Official who had generator delivered during outage resigns

Special delivery outrages powerless neighbors
August 8, 2008 4:41:05 PM PDT
A special delivery has stirred up a controversy over political clout in one Chicago neighborhood on the city's Northwest Side. A high-ranking city employee reportedly received an emergency generator from Commonwealth Edison during a power outage following storms earlier this week. On Friday evening, it was learned he resigned. Commonwealth Edison announced Friday afternoon that an internal investigation is underway to find out who ordered a company-owned electric generator delivered to the home of a city official this week. The city's aviation department later announced their accused official had handed in his resignation.

The generator reportedly was delivered Wednesday night to the house David Ochal owns in the 5500-block of N. Paris Avenue on the city's Northwest Side. The home and just over a dozen others on Paris had been without power since severe storms Monday night.

Neighbors, who would not speak on camera and asked that they not be quoted by name, said the men who delivered the generator drove a truck with a Commonwealth Edison logo on the doors. They said their identification badges indicated they were stationed at O'Hare Field where Ochal works as a deputy aviation commissioner.

"ComEd does not authorize generators to be installed at the home. We were not aware of the generators being installed or any record of it," said Tabrina Davis, Commonwealth Edison vice president.

Ochal made news in 2000 when it was reported that he had a swimming pool built in his back yard without a permit and the project caused flooding on the properties of some of his neighbors. Back then, Ochal promised to remove the pool, but when ABC7 looked over the fence from a neighbor's back yard Friday, it was still there.

While ABC7 saw at least one person inside the house, no one would answer the door. The city Aviation Department has not responded to ABC7's requests for a comment. Ochal's big boss, Mayor Richard M. Daley, is in Beijing for the Olympic Games.

Commonwealth Edison, meanwhile, promises "appropriate discipline" for whomever broke company rules to deliver a generator to just one powerless home on Paris this week.

"If we determine that any employees acted improperly, they will be disciplined," said Davis.

Ochal was unavailable for comment Friday. There was no response from him or his spokespersons at the Aviation Department.


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