City Council IG credits Emanuel for keeping office open

SHARE City Council IG credits Emanuel for keeping office open
SHARE City Council IG credits Emanuel for keeping office open

The City Council’s handpicked and hamstrung inspector general has taken his shots at Mayor Rahm Emanuel during a long-running feud with Chicago aldermen.

But, Thursday was a day for Faisal Khan to praise the mayor, not try to bury him.

Two weeks after a judge dismissed the lawsuit Khan filed seeking to compel the city to give him the $1.7 million he claims he needs to serve out his four-year term, Emanuel intervened to make certain the legislative inspector general’s office remains open through Nov. 16, when Khan’s four-year term is due to expire.

“Faisal asked them through me to at least keep paying for the office to stay open, leaving the dispute over his compensation aside,” said Clint Krislov, an attorney representing Khan, who pegged the cost at roughly $50,000.

“That’s what they assured us they will do. They will continue to pay the office staff and office expenses — invoices other than his — so that the office can remain open, at least through the end of his term. What happens after Nov. 16, I have no idea.”

Krislov acknowledged that Khan’s days as City Council watchdog are numbered. Aldermen who tied Khan’s hands and have been at war with him ever since have been counting the days until his term expires.

But Krislov had a warning for aldermen who have seen more than 30 of their present and former colleagues convicted of corruption charges since 1973.

“Who will they find to do the job under these circumstances? This job is important to the people of Chicago. When they look for someone to do that job, he or she will demand what Mr. Khan has been trying to get for this office: Adequate funding to do their job and stop harassing. Stop trying to make life difficult,” Krislov said.

“They made it nearly impossible for him to do his job, yet, he’s doing it in spite of that. He’s the only person I know who is working for the city keeping an important office open without getting paid for it.”

In a press release announcing that the Office of the Legislative Inspector General would remain open through mid-November, Khan took pains to praise Emanuel, whose commitment to ethics and reform he has repeatedly questioned.

“Mayor Emanuel’s assistance continues the OLIG’s commitment to accountability and transparency for Chicago’s citizens and taxpayers,” the press release stated.

“The OLIG must be adequately funded, properly empowered and shielded from the backlash of those who both fund our investigations and are subject to them. . . . But for today, there remains an office open past Friday for citizens of Chicago, where they can file complaints in order to ensure accountability in our municipal governance. And this could not have happened without the mayor. We again thank Mayor Emanuel for acting as an example for all elected officials regarding ethical oversight.”

Last month, Chicago’s often-altered ethics ordinance was changed again — this time, in a way Khan warned could have a chilling effect on his ability to investigate aldermen.

The red flags he raised renewed debate on the Council floor on the need to revive a stalled ordinance empowering Inspector General Joe Ferguson to investigate alderman and City Council employees.

That’s a change proposed by Emanuel’s floor leader and initially supported by more than 30 aldermen, but sandbagged by a pair of political powerhouses: Finance Committee Chairman Edward Burke and Budget Committee Chairman Carrie Austin (34th).

Khan is still pursuing his legal claim against the city on grounds he is still owed $75,000 from 2014 and $14,000 this year that was re-directed to, as Krislov put it, keep the office and staff afloat “rather than paying himself.”

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