Chicago Inspector General given power to investigate infrastructure trust

August 29, 2012

Quinn Ford

Members of Chicago’s new infrastructure trust have given the city’s inspector general the authority to investigate their actions.

The city ordinance that created the trust did not grant the inspector general that power, but members of the trust met this week to approve the new entity’s bylaws. Those bylaws state the trust will cooperate with the Inspector General’s office.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel pushed an ordinance creating the trust through the City Council last spring; the ordinance passed with a vote of 41-7.

Some aldermen who opposed the trust had voiced concerns the infrastructure trust lacked oversight, such as failing to give the inspector general jurisdiction to investigate the trust’s members and actions.

One of the aldermen who voted against the ordinance, Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd ward), said the trust’s bylaws are a step in the right direction. He said he is glad the members chose to cooperate with the inspector general, but he said it remains to be seen whether they will actually do so during an investigation.

“You know you can put down in language and you can have strong intent, but I think you need to see what happens in the long run and see if that really works out for the IG as an office,” Waguespack said.

The Inspector General’s Office has jurisdiction over three elected officers of the city government: the mayor, the city clerk and the city treasurer. The office can also investigate all appointees, city contractors and business entities seeking city contracts.

The office cannot investigate City Council members or their staff.

When the Inspector General’s Office does investigate, it turns its findings over to the mayor or the department head to determine what action to take.