City Services

  • ID the Wrongdoers, Part 1

    14 July 2010

    The Chicago Inspector General's Office (IGO) issued a report on 7/15/10 that described wrongdoing by city employees. In its report the IGO identified the city departments involved and the acts committed—but didn't name most of the wrongdoing employees. Can you identify them?


  • Streets & San Driver Monroe Heath*

    7 June 2010

    “If I sneeze or look in the wrong direction, I’m written up.”

    Department: Streets and Sanitation

    Employed for: 30+ years, now as a truck driver

    Cred: Awarded five figures from federal monitor Brennan. Previously, after he sent Brennan a 25-page, handwritten letter detailing patronage abuse at Streets & San, the monitor contacted him to make sure he submitted an award claim.

    "She called me," says Heath. "She said she’s never gotten a letter like that." Heath says Brennan told him that his letter "shed lots of light on how things are done" to favor the clouted and screw the rest. Brennan went on to say that Heath’s information would "have a big impact on how people are hired" under the new rules that Brennan’s staff was crafting.

    Gripe: Heath can count almost 30 different job actions against him, including part of the two-dozen times he’d applied for, but didn’t get, a foreman’s job.

    Why the city’s not compliant: Heath describes a tactic used to ensure that more senior but non-clouted employees have worse work records than their clouted peers, making it easier to favor the latter: Managers arbitrarily or disingenuously enforce rules against non-clouted employees, but leave clouted employees alone.

    In fact, federal monitor Brennan, in a 2009 letter to the city’s law department, described this practice as one about which she’d repeatedly gotten complaints. In her memo, Brennan said that managers were "using the performance evaluation process to eliminate the ability of certain individuals to compete against pre-selected individuals for promotional opportunities."

    Heath says he sees it all the time. "A lot of the people involved in HDO [Hispanic Democratic Organization] can do whatever they want and it’s overlooked," he says. "But if I sneeze or look in the wrong direction, I’m written up." For example, Heath says, "anybody in the field is supposed to wear a work vest. That includes supervisors. [The clouted workers] never do. They want you not to stop for coffee. [The clouted workers] always have coffee or donuts in their hands or in their vehicles. They come to work wearing sandals or gym shoes. But you have to wear work boots. They’re supposed to adhere to the same work standards that you do, and it’s just not done."

    Why cloutless: "I was singled out for not being part of the Hispanic Democratic Organization—by not being promoted, not having favorable assignments, always written up, harassed, given [suspensions] . . . and it’s continuing," says Heath, noting that his boss—an HDO hire, he claims—had suspended him on the day before we spoke.

    *Not his real name.

    See "Substantially clouted", the main article for this story.

  • Dept. of Streets & Sanitation's shady hiring practices outed

    24 June 2009

    A court-mandated report on the status of hiring reforms detailed negligence on the part of the Dept. of Streets and Sanitation. In this audio report, Dave Glowacz gets the scoop from a compliance manager and a Streets & San insider.

  • Parking meter privatization: aldermen lose urban-planning tool

    21 April 2009

    In this audio report for WBEZ-FM, Dave Glowacz reveals an unexpected downside to Chicago's parking meter privatization.

  • Taking the Fifth

    15 January 2009

    Interview with the Chicago Reader's Ben Joravsky on how slatemaking works, and more.

  • Easy Money

    16 October 2008

    Interview with the Chicago Reader's Ben Joravsky on what makes 99 a magic number, and more.

  • The Dead Zone

    3 July 2008

    Interview with the Chicago Reader's Ben Joravsky on Chicagoans' immunity from trespassing in the Dead Zone, and more.

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