Daley wants IG's investigative power expanded

February 11, 2010 4:45:47 AM PST
A Chicago City Council committee will consider an ordinance that will allow the inspector general to investigate aldermen. Chicago Mayor Richard Daley is seeking to give the inspector general more power. What do aldermen think of the proposal?

Right now, as written by the Daley administration, this ordinance appears to have little chance of passing the City Council. Many aldermen say they simply will never trust an investigator appointed by the mayor.

Most City Council members ABC 7 interviewed agree: No inspector general appointed by Mayor Daley should have investigative power over the aldermen.

"I think those of us who disagree with the mayor, our staffs and ourselves would be subject to harassment," said Ald. Leslie Hairston, 5th Ward.

Earlier this week, the mayor, who appoints the IG to four-year terms, recommended his investigative powers be expanded to include patronage hiring abuses and the city's 50 aldermanic offices.

"I think, after the Carothers issue, people are losing confidence in government," said Mayor Daley.

Isaac Carothers, the 29th Ward alderman, pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges last week and became the 29th council member to face a similar fate since the early 1970s.

Nonetheless, Aldermen Bernie Stone trusts the feds to investigate his colleagues more than he would an IG appointed by Daley/

"A member of the executive branch should not be investigating the council. It could be used as a political tool against the council," said Ald. Bernie Stone, 50th Ward.

"I don't have the political power to conduct political witch hunts. I don't have that. The inspector general has the independence and power to deal with investigations," Mayor Daley said.

The 33rd Ward's Dick Mell says he might go along with the mayor's plan if the aldermen helped select the IG.

"If there is a way of having a joint aldermanic hand in a mayoral appointee or something like that, we can look at," said Mell.

But, Alderman Joe Moore, who introduced a similar measure to increase the IG's power last year, notes that the Daley plan does not an increase in funding for the IG's office.

"So, without those additional resources, it's really an empty gesture," said Ald. Joe Moore, 49th Ward.

In other action Wednesday morning, council members approved an ordinance to stop aldermen from hiring relatives using a secret finance committee account.