Alderman Dick Mell (33rd Ward), chairman of the council’s Rules Committee, excitedly announced that Faisal Khan is the new Inspector General (IG) for Chicago’s City Council. During the mayoral campaign, Rahm Emanuel, campaigned on a promise that he would give Inspector General Joe Ferguson the power to oversee the Chicago City Council and the council would have none of that. Joe Ferguson with subpoena power, with the power to go on a witch-hunt. No, no, no.
They searched for their own Inspector General and found Faisal Khan. And they heaped tons of praise upon him.
Mell noted that 170 people applied for the job, 44 passed muster with the Department of Human Resources and 30 candidates were interviewed by a blue-ribbon selection committee that subsequently settled on Khan.
“You’ll be very surprised by him. He’ll be a very independent inspector general,” Mell said after introducing Khan’s appointment at Wednesday’s City Council meeting.
“Let me tell you. [Milton] Rakove’s got a book, Don’t Send Nobody Nobody Sent. This is nobody nobody sent. Believe me. Nobody knows this guy,” Mell said.
Alderman Dick Mell said it with a straight face, I would imagine. He is good at that.
But critics note that the legislative inspector general’s powers are weak because he must first receive permission to probe an alderman from the city’s Board of Ethics. The board has never found any wrongdoing by an alderman.
The new legislative inspector general also will be constrained to investigating only signed complaints, and not anonymous whistleblower tips.
And Khan will have scant resources. His salary will be $60,000 a year and he will have no staff.
Mell explained that the city simply doesn’t have the money to pay Khan any more than $60,000 a year and God forbid there really is no money to supply a staff for Khan. And yes, Khan cannot go off on a wild goose chase either. Any complaint he investigates must be signed.
Signed by whom? It is vague and the council imposed a two-year statute of limitations and authorization from the Board of Ethics, which has a do-nothing track record according to the Sun Times Fran Spielman.
Alderman Joe Moore is skeptical.
Ald. Joe Moore (49th) pointed to the $60,000 salary and no staff authorized for the new inspector general in the 2012 budget to support his claim that Khan will “end up being window dressing.
“I don’t know the man. I will assume he’s a man of utmost integrity. But it doesn’t matter how much integrity and independence you have. If you don’t have the tools to do the job, then you are going to be ineffective. And it does not appear he’s been given the tools to do the job,” Moore said.
The watered-down inspector general ordinance was championed by Mell and Burke and grudgingly approved by the City Council in May 2010 by a vote of 28 to 17.
The City Council got nobody that nobody sent and they would like to keep it that way. It is now a part-time job too. As the Chicago Tribune pointed out in an editorial, keeping an eye on aldermen is a full-time job. The City Council IG is one job that aldermen will not complain if Faisal Khan slacks off. If he does slack off, you won’t hear one complaint from the council; signed or otherwise.
Send John Presta an email and your story ideas or suggestions, firstname.lastname@example.org. John is the author of an award-winning book, the 2010 Winner of the USA National Best Book award for African-American studies, published by The Elevator Group Mr. and Mrs. Grassroots: How Barack Obama, Two Bookstore Owners, and 300 Volunteers did it. Also available an eBook on Amazon. John is also a member of the Society of Midland Authors and is a book reviewer of political books for the New York Journal of Book