Great Reformers Think Alike | Bleader

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Great Reformers Think Alike

Posted By on 02.09.10 at 12:22 PM

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Thanks to Isaac Carothers, citizens are losing faith in city government.

"I think after the Carothers issue, people are losing confidence in government," Mayor Daley said yesterday, according to the Tribune. "It broke the camel's back."

The camel was apparently in fine health before Carothers pleaded guilty to bribery and tax evasion last week, becoming the latest local elected official to run afoul of the feds.

The camel wasn't at all affected by Daley's complete co-opting of the City Council, his use of patronage workers to bully opponents and win elections, the Duff scandal, the Hired Truck scandal, the illegal hiring scandal, his support for the installation of Todd Stroger as county board president, the decline of city services, the festering murder problem, the deterioration of the CTA, the deterioration of the city parks, the privatization of public space, the privatization of the public schools, the sale of the parking meters, or the use of taxpayer money to subsidize profitable corporations while the rest of us are trying to pay our property taxes or rent.

I'm sure the camel didn't notice while George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich were governing the state into disgrace either.

What's important, though, is that Daley is taking bold action: he's stealing Alderman Joe Moore's plan to strengthen the office of the city inspector general that just a year ago he and his allies shunned. But that was before Ike Carothers got in trouble.

Daley is also sort of saying it wasn't such a good idea to undermine the IG's office by creating another watchdog arm of city government—one that reported to him. He forced the Office of Compliance into existence a little more than two years ago, right as then-IG David Hoffman was proving himself to be a genuine annoyance. The mayor insisted the new office was not redundant: "There's a difference between investigations and compliance," he said. "This is compliance. No one has violated the law whatsoever dealing with compliance. And that's what you have to have—you have to have a compliance officer, simple as that."

It made perfect sense, right?

"This is part of an ongoing effort to ensure that 21st-century taxpayers are getting their money's worth from government," he added at the time. The office has an annual budget of more than $4 million.

Now—thanks, I guess, to Ike—you don't have to have a compliance officer. As the Trib reports: "The mayor conceded he made a mistake by giving oversight of city hiring to the Office of Compliance he created in 2007. In an about-face, Daley is proposing moving those duties to the inspector general."

Perhaps Carothers was also somehow to blame for the compliance office's decision to deal with a sexual harassment allegation efficiently and logically: by ousting the official responsible for investigating sexual harassment.

Nevertheless, the mayor may be onto something with his push for government reform. It's only a year until the next round of municipal elections.

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