City Is Slow To Discipline Worker Who Breached Airport Security

Send Your Tips To Pam Zekman

CHICAGO (CBS) — A city worker caught committing a serious breach of airport security was never properly disciplined and, in fact, was basically rewarded.

A joint investigation by CBS and the Better Government Association found that the case of Arthur Rodriguez cost the taxpayers thousands of dollars — and it raises serious questions about the city’s disciplinary system.

Rodriguez was a $78,000-a-year Streets and Sanitation Department worker assigned to lay cable at Midway Airport in 2008. That’s when he used his security badge to help two friends who were late for a flight.

bga logo december2010 copy City Is Slow To Discipline Worker Who Breached Airport Security

Better Government Association logo. (Credit: BGA)

City and federal officials confirm Rodriguez used his security badge to let the friends go through a door for employees only, bypassing the time-consuming lines, body and baggage scanners all passengers must endure.  

The TSA discovered the breach after their flight took off. The friends of Rodriguez finally were searched when the connecting flight landed in California before resuming their trip to Honolulu.

That day, the city of Chicago’s Aviation Department seized Rodriguez’s security badge and issued a citation charging him with a “badging violation” for which he ultimately was fined $75. He was transferred away from the airport, and the Streets and Sanitation Department put him on a nine-month, paid leave pending its investigation.

Rodriguez, confronted by Zekman, said the security breach was “taken care of” and declined to answer questions at length. He denied he was placed on administrative leave.

But city officials say he was. Based on figures supplied by the city, Rodriquez actually made $60,000 during those nine months for no work. He went back to work for Streets and Sanitation, apparently with no disciplinary action taken.

Andy Shaw, executive director of the Better Government Association, finds several problems here.

“This is a failure of accountability,” he says. “It’s a failure of supervision. It’s the kind of thing that infuriates taxpayers.”

Rodriguez was laid off at Streets and Sanitation, along with other employees caught up in budget cutbacks in December 2008. Officials say the layoff had nothing to do with the Midway incident. A month later, he wound up getting hired as an electrical mechanic for the city’s Water Department making $84,000 a year.

“It’s consistent with mistakes that were made every step of the way,” Shaw says of Rodriguez’s good fortune. “It’s adding insult to injury to give someone who breaches security in an airport a job in an equally sensitive area: water.”

CBS 2 pressed the city about why no additional disciplinary action was taken against Rodriquez. Eventually, officials said they would initiate a process to have him fired.

They say they’ve also ended the practice of placing employees on a paid leave while they are under investigation for misconduct.   

If you know of misconduct by government workers that violates public safety, contact the 2 Investigators or the Better Government Association.

More from 2 Investigators
  • tom Sharp

    See Walter, here’s one that Rahm can dump and not bother hitting up the Prez for any money to save him!

  • g-man

    Now if we can just get as much information about the million dollars Patrick Daley made from the shady deals with city contracts. And how about a suspension there or a firing there ???

  • Tanya Livingston

    I know several doctors, attorneys, engineers, scientists, and police officers who don’t make what this putz makes. Digging a hole and laying cable is worth this much? This is nuts—

    • Living Where

      You know several doctors that make less than 80K? Where is that? I know several teenagers who make that much in commission at The Gap.

  • hennessy


    • tom Sharp

      Your half right!

  • da Taste

    Your half wrong !

  • fed up

    Correction. Headline should read, “FAA failed to charge employee for security breaches.”. He should of been fined and arrested with .multiple federal violations. Ridiculous!

    • ChicagoCitizen

      This guy isn’t a terrorist. All he did was hook up some freinds to speed up the extremely slow security process. No big deal, who cares. Pay the $75 and move on. It’s always nice to know someone, makes life alot easier.

      • Mike

        You are an idiot.

  • Larry

    This uneducated, unskilled clown makes $84K to dig ditches and lay cable. This city is in serious trouble with tax dollars going down the drain like this. Why go to college when you can just hook up a job with the city doing nothing for tall dollars? It’s insane.

    Oh, and he needs to be fired for this breach. I’m sorry, if this guy were in the real world, i.e. the private sector, his job would have been toast as a result of this transgression.


  • billyd

    How hard do you have to try to be fired when you work for the city or county? And this clown has a salary of $78,000 a year???? So wrong, on so many levels.

  • concerned taxpayer

    They say they’ve also ended the practice of placing employees on a paid leave while they are under investigation for misconduct. Will this also apply to police officers and publicofficals?

  • Centurion

    I WANT A 9 MONTH PAID VACATION. I just wish there were city jobs open that require a Bachelors Degree and real skills. Then again, I will dig ditches for $200K per year.

  • Justjenn

    very typical of the city of Chicago, everyone gets suspended with pay, anyone out there who works for a private employer EVER get suspended With pay for doing something wrong?????

  • Roberta Waker

    How many other city employees are grossly overpaid? Hope Emanuel investigates the salaries of these uneducated goonies that aren’t worth more than $20K a year at best. And, they should NOT be paid while they are suspended or being investigated, nor should they be rehired at any other city job unless they are found innocent of all charges.

  • Free Money
  • Jim

    He should be in jail and unemployed. I’m sure you can hire 2 wire layers for the price of this baboon!.

  • Pothead

    Look at this P.O.S. Snarling his lips like he can do whatever he wants.
    Come on Rahmulus, CAN HIM !!!!!! This is the kind of city workers that give them all a bad name. HE NO LONGER DESERVES THIS KIND OF JOB.

    • Rickey Higgins

      So the guy should be fired for how the city conducts its investigations. Dont be blinded by one sided reporting

      • Pothead

        Your comment makes no sense. They did the investigation if you read the story.
        He gets a free pass ? He’s a P.O.S. that deserves to be fired.

      • Rickey Higgins

        If you read the story POTHEAD, you will see that he was fined. The issue here is how the city handled not what he did. This is not something that warrants termination.

  • Bandido

    What causes city workers to have “bad backs” causing paid leaves??? HEAVY WALLETS!!!

  • Rickey Higgins

    How about placing the blame to the city and not the worker.

    • Right

      You must be a liberal, a black, or both to make a comment like that.

      • Pothead

        And a lazy a$$ city work slacker.

      • Bob

        Try thinking for yourself and not what a investigated report says. Cbs is selling a product that you all are buying. Think for yourself .

  • Pothead

    Rickey is a city worker. CAN THIS P.O.S. !!!!!!!!!

  • Pothead

    This piece of garbage needs to be pried off of the government teet.

    • Rickey Higgins

      I’m not pro government if you knew how to read my comments you would see that. Its satisfying to know that your only comments are resorting to name calling and baseless accusations.

  • Rahm Emanuel

    Pothead is right ! Thsi is the kind of garbage I want to get off the govermnat teet.

    • Mike

      Get him, Rahmbo!

blog comments powered by Disqus
Daily Weather Reports Delivered To You!SIGN UP NOW: Get daily weather reports every morning from meteorologist Steve Baskerville!
CBS Sports Radio RoundupGet your latest sports talk from across the country.

Listen Live