Ferguson shines more light on Water Management email scandal

Joseph Ferguson Chicago Office oif Inspector General.jpg CHICAGO 10/17/2017, 06:03pm Fran Spielman
Inspector General Joe Ferguson on Tuesday shed more light on the email scandal in Chicago’s Department of Water Management in a way that raises questions about just how much has changed since the appointment of an African-American commissioner.
In his quarterly report, Ferguson talked about the investigation that determined that a “supervisory employee” he refused to identify “received numerous racist and offensive emails on his city email account over the course of several years and failed to report those emails” to his superiors.
In at least one instance, the supervisory employee provided an “affirming and acquiescing email response,” the inspector general wrote.
“For example, the employee received several emails in which the senders reference or mockingly imitated Ebonics; received multiple racist jokes via email and received several emails disparaging or belittling an African-American employee,” the inspector general wrote.
Ferguson recommended that the supervisor be fired and placed on the Do-Not-Hire list.
Instead, Water Management Commissioner Randy Conner reduced the punishment to a 14-day suspension, the inspector general said.
“DWM acknowledged that the employee failed to report receiving numerous racist and offensive emails, but noted that the majority of emails in question were also sent to three top-level managers, including the commissioner at the time,” Ferguson wrote.
“DWM stated that, when ‘one’s entire chain of command is on emails and/or engaged in a certain type of behavior, confronting the situation may seem untenable for a less senior employee….DWM further noted that the employee was the recipient of one of more ‘harassing and/or sexually explicit communications,’ which created a hostile or offensive work environment.” Sponsored by Dr. Jart+
In June, a housecleaning triggered by racist, sexist and homophobic emails swept out Water Management Commissioner Barrett Murphy, managing deputy William Bresnahan and district superintendent Paul Hansen.
Four current and two former Water Management employees–all African-Americans-have filed a federal lawsuit accusing the department at the center of the Hired Truck and city hiring scandals of “a hostile and abusive work environment” based on race that includes violence, intimidation and retaliation that “weave a tapestry of hostility that dominates every aspect” of their job.
That includes less-desirable shifts and work assignments and being denied promotions, transfers, overtime and training opportunities. Black women were routinely referred to as “bitches and whores,” the suit contends. Those who dared complain were also punished with “unfair, arbitrary and capricious” discipline, plaintiffs claim.
Last week, South Side Ald. David Moore (17th) demanded City Council hearings into the racist culture that, he claims, continues to permeate Chicago’s Department of Water Management–even after an email scandal triggered the appointment of Conner.
To underscore the point, Moore displayed a photo taken in April of a Water Management truck with a noose hanging above the steering wheel.
According to Moore, the unidentified perpetrator of the offense apologized to co-workers who might have been offended by it and got off with a reprimand.
Conner responded by saying that the noose photo was taken two months before he took over and the incident was “dealt with the same day.” According to insider, David M. McKinney a Motor Truck Driver for the Department of Water Management had something to do with the Noose. Now that dude has some serious clout. According to sources, he went in front of Dwayne Hightower and got off easy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Patrick McDonough

Injured City Worker