Kathy Posner

Mayor Richard Daley, proposed to expand the responsibilities of the Office of the Inspector General. I wrote at that time, “Daley's proposal includes that city workers and contractors who fail to report corrupt activity would be punished. Glad to hear that the Mayor is encouraging whistle blowers. Some of my favorite people are whistle blowers because they are not afraid to speak the truth. A trait we should be proud of, but is always vilified.”

Now a year later, Rahm Emanuel is elected mayor and his first order of business was to reissue a number of Mayor Daley’s executive orders dealing with ethics. I will discuss three of them.

(1) Ban on political contributions to the Mayor from the owners of companies who do business with the city,

(2) City employees must comply with the hiring oversight rules that were adopted under the Shakman decree, and

(3) City employees should report wrongdoing to the Office of the Inspector General.

Order number 1--Of course it is easy for companies to circumvent the first order. In the order, “owner” is defined as, “any person with an ownership or beneficial interest in an entity of more than seven and one half percent.” Even though a spouse or domestic partner of such a person is also prohibited from contributing, employees can contribute plus an “owner” could bundle contributions from friends.

Order number 2—The Shakman decree is a law that city employees have to comply with. So this order just reminds people not to break the law.

Order number 3—It is sad that people have to be reminded by an executive order that, “It is the duty of every employee of the City to report, directly and without undue delay, to the Inspector General any and all information concerning conduct which they know or should reasonably know to involve corrupt or other criminal activity.” What kind of public servants are they, if they allow fraudulent activity to go on? Why do they need to be told such activity needs to be reported?

The order also says, “The knowing failure of any employee to report as required shall constitute cause for removal from employment or other appropriate penalty in accordance with the City of Chicago Personnel Rules.” So if it's already “required” in the City of Chicago Personal Rules to report wrong-doing, why is there need for an Executive Order?

But what I really find funny are two quotes of Mayor Emanuel on his Chicago 2011 web site. "Chicagoans want to see change in the way their city government does business" was one and the other was, "These Executive Orders will help restore Chicagoans' confidence in their City government."

Those quotes make no sense! If all he did was reissue orders that already existed where is the “change in city government” and how does it “restore Chicagoans' "confidence”in government? If the citizens of Chicago had no confidence in government, why didn’t he issue NEW orders? How will the OLD orders make Chicagoans feel confident if they did not feel confident before?

For Executive Orders on ethics to work, employees have to follow them. If they didn’t before, why should they now just because Emanuel’s signature is on the bottom of the page instead of Daley’s? Maybe he signed it with a permanent marker instead of invisible ink.

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