WBEZ | Inspector General Joe Ferguson http://www.wbez.org/tags/inspector-general-joe-ferguson Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Emanuel to review TIF after report finds preferential treatment for Maggie Daley http://www.wbez.org/story/emanuel-review-tif-after-report-finds-preferential-treatment-maggie-daley-92859 <p><p>Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Wednesday he will review a city program that funnels public money to non-profits, after the city's inspector general this week revealed that a group led by Chicago's former first lady disproportionately benefited from the program.</p><p>But Emanuel stopped short of commenting in on the merits of the report, which found that After School Matters, founded by former Mayor Richard Daley's wife, Maggie, may have received preferential treatment by the city.</p><p>The report by Inspector General Joseph Ferguson found After School Matters received $915,000 in subsidies through the city's tax increment financing program, or TIF. The money comes from cash contributions made by companies who benefit from the TIF program.</p><p>Fifty-nine percent of TIF agreements that benefited non-profits between 1985 and 2009 went to After School Matters, the report found. But it said the city unilaterally decided which non-profits would get that money, and found that, when asked, city officials could not explain how non-profits were chosen for the benefit.</p><p>After Wednesday's City Council meeting, Emanuel maintained that after school programs are important and that TIF is a crucial economic development tool. But he didn't weigh in on the report's politically-touchy suggestions of favoritism toward Maggie Daley, who has been battling cancer.</p><p>"What I don't want to see happen is, because of one report, that we shut down after school activities that will be - affect everybody's neighborhoods and their children," Emanuel said.</p><p>The city will look into whether TIF is the appropriate way for corporations to give money to non-profits, Emanuel said.</p><p>Meanwhile, Ald. Scott Waguespack (32) said he'll introduce an measure to cancel or suspend any existing TIF agreements that funnel money to non-profits until the system is reformed, adding that he'll work with the mayor's office on changing the program.</p><p>"Let's sit down, let's determine how one of these not-for-profits could get this money, and let's put a set of criteria together like they do for just about anything else," Waguespack said.</p><p>Waguespack said the process by which non-profits are awarded the grants needs to be more transparent and should include caps on the amount of money that can go to any single group.</p></p> Wed, 05 Oct 2011 18:25:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/emanuel-review-tif-after-report-finds-preferential-treatment-maggie-daley-92859 Inspector general: Daley administration favored Maggie Daley's charity http://www.wbez.org/story/inspector-general-daley-administration-favored-maggie-daleys-charity-92814 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-October/2011-10-04/IMG_0080.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>The city of Chicago may have given preferential treatment to the non-profit founded by Mayor Richard Daley's wife, according to a new report from Chicago's inspector general Joseph Ferguson.</p><p>Companies that receive subsidies from the city through tax increment financing, or TIF, are supposed to give a share of that to a charitable organization.</p><p>According to Chicago's inspector general, between 1985 and 2009, 27 grant agreements directed cash contributions to private non-profits.&nbsp;Of those, 59 percent of the grants went to After School Matters, an organization founded and currently chaired by Maggie Daley. After School Matters received a total of $915,000 through the public benefits clauses. The funds don't include direct city grants.</p><p>Only one organization received more total funds than After School Matters. The Leland Apartments Development received a one-time grant of $1.25 million in 2002.</p><p>Inspector general Joe Ferguson says the selection of After School Matters gives the appearance of "preferential treatment for an organization with close ties to the city." Ferguson does not question the quality of work done by After School Matters.</p><p>The report says the vast majority of TIF recipients say the city unilaterally chose the non-profit to be included in the public benefits clauses.</p><p>Ferguson finds the TIF process lacks transparency and that no city representative interviewed for the report could explain the selection process.&nbsp;</p><p>The inspector general recommends that the city stop naming private organizations to receive the donations under the public benefits clauses. Or, the city should establish an open and transparent selection process, and TIF recipients can be permitted to help choose an eligible charity to support.</p><p>Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Tuesday at an unrelated news conference that he'll review the IG's report. He said he wants to implement changes to the TIF process. The amendments were recommended by a TIF review board that Mayor Emanuel commissioned earlier this year.</p><p>In a statement, After School Matters said it's false that developers would have to agree to donate to After School Matters in order to receive TIF assistance.</p><p>"It is also an insult to the work that former First Lady and After School Matters Chair Maggie Daley continues to do for the youth of this city," the statement reads.</p></p> Tue, 04 Oct 2011 18:18:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/inspector-general-daley-administration-favored-maggie-daleys-charity-92814 Attention tax man: Here are a few more suggestions for nex taxes (won't you add yours to the list?) http://www.wbez.org/blog/justin-kaufmann/2011-09-28/attention-tax-man-here-are-few-more-suggestions-nex-taxes-wont-you-a <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-September/2011-09-28/AP110813152391.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-September/2011-09-28/AP110813152391.jpg" title="Tax any divot, gopher hole or nail-like objects at Soldier Field. We'll make millions! (AP)" width="512" height="312"></p><p>Heeeeeeey! It's better than tax time. <a href="http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-09-27/inspector-general-ferguson-proposes-taxes-and-tolls-balance-city-budget-">It's tax idea time</a>!! Tolls on Lake Shore? No. More income tax? Maybe. Suburban toll? Ludicrous. Hey, has anyone asked me and the tens of ten of readers of this blog? In the past, I've opened up the flood gates to come up with new tax ideas. And I do it for free. I'm not some hoity-toity Inspector General who gets paid six figures. I am just a man of the people — people with good ideas. I'll start this annual list. It's one of my favorite blogs of the year. Please add:</p><ul><li>Bikes: They are getting a free pass. They get to use our streets and our sidewalks for free. I say you drop a license (like license plates) on bikes. You have to pay $30 a year to have a bike in Chicago. You apply the UPC code to the bike's frame and if you don't have one you get a $50 ticket. When you sell the bikes at bike stores, you can't walk out without one. Boom, that's a trillion in new revenue.</li><li>I've always liked the liquor store concept of staying open for 24 hours. It means you can buy beer at any time of the night. But the city puts a tax on that beer so a six pack costs something like $15-20. I say you do the same thing with everything from tolls to pints. Anything between 2-6 a.m. on weekends will cost you double. Hey, you can party all you want. But it will cost you.</li><li>Question for city: Are you charging any tax on panhandlers? Just asking. What about a sign tax? If you have a sign when you panhandle, you have to get a permit.</li><li>If your restaurant sells 'small plates,' then it has to get double taxed. That's just the way it is. Tax trends.</li><li>Fine the Park District $100,000 every time an NFL game has to be stopped because there is a huge nail in the field.</li><li>Tax Rosie.</li><li>Or just have a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/justin-kaufmann/video-our-newest-pledge-drive-operator-really-wants-you-call-now">pledge drive</a>.</li></ul><p><strong>B story</strong>: <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/sports/7888784-419/documentary-revisits-bartman-fallout.html">I watched the Bartman documentary last night</a>. What a great story and awful time for Chicago baseball history. The documentary definitely brought up dark memories of that time. It helped me realize why I quit the Cubs in the first place. Too many idiots. Although I've never been able to place it, that season featured fans that I didn't want to be associated with. The extra ingredient of the threat of blowing the World Series just brought out the absolute worst in a half of Chicago. And it was way before the Bartman incident. I'm sorry, but didn't Cubs fans flip cars after beating Atlanta in the first round? Didn't Wrigleyville turn into a Juggalo festival every day and night towards the end of that season? Didn't Chicago just turn into mush for a month? That's why I don't like the Cubs. I really don't have anything against the baseball team. I think it's just the fans — and not the fans on a lazy August afternoon, but the fans when the game is on the line. The NFC Championship game last year brought intensity and excitement, but nobody flipped a car. The White Sox beat the Boston Red Sox in the first round of the AL playoffs in 2005 and mobs didn't try to take down light poles. You expect that behavior from the Sox fan (it's sort of their reputation), but it never really happened. Even up to the World Series victory. It was jubilant, not frenzied. So yeah, that's why I don't root, root, root for the Cubbies...anymore.</p><p>And I know that I'm not alone.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>C story</strong>: The Occupy Wall Street movement got a nice shot in the arm on Facebook, thanks to a <a href="http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/44679119#44679119">stirring commentary from Lawrence O'Donnell</a>. So enough of the "mainstream media refuses to cover us!!!!" rant that floods my Twitter feed. Are we cool? What's going on with <a href="http://progressillinois.com/quick-hits/content/2011/09/27/occupy-chicago-protest-grows-despite-attempts-stop-it-video">Occupy Chicago</a>? It just goes to show, if you want the media's attention, get beat up by police. That's in the old mainstream media handbook: Anything about housing prices going down or police beating up college kids - automatic. (<em>Editors note: There is no such handbook</em>)</p><p>I will say this - the mark of a good protester is how you hold up when it is raining sideways. Today, it's raining sideways.</p><p><strong>D story</strong>: Yeah! <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/halvorson-announce-next-week-if-shell-challenge-jackson-democratic-primary-92515">Debbie Halvorson will announce this week whether or not she'll run against incumbent congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.</a> That's an old rivalry. It's not quite Green Bay/Chicago, but more like Detroit/Minnesota. It's definitely a noon game rivalry. But still, a rivalry nonetheless!</p><p><strong>Weather</strong>: Yeah, rain.</p><p><strong>Sports</strong>: Today is the last day of the MLB regular season. I have to say that it might have been the worst in recent Chicago history. These two teams were just downright awful. Nobody expected much from the Cubs and the Sox just imploded. Wait till next year. Sox GM Kenny Williams supposedly has a short <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/sports/7914666-419/ken-williams-narrows-his-list-for-next-white-sox-manager.html">list of managers to replace Ozzie</a>. Oz will be <a href="http://espn.go.com/chicago/mlb/story/_/id/7030013/florida-marlins-introduce-ozzie-guillen-new-skipper">announced as the new manager of the Marlins this afternoon</a>. That press conference should interrupt regularly scheduled programming, eh? And will <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/sports/7914751-419/aramis-ramirez-says-he-wouldnt-mind-playing-for-ozzie-guillen.html">Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Zambrano join Ozzie in Florida</a>?</p><p>Also, I can't believe that there hasn't been more media outcry over the fact that an NFL game was stopped due to a <a href="http://bleacherreport.com/articles/866335-smg-management-of-soldier-field-a-sob-sod-story">nail-like object sticking out of the Soldier Field turf</a>. Is that not a story? It seems like a story, especially with the recent woes of the Park District to maintain a professional-grade field. Didn't they cancel Family Fest night because the field wasn't in shape? Will someone please tell me what is going on?</p><p>Kicker: <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/mark-bazer/2011-09-27/you-are-soooo-tight-or-one-way-conversation-massage-therapist%E2%80%99s-92470">Have you had this conversation with your massage therapist</a>?</p></p> Wed, 28 Sep 2011 13:58:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/justin-kaufmann/2011-09-28/attention-tax-man-here-are-few-more-suggestions-nex-taxes-wont-you-a Inspector general finds conflict of interest at World Business Chicago http://www.wbez.org/story/inspector-general-finds-conflict-interest-world-business-chicago-89617 <p><p>Chicago's Inspector General says he's found a major conflict of interest that exposes how business leaders in the city can help guarantee government money for their own companies. World Business Chicago is an organization funded by the city tasked with growing Chicago's economy. Its board members include some of the most power business leaders and CEOs in the region; from United Airlines to Motorola Solutions to the Pritzker Group.</p><p>But Chicago's Inspector General Joe Ferguson said he's found a blatant loophole related to the organization. Ferguson said the way it works is that when a company applies for grants or subsidies with the city, they get letters of support from outside groups saying how important that money would be. Sometimes, it turns out, that outside group is World Business Chicago. So CEOs can vouch for their own business not as a CEO, but as a member of the city-financed agency.</p><p>Ferguson recommended World Business Chicago stops advocating for businesses applying for government money. In a statement, a spokeswoman for Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who is chairman of World Business Chicago, said they mayor's office will consider a broader conflict-of-interest policy.</p></p> Tue, 26 Jul 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/inspector-general-finds-conflict-interest-world-business-chicago-89617 Report shows city agency didn't accurately pay minority-owned businesses http://www.wbez.org/story/report-shows-city-agency-didnt-accurately-pay-minority-owned-businesses-87910 <p><p>A new report from Chicago's inspector general shows a city agency over-reported its contracts with minority and women-owned businesses.</p><p>The report found two issues with the Public Building Commission of Chicago. One, that the city agency overseeing construction projects didn't give up all the information Inspector General Joe Ferguson wanted, and, two, that the Building Commission over-reported by $40 million the amount paid to minority and women-owned businesses on 15 projects in 2009.</p><p>"We're talking about taxpayer money and there should be full accountability and accuracy in the reporting of how taxpayer money is being utilized," Ferguson said.</p><p>Ferguson does not allege the agency intentionally misreported the contracts, but he said the mayor, who oversees the building commission, should get involved.</p><p>A spokeswoman for the Public Building Commission did not immediately return calls for comment.</p><p>Meanwhile, Ald. Howard Brookins, who chairs the black caucus in city council, said he's frequently heard of minority-owned businesses struggling to get contracts with the city.</p></p> Thu, 16 Jun 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/report-shows-city-agency-didnt-accurately-pay-minority-owned-businesses-87910 Inspector General Joe Ferguson maps out challenges of MWBE program http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-04-12/inspector-general-joe-ferguson-maps-out-challenges-mwbe-program-85064 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-April/2011-04-12/city construction.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>On Monday <em>Crain’s Chicago Business</em> <a href="http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20110409/ISSUE01/304099979/crains-investigation-wal-marts-austin-project-comes-up-short" target="_blank">reported</a> that Wal-Mart fell short in its promise to be a good neighbor to parts of Chicago’s minority communities. The company hired a black woman contractor to build its first Chicago store in Austin on the city’s West Side. But much of the work went to non-minority owned contractors.</p><p>While Wal-Mart is a corporate entity, the City of Chicago has a program to ensure minority businesses get some of the construction action. But some say the <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/comp/provdrs/certification_andcompliancesupplierdiversity/svcs/mbe_wbe_bepd_programs.html" target="_blank">Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise Program</a>, or MWBE, isn’t hitting its goals.<br> <br> Chicago Inspector General Joe Ferguson issued <a href="http://chicagoinspectorgeneral.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/Report_MWBE-ProgramReview.pdf" target="_blank">a report in 2010</a> detailing the program’s shortcomings. In May he will issue an update to the report. He joined <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> to explain what challenges exist for minority and women-owned businesses seeking contracts.</p></p> Tue, 12 Apr 2011 13:04:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-04-12/inspector-general-joe-ferguson-maps-out-challenges-mwbe-program-85064 Inspector General wants to ban city employees from getting gifts http://www.wbez.org/story/chicago/inspector-general-wants-ban-city-employees-getting-gifts <p><p>The Inspector General for the City of Chicago says city employees should not be allowed to accept gifts from companies doing business with the city.</p><p>According to the Chicago Ethics Ordinance, city employees may accept gifts from contractors but the gifts can't be worth more than $50 and not more than $100 worth of gifts in any one calendar years. But an investigation by the inspector generals office found a systemic problem with gift giving.</p><p>For example, a contractor who does work for the Chicago Department of Transportation paid for two CDOT employees to play in a golf tournament for a cost of $250 each. The employees said they didn't know the value of the tickets and conveniently didn't ask. Another employee accepted more than $3,500 in sports tickets and meals.</p><p>Inspector General Joe Ferguson said gift giving at best causes confusion and at worst leads to willful violations. He said the easy fix is to prohibit city employees from accepting any gifts at all.<br /><br />&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 22 Dec 2010 12:39:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/chicago/inspector-general-wants-ban-city-employees-getting-gifts