April 26, 2012 11:02 PM
City Bureaucracy Turns Spigot, Drip Returns
After getting fired for allowing friends to bypass Midway Airport’s security checkpoint so they wouldn’t miss a flight, a city worker gets his taxpayer-funded job back, and now is making $84,000 a year with Chicago’s water department.
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Last summer we did a news story about Arthur Rodriguez, a City of Chicago employee at Midway Airport who let friends through a side door – bypassing the security checkpoint – so they wouldn’t miss a flight.
Rodriguez mysteriously flew under the radar and was never really punished until we did our investigation in conjunction with CBS2. At that point, the city fired him and we thought that was that.
But, as further proof that nobody should ever be surprised in how city government works, Rodriguez regained his taxpayer-financed job – paying $84,000.
Turns out after the city fired Rodriguez, he appealed and a city panel overturned his termination, deciding a suspension was good enough.
So, as of earlier this year, Rodriguez is back working for the city’s Department of Water Management.
Lucky us. Perhaps this stint, courtesy of taxpayers, will make him smarter, thinking twice about breaching security in the city’s water system.
When we reached out, he said: "Don’t call me no more."
Lawmaker has explaining to do
We’ve tried to ask Democratic state Rep. Monique Davis questions about her ties to the Brainerd Community Development Corp., a nonprofit providing adult literacy, GED and computer classes at her district office on Chicago’s Far South Side.
But Davis won’t talk to us about Brainerd employees who’ve collected signatures for her nominating petitions, notarized her petitions, examined the petitions of political opponents, donated to her campaign and handled the selection of legislative scholarship recipients.
She won’t talk to us about the $235,000 in grants she directed to the organization from 2000 to 2005. She also won’t tell us if she had a hand in the group receiving another $900,000 in state grants since 2006.
And Davis won’t tell us why she’s let the group occupy her district office rent-free even though Chicago Public Schools – which owns the building – sued her for $600,000 in unpaid rent, taxes and fees.
Curiously, Brainerd officials have indicated on government grant applications that part of the money they receive is for rent.
Strange stuff. It’s time for Davis to step up and provide answers.
A heaping mess for Mr. Bless
These days, McHenry County Board member Robert Bless must feel cursed.
An attorney and cop in addition to being a Republican politician, consider the trouble he’s in:
The agency that regulates lawyers is investigating Bless over misconduct allegations that, among other things, he scammed money from a client who also was his mistress.
The woman is suing him in Cook County Circuit Court.
Prosecutors have questioned people in front of a grand jury about some of the same things.
And the Cook County sheriff’s office, where Bless works as an officer, is trying to fire him for, among other things, allegedly not reporting that he has outside employment.
As one person familiar with the situation relayed, "You have a guy who basically had an unblemished record . . . and all of a sudden it’s fire and brimstone raining hell and fury."
It’s a convoluted situation, and we’re still trying to collect all the facts, including more information on an insurance fraud scheme the ex-mistress pleaded guilty to years ago.
Voters might be the final jury. Bless is up for re-election this fall.
"Webb" of legal bills?
Judge Michael Toomin displayed unusual courage and independence for a member of Cook County’s patronage-laden judiciary by naming a special prosecutor to reinvestigate the 2004 death of diminutive suburbanite David Koschman from a punch allegedly thrown by former Mayor Richard M. Daley’s linebacker-sized nephew R. J. Vanecko during a booze-fueled altercation in the Rush Street area.
Earlier this week Toomin named Dan Webb, a former federal prosecutor and mega-trial lawyer who defended George Ryan pro bono, to review the case at a salary not to exceed that of State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, who makes just shy of $200,000 a year.
Fine so far.
But let’s hope Webb can also hold down the cost of his legal research team so the Koschman family gets justice, but taxpayers aren’t soaked.
This column, a new weekly feature called The Public Eye, was written and reported by the BGA's Patrick Rehkamp, Alden Loury, Robert Herguth and Andy Shaw. They can be reached at email@example.com or (312) 386-9201.