Progressive Reform Caucus Members Move to Call Vote on Stalled Government Accountability Legislation

September 12, 2014

Ordinances aimed at empowering Inspector General’s office have been stuck in Rules Committee since May 2013

CHICAGO (September 10, 2014)—Members of the Chicago City Council Progressive Reform Caucus on Wednesday will move to call a vote on legislation to strengthen the office of the Inspector General, which have been stalled in the Rules Committee for 16 months.

In an effort to ensure that Chicago’s Inspector General’s Office (IGO) has the resources, authority and independence necessary to carry out its mission as the City’s watchdog, the Progressive Caucus in May 2013 introduced the set of five City ordinances that would empower the office to effectively investigate misconduct, inefficiency or waste across all levels of city government.

The ordinances represent five separate amendments to the IGO enabling ordinance. They are designed to address key areas currently preventing the Inspector General or the office from exercising its authority, including:

  • Ensuring fiscal independence by guaranteeing an operating budget of no less than .1% of the budget the office is charged to oversee, while providing for independent expenditure authority;
  • Ensuring that the IGO has the ability to serve, enforce, and defend its own subpoenas;
  • Ensuring that the City’s duty to cooperate isn’t limited to IGO investigations, and is extended to IGO audits, program reviews, and hearings.

“Chicago needs an independent Inspector General, and these amendments will achieve that,” said Ald. Bob Fioretti of the Progressive Reform Caucus. “These measures put some real teeth into the office’s operations, and represent the minimum powers necessary for an independent inspector general who can effectively work to keep city government honest.”

The five main amendments include:

  • Measures to Assure Fiscal Independence, including a budget of no less than .1% of the annual appropriation of all funds in the city’s annual operating budget.
  • Measures to Ensure Independent Expenditure Authority, including the ability to hire, contract and remove deputies, assistants and staff.
  • Measures to Ensure Subpoena Authority, including the ability to enforce subpoenas in any audit, program review, hearing or investigation.
  • Measures to Ensure City Employee Cooperation, including the ability to deem communications between attorneys and city employees, officials or contractors as privileged.
  • Measures to Enhance Operations and Effectiveness, including the ability to designate investigators with powers similar to peace officers employed by law enforcement agencies in Illinois.

Together, these measures address barriers holding back the IGO’s ability to perform its duties and carry out thorough, effective and unbiased investigations as it was intended to do.

“Chicago residents and taxpayers deserve an Inspector General’s Office that is looking out for their best interests and is capable of taking whatever steps necessary to root out corruption and fiscal mismanagement,” said Ald. Ricardo Munoz (22). “We urge our colleagues to support these measures, so we can all live in a city that delivers the honest services we as citizens deserve.”

“We are hopeful that that our colleagues will join us in moving to put these amendments up for a vote,” said Ald. Toni Foulkes (15). “We shouldn’t have legislation stalled in committee for well over a year. Chicagoans expect us to operate efficiently, especially when it comes to critical pieces of legislation like this.”

The Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times and Crain’s Chicago Business all endorsed these measures in 2013 when they were introduced.

Progressive Reform Caucus members supporting this legislation include Ald. Bob Fioretti (2); Ald. Toni Foulkes (15); Ald. Leslie Hairston (5); Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6); Ald. Ricardo Munoz (22); Ald. Scott Waguespack (32); Ald. Nick Sposato (36); Ald. John Arena (45).

For additional information on the Progressive Caucus or the IGO legislation, please contact Joanna Klonsky at 312-307-0840.