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City Legislative Inspector General Faisal Khan | Sun-Times

Editorial: Good aldermen have nothing fear from strong inspector general

SHARE Editorial: Good aldermen have nothing fear from strong inspector general
SHARE Editorial: Good aldermen have nothing fear from strong inspector general

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The time for bogus excuses is over. Without further delay, the City Council should merge its ineffectual legislative inspector general office with the Chicago inspector general office.

The only reason to do otherwise is to protect crooks.

On Tuesday, a Cook County judge tossed out a lawsuit filed by the City Council inspector general, Faisal Khan, who wanted the courts to force the city give him the $1.7 million he says he needs to do his job properly.Last year, a majority of aldermen endorsed the concept of merging the two offices, but the idea never went anywhere, partly because some aldermen argued they should await the results of Khan’s lawsuit.

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Well, that hurdle is behind us. Let’s get real about government reform.

Two plans are floating around City Hall, either of which would be preferable to the current system, in which an underfunded office handcuffed by onerous rules can’t do a proper job of keeping an eye on aldermen.

The first plan is to remove those handcuffs and properly fund the legislative inspector general’s office, which investigates aldermen and City Council employees. The much better second plan is to merge the two offices. Chicago Inspector General Joe Ferguson, working with a decent budget, has more power and has been doing good work. His office investigates city government and, last we looked, the City Council is a part of city government.

Last year, aldermen fine-tuned an ordinance merging the two offices to address such concerns as potential leaks to the mayor’s office that put aldermen at a disadvantage and ensuring the Council has meaningful input on appointing future IGs.

Despite those improvements to the ordinance, it languished in committee. It’s time for Mayor Rahm Emanuel to push to get the job done.

The City Council will be taking some tough votes in the next few months on huge issues such as higher taxes and pension reform. Chicagoans want to believe the Council will put their interests first. A truly effective inspector general, equipped and empowered to squelch the sort of shenanigans for which Chicago’s City Council is infamous, sure would help on that score.

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