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Aldermen Seek To Give Inspector General Power To Enforce Subpoenas

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Chicago City Hall (Credit: CBS)

dellimore250 Craig Dellimore
Craig Dellimore, political editor for WBBM, joined the station in 1983...
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CHICAGO (CBS) – Some members of the City Council’s Progressive Reform Caucus want to give the city’s Inspector General increased powers; perhaps more authority than Mayor Rahm Emanuel would want him to have.

WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports the Illinois Supreme Court has ruled Inspector General Joseph Ferguson’s office does not have legal authority to enforce subpoenas of city documents.

The court held the inspector general must rely on the city’s Corporation Counsel to do so, or appeal to the mayor if the Corporation Counsel refuses to do so, or has a conflict of interest – even if the investigation targets the mayor’s office.

The Emanuel administration has not always provided information requested by the IG’s office, despite campaign promises to give the inspector general unrestricted access to city documents.

“The Supreme Court ruling made it clear that reforms can only come about in the form of action by the City Council. Chicago needs an independent inspector general,” Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd) said Thursday.

Fioretti and three other members of the Progressive Reform Caucus on Thursday unveiled a set of ordinances aimed at giving the IG the subpoena powers he seeks, and a guaranteed minimum budget.

The ordinances would give Ferguson’s office to go to court to enforce subpoenas, guarantee a minimum budget equal to 1 percent of the overall city budget, and to hire and fire staff without interference.

The mayor has said the city inspector general’s powers already match those of state and federal counterparts, and has suggested that’s good enough.