Chicago Alderman Edward Burke’s Pork Barrel Staff of 68 Employees

Ald. Burke’s COF Staff Dwarfs the COF Staffs from Other Cities

Rahm Emanuel increased taxes in six of the seven years that he has been mayor. When it comes to saving taxpayers’ money, Emanuel has yet to find the courage to cut the budget for Ald. Edward Burke’s Committee on Finance (COF). Burke has an astounding 50 or more employees on his COF staff than that of COF chairs from other major cities (see table below).

COF Staff Comparisons

Alderman or Council Member City COF Employees Population 2018 Budget
Edward Burke Chicago 65
2.7 Million

$8.6 Billion
Paul Krekorian Los Angeles 14 3.7 Million $9.2 Billion
Julissa Ferreras New York 5
8.5 Million

$168 Billion
Jack Christie Houston 3 2.3 Million $5.2 Billion
The comparison of the number of Burke’s COF employees to COF chairpeople of other cities should disgust every Chicago taxpayer. Receiving votes and winning elections for himself, his state representative brother Daniel Burke, and his wife State Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke are the primary motives for Burke hiring so many people for his City Council committee.

Burke hires employees who are willing to circulate petitions, solicit political donations, and campaign for him, his family members, and his favored candidates. If his employees don’t bring in enough campaign contributions or votes, Burke may immediately terminate his city employees because they are political appointees whom he may fire without cause. Between Oct. 2017 and Feb. 2018 five employees stopped working for the COF. During the same four month period, Burke hired eight new COF employees. This period was also the start of the 2018-19 election cycle.

Burke also hires relatives of influential politicians and union leaders to secure their political support. For example, Burke hired Molly Gabinski, a relative of former alderman and current plumber’s union official Terry Gabinski. During election seasons, plumbers affiliated with Gabinski’s union will campaign for Burke, Burke’s wife and brother or some other candidate Burke is supporting.

Similar to COF Chairman Burke, Commissioner John P. Daley chairs Cook County’s Finance Committee. Daley has only two people working on his COF staff.1 The Cook County budget is $5.2 billion in 2018. Chicago and Cook County governments are in the same building. Since Burke and Daley are both COF chairmen in the same building with similar size budgets, why does COF Chairman Burke have a staff of 65 COF employees and COF Chairman Daley have only two employees?

By virtue of being an alderman, Burke is entitled to three more aldermanic employees. As with the 49 other aldermen, Burke may hire two staff assistants to the alderman and one assistant to the alderman. These three jobs push the total number of Burke’s patronage employees to 68.

Too Many Cooks Spoil the Broth
Currently there is one executive branch department and three City Council committees whose primary focus is Chicago’s budget and finances. It is Mayor Emanuel’s responsibility to draft and submit Chicago’s annual budget to the City Council. Each year the mayor relies on the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to help him formulate his budget. Chicago’s 2018 budget lists 33 OMB employees compared to Burke’s COF staff of 65 employees. Why does Burke have 32 more employees than the OMB when the mayor and OMB write virtually all of the city’s budget?

The Chicago City Council also has a Committee on Budget and Government Operations. According to its website, “The Committee on the Budget and Government Operations shall have jurisdiction over the expenditure of all funds appropriated and expended by the City of Chicago.” The number of employees in this committee weren’t included in the 2018 budget; nonetheless, the budget list the salaries of the committee’s employees as $500,000 a year.

In 2013 aldermen created the Council office of Financial Analysis. According to the original ordinance, some of the Council Office of Financial Analysis duties include a financial analysis of the Mayor’s proposed annual budget, annual budget options, and other analyses upon the request of the Chairman of the Committee on the Budget and Government Operations. The Financial Analysis committee employs four workers at a cost of $300,000 per year.

The table below tabulates the three City Council committees whose focus is the city’s annual budget and finances. In all, the Chicago City Council spends $4.0 million a year to have more than 70 employees work on the city’s finances and budget.2 The plus sign is next to 70 employees because the total number of City Council employees will go up when we learn the actual number of Budget and Government Operations employees.

Total Cost of Three Chicago City Council Budget and Finance Committees

Committee Employees Salaries
Finance 653 $3.2 Million
Gov’t and
Budget Operations

Unknown $0.5 Million
Financial Analysis 4 $0.3 Million
70+ $4.0 Million
Chicago’s Waste of Taxpayers’ Money
The Chicago City Council’s waste of taxpayers’ money is quite obvious when you compare Chicago City Council budget and finance committees to that of other cities (see table below). To manage New York City finances, the New York City Council has one Committee on Finance, which has sub-committee for the city’s budget. The Los Angeles City Council has one Budget and Finance Committee. The Houston City Council has one Budget and Finance Committee. Chicago is the only major city to have a City Council with three budget and finance committees while the other major cities only have one budget and finance committee.

City Council Budget and Finance Committee Comparisons

City
Budget and

Finance Committees

Employees Salaries
Chicago 3 70+ $4,000,000
Los Angeles 1 144 $1,167,4354
New York 1 55 $313.3295
Houston 1 36 $217,5566
The City Council committees on Finance, Budget and Government Operations, and Financial Analysis all oversee the city’s budget. Chicago politicians hiring multiple people to do one person’s job is the Chicago way. Aldermen wasting money on unnecessary committees and staff is true to Chicago’s political motto: “More Patronage, More Votes.” The City Council’s pork barrel expenditures for employees to analyze and slightly modify the city’s budget reminds me of the days when garbage truck crews picked up trash while using four employees. Why should Chicago politicians hire one patronage worker when they can hire three or four at taxpayers’ expense?

“As Chairman of the City Council’s powerful Committee on Finance, Alderman Burke holds the city’s purse strings and is responsible for all legislative matters pertaining to the city’s finances.” If Alderman Burke truly held the purse strings as he claims on his COF website, then the committees on Budget and Government Operations, and Financial Analysis don’t need to exist.

Given Chicago’s hard financial times, you would expect City Council members to show austerity or lead by example. The cost for three budget and finance committees show that the Chicago City Council has a majority of greedy aldermen who waste money on excessive patronage jobs for their own personal and political gain. Members of the City Council lavishly spending taxpayers’ money on their committees is the reason why Burke put together a coalition of 25 aldermen to block the inspector general’s office from investigating his committee and those of his co-conspirators.

Notes:

To view Cook County FOIA for Commissioner and COF Chairman John Daley’s staff of two, click John Daley Staff.
To view the three Chicago City Council committees on budget and finance as they appear in the budget, click here and scroll to pages 41 through page 50.
To view the list of 65 Chicago COF employees and their salaries in response to FOIA request, click COF Staff February_2018.
To view a list of Los Angeles City Council Budget and Finance Committee employees and their salaries, click COF LA.
To view a list of New York City Council Budget and Finance Committee employees and their salaries, click NY COF Staff. Please note New York City Council COF Chair Julissa Ferreras left the New York City Council on Dec., 31, 2017. I submitted a new FOIA for a list of current New York COF employees and their salaries, including employees and salaries of those work in the Budget subcommittee. I will update this article when I receive my New York City Council FOIA, on or about April 10.
To view a list of Houston City Council Budget and Finance Committee employees and their salaries, click Houston COF Employees.

Racist emails scandal moves beyond Chicago as Illinois opens investigation into state employee’s role

State officials are investigating a longtime employee whose personal email address is a source of racist, sexist and anti-gay emails at the center of the Chicago water department’s burgeoning scandal, including a fake “Chicago Safari” tour making light of the shootings of children in black and Hispanic neighborhoods

The state began a review into Frank Capuzi — an investigator with the Workers’ Compensation Commission and son of a former Republican state lawmaker — following Tribune inquiries into offensive emails forwarded from his address to a water department boss and others.

The state’s actions mark the first time the email scandal has created fresh headaches for another government body.

“The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission is currently investigating the highly offensive and inexcusable email messages from one of its employees,” said commission spokesman Ben Noble. “After a complete and thorough administrative review, the commission will determine what actions may be appropriate.”

Capuzi hung up on a reporter and did not respond to follow-up emails sent to his work and personal addresses. He has worked for the state since 1975 and makes more than $114,000 per year.

Capuzi, 62, 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.

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 address.

The city redacted the address in the messages released via open records requests. The Tribune through interviews and sources, confirmed it was Capuzi’s personal AOL address. It is the same email address Capuzi listed in the past as a contact for his political work.

Even though Capuzi didn’t use his government email address, Chad Fornoff, executive director of the state Executive Ethics Commission, said that this type of matter should be referred to the executive inspector general for investigation into whether any violations of state law, rules or policies have occurred, including conduct unbecoming a state employee.

Gov. Bruce Rauner’s 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.

The Rauner administration confirmed that the Workers’ Compensation Commission had launched an investigation. The commission is a quasi-independent body with members appointed by the governor and currently has six Republicans and four Democrats. “The administration was not previously aware of these emails, and the language used is inappropriate and unacceptable,” said Rauner’s spokeswoman Laurel Patrick.

The revelation of how the offensive messages found their way into the water department comes amid the city inspector general’s ongoing investigation into the sharing of racist, sexist and anti-gay emails among city water workers and their bosses.

Inspector General Joseph Ferguson’s findings have led to five high-level 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 Ald. Bernie Hansen (44th). The Tribune reported earlier this week that a private contract employee was caught up in the scandal and has been blocked from working on city projects.

The Tribune, under a public records request, had obtained nearly 1,300 emails from the water department, including several emails forwarded from Capuzi to Hansen.

The Tribune found that at least four offensive emails shared with Hansen and others came from Capuzi’s address. The email threads include the names as “Frank Capuzi,” “Frank” and “F. Capuzi.”

A July 2013 email with the subject line “Chicago Safari Tickets” 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 shows four white people in safari gear taking pictures of several black people trying to break into a car.

The emails states that safari guests will stay in a hotel with triple deadbolt locks and window bars, but the safari guides cannot “guarantee Bell Hops won’t run off with your luggage.” The safari promises the rooms will be “99% free of drug needles and crack pipes.”

The Tribune on Friday obtained the Chicago safari email, uncovered as part of the inspector general’s investigation, through a public records request.

Another titled “Watermelon Protection” was sent to Hansen in July 2014 and included an image that depicted a scarecrow, dressed in a white KKK robe and pointed hood, amid a watermelon patch.

Hansen, in turn, forwarded the email to Murphy. “I don’t understand,” Hansen wrote in the email to Murphy.

There is a March 2014 email received by “F Capuzi” then forwarded by “Frank” to Hansen with the subject line “The World’s Shortest Essay — Gotta Love the Texas School Systems.”

The email contained a joke that spares few in its offensiveness. It refers to an essay contest held for Texas teens 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.”

In turn, Hansen forwarded the email to Bresnahan and two other water department bosses.

Paul Hansen was a supervisor in the water department who allegedly used his city email to negotiate firearms deals. (July 18, 2017)
An April 2017 email forwarded from Capuzi’s address announces that “Today is Heterosexual Male Pride Day!” It makes that declaration after showing a series of photographs of steaks grilling, a row of beer taps and a naked woman.

The body of the email states: “To all of my friends who are tired of taking a BACK SEAT to gays, lesbians, homosexuals, trans genders, women soldiers, bra burners, female boy scouts, women libbers, tree huggers, and eco-commie-environ-freaks, the looney left, Greens, social justice warriors and worse of all — those fucking Democrats!”

Hansen could not be reached for comment. Capuzi’s boss, Robert Ruiz, said he did not know about the emails and declined to comment further.

Paul Finamore, a Chicago area businessman and longtime friend of Capuzi, was listed as receiving some of the emails and said he was appalled at the content when shown the watermelon protection and the shortest essay emails.

“Oh, my God,” Finamore said after he reviewed the emails at the Tribune’s request. “I don’t remember seeing anything of this, to tell you the truth.”

Finamore, the chief executive officer of Hairline Creations Inc., said Capuzi was a groomsman for his 1989 wedding party and that the two had hunted together.

“This man is a racist,” Finamore said. “You’ve got to know this guy. He’s a good, good guy.”

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Please help a City of Chicago Department of Water Management Victim of Injustice

John Ware City of Chicago Go Fund Me.jpg Please help City of Chicago Hoisting Engineer Foreman John Ware make it through a troubling time as justice is nowhere to be seen at the Chicago Department of Water Management. Maybe John C. D’Amico can dip into his many extra paychecks. People need to eat. Maybe Andy Anderson can find a way to give a penny or two. We do not expect Paul Hansen to help anymore.

Sun-Times misses the point with Joe Ferguson Clown Prince of the Inspector General

Joe Ferguson, Chicago Inspector General first in line to steal credit. Ole Joe, tells everyone he separates the wheat from the chaff. When a Chicago City workers calls, or emails the O.I.G. you would expect an investigation. You would expect an interview to obtain a proper response to your concerns. I know for a fact when David Hoffman, the outstanding inspector general ran things, his staff was top notch and professional.
Not the case for phony Joe Ferguson, the psychic inspector general that know everything. Emails are not returned. Joe has not done a fucking thing about the corrupt promotion system still in place at the Department of Water Management. Joe covered up for Paul Hansen for over a decade.

But what we do know is the following, Joe Ferguson tips off the Sun-Times on a regular basis. Joe Ferguson tips off all departments when he faxes over inquires for information.
Joe Ferguson does not expose Chicago Commissioners that stall and refuse to discipline workers. When you ask for a FOIA from the Inspector General, they stall. Same treatment when you file complaints against corrupt FOIA officers covering up crime in Chicago. One thing we know for sure, Joe retaliated against whistleblowers and is a puppet of Rahm Emanuel. Most of the challenged I.G. complaints are dismissed in court as a farse. Most I.G. employees are part time pass through college grads waiting for a real job. But don’t worry, Joe will be the first in line to pose for pictures and take credit he does not deserve. P.S. Joe, remove that ugly mole from your nose.

Sun-Times Editorial Board
Just when you think Chicago municipal government is fully joining the modern world, somebody tugs open a closet door and out tumble the patronage hacks, the mopes who sleep on the job and the two-bit office bigots who really should shut up.

Feels like old times, you know?

That’s how we felt last week when we learned that goofs in the city’s Department of Water Management had been caught bouncing around emails that were racist, sexist and homophobic.

EDITORIAL

We can’t say we were surprised. The Department of Water Management has a long history of corruption and bigotry. But didn’t this stuff pretty much end when a federal court killed patronage politics? Once a judge handed down a series of rulings beginning in the late 1970s, known as the Shakman decrees, that banned hiring based on family or political loyalty, Uncle Al in Streets and San could no longer hire Cousin Bob or protect him when he screwed up.

Or so we thought.

We asked Don Rose, the veteran political consultant.

“Somehow, a few old-style patronage havens continue to exist,” he said with a shrug. “We’ll have these little sewers around for a few years.”
Elected officials, Rose said, are loath to give up “what few patronage privileges remain.”

In the meantime, all we can do is hold people to account when the sewage bubbles up.

On that score, Mayor Rahm Emanuel had no choice but to fire Barrett Murphy, the head of the Department of Water Management. Murphy may be more new school than old school, or so we’re told, but he was aware of the offensive emails and apparently did nothing about them.

The very way the emails were discovered by City Inspector General Joe Ferguson tells you something about the department’s continued hinky ways. Ferguson was investigating allegations that an employee was using his city email account to sell guns. Who uses the company email to sell guns?

And the employee in question was Paul Hansen, a son of former longtime Ald. Bernie Hansen.

Paul Hansen, as reporter Fran Spielman notes, has the kind of checkered past that once was common among a certain substrata of clout-protected city workers. Among the classic knocks against him — this really is old-school Chicago — is that he allegedly used political clout in 2010 to get his job back after a DUI conviction. Given that part of Hansen’s job was to drive around town to check on work sites, you might wonder about that.

But, then, this is the same Department of Water Management run 14 years ago by a deputy commissioner, Donald Tomczak, who went to prison for utterly ignoring all that Shakman stuff and doling out jobs, promotions and overtime to an army of political workers. It’s the same department at the center of the Sun-Times’ 2004 “Hired Trucks” investigation, in which we learned the city was hiring private truck companies with excellent political connections to do little or no work.

When Emanuel fired Barrett last week, he acknowledged that the Department of Water Management still has its issues. He said there should be a “reset button hit as it related to the culture.”

The good news is that the Department of Water Management, by anybody’s honest reckoning, is no longer the norm among city departments. It is more of a cultural zombie, popping back to life just when you thought it might be dead. Federal court orders, federal prosecutions and political evolutions, such as how local elections are funded and fought, have led to dramatic reforms.

Key to that progress has been the creation of an office of inspector general by many units of local governments, including Ferguson’s office for City Hall.

Even as the old ways die out, the best inspectors general remain on zombie patrol.

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!!!!

Pat “Daley” Thompson 31st Ward Rahm’s replacement

Pat thompson Ballon Head Chicago 31st Ward Rahm Emanuel is hiding in Cuba and the Chicago media is keeping it quiet. Many Chicago Alderman have circled around Patrick “Daley” Thompson to replace embattled Rahm Emanuel. The noose is slipping around Rahm’s neck and he needs to return soon. The folks in the 44th ward are cutting deals and Rahm is none the wiser. Rahm’s is not able to raise the money he once could and is counting on short term memories from taxpayers. Rahm is also putting his media queen Joe Ferguson on boards despite his major failures. As long as they have the Sun-Times, Rahm might have a chance. The biggest problem is a major group of protests that make Rahm look like a hurt dog. Chicago is the worst shape ever. Is Pat Thompson the answer? Does he have the balls to raise the taxes again in a few short months? So far 15 Alderman are backing him up. WOW. Will “Balloon head” have the moxie to overthrow Rahm? Let’s see.