Emanuel unsure whether he will fire firefighters accused of misusing taxpayer money

August 3, 2011

(Flickr/Cragin Spring)

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Wednesday that he hadn't decided yet whether to fire 54 firefighters accused in a published report of misusing taxpayer money.

The firefighters allegedly received reimbursements for miles they didn't drive in personal cars to inspections. The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Inspector General Joe Ferguson is asking Emanuel to terminate the firefighters.

But the Mayor said the problem is too systematic to solve by laying off the workers. 

"There's actually a grievance process in the contract, and if I fire all of them, it's all going to end up in a grievance process that drags on, and it may end up costing the taxpayers more than the $100,000 in violation," said Emanuel.

Stating that he had "zero tolerance...for any abuse of taxpayer money," Emanuel explained that he had directed Chicago Fire Department Commissioner Robert Hoff "to deal with it, roots and all."

Citing unnamed sources, the Sun-Times reported this morning that members of the Fire Prevention Board fraudulently spent over $100,000 of taxpayer money in just 2009. 

The Fire Department is keeping quiet over the issue; it's conducting an investigation into the allegations but is refusing to release details at this time.