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Inspector General: City Board Of Ethics Is Falling Short

Joe Ferguson

Chicago city Inspector General Joe Ferguson. (Credit: CBS)

conway250 Bob Conway
Bob Conway joined WBBM Newsradio 780 in August of 2000 as a part time...
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CHICAGO (CBS) — The agency that oversees ethics issues for City Hall is reportedly falling down on the job.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Conway reports, the assessment comes from city Inspector General Joe Ferguson, who cites a case in which a former employee of the now-disbanded Office of Compliance accepted more than $3,500 in free meals and sporting event tickets received gifts from three companies whose contracts he managed, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Conway reports

But in that case the Board of Ethics ruled there wasn’t enough evidence to impose penalties, according to a Chicago Tribune report. The employee was ultimately fired for other reasons, the Tribune reported.

Ferguson says the evidence included thank you notes from the employee, expense reports and admissions of gift-giving, the Tribune reports.

Also uncovered were a minority- and woman-owned firm that acted as a pass-through to other contractors – some of them uncertified – in $3.4 million in set-aside contracts, and a city Health Department nurse and communicable disease specialist who both lied on their time sheets to hide the fact that they were staying home or going out shopping when they were supposed to be watching over infants born after high-risk pregnancies and giving medication to tuberculosis patients, the Sun-Times reported.

Penalties were, in fact, imposed in those and other cases. But they fell short of what the Inspector General suggested, the Sun-Times reported.

Even a Water Management Department plumber who was accused of drinking on the job, falsifying information about his work, and verbally abusing co-workers was only slapped with a 29-day suspension, while Ferguson had wanted him fired, the Sun-Times reported.

Ferguson’s report also notes that the city Department of Procurement Services, which oversees all city contracts, rejected a recommendation from his office to permanently bar some firms from doing business with the city, the Tribune reported.

A City Council hearing is set for today on a proposal to tighten the ethics ordinance.