Tuesday, September 24, 2013

FOIA Just Received from City of Chicago Law Department re Staff & Salaries

In an update to our blog dated September 9, 2013, we have now obtained up to date information regarding the number of attorneys employed by the City of Chicago Law Dept.

The tally 249 full attorneys (assuming they all passed the bar) at a total salary of $21,884,688. Average salary per attorney is $87,890.31 for a calculated average hourly rate of $42.25.

So, simple arithmetic indicates that these qualified employees could produce a ratio 6.98:1 hours of work against an outside legal firm attorney billing at $295.

In fact, Mara Georges, previous General Counsel for City of Chicago had negotiated a reduced hourly rate at $250 that she reported to the budget committee of the Chicago City Counsel in November, 2009. Therefore, outside legal firms billing at amounts greater than $250 per hour to City of Chicago and sister agencies must be compelled to refund the excessive billings. This will certainly result in some uncalculated funds recovery for the Office of the Mayor!

Here is a link to the spreadsheet obtained via FOIA

So, again we ask, why are City agencies continuing to hire outside counsel under the mistake impression that they are "more qualified than most" to provide legal work. The spreadsheet displays an array of talents in areas covering torts, real estate, federal civil rights litigation, appeals, labor...all those juicy areas now being parceled out to politically connected firms...so called "pinstripe patronage".

Mayor Emanuel, let's stop insulting these highly qualified city workers who would certainly welcome the challenge to gain experience and depth in these practice areas...and be a welcome cost savings to taxpayers!

Perhaps a responsible person will explain why Shefsky was paid $62,751,113.69 by City of Chicago between 2012-2013?

Here is a link to City of Chicago Vendor Payment Details on the portal  https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B86hsukGDw90aG12Y1kzWngzd00/edit?usp=sharing

We look forward to a response....

Friday, September 20, 2013

What value did the taxpayers get for $15,707,800 grant monies allocated to Partnership for a Connected Illinois for expanding broadband by DCEO?

In a FOIA just obtained by Corruption Busters from DCEO, it was disclosed that on behalf of Partnership for A Connected Illinois, Drew Clark & Charles Benton submitted an application to Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity (DCEO) requesting "Funding to create innovative projects that will deliver broadband to underserved and underserved areas to spur job creation and stimulate economic growth and bridge the gap of the broadband divide by delivering access to the citizens of Illinois"

The project dates are 10/1/2010-10/31/2012.

Here are the recipient companies and the allocation of the grant:

We previously published information related to the failure of MyWay Village (aka Connected Living) to create jobs. Their application to US Dept of Commerce NTIA BTOP promised "over 100 jobs". The actual number of jobs created was between 30-40 and it is now evident that those jobs were not sustainable. In addition, they promised to get "over 3000" seniors and disabled folks in public housing sustainable broadband adoption. The actual number is closer to 400, and that number is dubious at best.

Don Samuelson claims that he directly worked to obtain State of Illinois funds for this project. His son was employed by Connected Living during the grant period.

In a press release dated 9/13/2010 entitled "Governor Quinn Announces Illinois to Receive Nearly $100 million in New High-Tech Investment Four More Projects will Create Hundreds of Jobs Across State" it announces "MyWay Village, will use its $4.7 million federal award matched with $1.2 million in state capital funds leveraged with $890,000 in private investment to engage thousands of senior citizens and people with disabilities in 23 public housing communities to learn the basics of e-mail, Web access and other practical computer skills. MyWay
Village has partnered with local Workforce Investment Act organizations to help seniors who develop their digital literacy skills to find part time work." further "A longtime advocate of broadband-based opportunities in Illinois, Governor Quinn made sure funding for technology projects was included in the Illinois Jobs Now! public works plan."

It is apparent that these monies were provided without proper due diligence and DCEO failed to ensure oversight of these projects during the grant period.

We call upon DCEO to provide a detailed accounting to taxpayers on the use of these funds and the results of these projects to "spur job creation" and "expand broadband" to the citizens of Illinois.

It is also incumbent upon Mr. Clark & Mr. Benton, who facilitated the application and allocated funding, to be held accountable for the use of these taxpayer funds. All funds that were improperly abused and resulted in personal gain should be returned to the taxpayers. 

We call upon the Illinois Attorney General's office to investigate allegations of fraud and waste of taxpayer funds by the recipient agencies.

Monday, September 9, 2013

With 270 attorneys on staff at the City of Chicago Law Department why spend money 
on outside legal counsel?

There are approximately a total of 450 public employees in this department earning $32 Million in payroll (not including pension & healthcare benefits) yet work is still being awarded on a sole source wired basis to connected law firms. 

Estimates of outside legal fees to 24 of these select firms totals well over $100 Million.

For example, Shefsky & Froelich billed over $11 Million from 2006 to June, 2012. In 2012 alone, Shefsky submitted 9313 separate invoices for only 6 months work! Multiple attorneys are assigned to tasks at $250 to $295 per hour; in-house attorney's payroll would result in zero additional cost since it is simply a matter of assigning these cases during the daily workload. A staff attorney earning $75,000 would have a billable hourly rate of $36.05. A senior attorney earning $110,000 has a billable hourly rate of $52.88. Simple second grade arithmetic indicates a ratio of 4.72 hours production using in-house staff vs. 1 hour of outside counsel. 

270 attorneys attended law school and have garnered some experience in practice. Research at these named outside firms is not provided by the the lead partners but certainly by clerical and junior attorneys.  We do not believe that in-house counsel is inept and cannot adequately handle the workload!

In 2011 Stephen Patton announced that he would streamline best practices in the Law Department and would bring the work in-house.  http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-05-17/business/ct-biz-0517-chicago-law-20110517_1_law-firms-corporation-counsel-kirkland-ellis

We call upon Patton to publish the details of outside work performed vs. in-house assignments since his tenure began and seek accountability and transparency to determine if he has kept his promise to maximize taxpayer dollars and reduce dependence on patronage law firms.