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Jody Weis received $76,308 in unused vacation when he resigned

Former Chicago Police Supt. Jody Weis (left) his chief staff Mike Masters are among 1026 city employees paid $7.4 millifor

Former Chicago Police Supt. Jody Weis (left) and his chief of staff, Mike Masters, are among 1,026 city employees paid $7.4 million for unused vacation days since September 2010. | Brian Jackson~Sun-Times file

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Robert Sawicki

Deputy chief administrative officer for the
Chicago Board of Election Commissioners $40,075

Ted O’Keefe

Former deputy police superintendent $28,872

John Spatz

Former Water Management commissioner $26,807

Andrea Gibson

Former first deputy budget director $23,593

Karen Seimetz

Former first assistant corporation counsel $21,226

Sam Roti

Commander of ex-Mayor Daley’s bodyguard detail $22,200

Peter Brust

Former deputy police superintendent $20,623

Updated: June 21, 2011 11:43AM

Former Chicago Police Supt. Jody Weis walked out with a $76,308 check for accrued vacation days when he resigned his $310,000-a-year job on March 1 — a lump-sum payment for 64 unused days that’s raising eyebrows at City Hall.

His former $168,438-a-year chief-of-staff Mike Masters left police headquarters with a check for $30,448. That’s the equivalent of 54 unused vacation days

Weis and Masters are among 1,026 city employees paid $7.4 million for their unused vacation days since September, 2010, in the transition from former Mayor Richard M. Daley to Mayor Rahm Emanuel, according to information released to the Chicago Sun-Times in response to a Freedom of Information request.

Vacation time generally ranges from 13 days for city employees with fewer than six years of service to a maximum of 25 days for employees on the job for 25 years or more.

The city allows employees to carry over as much as one year of vacation time and to cash out that time upon resignation.

But since employees technically earn vacation time for the following year, they can actually carry over as much as two years’ worth of time with a caveat: City employees are entitled to no vacation during the first year of work. They must earn vacation in their first year and wait until the following year to use that time.

Weis’ lump-sum payment — for the equivalent of 56.2 percent of his allotted total — raises eyebrows for several reasons.

For one, he started work on Feb. 1, 2008, but still claimed 25 vacation days that year when he was eligible for none. The former superintendent also got 25 vacation days in both 2009 and 2010, even though civilian employees are only eligible for 13 vacation days.

After taking a firearms course that allowed him to carry a gun and wear a police uniform — a decision that went over like a lead balloon with rank-and-file police officers — Weis claimed the 25 vacation days guaranteed sworn personnel.

In June, 2010, after entering the final year of his three-year contract, Weis made a policy decision that increased his vacation payment even more.

He changed the policy governing vacation carryover to allow “command staff members” including himself and Masters to carry up to 39 unused vacation days from one year to the next “when circumstances prohibited the use of current and prior year’s allotments.”

In the private sector, 56 percent of companies allow employees to carry over unused vacation — up to 14 days on average, according to Aon Hewitt.

Copies of Weis’ so-called “command staff vacation carryover requests” obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times show that Weis and Masters took full advantage of the policy change—by carrying over 39 unused vacation days from 2010 to 2011.

Both men used identical wording to justify the request: “Unable to use due to operational needs.”

In an e-mail to the Sun-Times, Weis cited two reasons for changing the vacation carryover policy to 39 days.

The Chicago Fire Department had the same policy and members of Weis’ command staff, who were also required to take furlough days, were being forced to either lose earned days or take long vacations, negatively impacting operations.

“Having large numbers of individuals absent for periods of time negatively impacted operations and supervision,” Weis wrote.

“Moreover, forcing people who wish to work out of dedication to duty to lose vacation time that they rightfully earned did not seem like a fair solution.”

As for his own vacation payment, Weis would only say that it’s city policy to compensate employees for vacation time earned but not used and that his specific payment was “vetted” and processed by the Police Department, the city’s Office of Budget and Management and by the city comptroller.

“Individuals are entitled, by policy, to be compensated for vacation time that they earn but do not use,” Weis wrote.

Contacted Monday about the vacation payment, Masters, now the homeland security chief for Cook County, referred questions to county spokesperson Jessey Neves, who argued that it is “standard policy” for employees to be compensated for unused vacation time” and that Masters‚ payment was “vetted by both the Police Department and the city’s budget office.”

Although he, too, was a civilian who went to work for the city in 2006, Masters claimed credit for 25 vacation days in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011.

“The number is high because he didn’t take most of his vacation time,” Neves said.

“Mike carried over all of his 2010 time as well as 14 days from 2009. He also used nine days in 2011, bring the total to 54 unused days.”

Weis was a career FBI agent who rank-and-file police officers never accepted because they viewed him as an outsider who didn’t have their backs.

He resigned March 1 when his three-year contract expired and then-Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel made it clear he had no intention of retaining Weis.

The $7.4 million in payments to 1,026 city employees cover the period from Sept. 1, 2010, through June 15, 2011.

Weis was the highest-paid city employee and got the highest vacation pay-out. Most of the top payments went to Chicago Fire Department brass.

The list also includes: Robert Sawicki, deputy chief administrative officer for the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners ($40,075); Former Deputy Police Superintendent Ted O’Keefe ($28,872); former Water Management Commissioner John Spatz ($26,807); former First Deputy Budget Director Andrea Gibson ($23,593); former First Assistant Corporation Counsel Karen Seimetz ($21,226); Sam Roti, commander of Daley’s bodyguard detail, ($22,200); and Former Deputy Police Superintendent Peter Brust ($20,623).

The list does not include a host of top mayoral aides who stayed on until Emanuel was sworn in May 16, including Corporation Counsel Mara Georges and longtime mayoral press secretary Jacquelyn Heard.

Their vacation payments have not yet been processed. Nor have Daley holdovers who have postponed their departure dates until June 30 to sweeten their city pensions.

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