Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Who is Ellen Barry and how did she land a new job as Acting CIO for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Chicago?

Ellen Barry seems to keep popping up in municipal jobs like a character in Wackamole. She was employed as first deputy CIO for the City of Chicago from May 1, 1997 to Feb. 14, 2000. She then leveraged a patronage job obtained through Skinny Sheahan and her ex-brother-in-law who was an Alderman. On Feb. 14, 2000 she moved over to Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority as CIO.  She was forced into early retirement effective June 30, 2010 after the Illinois Legislature and Governor Quinn forcibly removed the sitting board members for mismanaging the Authority. It is still a mystery as to why the entire management of MPEA was also not removed when Juan Ochoa resigned!

She claimed to save the Authority monies by "insourcing" the IT function within MPEA and was directly involved in a program to charge exhibitors exorbitant amounts for Internet services that she claimed to own. She touted this program as a profit center to MPEA. Our forensic investigation of revenues derived from Internet services did not bear out this claim as MPEA simply dumped the monies into the General Fund without accounting for the transactions. In fact, she was renting services from the Illinois Century Network. The Cisco switches and routers were quite inexpensive and did not provide redundancy. In addition, MPEA employees in the Head House (located at the west end of Navy Pier) were not connected to the network, but were using DSL circuits provided by a sole source contract she executed with AT&T at additional cost. 

Barry wired a sole source 3 page contract with Ethnometrics in 2008 with her buddy Dave Fellers who was the former executive director of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) and who utilized Internet services at MPEA for their annual event. MPEA never earned any revenue from this agreement! In addition, she purchased $91,000 of camera equipment with MPEA funds for the express use of Ethnometrics at no cost.

Barry was also instrumental in crafting the Homeland Security Grant monies request with her friends at IBM for the installation of security cameras at Navy Pier. This $4.4 Million sole source contract for substandard equipment resulted in MPEA actually paying 25% of the monies or $1.1 Million taxpayer funds as part of the network implemented by the OEMC for Operation Virtual Shield. 

All while the Authority had amassed a deficit of $408.3 Million (2008) now enlarged to $999 Million (2012)

In 2008, Barry tasked Mario Dominguez, the Director of Desktop, Security and the AS/400 to perform an audit on assets including desktop computers, cell phones and beepers. Dominguez determined that half the equipment was missing. At his persistence, he questioned employees and his findings revealed that MPEA equipment had been taken home for personal use. He attempted to recover these assets. Dominguez was wrongfully terminated by Barry and the report was destroyed. She replaced Mario with her girlfriend's husband, Chuck Sansone, at $100,000 salary despite his having no experience with Cisco networks. Sansone was moved over to Navy Pier Inc., a 501C3 non profit,  in July, 2011 along with all the other patronage workers employed at Navy Pier in an attempt to remove them from public scrutiny and investigations by the press. 

She also had no problem employing her grandson during the summers at MPEA at taxpayer expense. Her son is employed at the Office of Emergency Management.

Juan Ochoa, CEO of MPEA from 2007 to 2010 brought in his mentor, Carlos Ponce as acting Chief of Staff, in an attempt to deflect the barrage of inquiries into mismanagement and improprieties. Ponce was instrumental in forcing Barry out of MPEA.

Under heavy scrutiny, she accepted the early retirement from MPEA in June, 2010 despite imploring management to continue her employment.

Barry now collects $6,278.92 per month in pension monies from MPEA.

On Feb. 19, 2013 Barry was named Acting CIO for the Water Reclamation District at a bi-weekly rate of $8,075.09 (annualized at $193,802.20) a very nice increase in compensation from her ending pay at MPEA $142,320.20).

Who is her Chinaman that helped her get a cushy patronage job this time??

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