City Buildings Department analyst accused of sexually harassing teen intern

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Chicago Inspector General Joe Ferguson | Sun-Times

It would be tough for city Inspector General Joe Ferguson to top his last two quarterly reports, which included explosive allegations about the Water Management email scandal, a family leave abuse scandal at the 911 center and a preferential parking scheme on the streets surrounding the United Center.

But Tuesday’s version still includes some hanky-panky — literally.

A policy analyst for the city’s Department of Buildings was accused of sexually harassing a 17-year-old intern who had been working under the analyst’s supervision.

Ferguson accused the unidentified analyst of making “multiple, unwanted verbal and physical sexual advances” toward the intern “while at work and on two unauthorized, extended lunch breaks” in June and July of last year.

The analyst was specifically accused of “consistently commenting on the intern’s appearance and staring at the intern’s body, gripping the intern’s hand tightly and leaning closely over the intern”— inappropriate behavior that “escalated over time,” particularly during a two-hour-long, off-site lunch at the lakefront.”

“While there, the employee: called the intern ‘babe’ and ‘baby’; held and kissed the intern’s hand, touched the intern’s face and tried to kiss the intern’s cheek; invited the intern on a vacation to Miami; offered the intern money to buy a car; offered to take care of the intern; provided a personal cellphone number and email address; commented that the intern looked older than 17 and grabbed the intern’s hand when she tried to walk away,” the report states.

Ferguson recommended that the analyst be fired and placed on a do-not-hire list. Buildings Commissioner Judy Frydland followed both recommendations.

Meanwhile, an assistant corporation counsel supervisor in the city’s Department of Law was accused of misusing sick time to attend court dates in a criminal proceeding in which the employee’s daughter was a defendant.

In addition to submitting “false sick time certifications,” the unidentified supervisor was accused of filing an appearance as an attorney in the daughter’s criminal proceeding.

“In doing so, the employee violated multiple…personnel rues and the [Law Department’s] policy prohibiting the outside practice of law,” the report states.

Ferguson recommended discipline “up to and including discharge.” The employee gave notice of an “intent to resign,” effective eight weeks later and “was not recorded as having resigned under inquiry,” the report states.

Also in the quarterly report, a motor truck driver in the Department of Water Management at the center of the Hired Truck, city hiring and racist email scandals was accused of working as an Uber driver while on duty disability from August, 2015 to October, 2016 without obtaining prior permission from the department.

The employee was accused of compounding the offense by lying to investigators about the terms of that employment and by falsely claiming that the employee’s adult son drove for Uber using the employee’s account.

Ferguson recommended that the truck driver be fired. Water Management placed the driver on administrative leave while it initiated the disciplinary process. While on leave, the employee retired.

Yet another investigation uncovered allegations that a city contractor included a “false, unauthorized endorsement” from a city supervisor in “three separate contract bid packages submitted to out-of-state municipal entities.”

The endorsement was actually written by the unidentified company. The company was further accused of using the city of Chicago seal without authorization.

Ferguson recommended that the Department of Procurement Services initiate debarment proceedings “for the purpose of determining appropriate remedial action against the company.”

The company was given 30 days to submit a written response, which Procurement Services is now reviewing.

Tuesday’s quarterly report also reveals that the “member hotline” created last year to allow sworn and civilian employees of the Chicago Police Department to “digitally submit complaints and suggestions” has gotten off to a very slow start.

“Despite the digital assurance of complete anonymity, there have been only 13 registrations, 3 complaints and 5 suggestions from a department with approximately 14,200 employees,” Ferguson wrote in a letter to aldermen attached to the report.

“It is a long, uphill road to culture change. Tone and messaging from the top will be critical to get there.”

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