job back.

The forensic scientists claimed they were harassed, threatened and intimidated by Nguyen and others and described a work environment where they were taunted with insults and racist cartoons even after they left the department.

A spokesman for Inspector General Joe Ferguson would not comment on this case.
Reed and Harris are now reluctant to testify, citing safety and health concerns.

“They apparently told him that we are responsible for him losing his job. We are afraid of this guy,” Reed said.

“We have expressed that concern to the corporation counsel. They say there is nothing they can do. The police can give us special attention for two weeks and that’s it. After that, we are on our own. The way the city operates, they get us to testify, and after two weeks and something happens, they’ll say: ‘Go away,'” Harris told me.

The men claim that even after they left the water department — Reed retired and Harris is on leave of absence — Nguyen sent them racist texts and emails and made threatening phone calls in the middle of the night.

Harris said he has an order of protection against Nguyen that is still in effect.

I was unable to reach Nguyen on Wednesday.

But a spokesman for the city’s law department said Nguyen’s firing is not related to the department’s shake-up over racist emails.

“The City of Chicago does not tolerate harassment of any kind. Department of Water Management officials enacted progressive disciplinary actions against Anthony Nguyen, which eventually resulted in his termination. He is appealing his firing, and we will strongly defend his separation from the City of Chicago,” said Bill McCaffrey, a spokesman for the city’s Law Department.

The “racist email scandal” has resulted in the firings of several high-level managers, including the former Department of Water Management Commissioner, Barrett Murphy, who has close ties to the mayor.

The Inspector General’s office stumbled on the offensive emails while investigating allegations that the son of a former alderman had used his email account to sell guns.

Last week, the department’s African-American employees filed a class-action lawsuit accusing the city of “unlawful policies, patterns and employment practices to create and proliferate a hostile and abusive work environment based on race that includes violence, intimidation, and retaliation . . .”

The behavior Reed and Harris said they endured while working for the water department appears to fit that pattern.

Harris said he got a call from the Inspector General’s office encouraging him to testify at the arbitration hearing.

“They basically said if we didn’t testify, Anthony Nguyen could get his job back and he should never have been hired and should never be reinstated,” Harris said.

Reed argues that the racist behavior is nothing new.

“We’ve been saying this ever since 2005. [Nguyen] was able to do all this without being reprimanded. I don’t trust any of them. They are offering us nothing. We can’t get our jobs back, any health benefits or protection. The city really doesn’t care,” he said.

It is unfortunate that these men had to wait so long for entrenched racism in the city’s water department to be addressed.

Hopefully, the city can give these men the assurances they need so no other employee has to go through what they did.

Laura Washington Two jobs. And more B.S. from the Sun-Times.

That’s all it took to spur six black aldermen to convene a news conference last week, in praise of Mayor Rahm Emanuel.


On Wednesday, the members of the Chicago City Council stepped up to the microphones to “thank” Emanuel for appointing African Americans to lead two major city agencies.

The aldermen — Michelle Harris (8th), Derrick Curtis (18th), Michael Scott (24th), Walter Burnett (27th), Carrie Austin (34th) — “are among Emanuel’s staunchest City Council supporters,” the Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman reported.

They praised the mayor for moving quickly to replace Water Department Commissioner Barrett Murphy, who resigned in the wake of allegations of racist, sexist and homophobic emails that circulated in the department.

Emanuel replaced Murphy with Randy Conner, an African-American, and appointed Samantha Fields to replace departing budget director Alexandra Holt.

“We’re here to say `thank you’ — to say that it’s a job well done, but it is not a job finished,” Scott was quoted as saying. “We want to continue moving African-Americans up the ranks through this city.”
Not just two jobs. Two big-shot jobs. These appointees are highly-paid, highly-employable bureaucrats in service of the mayor.

Speaking of jobs, Illinois now enjoys the dubious distinction of having the highest black unemployment rate in the nation, according to a new report from the Illinois Policy Institute.

In 2016, African Americans suffered a 12.7 percent jobless rate, compared with Latinos at 6.7 percent and 5 percent for white residents.

Only 51 percent of black adults in Illinois had some type of employment, shows the Institute’s analysis of data from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Most probably live in black Chicago, in the same West Side and South Side neighborhoods those aldermen serve.

I wonder if the aldermen asked their constituents how they felt about that study? And what do they think about the tsunami of troubles for black Chicago? African Americans are on the receiving end of seemingly chronic police misconduct and abuse cases, vividly personified by the heinous police shooting of Laquan McDonald.

Black Chicago suffers most from violent, murderous street crime, expressway shootings and carjackings. Our children are hostage to a public school system that is flirting with bankruptcy.

Yet, apparently, black Chicago has come such a long way that some aldermen are already endorsing Emanuel for reelection.

The man hasn’t even said he will seek a third term.

At the press conference, Austin said Emanuel should get credit where credit is due. “When he does something negative, nobody is short on printing that. But when he does something positive, everything is silent,” she was quoted as saying. “So we felt that we should be the ones to speak out when he has done something forward-thinking.”

Can’t we do better than two big-shot jobs?

How about enacting more effective policies and legislation that will address the vast needs of their neighborhoods? Now?

Instead of issuing meaningless endorsements, how about getting in the mayor’s face? How about pounding the podium, every day, in outrage at the poverty, violence and hopelessness so many of their constituents live with, every day? And demanding resources from Springfield and Washington?

How about remembering who you work for?

Racist Water Department emails found during probe of alleged gun sales CHICAGO 05/15/2017, 07:03pm

Fran Spielman
Inspector General Joe Ferguson uncovered racist and sexist emails circulating in the Department of Water Management while investigating allegations that the son of a former alderman had used his city email account to sell guns, City Hall sources said Monday.

Paul Hansen, a now-fired, $122,280-a-year district superintendent in the Department of Water Management, is the son of former longtime Ald. Bernard Hansen (44th). The elder Hansen presided over Wrigleyville during the Cubs’ marathon battle for lights at Wrigley Field.

On Monday, Paul Hansen refused to comment about the gun or email investigation before hanging up on a Chicago Sun-Times reporter.

His checkered past with the Department of Water Management includes allegations that his political clout helped him get his job back after a DUI conviction.

Sources said it was during the course of an eight-month-long investigation into allegations that Hansen was using city emails to sell guns that Ferguson stumbled upon the hate-filled emails that triggered Friday’s housecleaning in the department at the center of the Hired Truck and city hiring scandals.

Barrett Murphy, head of the Chicago Department of Water Management, was fired last week. | Sun-Times file photo

Mayor Rahm Emanuel fired Water Management Commissioner Barrett Murphy, whose wife is a close friend of the mayor’s wife, Amy Rule, and accepted the resignations of Hansen and the department’s $148,380-a-year managing deputy William Bresnahan.

Sources said Murphy was held responsible for the chain of racist and sexist emails sent by an underling whom the commissioner failed to discipline, even though Murphy was among those receiving the emails.
He could not be reached for comment. The inspector general’s office refused to comment.

Emanuel was tight-lipped when asked Monday to define the role he accused Murphy of playing in the email scandal. But he referred obliquely to the broader investigation of alleged gun sales.

“We were made aware from an IG report on one particular employee. But in that process, it exposed a culture in the Water Department and in the workplace that, in my view, does not represent what the city’s values are,” the mayor said.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel also accepted the resignation of William Bresnahan (shown in 2004). | File photo

“Barrett agreed that there should be a re-set button hit as it related to the culture, which is why I’m pleased that Randy [Conner] is assuming that leadership and the IG work continues at this time.”

Sources said the racist and sexist emails mark an ugly new chapter in a politically incorrect department that has more than its share of them.

They include racist references to now-former President Barack Obama; perverse comments about women and gay people, and someone distributing an image of an African-American deputy commissioner in charge of water distribution that depicted him with a gorilla face.

Murphy’s firing was a stunner because of his close ties to the mayor.

Former Mayor Richard M. Daley hired Murphy in 1999 as Chicago prepared for the potential Y2K terrorism threat that never materialized. Murphy’s wife, Lynn Lockwood, is an Emanuel friend who once chaired a political fundraising committee for the mayor.

Lockwood had a one-year, $160,000 consulting contract with the tourism agency known as Choose Chicago. She was an aide to former first lady Maggie Daley and worked for the city cultural affairs department. Emanuel appointed her to the Chicago Public Library board in March 2012.

On Friday night, hours after being summarily dismissed, Murphy and Lockwood received an award from the Crossroads Foundation of the Francis Xavier Ward School for their work in promoting a Catholic education and in helping to raise money that was used, in part, to provide scholarships for disadvantaged children, many of them minorities. The prestigious Catholic school was started by Maggie Daley.

Sources said Lockwood delivered an acceptance speech through tears. She told associates that her close friend, Emanuel’s wife Amy Rule, was texting her throughout the bittersweet and humiliating Friday night ceremony at a downtown hotel.

The award and the contribution it symbolized for the high-profile couple underscored the surprising nature of the allegations against Murphy.

“These emails are not consistent with who they are. They’re socially conscious people,” said a source who has known Murphy and Lockwood for years.

Yet another source who knows Murphy well was less tolerant, even though the now-former commissioner has not been accused of writing any of the hateful emails — only receiving them.

“If he was trying to fit in with the culture [at the Department of Water Management], shame on him,” the source said.

Ald. Edward Burke (14th), chairman of the City Council’s Finance Committee, said the image of a commissioner who looked the other way when racist and sexist emails were being circulated by underlings does not jibe with the Barrett Murphy he knows.

“My experience with Barrett Murphy has always been terrific. I thought he was a great city official who had a great record of accomplishment in whatever role he filled in the city government. And I wish him well in his future,” Burke said.

Burke was asked whether the new scandal would revive calls to privatize the Department of Water Management that Emanuel put to rest shortly after taking office by doubling water and sewer rates to rebuild the aging system.

“That’s an enterprise fund. It’s heavily dependent on bond proceeds. There’s probably so many restrictions in the bond documents that gets them their funding that to undertake something like that would be a major change in the form of government which might even require a referendum,” the alderman said.

The Department of Water Management has long been notorious around City Hall for its history of corruption and an ugly, hate-filled culture.

In 2005, a housecleaning in the department at the center of the Hired Truck scandal swept out then-Water Management Commissioner Rick Rice and nine politically connected underlings accused of participating in a payroll scam.

The brother-in-law of Cook County Commissioner John Daley and the relative of a key Hired Truck figure were among those purged for allegedly falsifying attendance records over a two-month period — maybe longer — by swiping each other in and out.

First Deputy Water Commissioner Donald Tomczak was convicted of doling out jobs, promotions and overtime to an army of political workers who worked for Daley-backed candidates, including Emanuel. Support from Tomczak’s illegal army helped elect Emanuel to Congress in 2002.

In 2010, Hansen was allowed to return to his then-$97,760-a-year assistant district superintendent’s job after an unpaid leave triggered by a DUI arrest that stripped him of his driver’s license.

A valid driver’s license was essential to his job, which called for supervising water and sewer projects, deploying personnel and equipment and inspecting job sites.

According to the police report, Hansen was driving west on Route 20 in Galena when he was pulled over for speeding. When the officer got behind him, Hansen allegedly kept going and increased his speed to more than 75 mph in a 55 mph zone. He also was observed repeatedly crossing the center line, police said.

After pulling Hansen over, the officer reported, he smelled alcohol on Hansen’s breath and that he had glassy eyes, slurred speech and a “slight stagger” or “sway.”

Asked if he’d been drinking, Hansen acknowledged having “about four or five beers at a bar,” police said. He twice refused a field sobriety test and was placed under arrest. At that point, he asked if “something could be worked out” stating that he knew Terry Kurt, the state’s attorney for Jo Daviess County, the police report states.

At the sheriff’s office, he refused a Breathalyzer test. That refusal carries an automatic 12-month suspension of driving privileges for first-time offenders.

Hansen was charged with speeding and driving under the influence, but pleaded guilty June 9 to a lesser charge of reckless driving. He was fined $1,500 and sentenced to a one-year probation.

Hansen’s unpaid leave had begun after the Chicago Sun-Times raised questions about his arrest and looked into reports from co-workers that the former alderman’s son was having foremen and laborers chauffeur him around and take him to and from work. At that time, Ferguson was trying to determine how Hansen did his job without a license, sources said.

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.”

Rahm Emanuel takes the keys to Daley's Hired Truck Program

Hired Trucks Chicago Lamon and Warwick 1.jpg Rich Daley left the Office of Mayor in Chicago like a sick dog. Chicago is a town falling apart at its seams. I guess twenty years of theft; scumbag inside deals will destroy anything. Rahm the reformer took the keys to Mayor Daley’s Hired Truck Program and got her up and running. Rahm will need millions for Barack Obama’s re-election and no better place to get it than the Hired Trucks. Two City of Chicago Department of Water Management trucks idled at the corner of Warwick and Lamon while two Hired Trucks took loads from Union Local 150 Hoisting Engineers on September 19, 2011. For years, Hoisting Engineers put spoil on Hired Trucks while their Union Local 700 Teamsters starved at home. So if you are a Union Local 700 teamster sitting at home, make a stop to the goons’ headquarters in Park Ridge. Ask these goons to attempt to get up and go over to Chicago Construction Sewer sites and get your job back. It is a shame the misuse of minority programs and minority companies. I wish these trucks would haul all the crap out of City Hall starting with Rahm “Ditto” Emanuel. Photo by Patrick McDonough.

The Chicago Sun-Times crosses the ethics line in Chicago Politics

The Chicago Sun-Times has been in a Rahm Emanuel stupor for far too long. The Chicago Sun-Times has been outrageous in its blatant support of Rahm Emanuel for mayor of Chicago. I have watched the newspaper threaten appellate court judges and press the Rahm agenda. They forget they have a duty to inform the public. The public was never informed of the real technicalities in the Rahm Residency case, selling the ignorant on making the case "let the public decide". The newspapers have not given a fair chance to the public sponsoring the debates we all need. The Sun-Times endorsed a candidate in the 48Th Ward without giving a single compelling reason. Today, I got a phone call from a Sun-Times writer, Stefano Esposito. He asked me, 'What about my lack of vision for the 48Th Ward"? He asked that before asking my vision for the 48Th Ward. The Sun-Times and I go back for over a decade, I assisted in many stories. I kept away from the Sun-Times because of possible ethic violations. I am a member of a professional journalistic society. The Sun-Times has blown any credibility in Aldermanic races and the 48Th Ward with splendor. Their choice in the 36Th Ward is a farce. I think the Sun-Times is trying to sell the snow job on the 48Th. The Sun-Times should demand debates in all wards.

Michael Volpe writes on Hired Truck Scandal and my first night out in years

Michael Volpe got many of the facts correct on Hired Truck Scandal. I hope that he digs into this story deeper. If you want to learn more insider facts make sure you read this article. His blog is called Thee Provocateur. I met Michael last night, my first night out in years. ckick here: http://theeprovocateur.blogspot.com/2009/08/deconstructing-hired-truck-scandal.html On another note, was happy to see Mick Dumke fighting with Alderman Stone. Stone will need to start a fight with a new Inspector General. Last night, I also met Brad Flora of the The Windy Citizen, he is a nice person (a cool dude), go to his website here: http://www.windycitizen.com/ they took pictures of the night click here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ennuiislife/sets/72157622040935747/ I also met a editor of a great website, Anna Tarkov, go to Daily Daley, click here: http://www.windycitizen.com/blogs/dailydaley I want to do a TV show with Anna, she has great humor. More on this later. Patrick McDonough.