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
Goodbye Frank Capuzi. IWCC Chicago Clout. He is retiring on July 31, 2017
In a city scarred by a deep and troubling history with guns, a supervisor in the scandal-plagued water department used his city email account to negotiate firearms deals and make light of deadly Fourth of July violence in black neighborhoods by offering “Chicago Safari” tours, a new watchdog report revealed Monday.
The latest development in the ongoing investigation, which the Tribune first disclosed in May, emerged as Inspector General Joseph Ferguson detailed how ousted district water superintendent Paul Hansen emailed with individuals over personal purchases or sales of at least four firearms and five cars.
Those emails about firearms started the investigation over his use of a government account for personal business, which is against city rules. And it quickly spread to other emails sent by Hansen, who is white and the son of a former alderman, to other water department bosses, according to City Hall sources.
In his quarterly report, Ferguson revealed a fresh string of anti-black emails sent to multiple high-ranking water department workers that touted a fake “Chicago Safari” package. It cited the number of shootings during a July Fourth weekend and guaranteed tourists would observe “at least one kill and five crime scenes” and also see “lots of animals in their natural habitat.”
Hansen’s racially charged emails included messages to fellow workers purported to be in “Ebonics,” sometimes called American black English, and a picture describing a swimming pool for a small African-American child who sits in a bucket filled with water while holding a slice of watermelon, the report found.
Ferguson also cited Hansen’s “Watermelon Protection” email that featured a picture depicting a Ku Klux Klan scarecrow guarding a field of watermelons, part of a cache of racist, sexist and homophobic emails the Tribune first disclosed online Friday.
A second figure noted in the report for anti-Muslim and anti-black emails was Thomas J. Durkin, the general foreman of plumbers who resigned recently after being placed on administrative leave while under investigation. Neither Hansen nor Durkin were named, but the Tribune was able to identify them through City Hall sources, the description of their activities and job status listed.
Newly released racist, sexist emails show scope of scandal at Chicago’s water department
Hansen and Durkin could not be reached immediately for comment.
The inspector general’s quarterly report comes as Mayor Rahm Emanuel finds himself fighting the proliferation of firearms in the city and facing the fallout from another deadly July Fourth weekend in Chicago.
As Emanuel seeks to recapture support from African-American voters still upset over his handling of the 2014 fatal police shooting of Laquan McDonald, the mayor and his aides have stressed that he installed a new commissioner and sought to remake the culture in the long-troubled department.
Still, Ferguson’s report raised questions about whether he found all the troubling emails. Ferguson said the mayor’s Law Department imposes restrictions that do not allow “unfettered access to city emails,” which has hampered the investigation. He said the Law Department requires that his office submit requests for emails using limited search terms and date ranges.
“Given the lack of direct access to emails,” Ferguson said that his office “cannot be certain it has identified all relevant documents.”
Lawsuit alleges racism at roiled Chicago water department
Bill McCaffrey, a Law Department spokesman, said restrictions on email searches are needed to protect the integrity of the inspector general’s investigation, any attorney-client privileges and the city’s “limited resources.”
“The protocol allows up to 20,000 emails to be produced at a time, however, we greatly exceeded that count in this investigation and have accommodated similar requests every other time the Inspector General has requested a larger search,” McCaffrey said.
Hansen’s misuse of a city computer was so prevalent that, in one four-month period alone, he called up sexually explicit, age-restricted YouTube videos and visited other internet sites unrelated to city business on “thousands of occasions,” the report found. Durkin also was cited for sending and receiving sexually explicit photos and videos on his city email account.
Emanuel aides have defended the mayor, underscoring his response to the investigation that has toppled Hansen, whose father is former 44th Ward Ald. Bernie Hansen, Durkin and three others. The biggest casualty came in May when Emanuel collected the resignation of water Commissioner Barrett Murphy, a friend of the mayor whose wife, Lynn Lockwood, is a former chairman and treasurer of one of Emanuel’s political funds and is close to his wife, Amy Rule.
At the time, the mayor’s office said Emanuel acted “quickly and decisively” by asking Murphy and top deputy William Bresnahan to step down after learning of what was then an 8-month-old Ferguson investigation.
“Mayor Emanuel has been clear that the conduct uncovered by the OIG’s investigation does not reflect Chicago’s values and will not be tolerated, which is why he acted swiftly to address the issue and bring in new leadership at the Department of Water Management,” spokeswoman Shannon Breymaier said Monday in response to the report.
And Emanuel’s newly installed water department Commissioner Randy Conner, an African-American, said his agency “has a zero-tolerance policy on racism and sexism” and “will continue to take all appropriate measures to fully enforce this policy up to and including termination, or separation” from the department.
The City Council’s chairman of the black caucus, Ald. Roderick Sawyer, 6th, said he is glad the investigation is continuing and bringing the issues to light. “I’m hoping under new leadership that they can address this head-on and eliminate that cancer that was eating away, permeating. right through the department.”
In late June, Durkin, the general foreman of plumbers, and John “Jack” Lee Jr., a district superintendent, were placed on administrative leave pending disciplinary decisions and now have resigned.
Durkin sent email from his city account that referred to Muslims as “rag head c— suckers,” according to the inspector general. He also suggested that people should have thrown grenades at a black Italian politician instead of bananas, the report said.
In Monday’s report, it was Hansen’s attempt to make light of a spike of violence in largely black neighborhoods during a previous July Fourth holiday that figured prominently. The report said Hansen’s email to multiple high-ranking water department officials started with the subject line: “Chicago Safari Tickets.” The report doesn’t name the recipients.
“If you didn’t book a Chicago Safari adventure with us this 4th of July weekend this is what you missed,” the report quoted the email as saying. The date of this email and others were not provided in the report. The comment was followed by lists of the number of people shot in South and West side neighborhoods including Englewood, Garfield Park, Austin, Lawndale, South Shore and Woodlawn.
“Remember all Chicago Safari packages include 3 deluxe ‘Harold’s Chicken’ meals a day,” the report quoted Hansen’s email as saying. “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.”
Four white people in safari gear are depicted as taking pictures of several black people who are trying to break into a car, the report said.
Durkin replied to the safari email with a message that described African-Americans as “wild animals” who are “untamed,” the report said.
Among the email’s photographs, the report said, was one of a “wheelbarrow full of watermelons with a sign stating, “Apply for a Credit Card. Free Watermelons.'” It was sent to a high-ranking official with the subject line: “U Know U Be In Da Hood.”
The email with the African-American child in a bucket and a piece of watermelon came with a message: “As an apology — Paula Deen Opens Swimming Pool for Youth.” A celebrity chef, Deen became the object of widespread ridicule when she said in a 2013 deposition that she used a racial slur. Deen, who was dropped by the Food Network, later apologized.
Ferguson said both Hansen and Durkin were designated as having resigned in lieu of discharge, and they will be placed on the ineligible-for-rehire list.
In another water department case, Ferguson recommended that a chemist who allegedly harassed a current water worker and a former employee be fired. Ferguson alleged the chemist made multiple derogatory text messages and phone calls, citing him for “aggressive and threatening behavior,” according to the report.
The department fired the chemist, who is fighting the termination.
Chicago Tribune’s Hal Dardick contributed.
The son of a former Chicago alderman used his city email account to buy or sell “at least four firearms and five cars” and send hate-filled emails describing African-Americans as “wild animals.”
Inspector General Joe Ferguson on Monday issued a quarterly report with several explosive new allegations about a Department of Water Management employee whom sources identified to the Sun-Times as former District Superintendent Paul Hansen.
Hansen is the son of former longtime Ald. Bernard Hansen (44th), who presided over Wrigleyville during the Cubs’ marathon battle for lights at Wrigley Field. The son’s checkered past with the water department includes allegations that his political clout helped him get his job back after a DUI conviction.
As the Chicago Sun-Times was first to report, Ferguson originally uncovered the racist, sexist and homophobic emails circulating in the water department while investigating allegations that Paul Hansen had used his city email account to sell guns.
New disclosures include a claim that the now-fired employee sent an email with the subject line “Chicago Safari Tickets” to multiple high-ranking water department colleagues.
“If you didn’t book a Chicago Safari adventure with us this 4th of July weekend, this is what you missed,” the email states, listing the number of people shot in Englewood, Garfield Park, Austin, Lawndale, South Shore, Woodlawn and other neighborhood plagued by gang violence. It concludes: “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.”
Yet another email with the subject line, “Watermelon Protection” includes the image of a Ku Klux Klan robe on a stick in the middle of a watermelon patch. Another under the subject line, “U Know U be In Da Hood” contains several photos, including one of a wheelbarrow full of watermelons with a sign that states, “Apply for a Credit Card. Free Watermelon.”
Hansen was further accused of: “repeatedly” sending sexually explicit photos and videos; using his city email account to negotiate personal purchases or sales of at least four firearms and five cars and using a city computer to access websites unrelated to city business on thousands of occasions over a four-month period, including accessing sexually explicit videos on YouTube.
Hansen hung up on a Sun-Times reporter seeking comment on the new allegations.
Ferguson’s quarterly report also reveals a Water Management chemist “harassed” a former and current employee “through the transmission of multiple text messages and phone calls that included derogatory and threatening messages.”
The alleged harassment occurred “after both employees had already filed multiple complaints–including with the Chicago Police Department, the Department of Human Resources, and OIG — against the chemist for aggressive and threatening behavior toward them.
Newly-appointed Water Management Commissioner Randy Conner followed Ferguson’s recommendation to fire the chemist, only to have the fired employee file a grievance. Arbitration is ongoing.
Another now-fired Water Management supervisor was accused of sending racist and hateful emails that referred to Muslims as “rag head —suckers” and describing African-Americans as “wild animals” who are “untamed” in response to Hansen’s “Chicago Safari” email.
The fired supervisor also suggested that people “should have thrown grenades at a black Italian politician instead of bananas,” Ferguson wrote.
Last month, a housecleaning in the department at the center of the Hired Truck and city hiring scandals swept out Commissioner Barrett Murphy, managing deputy William Bresnahan and Hansen.
Sources said Murphy was held responsible for the chain of racist and sexist emails; Murphy was among those receiving the emails but did not discipline the employee.
Ferguson’s investigation is ongoing and is almost certain to trigger more high-level firings, City Hall sources said.
The City of Chicago is under full attack after finding out just a few of the violent racist emails that are circulating at the Chicago Department of Water Management. The City of Chicago is subject to more lawsuits in the future thanks to the great reporting of Chicago Clout. Chicago Clout is going to help every lawyer in Chicago that is going to give honest government back.
The City of Chicago under Rahm Emanuel has the Mosquito program.
“Crews led by the Chicago Department of Water Management and others are dropping larvicide briquettes down all 210,000 catch basins on the public way. The slow-dissolving briquettes will, for the next five months, prevent large amounts of mosquito larvae from developing into biting adults. Additionally, the Department of General Services is ensuring treatment of over 3,000 catch basins not on the public way.”
The real program is a political program to Southside reverends to supply blacks in need of a temporary job. Rahm Emanuel supplies money and taxpayer funded goodwill to his benefit. One Chicago employee with clout will take the minivan (leased) with a van load of blacks and make sure the work is completed. The program helps high ranking black commissioners keep the political clout train rolling. The Jackson Family got a taste of this loot.
Many of the black kids were treated like crap and told not to use the bathrooms and stay away from the regular white and Hispanic crews. They were treated very poorly. One supervisor would always call them niggers. The fuckin niggers are here again. The high ranking North District boss said, “I’ll get rid of those niggers”. Many of the workers would laugh. One black kid had an accident after he was told, “take a shit somewhere else”. The way these black kids were treated was something out of a horror movie. I reported this behavior but nothing was done.
The Inspector General has known about Paul Hansen for years and nothing was done. The Chicago law department has had complaints about the rigged promotion of Paul Hansen, and nothing was done. Maybe Alderman Tunney will return my calls and he can explain why he put told Rahm Emanuel to put Paul in as District Superintendent. Maybe Plumbers Local 130 can explain their part in this mess.
I will have some more items for your interest. I hope the lawyers contact all those black kids and get them some relief. I’ve got some video for the upcoming election. Change. Frank Coconate is going to have some more action soon. “revenge is a dish best served cold”
CHICAGO (CBS) — Another round of emails released late Friday by the city of Chicago reveal more racist and sexist exchanges among some of the top officials in the Department of Water Management as recently as April a month before some were forced out, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.
Earlier emails, part of a months-long investigation by City Inspector General Joe Ferguson, led to Water Management Commissioner Barrett Murphy, Managing Deputy William Bresnahan and District Superintendent Paul Hansen losing their jobs.
The latest batch of emails contain homophobic slurs in addition to anti-black and anti-woman comments. Some of the most striking exchanges include an image of a scarecrow dressed in a KKK robe in a watermelon field, a picture of a nude woman used to celebrate “heterosexual male pride day” and comments mocking gays.
The email containing the KKK scarecrow was forwarded from Hansen to Murphy in July 2014 with the subject line “Watermelon Protection.” Included in the email, which Hansen had received from someone else, was the photo and this statement: “God is great, beer is good … and people are crazy. I’m guessing this would be considered politically incorrect.”
Hansen then added this: “I don’t understand.”
Another racist email Hansen shared with Murphy was sent in February 2013 in response to a request from ComEd for city employees to halt work near a power line serving a fire station, schools and a senior citizen home. “I think the only thing that the line does not feed is the center for the severely challenged negro midgets, you know the place, its where we hired all those laborers from 7 years ago,” Hansen wrote.
In an email Hansen received April 19, 2017 – just a month before he lost his job – there were pictures of steaks on a grill, beer taps on a bar and a woman bearing her breasts along with this message: “To all 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 f—- democrats!
In yet another email, dated March 11, 2014, Hansen shared with Bresnahan a story about a 16-year-old Texas boy who purportedly won the world’s shortest essay competition by writing about religion, royalty, physical disability, racism and homosexuality. The email claimed the boy won a scholarship to a Texas university for writing this: “My God,” cried the Queen, “That one-legged n— is a queer.”
When Hansen was asked Friday night if he would like to comment on the newly released emails, he said, “If you’re looking for a comment, you can forget it” and hung up. A voicemail message left for Murphy was not immediately returned.
Shannon Breymaier, a spokeswoman for Mayor Rahm Emanuel, said in a statement the mayor is “fully supportive” of recently appointed Water Management Commissioner Randy Conner’s actions to provide additional EEO training to the department’s managers and supervisors.
Late last month, several current and former water department employees filed a federal lawsuit accusing the city and top Water Management officials of creating “a hostile and abusive work environment based on race that includes violence, intimidation (and) retaliation,” the Sun-Times reported.
A new lawsuit filed Thursday against the city claims that black employees of Chicago’s Water Department were discriminated against, sexually harassed, denied promotions and spoken to with racial slurs.
The lawsuit was filed by seven employees, some current, some former, with hopes of earning class-action lawsuit status to extend its impact. The filing paints a disturbing picture of racism inside the water department, including alleging that the employees were regularly subjected to racial slurs and other demeaning language, including the n-word and being called “you people.” Additionally, ” “Black female employees are called bitches and whores on a regular basis,” according to the suit. The Sun-Times has published the suit here.
The suit follows recent leadership changes at the Water Management Department and the release of racist and sexist emails written between ex-department heads. The city recently appointed Randy Conner as the new water department commissioner; Conner, who is African American, was promoted to replace Barrett Murphy, the ex-comissioner who recently resigned with two other colleagues after an inspector general report revealed racist and sexist emails were being sent among department employees.
CHICAGO (AP) — Black workers at Chicago’s Department of Water Management have filed a federal lawsuit contending they were routinely denied promotions and subjected to racial slurs.
The lawsuit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court also asserts blacks were also sexually assaulted because of their race. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of seven current and former employees of the department, and it seeks class-action status.
The lawsuit alleges that when complaints were filed about a hostile work environment, black workers were “subjected to unfair, arbitrary and capricious discipline for speaking out.”
The complaint comes weeks after the leadership at the water department was shuffled after a probe uncovered racist and sexist emails shared among department supervisors.
City officials did not have an immediate response to the lawsuit.
The love keeps on giving at the City of Chicago Department of Water Management. Rahm Emanuel is very mad. Very mad. Rahm Emanuel wants to fire all the workers on cocaine and stop the drug sales at the Water Department. It will never happen.