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Council IG: Council employees did political work on public dime

The City Council’s inspector general said in a report released Wednesday he was hamstrung by Chicago aldermen’s lax record­keeping as he pursued allegations that city workers had done political work on the public dime.

Faisal Khan’s report on allegations dating back to January 2012 comes amid his political power struggle with Chicago aldermen who want to transfer his power to city Inspector General Joe Ferguson. Khan filed a lawsuit against Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the City Council in October.

Many aldermen have meanwhile accused the man they picked in 2011 to investigate aldermanic corruption of overstepping his bounds.

Khan’s office received a sworn statement in January 2012 that aldermanic staff members engaged in political activity at the City Board of Elections during paid city work hours, according to the report. The ensuing investigation revealed 18 council employees had done so, “based on the preponderance of the evidence,” Khan wrote.

Five aldermen refused to cooperate in the investigation, Khan wrote, and two employees testified they thought political work was a requirement of their job.

Along the way, Khan said he found no uniform time­tracking system for the council, but rather “what can be best described as an incomplete and inaccurate practice of timekeeping.”

One council staffer said he “had never seen, nor completed, a timesheet.”

The most common explanation for the lack of record­keeping for salaried employees was that it was an “unnecessary and unreasonable encumbrance” because many staffers worked irregular hours in the office and the field.

Khan recommended the council adopt a timekeeping system more reliable than “pen and paper” similar to the system used by other city employees.