Wednesday, August 27, 2014


THE MWRD BOARD MEMBERS NEED TO BE ACCOUNTABLE TO TAXPAYERS.

PATRICK DALEY THOMPSON has announced his run for Chicago Alderman of the 11th Ward based upon his record of elected public service since 2012 at MWRD. 

http://patrickdthompson.com/

Is improper spending of taxpayer dollars an indication of how he will manage ward monies or provide proper constituent services? 

Voters need to keep this in mind in the 11th ward during the upcoming elections. Taxpayers need to monitor how public funds are spent in the interim.



An Open Letter to the Chicago Metropolitan Water Reclamation District law department employees

Your boss, General Counsel Ron Hill, has no confidence in your professional abilities and chooses to award his classmate, Tom Leutkemeyer at Hinshaw with a sole source open-ended contract AT $375 PER HOUR that currently exceeds his and your individual annual compensation rate.

There are 18 credentialed lawyers who successfully passed the bar and are licensed in the State of Illinois. That qualification, plus their previous work experience obtained prior to employment at MWRD, enabled them to be hired in this agency.

Here is a link to spreadsheet of the list of all law department employees and their compensation.
http://ow.ly/AMwiw

Ron Hill is paid an annual salary of $244,463.18 that equates to an hourly rate of $117.53. Hourly staff attorney rates range from $102 per hour down to $50! Luetkemeyer is billing 3 to 4 times that rate per hour!

There are 4 Head Assistant Attorneys earning over $200,000, 6 Principal Attorneys making between $150,000 and $180,000 and 7 Senior Attorneys between $104,000 and $131,000.

The combined salary of these 18 employees is $2.8 Million!

On July 10, 2014, Ron Hill described to the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin ("Hill Leads Legal Team at MWRD") the in house legal department as "a small law firm that has a very diverse practice" that he "would stack up against any" private firm!

At the August 7, 2014 Regular MWRD Board Meeting Consent Agenda he submitted item number 66 14-0893 

"Authority to increase purchase order and amend the agreement with the law Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP for legal services related to disciplinary proceedings involving District employees and related litigation, in an amount of $80,000, from an amount of $215,000, to an amount not to exceed $295,000. Account 101-300000-601170, Purchase Order 3072886."

As justification Hill advised the Commissioners considering approval of this agenda item that the matter was very complex and involved multiple hearings and legal work. He neglected to be forthcoming with the Commissioners regarding his personal relationship with his former classmate and did not disclose that this was a sole source contract award.

Corruption Busters attended the board meeting and was allowed three minutes to object to the increased expenditure, reading the quote from Hill to the Law Bulletin into the record, as well as suggesting that in-house counsel could efficiently handle the matter at a much lower cost to taxpayers.

It is no surprise that the Commissioners, including Pat Daley Thompson, Mayor Daley's nephew, rubber stamped approval for the expenditure.

66 14-0893 Authority to increase purchase order and amend the agreement with the law
firm Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP for legal services related to disciplinary
proceedings involving District employees and related litigation, in an amount of
$80,000.00, from an amount of $215,000.00, to an amount not to exceed
$295,000.00, Account 101-30000-601170, Purchase Order 3072886

Attachments: HINSHAW CULBERTSON CHANGE ORDER LOG
A motion was made by Debra Shore, seconded by Kari K. Steele, that this Agenda
Item be Approved. The motion carried by the following roll call vote:
Aye: Frank Avila, Barbara J. McGowan, Cynthia M. Santos, Debra Shore, Mariyana T.
Spyropoulos, Kari K. Steele, Patrick D. Thompson, Kathleen Therese Meany
8 -Abstain: 1 - Michael A. Alvarez
source http://ow.ly/AMBkg

The original sole source contract started at under $10,000 and has now mushroomed by 2,163% with no cap in sight! 

Hill is keeping alive the tradition of the General Counsel's club running the Chicago Law department and the departments at all of the Chicago sister agencies, MPEA, CPS, Park District, etc. who award sole source outside legal fee contracts to "friends and family".

Hinshaw is among the 35 top benefactors of millions of dollars of fees granted by these patronage awards.

WE STRONGLY SUGGEST THAT THE ATTORNEYS EMPLOYED AT MWRD CONFRONT HILL AND DEMAND THAT HE RESCIND THE CONTRACT FOR OUTSIDE LEGAL SERVICES AND PROPERLY RESPECT THE ABILITIES OF HIS ABLE STAFF TO SAFEGUARD TAXPAYER ASSETS AND PREVENT ABUSE OF HIS FIDUCIARY RESPONSIBILITIES.

An apology would also be in order. How can one respect a boss who has no confidence in his staff??





Monday, July 28, 2014

Chicago's Polk family gives $20 million to Navy Pier Inc. but fails to note that NPI owes the taxpayers $5 Million from the interest free loan received July 1, 2011!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Andy Shaw, President & CEO of the Better Government Association files lawsuit to compel Navy Pier Inc to open its books and provide transparency to taxpayers under the $1 Per Year Lease Agreement executed with MPEA.

"McPier is taking you for a ride"
See Chicago Sun Times article here....

Here is a refresher on how we arrived at this point.

In December, 2010 Renee Benjamin, General Counsel, hired Shefsky & Froehlich, a politically connected law firm with millions in billings to MPEA, City of Chicago and the sister agencies, was handed a sole source contract to "research if a not for profit is subject to FOIA and OMA". Benjamin approved payment for $17,000 to an outside firm fully knowing the answer in advance. 

It took 4 attorneys billing at $295 per hour and 2 attorneys billing at $195 to conclude that a 501C3 non-profit is not subject to FOIA and OMA. 

Again, this is amusing as Benjamin was the FOIA Officer for MPEA, with training from the Illinois Attorney's Office. She could have simply referred to Lisa Madigan's handbook on FOIA (see Page 9) or called her office for an answer without spending taxpayer dollars. 

Any Chicago student studying civics could easily find the answer by simply looking for it!

Pay to Play, the Chicago Way!

But, this was actually an orchestrated effort by Jim Reilly to immediately incorporate Navy Pier Inc. in anticipation of splitting it out from MPEA effective July 1, 2011 and move all the Navy Pier patronage workers out of public scrutiny.

Benjamin received an immediate reward from Riley after she "retired" from MPEA effective 12/31/2010 and then obtained a sole source wired deal to act as Riley's "consultant" to supplement her monthly $8,000 pension with annual billings of between $65,000 and $70,000.

Never did these folks imagine that Tim Novak at the Chicago Sun Times would obtain direct evidence of improprieties, fraud and waste of taxpayer funds via their filed and signed IRS990 tax returns!

The BGA has filed suit to shed light on this corruption and we applaud Andy Shaw and his team for their efforts on behalf of the taxpayers of Illinois.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

NAVY PIER LEASES NOT SUBJECT TO FOIA -REMOVED FROM PUBLIC SCRUTINY AND ACCOUNTABILITY 

Since July 1, 2011, 9 Million annual visitors to Navy Pier who patronize the tenants and enjoy the amusement rides are not supporting the Chicago economy. Instead,  100% of the cash from the tenant leases is going directly to former employees of Navy Pier who have a sweetheart deal to manage the facility and pocket the proceeds at taxpayer expense.

These 75 TENANT LEASES produced $43 MILLION PER YEAR IN REVENUE TO MPEA and were improperly transferred to Navy Pier Inc. on July 1, 2011 in exchange for a $1 25-YEAR SOLE SOURCE WIRED DEAL TO ENRICH FORMER PATRONAGE WORKERS AT BOGUS NON-PROFIT 

Tenant Leases transferred to NPI from MPEA
http://ow.ly/yrmND

MPEA Tenant Lease Revenue Jan., 2011 to June, 2011
http://ow.ly/yro58


MPEA Antenna Contracts Jan., 2011 to June, 2011
http://ow.ly/yrnqI

The current leases are not available for FOIA as custodial authority has transferred to Navy Pier Inc., a bogus non profit that has raised ZERO dollars in tax deductible contributions since inception and also enjoys a $5 Million interest free loan from MPEA along with $100 Million of taxpayer assets transferred under the lease agreement!

These same former employees also now control $115 Million in bonds transferred under MPEA's bonding authority that can be spent without taxpayer accountability.

We urge the BGA to compel disclosure of these leases in the FOIA Lawsuit 2014-CH-10364 filed with the Cook County Circuit Court against MPEA and Navy Pier Inc.




Monday, June 23, 2014

Carol Marin hosts Chicago Tonight interview with Tim Novak (Chicago Sun Times) and Matt Topic (Better Government Association) on "Navy Pier's Secretive Spending"

Watch the video and read the article here...

http://chicagotonight.wttw.com/2014/06/23/navy-piers-secretive-spending

Big salaries, bonuses for some Navy Pier top staff

Navy Pier's private operator exempt from public records law