The City of Chicago Office of Inspector General (OIG) has released its second quarter report to City Council, which summarizes the Office’s activity from April 1, 2022, through June 30, 2022, and contains details of concluded investigations, inquiries, and other activities.
When OIG investigates and sustains allegations of misconduct, it issues summary reports of investigations to the appropriate authority, with investigative findings and recommendations for corrective action and discipline. In Q2, some of these investigations included:
- A sanitation laborer with the Department of Streets and Sanitation (DSS) who provided false statements in 2021 on a City outside employment form, despite being self-employed and having business interests since 2019. In addition, the sanitation laborer failed to disclose and obtain authorization for their secondary employment while they were on disability leave from the City when, in fact, they were earning money running a landscaping, snow removal, and housecleaning business. OIG recommended that DSS impose discipline against the sanitation laborer, commensurate with the gravity of their violations, past disciplinary record, and other relevant considerations. In response, DSS advised OIG that it planned to issue a 15-day suspension.
- A former battalion chief-EMT with the Chicago Fire Department (CFD) who violated several City Personnel Rules and provisions of the CFD Code of Conduct when they attempted to use their employment to avoid being denied boarding on a commercial airline flight due to intoxication, and when they subsequently returned to Midway Airport wearing their CFD uniform and demanding that airline staff provide them a list of its company employees. The battalion chief retired from their position at CFD prior to OIG completing its investigation.
- A Department of Buildings (DOB) electrical inspector who engaged in multiple acts of misconduct––performing electrical contracting jobs outside the scope of their City employment (for which they were paid thousands of dollars) without disclosing this work or obtaining written permission; inspecting work that a relative (and unlicensed electrician) performed; loaning their license to others to perform electrical work and pulling multiple permits for their company; performing electrical jobs without securing permits and without requesting the appropriate inspections; and closing out at least one permit that was pulled using the inspector’s company’s license without inspecting the work and without issuing appropriate electrical code violations. OIG recommended that DOB discharge the electrical inspector, request that DHR designate them as ineligible for rehire, permanently revoke the electrical contractor license for the inspector’s business, revoke and rescind any permits pulled by the inspector’s business, and permanently bar the inspector from obtaining a supervising electrician license in the future. In response, DOB requested that the Department of Law draw up disciplinary charges seeking discharge and placement on the ineligible for rehire list. DOB indicated that it would explore whether it should suspend or revoke the licenses associated with the inspector but did not address OIG’s recommendation regarding permits.
OIG also conducts various other inquiries outside of its investigative work, in service of its mission to promote economy, effectiveness, and integrity in City government. Its work in Q2, as described in the quarterly report, included:
- A Public Safety section evaluation of the disciplinary process for Chicago Police Department members regarding misconduct investigations, which found evidence that the agencies charged with investigating CPD members and recommending discipline, as well as reviewing those recommendations, do not operate with sufficient guidance and controls to ensure procedural fairness and consistency.
- The Public Safety section’s 2021 Annual Report, which detailed work conducted in each of its three primary channels: audit-based inquiries; inspection of individual closed disciplinary cases; and collection and analysis of data from CPD and City sources on many aspects of policing, public safety operations, and the police disciplinary system.
- An Audit and Program Review section follow-up to its April 2021 audit of CFD’s policies and practices related to discrimination and sexual harassment, which concluded that CFD has overall worked towards implementing corrective actions related to the audit findings.
This is the first quarterly report since the confirmation of Deborah Witzburg as Inspector General. “This is a moment of growth and transition at OIG. Building on OIG’s foundation of rigorous and impactful work, we are finding and leveraging opportunities to improve and change our operations,” Witzburg said. “We are working to ensure that each of OIG’s program areas draws on the others to produce interdisciplinary work in the service of holistic oversight. In the spirit of un-siloed, integrative oversight, we are also rebuilding the way in which OIG takes in and processes information from members of the public, City officials and employees, and others. Meanwhile, our work continues—the critical work of paying down the debt of legitimacy at which the City of Chicago operates.”
The quarterly report can be found on OIG’s website: bit.ly/OIG2022Q2.
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The mission of the independent and non-partisan City of Chicago Office of Inspector General (OIG) is to promote economy, effectiveness, efficiency, and integrity by identifying corruption, waste, and mismanagement in City government. OIG is a watchdog for the taxpayers of the City and has jurisdiction to conduct investigations and audits into most aspects of City government. If you see corruption, fraud, or waste of any kind, we need to hear from you. For more information, visit our website at: www.igchicago.org.