Contracted city inspector general billed taxpayers $270,625 last year
BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter email@example.com January 29, 2013 6:00PM
Updated: March 2, 2013 7:23AM
Faisal Khan has done pretty well for himself in a job that was supposed to be part-time.
The City Council’s handpicked inspector general personally billed Chicago taxpayers for $270,625 in 2012 — and $305,500 since Khan started work on Nov. 13, 2011.
That’s $44,415-a-year more than Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s annual salary of $216,210, $108,769 more than the $161,856-a-year paid to the city’s full-time Inspector General Joe Ferguson and nearly $10,000 more than the the $260,004 paid to Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy.
The Chicago Sun-Times previously reported on Khan’s $148,125 in billings through July, 2012.
Records provided to the newspaper in response to a Freedom of Information request show Khan picked up the pace in the last five months of the year. He billed for: $34,250 for 137 hours in August; $24,750 for 99 hours in October; $27,187 for 105.7 hours in November and $20,000 for 80 hours in December.
With a $60,000-a-year budget, no staff and ground rules that tied his hands, Khan was hired in November, 2011 to spend the next four years investigating City Council corruption.
The Rules Committee approved Khan’s nomination only after being assured that Chicago’s first-ever legislative inspector general would be a part-time employee without benefits paid $250-a-$300-an-hour while continuing to practice law on the side. It hasn’t turned out that way.
In an e-mail response Tuesday, Khan said the “billing rate for my position was decided” by the Blue Ribbon panel that hired him “prior to my acceptance of this position.” He subsequently received 50 complaints in 2012, 15 of them “formally authorized” by the Board of Ethics.
“I will not receive payment for services greater than the amount of the budget, regardless of many hours I work and what I bill,” Khan wrote, noting that his 2012 budget was $260,000.
He added, “Based on the volume of work and number of hours required for the position as determined by the first year of this office — in conjunction with and authorization from City Council — my salary for 2013 and going forward will be identical to that of the city inspector general and other department heads.”
Ald. Pat O’Connor (40th), the mayor’s City Council floor leader, tried to distance himself from Khan’s billings.
“I have no comments about the legislative IG. Other people in the Council brought him to the dance. I would encourage you to talk with them,” O’Connor said, referring to Finance Committee Chairman Edward M. Burke (14th) and Rules Committee Chairman Richard Mell (33rd), who recruited Khan.
Burke and Mell could not be reached for comment.
O’Connor was asked whether there is any way to justify spending $305,500 since Nov. 13, 2011 for, what was supposed to be a part-time job that simply allowed aldermen to avoid scrutiny by Ferguson.
“If that’s the deal they struck — that he gets paid for his time and it’s all going to one guy — then maybe we need to re-think that deal. It’s a big number,” O’Connor said.
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 are certain to add fuel to the fire.
Two years ago, aldermen balked at then-Mayor Richard M. Daley’s plan to give Ferguson the power to investigate aldermen.
Instead, they created their own inspector general and waited eighteen months — until after the February, 2011 aldermanic election — to fill the job.
In November, 2011, they settled on Khan, who worked for New York City’s inspector general.
Khan was also given strict ground rules. In order to investigate aldermen, their staffers and committee employees, Khan either needs a signed and sworn complaint and prior authorization from the Board of Ethics or Rules Committee sign-off to investigate an anonymous tip.
Emanuel latest round of ethics reforms would empower Khan to settle cases, initiate his own written complaints and accept “written anonymous complaints” against aldermen and City Council employees.
Aldermen are dead-set against anonymous complaints. O’Connor has warned that Emanuel risks losing his first City Council vote unless he drops the idea.