Report unveils perks for Chicago aviation officials

April 14, 2011 6:47:46 PM PDT
In this Intelligence Report: Perks and privileges for top officials of the Chicago Department of Aviation. Those are among the findings of a city inspector general's report released late Thursday afternoon.

It can cost regular travelers as much as $51 per day to park at O'Hare. But new information indicates that some city officials -- and their loved ones and friends -- were afforded a much better deal at O'Hare: not half off or even 75 percent off, an even better deal than that for employees of the city department that controls the airports.

Free parking at O'Hare Airport is among the perks uncovered in a report just released by Chicago Inspector General Joe Ferguson.

According to the report, in the ranks of the Department Of Aviation, it is known as "courtesy parking," intended just for Chicago Department of Aviation employees and their friends and family: free parking at an O'Hare Airport building whether the employee is on official business travel or not. According to the inspector general, the recommendation is to end the practice.

The questionable use and assignment of on-duty aviation security officers was also singled out by the inspector general in the report.

The IG's investigation found that on-duty airport officers, who are supposed to be security at O'Hare, were put on funeral assignments, providing a law enforcement presence for the family funerals of current and retired airport security officials, and that they used city vehicles for this private use. The report also called for an end to that practice.

The Chicago Department of Aviation says it has established new policies about who will receive "parking accommodations" and that aviation vehicles are no longer allowed to be used to shuttle people to and from the terminals.

As a result of the investigation, the aviation department says it has also implemented new operating procedures for funerals. They say, "With the exception of an on-duty death of an aviation security officer, no officers can be assigned to participate in the funeral, and no aviation vehicles can be used."

CDA's Response:

In March 2010, a new Chief of Safety and Security was hired by the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA). Under the direction of CDA Commissioner Rosemarie S. Andolino, the new Chief of Safety and Security was charged with drafting a number of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the division. The SOPs included a new 'Parking Policy for the CDA at O'Hare and Midway' and 'Funeral/ Visitation Policy.' These SOPs were in place prior to the IGO recommendations issued on February 24, 2011 and prior to the IGO First Quarter 2011 Report released today (April 14, 2011).

The SOP implemented on November 23, 2010, entitled "Parking Policy for the CDA Safety and Security Divisions (O'Hare/Midway Airport), establishes a concise policy as to who will receive parking accommodations and under what circumstances. For example, parking accommodations will be made at O'Hare and Midway for local, State and Federal agencies that are using the airport for official business. However, transportation to and from the designated parking area to the terminal core will be the sole responsibility of the traveling party/agency. Aviation vehicles are prohibited from transporting such persons to and from the terminals.

The SOP implemented on December 21, 2010, entitled "Funeral/ Visitation Policy," established that no on-duty Aviation Security Officers (ASO) will be assigned to participate in a fellow ASO's funeral. In addition, only in the instance of an on-duty death of an ASO, will CDA Security Vehicles be used or will the ASOs be compensated (albeit they will be off duty, thereby ensuring sufficient staffing at the airports). In all other instances (e.g. off-duty death of an ASO or death of an ASO family member) no CDA Security Vehicles will be provided nor will any compensation be given to the attending ASOs to the funeral as the practice will be completely voluntary while off duty.

Lastly, regarding the city-wide gift ban - shortly after Commissioner Andolino was appointed Executive Director of the O'Hare Modernization Program (OMP) in 2003, she implemented a no gift policy for city employees and contractors. When she was appointed Commissioner of the CDA in March 2009, the no gift policy was immediately implemented Department wide. (See attached CDA handout on the CDA's no gift policy).