City Council IG Sues City To Fund His Office
By Chuck Sudo in News on Oct 23, 2014 3:15PM
Chicago City Council Inspector General Faisal Khan.
The Office of Legislative Inspector General has already spent its allotted $354,000 budget for this year. Khan is seeking an extra $200,000 for the remainder of 2014 and $1.5 million for next year. Funding the office has been an ongoing struggle since Khan was appointed Legislative IG in November 2011 and set up with a meager $60,000 budget to investigate corruption in City Council. That’s akin to going to Kuma’s Corner with a $5 bill and instructed to order anything off the menu.
Aldermen who have been critical of Khan’s performance—many of whom, coincidentally, have been the subjects of his investigations—have long contended Khan is a grandstander who has allowed his investigations to play out in the media. Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th) has an ordinance in the works in the Council that would dissolve Khan’s office and give Chicago Inspector General Joseph Ferguson’s office the authority to investigate corruption charges against aldermen, albeit with some heavy caveats.
Khan, who hasn’t taken a paycheck since the end of June according to his attorney Clinton Krislov, released a statement proclaiming no agenda behind his lawsuit other than to fund his office.
"This office must be funded properly to complete its mandate. By failing to fund this office, City Council simply obstructs justice. Because of this, we have been left with no choice but to go to court.”
Krislov told the Sun-Times Khan’s deferred pay is being used to pay his staff and fund investigations.
That shows a dedication and commitment to his office that ought to be applauded and encouraged,” Krislov said.
“He’s got a lot of investigations going. If the idea is to financially prevent that from happening, that’s contrary to the municipal code. Municipal law prevents you from reducing an official’s compensation during his term of office.”
Earlier this year, Khan accused aldermen and Mayor Emanuel of not being serious about government transparency and eliminating corruption in municipal government, charges which drew a stern rebuke from the mayor and a collective “whatever” from Khan’s critics in the council.
Khan has a couple things happening in his favor before City Council can move to shut his office down. One is an ongoing dispute between Pawar and Ald. Carrie Austin (24th) over who should head the City Council’s Independent Budget Office approved last year. Austin wants former alderman Helen Shiller to head the office, while Pawar wants a transparent hiring process to determine who should head the office.
The other thing in Khan’s favor is it isn’t as simple as simply voting to shut his office down to make that happen. Per the Sun-Times:
To terminate his four-year term with more than a year to go, aldermen must serve him with specific charges and hold a hearing where he is allowed to defend himself while represented by an attorney. That could turn into an uncomfortable pre-election spectacle and turn Khan into a martyr.
Khan has been hamstrung by more than a lack of funding. He’s not allowed to pursue investigations against aldermen based on anonymous tips. (It’s worth noting the ordinance Pawar wrote has similar language in it to limit the scope of investigations against Aldermen by Ferguson’s office.) City Council has thrown shade at Khan since he came to town, which is par for the course with a group that has dragged its heels on accountability and transparency for all of our lives.
In addition to the council and Emanuel, Khan’s lawsuit lists Budget Committee Chairman Austin, Rules Committee Chairman Michelle Harris (8th) and Finance Committee Chairman Ed Burke (14th) as defendants. Austin mocked Khan’s lawsuit, accused him of mismanaging his budget and called him “full of molasses.”
“Where do he think the money falls from? Out of a cherry tree or something?” she said. “You know, it’s like, come on. Our budget is tight. He just wants to be able to spend willy nilly.”
“I’m not a fan of his, because of the way he came into our council ‘I’m going to do what I want to do, abiding by rules and regulations that we never approved,’” she said.