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Inspector General Wants 54 Fire Inspectors Fired for Fraud

By Chuck Sudo in News on Aug 3, 2011 1:30PM

2011_8_3_ferguson_IG.jpg Being the Inspector General of the City of Chicago must be a Sisyphean endeavor, what with the constant discovery of corruption and government waste, making recommendations to correct it and being paid either token gestures to your recommendations or ignored.

Let's see how the city responds to IG Joseph Ferguson's recommendation that 54 firefighters assigned to the Fire Department's Fire Prevention Bureau lose their jobs for padding their mileage reports.

An audit conducted by the Inspector General's office on the Fire Prevention Bureau's mileage reports showed that nearly 80 percent of the bureau's 108 members falsified their mileage reports, costing taxpayers more than $100,000 in 2009 alone, part of a long pattern of falsifying reports. Some members of the Fire Prevention Bureau continued to pad their reports even when confronted with GPS evidence of doing so. Their response? "This is what we're told to do. This is the way we've always done it," a source close to the investigation told the Sun-Times.

Ferguson's audit was spurred by a 2007 scandal within the Fire Prevention Bureau which showed drivers doing personal business while on duty. After that scandal was rooted out by then Fire Department Chief Ray Orozco, the drivers in the Fire Prevention Bureau were required to carry cell phones with GPS tracking devices. The IG report showed that Bureau drivers were reimbursed at the IRS rate of 55 cents per mile with an unspecified monthly cap that the drivers worked backward from in order to circumnavigate. Former Mayor Richard Daley, when asked why the mileage padding was going on even after bureau members were given GPS-equipped phones,

took credit for Ferguson's audit
and launched into a classic case of Daleyspeak.

With a new mayor on the Fifth Floor, it remains to be seen if Rahm Emanuel will heed Ferguson's advice and ask for the 54 firefighters to lose their jobs.