Mayor Rahm Emanuel campaigned on the issue of implementing a grid garbage collection system that he claimed would save the taxpayers of Chicago $60 million dollars a year. He also campaigned on the issue of “transparency,” promising his administration would be “transparent.” The issue isn’t whether it really can save that much money, but how is the money being spent. Which is just what The City of Chicago Office of Inspector General wants to know and today reported the Emanuel Administration is not being cooperative.
Last April in an oops moment, a moment which is forgivable, Mayor Emanuel admitted the savings was only $18 million dollars per year, a substantial sum nevertheless. Today, the City of Chicago Office of Inspector General (IGO) reported that attempts to even verify there is an $18 million dollars in savings claimed hit a roadblock.
One roadblock is the Commissioner for the Department of Streets and Sanitation (DSS) for one, claims the IGO.
You might add Mayor Rahm Emanuel to that roadblock too.
The roadblock put in front of Joe Ferguson’s IG office is a long-standing feud between the two, but not unusual that a feud exists between the two offices: one elected and one not. Former Mayor Richard M. Daley was constantly at odds with his former Inspector General David Hoffman. The irony is that David Hoffman endorsed Mayor Emanuel, but is now being critical of Mayor Emanuel on the IG issue.
“I don’t think it’s fair to Joe. He’s done a real good job. Been independent in the way you want and need an IG to be independent,” said Hoffman by phone (to Carol Marin) Thursday.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported last month that Mayor Rahm Emanuel is using a little-noticed provision in the latest round of ethics reforms laying out the process for choosing an inspector general to force Ferguson’s hand. Either he puts his resume on the pile and his faith in a blue-ribbon selection panel handpicked by the mayor, says Fran Spielman of the Chicago Sun Times, or daring Emanuel to fire him, or he considers the mandate an insult and walks away from the job.
Carol Marin wrote in her column on Saturday that Mayor Emanuel is being less than open or transparent and is gunning for Mr. Joe Ferguson.
Speaking of blue-ribbon commissions, Rahm the Reformer is appointing another search committee to find the BEST candidate for city inspector general. Even though the current IG, Joseph Ferguson, happens to be the best candidate. Ferguson, despite Emanuel’s relentless obstructionism, has actually tried to pry critical information out of an administration that prides itself on transparency but isn’t transparent at all on many things that matter to the pocketbooks of taxpayers.
The IGO reports that a recent attempt to evaluate the City’s transition from a ward-based to a grid-based garbage collection system, and identify how management would continue to drive efficiency gains in the future.
However, the Commissioner for the City Department of Streets and Sanitation (DSS) walked out of a meeting when IGO auditors pressed him for information regarding his plans to monitor operations. He did not respond to a subsequent IGO request to resume the discussion.
The commissioner’s refusal to cooperate left the IGO unable to:
- Determine the impact of the transition on the number of trucks and personnel involved in the garbage collection process;
- Review DSS’ plans to ensure maximum efficiency of garbage collection under the new system;
- Validate DSS’ efforts to correct deficiencies in its ward-based supervisory structure to meet current operational and management needs.
Due to the commissioner’s refusal, the IGO recommends that:
- The City substantiate the $18 million in savings claimed in an April 2013 announcement by publicly releasing the underlying data, calculations, and supporting documents used to estimate the total savings;
- DSS establish and apply specific performance measurements to better understand whether and how the grid-based garbage collection system is improving;
- DSS review the current supervisory structure (developed at the time of the ward-based system) and implement necessary changes to not only address the self-identified operational issues and inefficiencies, but also ensure optimally effective and efficient oversight of the grid-based garbage collection system.
“The Administration’s April press release indicated DSS had done significant work in quantifying total savings, and in making plans to ensure continuous programmatic innovation and monitoring,” said Inspector General Joe Ferguson. “DSS should share that work with Chicagoans and the IGO. Ignoring official IGO inquiries does not make them go away, and blocking IGO access to City programs sets a remarkably poor example for other City employees.
IGO Ferguson added, “Such behavior sends a signal to the public about the City’s commitment to transparency and accountability.”
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John is the author of an award-winning book, the 2010 Winner of the USA National Best Book award for African American studies, published by The Elevator Group, Mr. and Mrs. Grassroots. Also available an eBook on Amazon. John is also a member of the Society of Midland Authors and is a book reviewer of political books for the New York Journal of Books. John has volunteered for many political campaigns. John is an unpaid volunteer and social media advisor at Robin Kelly for Congress.