WBEZ | Inspector General http://www.wbez.org/tags/inspector-general Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Morning Shift: City Council's Inspector General won't back down in efforts to maintain power http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-08-01/morning-shift-city-councils-inspector-general-wont <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/1900087_621907811180036_582291181_n.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>We talk to City Council&#39;s Inspector General, Faisal Khan, to learn more on his continued battles with aldermen over his role as a watchdog. We also talk with Alderman Joe Moore on his vote for council&#39;s reform. Then, we hear from a band that&#39;s known for channeling their inner Sam Cooke.</p><div class="storify"><iframe src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-city-council-s-ig-battles-to-maintai/embed?header=false&border=false" width="100%" height=750 frameborder=no allowtransparency=true></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-city-council-s-ig-battles-to-maintai.js?header=false&border=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-city-council-s-ig-battles-to-maintai" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: City Council's Inspector General won't back down in efforts to maintain power" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Fri, 01 Aug 2014 08:18:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-08-01/morning-shift-city-councils-inspector-general-wont Still more questions in case of deceased CPS worker who stole school funds http://www.wbez.org/news/still-more-questions-case-deceased-cps-worker-who-stole-school-funds-109515 <p><p>A day after Chicago Public Schools filed a $1.6 million lawsuit against him for allegedly embezzling funds, Roberto Tirado&rsquo;s mysterious case continues to offer more questions than answers, including: could he really have acted alone?</p><p>Two years ago this week Tirado was found dead in a hotel room in Tijuana, Mexico, according to the U.S. State Department.</p><p>Back in Chicago, the Lake View High School graduate had been a well-respected wrestling and swim coach at his alma mater where he also served as the school&rsquo;s technology coordinator.</p><p>It was in that role that Tirado allegedly misappropriated nearly half a million dollars from school funds, over 10 years, through nine fake vendors, according to a CPS Inspector General&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.cps.edu/About_CPS/Departments/Documents/OIG_FY_2013_AnnualReport.pdf" target="_blank">report</a> released this month.</p><p>&ldquo;The vendors were actually individuals [he] knew when he went to high school or they went to high school when he worked there,&rdquo; Inspector General Jim Sullivan told WBEZ. &ldquo;So he created those vendors for CPS. And, over the course of a number years, he issued purchase orders and caused them to be paid in excess of $400,000.&rdquo;</p><p>The report recommended that CPS try to recover some of the lost funds, and yesterday, CPS filed its lawsuit against Tirado&rsquo;s estate to do just that.</p><p>Still many, like former Lake View special education teacher M.L. Rembert, wonder how a single employee could divert so much money through bogus vendors without setting off alarms.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m still in a state of shock,&rdquo; Rembert said. &ldquo;I can&rsquo;t believe that administrators that worked with this individual could, without checks and balances, not be aware of this. I find it so appalling. This was not the individual that I knew.&rdquo;</p><p>Tirado&rsquo;s alleged misappropriations were discovered during a routine audit of the school triggered by the arrival of a new principal Lilith Werner in the summer of 2011.</p><p>When the auditor discovered unusual reimbursements to Tirado, she brought in the CPS Inspector General&rsquo;s office, which Sullivan, says, found &ldquo;more serious issues.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/lakeview.jpg" style="height: 438px; width: 350px; float: right;" title="Embezzlement at Lake View High School was the subject of the lead item in the most recent Chicago Public School’s Inspector General report. (WBEZ/Monica Eng)" />These included funneling the money through bogus purchase orders to vendor P.O. boxes that Tirado had established in Evanston, according to the IG&rsquo;s report. In addition, more than $114 thousand of reimbursements from the school went to Tirado&rsquo;s personal American Express card.</p><p>The report said that Tirado did not cooperate with the Inspector General&rsquo;s investigation on the advice of legal counsel. But Tirado&rsquo;s lawyer, Kevin O Rourke, did tell the IG&rsquo;s office that: &ldquo;Mr. Tirado stated that everything he&rsquo;d done was at the behest of his school principal.&rdquo;<br /><br />Sullivan confirms that O&rsquo;Rourke shared this information, and that IG representatives interviewed former Principal Scott Feaman.</p><p>Feaman isn&rsquo;t named in the report, but he oversaw the school for all 10 years in question, including when Tirado allegedly reaped more than $114 thousand in credit card reimbursements. District rules prohibit most personal reimbursements of more than $500 a month. And in a statement CPS says principals are &ldquo;required to monitor school spending.&rdquo;</p><p>So how did Tirado get away with so much money?</p><p>According to the report, Tirado may have received help from two Lake View high school clerks who who did not observe the proper checks and balances to prevent fraud. The two were recommended for disciplinary action, and no longer work at Lake View. But the IG said reimbursing monthly amounts over $500 should have required additional scrutiny from a higher authority.</p><p>&ldquo;You can exceed that $500 limit with a little more oversight,&rdquo; Sullivan said. &ldquo;So to explain how that happened and this fell through the cracks, I really can&rsquo;t explain that at this point.&rdquo;</p><p>However, Sullivan says by the end of the investigation, &ldquo;we didn&rsquo;t think there was enough evidence to make any [disciplinary] recommendation for Principal Feaman who had already left CPS employment by that time.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>When Feaman retired from Lake View in 2011 he was honored by Chicago&rsquo;s city council for 36 years of service to CPS. WBEZ made multiple attempts to reach Feaman for comment through phone, email and even a visit to his home. In one call to his household someone picked up the phone and responded, &ldquo;we have nothing to say&rdquo; before hanging up.<br /><br />Lake View&rsquo;s current principal Lilith Werner also did not respond to requests for comment on the matter. Nor did the two clerks who were implicated in the IG&rsquo;s report.</p><p>While the IG&rsquo;s part of the investigation is closed, Tirado&rsquo;s friends and associates say they&rsquo;re still left with many questions.</p><p>They ask why someone with access to so much money would have continued to work multiple jobs. Others question how he died in Tijuana (his lawyer O&rsquo;Rourke says he still doesn&rsquo;t know). Some ask why, after dying in January of 2012, Tirado&#39;s body was not transferred to Chicago until March.</p><p>Sullivan&rsquo;s office confirms that it never identified the body when it returned.</p><p>Tirado&rsquo;s family did not respond to interview requests but, after the report came out, one aunt sent WBEZ a note saying:</p><blockquote><p>&quot;As you can imagine, the family was taken aback by the report and had a number of questions regarding the content. We feel that it is unfortunate that Robert is the one being targeted as he is no longer with us. On a personal note, I can share that this caused the family a great deal of pain. It was the reopening of the wound of having lost Robert.&quot;</p></blockquote><p>O&rsquo;Rourke says that the family was further shocked by the Monday lawsuit that designates a CPS employee, rather than a family member, as the personal representative of Tirado&rsquo;s estate.</p><p>Josh Conlan was a student at Lake View from 2001 to 2003. He says that Tirado, was a challenging wrestling coach who inspired him to pursue a degree in physical education. Conlan feels the charges don&rsquo;t fit the man he knew.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Lake%20View%20marquee.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="Friends of Robert Tirado ask how the former Lake View coach and technology coordinator could’ve embezzled nearly half a million dollars without higher approval. The alleged theft was discovered by a routine audit after former Principal Scott Feaman retired in 2011. (Patty Wetli)" />&ldquo;Im picturing Robert Tirado in my head right now and I can&rsquo;t see anything you are saying,&rdquo; Conlan said. &ldquo;Half a million dollars at that time? There&rsquo;s gotta be other names attached to it. Knowing what I know about him, I can&rsquo;t specifically say that he is a mastermind of that sort. And it just seems to me like they are trying to find a fall guy. And that&rsquo;s just wrong.&rdquo;</p><p>Several others echoed Conlan&rsquo;s comments. But the IG says that $330 thousand dollars did end up in Tirado&rsquo;s account. What happened to all the money after that is still unclear, but documents that emerge from the CPS lawsuit may shed light on that.<br /><br />No criminal charges have been filed in the matter and Sullivan said that the FBI lost interest in the case after Tirado was declared dead.</p><p>It&rsquo;s difficult to know what Tirado was thinking in the months between the audit and his disappearance, and he left few clues. But one friend, who asked to remain anonymous, shared a letter in which Tirado said he felt like a failure who &ldquo;let down so many people.&rdquo; He closed the letter with a warning: &lsquo;Be careful to whom you talk.&rdquo;</p><p>O&rsquo;Rourke confirmed that his client was depressed.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;Mr Tirado&rsquo;s life was [Lake View high school] which is why when asked him to leave and said get off the school grounds now, it was devastating to him.&rdquo;</p><p>The lawyer also contends that, until the end, Tirado maintained he was simply following orders.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;They were using the funds basically off-budget as a way of circumventing the CPS budgeting rules,&rdquo; O&rsquo;Rourke said. &ldquo;And Mr. Tirado told me that this was a common practice at many schools.&rdquo;</p><p>Inspector General Sullivan responds that, although he has seen cases involving suspicious reimbursements to personal credit cards before, fake vendor schemes are &ldquo;certainly not commonplace at CPS.&rdquo;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>And while the IG acknowledges that he&rsquo;s investigated bigger cases of misappropriation in CPS, &ldquo;it&rsquo;s still a large amount of money that could have been used otherwise for appropriate purchases at the school.&rdquo;</p><p>While the IG&rsquo;s report offers information about dates and dollar amounts, other details are frustratingly out of reach for friends like Rembert.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;I look at this and say &lsquo;this can&rsquo;t have happened,&rsquo;&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;There&rsquo;s more to it than meets the eye. I just wish the investigation had been more thorough. Roberto&rsquo;s dead now. So, of course, this is the end of it. The man is dead. So I guess because he&rsquo;s dead we won&rsquo;t really ever get to the truth.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer. Follow her at&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/monicaeng" target="_blank">@monicaeng</a></em></p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="650" src="http://cdn.knightlab.com/libs/timeline/latest/embed/index.html?source=0Ag9RbLc9jJ4QdEotZ0FOVUFNUFJKWXpUc1VOYk5qd3c&amp;font=Bevan-PotanoSans&amp;maptype=TERRAIN&amp;lang=en&amp;height=650" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Tue, 14 Jan 2014 15:01:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/still-more-questions-case-deceased-cps-worker-who-stole-school-funds-109515 Report on alleged misconduct rankles aldermen http://www.wbez.org/news/report-alleged-misconduct-rankles-aldermen-108148 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/IG.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The office that investigates claims of misconduct by Chicago aldermen has released a new report, prompting a round of criticism from some members of City Council. The <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/olig/Documents/LIGrpt-Jul2013.pdf">18-page report</a> is the second released by Legislative Inspector General Faisal Khan since the city council established that office by ordinance in 2010.</p><p>The report looks at 132 complaints filed between July 2012 and July 2013, of which 25 were investigated. The report elaborates on a handful of complaints in more detail, though no aldermen are named.</p><p>In one case, an alderman allegedly took more campaign donations from a contributor than permitted. Another investigation claims an alderman instructed a police officer to write two traffic summonses to a person who had gotten into a parking dispute with the alderman&rsquo;s sister-in-law.</p><p>Members of the City Council&rsquo;s Progressive Caucus demurred from commenting on specific examples cited in the study, saying they hadn&rsquo;t yet seen the report. Still, several accused Khan of releasing the study to the media before it was available to the public &ndash; a claim that Khan denies.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s got to be coming out of his office,&rdquo; said Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd), &ldquo;he needs to be more tight-lipped on the approach that he&rsquo;s taking.&rdquo; Several aldermen said they believe Khan&rsquo;s office should be dissolved, and that aldermanic oversight could be given to City Inspector General Joseph Ferguson, who already has jurisdiction over city employees.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s interesting that they&rsquo;re focused more on the confidentiality and the city inspector general office rather than the substantive facts of these reports,&rdquo; Khan told WBEZ Monday.</p><p>Council members specifically declined to comment on one <a href="http://www.myfoxchicago.com/story/22901456/ald-joe-moore-accused-of-ethics-violations-by-ig-inspector-general#ixzz2ZoIAqPln">alleged abuse of power</a> that <a href="http://chicagotonight.wttw.com/2013/07/21/reform-ald-joe-moore-caught-ethics-probes">WTTW&rsquo;s &ldquo;Chicago Tonight&quot;</a> first reported on Sunday. In the story &lsquo;multiple sources&rsquo; named Joe Moore (49th) as the alderman who allegedly allowed campaign work to be done from his ward office, then paid off a former aide to stay silent about it.</p><p>First elected to the City Council in 1991, the reform-minded North Side alderman fired off a written statement on Monday denying any such misconduct. It said &ldquo;the issues involved were personnel matters--not political ones&rdquo; and came from a &ldquo;disgruntled former employee.&rdquo; Khan&rsquo;s office was &ldquo;run amok with a lack of professionalism...&rdquo; the statement continued, and according to Moore never interviewed him about the allegations.</p><p>Khan declined to confirm or deny the identity of any of the aldermen in the report.</p><p>The Office of the Legislative Inspector General has been criticized in the media for its expenditures, but in the newly-released report, Khan says his office has hired five part-time employees to help carry the workload. Their investigations now go to the city&rsquo;s Board of Ethics.</p><div><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her <a href="http://www.twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a> and <a href="http://www.twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></div></p> Mon, 22 Jul 2013 17:40:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/report-alleged-misconduct-rankles-aldermen-108148 CPS Inspector General to investigate paid protesters http://www.wbez.org/story/cps-inspector-general-investigate-paid-protesters-95843 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/archives/images/cityroom/cityroom_20080324_cmitchell_Scho_large.png" alt="" /><p><p>The Chicago Public Schools watchdog is investigating why people have been paid to speak out in support of school closings. The school district's Inspector General said they're looking to verify whether that's true, and if so - if it's legal.</p><p>Pastors who support school closings have been paying busloads of people around $20 each to hold signs and read scripts at public hearings. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has deflected questions from the press about it.</p><p>"I'm not speaking on it - I'm speaking about the fact that the ministers care about their schools and care about their community," Emanuel said at a Wednesday press conference.</p><p>In the past, clergy have spoken out against school closings. But this year marks the first time clergy have come out in force supporting the actions.</p></p> Thu, 26 Jan 2012 13:40:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/cps-inspector-general-investigate-paid-protesters-95843 September Headlines: Budget suggestions, Chicago sports exits and the length of the school day http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-09-30/september-headlines-budget-suggestions-chicago-sports-exits-and-length-s <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-September/2011-09-30/IG.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>While the sound of leaves crunching underneath may soon fill the air, one of September’s big activities has been number crunching. Chicago’s <a href="http://chicagoinspectorgeneral.org/" target="_blank">Inspector General</a> issued <a href="http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-09-27/inspector-general-ferguson-proposes-taxes-and-tolls-balance-city-budget-" target="_blank">a report</a> suggesting ways the City could boost revenues and trim the fat, and Mayor Emanuel’s budget is expected in a couple of weeks. Meanwhile, the <a href="http://chicago.whitesox.mlb.com/" target="_blank">Sox</a> and <a href="http://chicago.cubs.mlb.com" target="_blank">Cubs </a>wrapped up their seasons and the<a href="http://www.chicagobears.com" target="_blank"> Bears</a> made a rather rocky start to theirs. And - as school got underway - some students found they were in for a bit of a longer day.</p><p>So there was plenty to talk about in September's installment of <em>Month in Review</em>. Joining host Alison Cuddy to review the headlines were <a href="http://www.npr.org/people/2101136/david-schaper" target="_blank">David Schaper</a>, a Chicago Bureau Reporter for NPR News; <a href="http://www.franksennett.com/" target="_blank">Frank Sennett</a>, Editor-in-Chief of <a href="http://timeoutchicago.com/" target="_blank"><em>Time Out Chicago;</em></a> and <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/news/washington/" target="_blank">Laura Washington</a>, a columnist for the <em>Chicago SunTimes</em>.</p></p> Fri, 30 Sep 2011 13:54:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-09-30/september-headlines-budget-suggestions-chicago-sports-exits-and-length-s Ald. Ed Bus discusses his ideas for new city revenue--mustaches, beware http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-09-29/ald-ed-bus-discusses-his-ideas-new-city-revenue-mustaches-beware-92590 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-September/2011-09-29/Ed Bus.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>In an effort dig Chicago out of its massive budget deficit, the city’s<a href="http://chicagoinspectorgeneral.org/" target="_blank"> Inspector General, Joseph Ferguson,</a> released a series of <a href="http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-09-27/inspector-general-ferguson-proposes-taxes-and-tolls-balance-city-budget-" target="_blank">suggestions</a>. Some ideas aimed to cut costs, others would raise revenues; they could be called everything from thought provoking&nbsp; to politically impossible. The same was said of <a href="http://53rdward.com/" target="_blank">Ald. Ed Bus</a>. The 53rd Ward alderman has been a fixture at the council for years. He represents a very, very, very small ward on the Northwest Side of Chicago--that little triangle of land at Fullerton, Elston and Damen. Bus unsuccessfully ran for mayor on the platform "Keep it Like it Was," and was miffed that no one consulted him on how to boost revenue. He joined <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> to talk more about the suggestions floating around City Hall.</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/justin-kaufmann/2011-09-29/alderman-ed-bus-53rd-releases-his-own-proposal-new-city-revenue-hint" target="_blank">Read an in-depth summary</a> of Ald. Ed Bus's ideas on WBEZ's news blog.</p><p>At WBEZ, Ed Bus is also known as <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/justin-kaufmann" target="_blank">Justin Kaufmann</a>, a senior content developer who blogs about the news.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 29 Sep 2011 14:04:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-09-29/ald-ed-bus-discusses-his-ideas-new-city-revenue-mustaches-beware-92590 The First 100: Searching for transparency at City Hall http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-08-04/first-100-searching-transparency-city-hall-90112 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-August/2011-08-04/4048831734_80cd54cb27_b(2).jpg" alt="" /><p><p>"Chicago style" or the "Chicago way" of doings things can be a funny thing--cultural quirks--like the unwritten rule that hot dogs be dressed with celery salt, not ketchup. But the city also earned a reputation for shady politics and back-room deals. So when Mayor Rahm Emanuel promised a transparent, open city government - it was practically an affront to the very definition of "Chicago." Still, there was movement in that direction.</p><p>Earlier in the week, the mayor announced the release of a searchable online database of city contracts from 1993 onward. As part of <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/first-100-rahm-emanuels-first-100-days-chicago-mayor" target="_blank"><em>The First 100</em></a> series, <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> assessed the city’s progress and prospects under the Emanuel administration. For the latest installment,<a href="http://scottforchicago.com/" target="_blank"> Ald. Scott Waguespack</a> (32nd Ward) and <a href="http://www.chicagoreader.com/" target="_blank"><em>Chicago Reader</em></a> senior writer<a href="http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/ArticleArchives?author=868703" target="_blank"> Mick Dumke</a> joined<em> Eight Forty-Eight</em> to discuss the level of transparency in Chicago city government.</p><p>On <strong>Wednesday, Aug. 24</strong>, local officials will join <em>Eight Forty-Eight's</em> Alison Cuddy for a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/event/2011-08-24/first-100-mayor-emanuel%E2%80%99s-early-impact-chicago" target="_blank">public forum</a> to culminate <em>The First 100</em> series.<br> Please <a href="http://www.wbez.org/first100question%20" target="_blank">submit questions</a> for the mayor and other local leaders for a dynamic and interactive discussion.</p><p><em>Music Button: Thievery Corporation, "Stargazer", from the CD Culture of Fear, (ESL)</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 04 Aug 2011 13:44:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-08-04/first-100-searching-transparency-city-hall-90112 Inspector General Joe Ferguson tasked with stamping out Chicago corruption http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/inspector-general-joe-ferguson-tasked-stamping-out-chicago-corruption <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/Picture 023.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>In Illinois, tracking the trail of corruption through politics is practically a sport. At the city level alone, Chicagoans have seen numerous scandals, involving patronage hiring, fraud and bribery. On this <em>Mayor Monday</em>, <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> aimed to learn more about corruption under Mayor Daley&rsquo;s tenure &ndash; and what the next mayor faces in managing the corruption capital of America.<br /><br /><em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> spoke to a man with what sounds like a monumental job -- monitoring and hopefully ending corruption. <a href="http://www.chicagoinspectorgeneral.org/office-joseph-ferguson.html" target="_blank">Joe Ferguson</a> was named city Inspector General by Mayor Daley in 2009 which means he watches over the very man who appointed him to office. Inspector General Joe Ferguson joined host Alison Cuddy to explain how his office works to keep City Hall honest.</p><p><em>Music Button: Calexico, &quot;The Road Back&quot;, from the CD Toolbox, (Our Soil, Our Strength) </em></p></p> Mon, 31 Jan 2011 14:21:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/inspector-general-joe-ferguson-tasked-stamping-out-chicago-corruption Chicago Public Schools blasted for improper spending, use of clout http://www.wbez.org/story/chicago-board-education/spending-use-clout-chicago-public-schools-under-investigation <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/board emblem for web.jpg" alt="" /><p><p class="MsoNormal"><strong><em>Updated at 4:10 PM on 1/4/11</em></strong></p><p>The Chicago Board of Education was spending lavishly on such items as liquor and flowers, even as the school district was bracing for a budget crisis.</p><p>Chicago Public Schools&rsquo; Inspector General James Sullivan lists hundreds of thousands of dollars in inappropriate expenditures by the Board in a newly released <a href="http://www.cps.edu/About_CPS/Departments/Documents/OIG_FY_2010AnnualReport.pdf" target="_blank">report</a>. Those included Soldier Field skybox suites, catered lunches for 50 people on days when the board held its monthly meetings, and holiday parties at a board official&rsquo;s home that cost the district thousands.</p><p>The report says the board also spent $3,000 to have its offices and the CEO offices &quot;swept for electronic eavesdropping devices.&quot; And the district gave away $750,000 to charities, some of which board members had direct ties to.</p><p>The investigation spans the tenure of two board presidents, Rufus Williams and Michael Scott. Scott committed suicide in November 2009.</p><p>The inspector general&rsquo;s report finds the Board intentionally avoided competitive bidding and contract rules and freely overspent its allotted budget. The report says the Board&rsquo;s spending sets an &ldquo;inappropriate tone at the top.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;The message that budget cuts need to be made and furlough days need to be taken rings hollow when the Board itself uses CPS funds irresponsibly,&rdquo; it states.</p><p>The district clamped down on board spending and instituted more controls last year, aware of the investigation.</p><p>Inspector General Sullivan also examined the role clout played in admissions to the city&rsquo;s top high schools during the last two school years. He found that a process meant to be fair and impartial had been &ldquo;tainted by politics and favoritism.&quot; His report implicates high-level employees in CPS and Chicago Mayor Ricahrd Daley's office.</p><p>Sullivan also recommends the district discipline some of the selective enrollment principals for giving preferential treatment to politicians, friends, and CPS staff.</p><p>The Chicago Teachers Union said the report shows the city needs an elected school board. &quot;What this is really about is a system that's out of control,&quot; said Xian Barrett, the union's political director. &quot;It's nontransparent, it's not held accountable. And that's exactly why we're fighting for an elected school board, for more community input.&quot;</p><p>The district centralized much of its admissions process and is now auditing principal selections.</p><p>The Inspector General&rsquo;s office received a record number of complaints last &nbsp;year--1,479 complaints alleging misconduct, waste, fraud and financial mismanagement within the school system.</p></p> Tue, 04 Jan 2011 12:44:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/chicago-board-education/spending-use-clout-chicago-public-schools-under-investigation Aldermen react to inspector general's budget report http://www.wbez.org/story/2010-budget/aldermen-react-inspector-generals-budget-report <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2010-October/2010-10-27/4471260723_f81c992cfb_m.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Inspector General Joseph Ferguson's report laid out 24 ways to slash municipal spending. Alderman Ed Burke chairs the city council's finance committee. He took issue with a number of Ferguson's cost-cutting ideas, including doing away with a subsidized sewer service for the elderly.<strong><b><font face="Times New Roman">&nbsp;</font></b></strong>The Inspector General's report says eliminating the subsidy would save more than $5 million.&nbsp;The elimination of the sewer subsidy garnered little support among aldermen, though many said they needed more time to properly review the report.<br /> <br /> Alderman Ray Suarez chairs the Housing and Real Estate Committee;&nbsp;he said&nbsp;some of the&nbsp;report<font color="navy"><span style="color: navy;">&rsquo;</span></font>s suggestions&nbsp;such as&nbsp;eliminating property tax relief grants and home buying assistance for police officers&nbsp;would have&nbsp;consequences for struggling neighborhoods where more police presence is helping. One idea Alderman Suarez&nbsp;said he would support&nbsp;was&nbsp;the&nbsp;option to privatize the city's blue cart recycling program.<br /> <br /> 28th ward alderman Ed Smith&nbsp;had harsher words for the Inspector&nbsp;General, saying he should &quot;do his job and let the alderm<font color="navy"><span style="color: navy;">e</span></font>n focus on the budget.&quot; Chicago Budget Director Eugene Munin shared this sentiment in a statement&nbsp;responding to&nbsp;Ferguson's report.&nbsp;Echoing many&nbsp;aldermen, Munin&nbsp;expressed his concerns about why the ideas weren't proposed when budget discussions began back in May. Munin also&nbsp;expressed doubt as to whether it&nbsp;was appropriate&nbsp;for a government watchdog to&nbsp;get&nbsp;involved with the budget; a responsibility he said&nbsp;belongs&nbsp;to the mayor and his administration. <br /> <br /> The Inspector General's&nbsp;report lists $247 million in potential cuts to city services and infrastructure, many of which Munin said would violate existing collective bargaining agreements. Jonathan Davey, a spokesman for the Inspector General, said the report was part of an effort to &quot;promote efficiency and effective government.&quot; He said&nbsp;similar reports put out by other government oversight agencies, like&nbsp;New York City's Independent Budget Office<font color="navy"><span style="color: navy;">,</span></font> were used as a model.</p></p> Mon, 25 Oct 2010 13:18:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2010-budget/aldermen-react-inspector-generals-budget-report