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Grand Jury Forces Burke To Turn Over Finance Committee Disability Compensation Records

By Chuck Sudo in News on Aug 15, 2012 1:30PM

2011_6_22_burke.jpg Not even Ed Burke can refuse the request of a grand jury. The powerful 14th Ward alderman and chairman of the City Council Finance Committee agreed to turn over six years of records related to workers compensation payments to city employees after the records were subpoenaed by a grand jury.

The Finance Committee meted out $115 million last year in “duty disability” payments last year, with another $97.5 million earmarked for 2012. Burke has sole authority to process and settle workers comp claims.

City Inspector General Joseph Ferguson twice requested records related to the program. The Finance Committee refused to hand over to Ferguson, claiming duty disability was a state program governed by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act and because matters related to the Finance Committee fell under the watch of Legislative Inspector General Faisal Khan.

Khan’s office is a one-man operation with a budget of $260,000 and Khan has a limited range of powers in his role as City Council IG. Ferguson’s office employs 67 investigators on a budget of $5.8 million and he has unfettered access to investigate every aspect of Chicago government... except City Council.

Guess who’s getting the records? Take it away, Finance Committee spokesman Donal Quinlan.

“The Finance Committee welcomes the review and we intend to comply fully with the legislative inspector general, Faisal Khan, who has advised us . . . he has jurisdiction over this matter.”

Khan insisted that his lean operation will not stop him from fully auditing the records.

“I have been hired to be the inspector general for the City Council. I intend to fulfill the duties of that title to the best of my ability — even if it steps on some powerful toes,” he said.

“I took this job to do this job — not to be a front for the aldermen. I don’t think I’m being used.”

So even though Ed Burke can't refuse a grand jury he can still thumb his nose at the people who are trying to look into his business.