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Saturday, June 15, 2024 | Back issues
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Corruption Watchdog Says Chicago Ate His Budget

CHICAGO - Budget constraints have left the watchdog for Chicago's City Council unable to do his job or pay his employees, the officer claims in court.

Faisal Khan says the Chicago City Council appointed him to a four-year term heading the Office of the Legislative Inspector General (OLIG) in November 2011.

With still a year to go, and despite not having taken a salary in nearly four months, Khan says his office's budget "has been exhausted."

The legislative inspector general sued the city, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and three city council committee chairs on Tuesday for breach of contract and other issues.

Khan said in a statement that his filing is not about a "political or professional agenda" but continuing the "fight against council corruption."

The OLIG receives and investigates complaints of misconduct involving aldermen, other city council employees and lobbyists. Khan says the office has more than 60 active investigations, and received 57 complaints against councilmen in the first half of 2014.

This year, however, the Chicago City Council appropriated just $354,000 to the OLIG, a sum that is "patently inadequate" for Khan to fulfill his duties, the complaint states.

Khan seeks emergency funding of about $200,000 for the office "just to function properly and fulfill its crucial legislative oversight duties for the rest of this fiscal year ending 2014."

To operate properly next year, the OLIG needs another $1.5 million according to the complaint.

Khan says he needs such funding to pay six staff members overtime, benefits and salaries. The money is also necessary for basic office needs like computers, an independent website and supplies, according to the complaint.

Though Khan has previously worked under the agreement that he take home $202,000 of the $354,000 budget, Chicago has recently attempted to reduce his salary to $171,000 for 2015, the inspector alleges.

Khan says his previous salary was on par with what other department heads or inspectors general earn, and that it is a violation of Illinois law to reduce a state employee's salary during a term.

"By inadequately funding, indeed diminishing the resources available to plaintiff's office, the defendants are wrongfully ousting him from his four-year term," the complaint states.

If Chicago needs help finding the money to find the OLIG, it could look to the $500,000 that the 2015 budget allocates for a decorative fountain, the inspector general's press release states.

Khan, who previously served as inspector general with the New York City Department of Investigations, wants an injunction against this alleged wrongful abolishment of office.

Khan says this lawsuit is the "culmination of years of frustration and disappointment" in developing the office, but he is "not about to give up on ethics reform in Chicago."

Elected leaders have a duty "to protect taxpayers from corruption," and the failure to fund the OLIG "simply obstructs justice," Khan added.

Khan is represented by attorney Clinton Krislov.

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