City Council’s inspector could be in trouble, aldermen warned
BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter September 3, 2013 5:20PM
City Legislative Inspector General Faisal Khan in his Chicago office, photographed on Thusday, July 26, 2012. | Richard A. Chapman~Sun-Times
Updated: October 5, 2013 6:27AM
Inspector General Joe Ferguson may be safe for at least another year but aldermen were not prepared to say the same Tuesday for the City Council’s handpicked Legislative Inspector Faisal Khan.
“The city has two inspectors general. One of them [Ferguson] says he’s leaving in a year. I would predict that the other one would leave sooner than that,” said embattled Ald. Joe Moore (49th).
Moore is still on the warpath nearly two months after Khan accused him of using his taxpayer-funded ward office to do political work, firing an employee who blew the whistle on it and giving the former staffer an $8,709 payment equal to 81 days worth of severance try and cover it up.
Moore has tried to salvage his reputation as a self-declared champion for ethics reform — by accusing Khan of violating the law in his investigation of him.
On Tuesday, Moore insisted that he’s not alone — and that Council dissatisfaction with Khan is about to come to a head.
“There’s been an incredible amount of dissatisfaction with the lack of professionalism exhibited by Mr. Khan and his blatant refusal to follow the guidelines governing his office. The City Council has the ability to remove him from office. The City Council also has the ability to refuse to fund his office,” he said.
Moore said he’s well aware that “it can’t just be me” leading the charge against Khan or it would look like he was getting even.
“Ideally, it’ll be a coalition of independents and others in the City Council who are all united in believing that Mr. Khan gives reform and inspectors general a bad name,” Moore said.
“The alleged misconduct he’s uncovered, even if all true, is such penny-ante stuff, it makes you wonder how he justifies his existence.”
Khan, whose four-year term expires at the end of 2015, could not be reached for comment.
Ald. Joe Moreno (1st) was accused by Khan of allowing a company to put the alderman’s picture on recycling bins, then place the containers on city property.
“A lot of people have a lot of questions about how he has conducted his investigations and whether it’s been done legally and fairly,” said Moreno, who has maintained that he paid for the advertising, but provided no proof, according to Khan.
Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th) is not one of Khan’s targets, but he, too, has questions.
“If there are rules the City Council needs to follow, let’s create those rules together and test the City Council against those rules. What you should not be doing is going out and looking for something and creating rules after shaming somebody,” Pawar said.
“The question is whether he followed all the processes in the enabling legislation. Whether he went to the Board of Ethics” for prior approval.
Since his arrival, Khan’s annual budget has been increased from $60,000 to $260,000 last year and $354,000 in 2013.
Aldermen were already furious about Khan’s demand for two years’ worth of time sheets for their full- and part-time City Council employees. His billings added fuel to the fire — and so did the decision to go public with the Moore investigation.
Moore has accused Khan of violating a legal mandate to: get prior approval from the city’s Board of Ethics before launching an investigation or referring matters to law enforcement; keep investigations confidential; and give the subject of an investigation notice of allegations against him.
The furor over Khan’s investigation prompted the White House to put off giving Moore a good government award — even though the alderman had traveled to Washington to receive it.