I-Team Report: Paid to Play

November 12, 2009 12:20:10 PM PST
Pumping iron, leg curls and toe lifts are hardly among the qualifications to work for the state of Illinois' Department of Human Services. Thirty minutes of cardio on the treadmill are not in the job description of "engineer' at Illinois' Madden Mental Health Center.

Madden is a 150-bed psychiatric hospital in Maywood operated by the department of human services.

Martin Walsh, 51, of Park Ridge, is the state hospital's chief stationary engineer. Walsh oversees madden's heating and air conditioning systems for the center's patients, doctors and staff.

Although Mr. Walsh's job requires that he be on duty from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., on six different days spanning three weeks, the I-Team observed him taking the afternoons off leaving the Madden Mental Health Center without a chief engineer and driving over to a nearby health club.

Our surveillance showed that Walsh's routine was to take several hours working out here at the center for health and fitness inside Loyola Medical Center which features a gym, weight machines and a swimming pool.

Walsh's modus operandi is to return shortly before quitting time at 3pm to sign out.

GOUDIE: "Chuck Goudie from Channel 7, how are you, sir? How's that state job going?
WALSH: What's this about?
GOUDIE: It's about your job. Has the state cut your hours back...in the budget crisis?"
WALSH: [Shakes his head.]

While Mr. Walsh takes afternoons off, according to his timesheets obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, he makes up for it by working overtime; 154 just this year on top of his $94,231.44 salary putting him on track to a $110,000.

GOUDIE: "Sir, how many hours a day do you work? Can you tell me that?"

Recently, the I-Team followed Walsh to the gym for his on-the-clock workout. More than two hours later he returned to the office and put in for two and a half hours of overtime to do paperwork.

A few days later he worked more than six hours of overtime for a 'paperwork backlog and purging of office files."

GOUDIE: "Sir, isn't it true that you spend at least 2 hours a day at the health club when you're supposed to be at work here?
WALSH: I have no idea what you're talking about.
GOUDIE Well, sir, you do know what we're talking about don't you?"

According to records obtained tonight by the I-Team, official complaints from Madden Hospital employees about Mr. Walsh's slack work habits have piled up for four years-complaints that even included this private detective's video of Walsh walking on the track at the very same health club.

Co-worker complaints have been received by the Illinois inspector general and the Department of Human Services. But nothing was ever done until the I-Team called human services for a response.

"The Illinois Department of Human Services takes any credible allegation of wrongdoing by its employees very seriously," DHS wrote in an email, officials refusing to appear on camera. "If these allegations are confirmed to be true, any disciplinary action will be handled according to the union bargaining agreement."

"It's my hope that we actually review our programs," said Michelle Saddler, Secretary of Human Services.

Last month, Gov. Quinn appointed long-time associate Michelle Saddler as Secretary of Human Services.

The I-Team invited secretary Saddler to do an interview about her department's work rules, employee conduct and how her department keeps track of 14,000 people on the payroll during tough budget times. She declined.

Gov. Pat Quinn's statement: "Every state employee is required to do an honest and full day's work. Anyone who does not meet that expectation will be disciplined. Such behavior will not be tolerated. Working in behalf of the people of Illinois is a privilege that will not be abused while I am governor."


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