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Chicago Inspector General Urges Ban on Gifts From Contractors

By Kevin Robinson in News on Dec 22, 2010 2:00PM

Photo by Kevin Dooley.
With Christmas just around the corner, City of Chicago Inspector General Joseph Ferguson is urging a total ban on city workers accepting gifts from contractors with business before the city. The recommendation comes as Ferguson releases a report detailing gifts accepted by Department of Transportation employees including meals, golf outings and sports tickets. According to the report, department contractors spent more than $10,000 on gifts for more than 40 employees over a two year period ending in December of 2008.

Ferguson noted that in other city departments gift bans arose after investigations revealed abuse. For example, in 2005 the Department of Aviation banned gifts to employees after it was found that they were accepting gifts of food, wine and perfume. Current city code prohibits city employees from accepting a gift worth more than $50, not to exceed accepting gifts totaling $100 in a single year. Ferguson called the ordinance "ill-defined" and "immensely difficult and time-consuming to enforce," and recommended simply imposing a "no-gifts" policy city-wide in order to remove doubt and make clear the policy for both contractors and employees"in an area that is fraught with the possibilities for bribery at worst and the possible appearance of conflict of interest at best."

Mayor Daley told the Tribune that he had not yet read the report.