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Ethics statements of all 36,500 city workers now posted online

Updated: November 3, 2011 10:02AM

Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday posted the annual ethics statements of all 36,500 city employees on the Internet, then defended his good government credentials during an online interview.

In the race to fulfill the 100-day promises outlined in his transition report, Emanuel acknowledged that he has yet to honor his campaign promise to give the city’s inspector general broader powers and additional resources to combat waste and corruption.

But, he argued that the office has been insulated from budget cuts that have “dramatically reduced” every other city department.

“Over the years, the city payroll has dropped about 5,000. The IG started with 54 people. Today, they have 53 people,” the mayor said.

“I did say those things [about a stronger inspector general]. But, all of us take a sense of what our priorities are. … This is just 94 days. I’m gonna get there.”

Under questioning from Better Government Association President Andy Shaw, Emanuel also reaffirmed his promise to either yank or shrink “in short order” the Chicago Police bodyguard detail that accompanied former Mayor Richard M. Daley into retirement.

“The former mayor’s [security] is transitional and temporary. And he knows it. I made that commitment, and that’s what it will be,” Emanuel said.

Weeks before Daley left office, he requested around-the-clock protection by five police bodyguards — and at least two vehicles at his disposal — to provide security for himself and his wife in retirement.

Emanuel was criticized for leaving that detail untouched even after cutting the security assigned to Ald. Edward M. Burke (14th) in half — from four active police officers to two retired ones.

On Wednesday, Emanuel hinted strongly that the former mayor would soon be shifted to the Burke “model” of retired officers to reduce the cost to taxpayers.

The mayor also joked about his pledge to appoint an “independent negotiator” to broker talks with Lollapalooza and determine whether to eliminate the music festival’s multi-million dollar amusement tax exemption.

The hands-off stance is necessitated by the involvement of Emanuel’s brother, Hollywood super-agent Ari Emanuel, in the entity that runs Lollapalooza.

“Nothing would make me happier than to make Ari pay more money, since he had the top bunk when we were growing up,” the mayor said. But, he added, “Ari sits on the board of Live Nation. Therefore, I can’t be anywhere close to” the decision.

In nearly 100 days in office, Emanuel has posted an unprecedented amount of information on the Internet in the name of government “transparency.”

The annual ethics statements of city employees now join the rest of those “data sets”— everything from city salaries and information on lobbyists to 90,000 city contracts dating back to 1993.

“I don’t want government to be this thing that’s distant or a force against people,” the mayor said.

“I want a government with technology that empowers its own citizens to find information. … Technology is a tool of empowerment where people do not feel powerless to a nameless, faceless bureaucracy.”

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