If you are looking for a great workers compensation attorney, make sure you do not hire Neal Strom. I was very unhappy with Neal Strom and his Chicago law firm. Many lawyers talk a great line of shit to obtain your business and then do nothing. Stay away from this lawyer. Chicago has many great workers compensation lawyers, and you need an honest one at the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission to get your benefits. I just got emails from Avvo because someone objected to my poor rating of Neal Strom. I proved my point and Neal Strom has a lousy rating. I wish he worked that hard on my case.
On Wednesday, June 20, 2018, many of the Illinois dirty crooks gathered to slice up the Illinois Workers’ Compensation pie for their own selfish use. Back in the old days, the crooks kept to themselves, sliced up the cash, and went on their way. The new breed of thieves is much worse and they steal from people with no way to defend themselves. Lawyers were a noble profession but the worst scum practice workers compensation. No doubt, Illinois workers’ compensation lawyers include some of the sleaziest dirtbags known to man.
The lawyers that practice workers compensation in Chicago includes lawyers part of the Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Association. Some of these lawyers cut deals that are not in their client’s best interest. Some of these lawyers refuse to file paperwork to reinstate benefits, promise the moon to get the business, and then sit on the case starving their clients. As soon as some of these lawyers get the signature from the injured worker, they feel like their job is done. They wait until a client is starved and then willing to take a cheap settlement far below value. The lawyers are willing to sign off on scam lawsuit loans because they get a client off their back for a long time. Some of these loans are 36-39 percent annual percentage rate loans compounded every six months. What kind of a shit lawyer would encourage a client to take these loans? By the time the client gets a settlement, nothing is left. Some lawyers get a percentage of the proceeds of the loans, mainly in Chicago. If you attempt to obtain a new lawyer, the commission lists the prior lawyer name so they can contol the case from start to finish. It is all about the final cut.
One of the last meetings was an Appellate Court Luncheon. People could ask Justices questions about current trends in workers compensation. The lawyers at the University Club enjoyed a nice meal provided by contractors that make millions screwing injured workers and provided fraudulent medical reports that are so false as to be a joke. The lawyers on hand were asking silly questions to gain favor from the Justices. It was embarrassing.
The State of Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission staff, Arbitrators, and Commissioner enjoyed a $100.00-dollar freebee. It is a major embarrassment, these staff members are rubbing elbows, talking about cases, sharing envelopes, vacation homes with the same people that they are policing. That is like the prisoners sharing the jail with the wardens. Government employees responsible for protecting injured workers are violating the open meetings act. These Government employees should not be in a meeting that cannot be enjoyed by the public.
Governor Rauner has made a joke of the workers’ compensation commission. One IWCC workers joked, “the niggers ruined a good thing”. “remove their people cases and the system will work again”. Almost every case heard by the Chicago Illinois Workers Compensation Commission is fixed. Some lawyers are not held accountable for being unprepared. Many lawyers collude with other lawyers to fix cases and make fees at the end of the case. Some lawyers go to court ill prepared with no medical records. Now, the IWCC is so screwed up, injured workers have no idea when their cases will be heard. The online notification system is so lacking lawyers lie to their clients on when hearings occur. This is not a mistake, the Arbitrators do not want injured workers around, so they will see how messy the IWCC is run.
The fix is in and the injured workers suffer. You can run, but you cannot hide.
If you thought for a moment that the City Council’s most powerful aldermen would ride off into the sunset after 50 years in politics to avoid a difficult election he could lose, think again.
Ald. Edward M. Burke (14th), chairman of the City Council’s Finance Committee, is running for re-election.
“Why would you wonder?” Burke asked reporters Monday.
Burke has a political bulls-eye on his back after his brother, state Rep. Dan Burke (D-Chicago), was defeated by 26-year political newcomer Aaron Ortiz in a race dominated by Edward Burke’s property tax reduction work for the riverfront hotel and condominium that bears the name of President Donald Trump.
But Ald. Burke said Monday he does not believe his brother’s March 20 defeat is a prelude to his own political demise.
“He carried the 14th Ward. Not by enough to overcome the other areas. But fortunately, the people in the 14th Ward did vote for him,” the alderman said.
Ortiz was part of a coordinated campaign led by Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, the Cook County commissioner who easily won the Democratic primary in the 4th Congressional District after being anointed by retiring U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez.
Even more humiliating was the fact that Edward Burke managed to carry his own 14th Ward for his younger brother by just 62 votes. That’s the same 14th Ward where Garcia captured 64 percent of the vote in a 2015 mayoral run-off against incumbent Rahm Emanuel.
On the day after that upset, Clem Balanoff, head of Our Revolution Illinois, a grass-roots political organization that grew out of Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign, made a bold prediction:
“We are coming after Ed Burke,” said Balanoff, who managed the Ortiz campaign.
“Whether he sees it or not, the handwriting is on the wall. Ed Burke will not be aldermen come May of 2019. … We have a young, energetic movement going on the Southwest Side of Chicago. There’s no room for smoke-filled, backroom politicians like Ed Burke, who are only serving themselves and not the public.”
Balanoff and Garcia could not be reached for comment on Burke’s decision to run for re-election.
On the day after the election, Garcia was asked whether he intended to field an aldermanic challenger against Burke.
He would say only: “The Burke dynasty is sunsetting. It’s sunsetting against the emergence of a Latino community that wants to make its voice heard and its vote felt. … This is only logical. The community is seeking to ensure that its vote begins to approximate the population that lives in those communities.”
Burke has run unopposed in 10 of the last 11 elections. He sits on a massive campaign war chest and has never won less than 70 percent of the vote.
But even his political allies have acknowledged that Dan Burke’s March 20 defeat was a gut-punch that should prompt Edward Burke to at least entertain the thought of political retirement and working with Garcia to find a suitable Hispanic replacement.
That would require burying a 19-year-old hatchet. Burke was instrumental in the Illinois Senate race that saw Antonio Munoz defeat Garcia.
“He has an opportunity to put in a progressive Latino and ensure that whatever legacy he has in the 14th Ward will continue. If he doesn’t, he can stay and possibly lose — particularly if Chuy backs someone against him,” a Burke ally told the Sun-Times.
“Ed has to make a decision as to whether he wants to dictate the circumstances of his departure. If he doesn’t give a shit about that, then hubris sometimes will make you stay a little too long.”
For Burke, it would be difficult to voluntarily relinquish the trappings of power he covets so much.
As Finance Committee chairman, he wields enormous influence over legislation, even when he abstains from votes because of the conflicts posed by having dozens of law clients doing business with the city.
His fundraisers are packed. He is squired around the city by bodyguards, though Mayor Rahm Emanuel cut his security team in half.
But during the heat of his brother’s failed fight for political survival, sources said Burke told more than one political associate: “This isn’t fun anymore.”
On Monday, Burke made it clear that the remark was not a prelude to political retirement.
That’s no surprise to retiring Ald. Mike Zalewski (23rd).
“I don’t believe for a second that Ald. Burke is interested in leaving,” Zalewski said last week.
Pointing to the avalanche of tax increases that aldermen have approved to solve Chicago’s $36 billion pension crisis, Zalewski said, “Everyone is gonna have to campaign a little harder next time. Ald. Burke is well aware of that. And I think he’s ready for it.”
Please enjoy this video as Robert Starbuck, a victim of Illinois workers compensation fraud and criminal activity, blows whistle on Alderman Burke, Anne M. Burke, Committee on Finance, Monica Somerville, Vocamotive, Joe Belmonte, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
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.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced a major shake-up in some key departments late Friday. The city’s water commissioner resigned, and on Monday more details emerged about alleged gun dealing, racist and sexist behavior by a politically connected subordinate.
Also, the city’s budget director has decided to leave, which has some aldermen concerned about how the city will solve the CPS funding crisis.
The resignations and firings came as a surprise late Friday, specifically the resignation of the city’s Water Commissioner Barrett Murphy and two high-ranking subordinates, William Bresnahan and Paul Hansen.
More information has been revealed to Chicago Tonight about a troubling culture at the city’s Department of Water Management. Sources say Hansen, son of former 44th Ward Ald. Bernie Hansen, was allegedly using city email to sell some of his guns and hunting equipment to Water Department employees.
Sources in the Water Department have called Hansen a clouted hire who rose to the ranks of district superintendent without having a plumber’s license. He, Bresnahan and Murphy are also said to have been involved in circulating racist and sexist emails around the department, described to Chicago Tonight as having hate-filled and demeaning language.
There is an investigation into these allegations by the inspector general; on Monday, Emanuel said he and the water commissioner had agreed to part ways.
“We were made aware from an IG report on one particular employee, but in that process it exposed a culture in the Water Department that in my view does not represent what the city’s values are,” Emanuel said. “Barrett agreed there should be a reset button hit as it relates to the culture.”
The mayor appointed Randy Conner, who comes from Streets and Sanitation, as the new Water Department commissioner.
The City Council Black Caucus on Monday said they were deeply disturbed by the alleged culture at the department.
“The pervasive culture of racism at the Water Department has been an open secret for years,” said Black Caucus Chairman Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th Ward). “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.”
And another alderman says it raises concerns about protecting clouted workers at all costs.
“Every citizen should be appalled by it, especially that they were allowed to keep working there,” said Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd Ward). “We need to make sure that the human resources department is actually doing their job and rooting this activity out and firing people.”
BUDGET DIRECTOR RESIGNS
Friday’s resignation of Budget Director Alex Holt is also causing consternation. We spoke with a few aldermen concerned about the timing, especially as the mayor’s office considers a possible emergency bridge loan from the city to keep Chicago Public Schools open.
Holt had been on the job since Emanuel first took office in 2011 and had waded through several budget crises and helped come up with reforms to stave off the city’s municipal pension bomb, although many of those reforms still have yet to be approved by Springfield. Holt is replaced by the director of business and consumer affairs, Samantha Fields.
Waguespack wondered whether she was up to such a gargantuan job.
“My biggest concern is that we’re going into this issue of CPS funding and we don’t have someone at the helm that understands government finances, these are going to be very tough decisions coming up and we need very good information moving forward,” Waguespack said.
The mayor on Friday also announced the reappointment of Inspector General Joe Ferguson to another four-year term – which means the new Police Inspector General Laura Kunard will now start her job in the coming weeks.
She had been holding out until she knew that Ferguson, the guy that picked her, had job security of his own.
Follow Paris Schutz on Twitter: @paschutz
I am a City of Chicago Employee at the Department of Water Management and a Certified State Plumbing Inspector. You can also call 411 and you should request a test. I know for a fact; the City of Chicago has hired and promoted people unlicensed to work on potable drinking water in Chicago. The taxpayers are on the hook.
I also know for a fact, the City of Chicago Department of Water Management has done everything they can to avoid fulfilling FOIA requests so needed additional research to protect the public drinking water, could be shut down. I also know for a fact the City of Chicago, to hide all the private contractors, scam deals, and millions in fraudulent work, have fought FOIA requests citing “safety of the drinking water supply”.
I also know when the Chicago Department of Water Management refused to open to this fair inquiry, set themselves up for a massive lawsuit. They are stuck taking responsibility for possible billions of dollars in lawsuits.
Rahm Emanuel just raised the price of this water and it will not be enough.
I also know Rahm Emanuel scammed the City of Chicago from thousand in fees when he remodeled his house. Also, Rahm Emanuel had a new Water Main right after he was put into office, and again was exposed for his fraud. The taxpayers also picked up his tab for a tap for his lot next door. Yes, I hope to see all the pictures in court.
Today on January 9, 2017, Powerhouse attorneys for the law firm Hagens, Berman, Sobol, Shapiro LLP including top gun Attorneys Mark T. Vazquez and Elizabeth A. Fegan, also Steve W. Berman, Attorney of Seattle, Top Gun Philip H. Corboy, Jr. of Corboy & Demetrio; and David Freydin, Attorney and Timothy A. Scott, Attorney of Freydin Law Firm LLP. Look folks, if you have this army after you, you should try to minimize the damage. I heard Rahm is going to have some politically powerful law firms at massive amount of money try to reduce the losing battle.
This is the same Department of Water Management that fired a City of Chicago Plumbing inspector that exposed Fecal (SHIT) matter in the drinking water served to children.
Maybe when Tom Powers, P.E. was removed (as Commissioner) from protecting the Chicago Drinking Water, Rahm thought he could play stupid in court and everyone would forget about Thomas Powers, P.E.. Please see attached Complaint demanding a Jury Trial in front of the Honorable Rodolfo Garcia NO. 2016-CH-02292. Gordon Berry and Ilya Peysin vs. City of Chicago. It makes powerful reading. I also want Chicago City Workers like Caulkers (lead) and Plumbers to get lead tested at work. It is a simple blood test. I will make sure you get a great lawyer. Do not file a workers’ compensation case for lead poising.
Please feel free to contact me and I will help anyone who needs it. This cover-up must end.