THE WATCHDOGS: After staying neutral in the last race for Chicago mayor, Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan has provided major support to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s re-election campaign, a Chicago Sun-Times analysis shows.
THE WATCHDOGS: One of the big problems Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner will face is what to do about the state’s public pension crisis. He doesn’t need to go any farther than a member of his own transition team, Glenn Poshard, to get a close-up look at some of the factors fueling the crisis.
THE WATCHDOGS: Officer Richard A. Rizzo, a subject of the Chicago Sun-Times’ “Tarnished Badges” investigation last year who’s been arrested four times by his own department during 17 years as a Chicago cop, should be fired, Supt. Garry McCarthy says.
Search recent columns
THE WATCHDOGS: Nine months after a nephew of former Mayor Richard M. Daley pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter, not one cop has been disciplined for letting Richard J. “R.J.” Vanecko get away for nearly 10 years with killing David Koschman. Many can’t be punished because they no longer work for the city.
THE WATCHDOGS: Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, one of President Barack Obama’s closest friends, has refused to answer federal prosecutors’ questions about whether he had a “sexual relationship” with a former aide who has pleaded guilty to stealing taxpayers’ money, court records show.
THE WATCHDOGS: Though strapped for cash, the Chicago Board of Education has paid three politically connected contractors nearly $31 million since 2012 to oversee renovation work at the city’s schools, including $338,000 a year paid to one employee. That’s $88,000 more than Barbara Byrd-Bennett makes as the school system’s chief executive officer.
The most dangerous block in Chicago? A stretch of South King Drive where a young Michelle Obama once lived
They call it “O Block.” It’s a notorious stretch of South Side real estate, including the sprawling Parkway Gardens apartment complex, known for violence. Nineteen people were shot on O Block — the 6400 block of South Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive — between June 2011 and June 2014, making it the most dangerous block in Chicago over that period, a Chicago Sun-Times analysis found.
THE WATCHDOGS: Chicago taxpayers have paid more than $6 million to private lawyers hired to fight three City Hall scandals that benefited family and friends of former Mayor Richard M. Daley. And the legal bills keep mounting.
THE WATCHDOGS: Two years ago, the city banned Windy City Electric Co. from getting any more business over allegations it fraudulently landed millions in contracts set aside for companies owned by women. But the ban didn’t keep the politically connected contractor from getting more than $3 million in new work from the Chicago Public Schools.
Amer Ahmad was arrested in Lahore, Pakistan in late April with a fake Mexican passport, a forged Pakistani visa and thousands of dollars.
THE WATCHDOGS: Illinois legislators created the Urban Weatherization Initiative in 2009, promising that as much as $425 million in taxpayer money would go to train workers in predominantly African-American neighborhoods to identify and fix energy-efficiency problems in homes. Five years later, the program has fallen far short of its goals, records and interviews show.
THE WATCHDOGS: A Chicago Sun-Times examination of campaign-finance records, hiring records, nominating petitions and formerly secret “clout lists” offers a peek inside the political machine that’s made Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan a power beyond Springfield and his Southwest Side base.
THE WATCHDOGS: In 17 years on the board of the Jesse White Tumblers, attorney Robert Kuzas made some powerful allies in Chicago’s black community. Now, those friends have helped Kuzas secure a Cook County judgeship from a district created to help get more African-Americans elected to the bench.
THE WATCHDOGS: Nearly two dozen brightly lit signs barrage people from Bridgeport to Lake View with a 24/7 rotation of digital ads featuring attacks on Gov. Pat Quinn and praise for his Republican opponent Bruce Rauner, an owner of the business that got city approval to put up the signs.
THE WATCHDOGS: The clout-heavy United Neighborhood Organization — facing federal scrutiny and a power struggle that threatens its funding — has brought in Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s former communications director and two lawyers who helped keep Emanuel on the ballot in 2011.
THE WATCHDOGS: When the government was seeking a new Chicago FBI headquarters, it gave the deal to Jack Higgins — a friend of then-Mayor Richard M. Daley. Higgins brought in Penny Pritzker, who would go on to be a top campaign fund-raiser for President Barack Obama and is now his secretary of commerce. The $125 million FBI complex turned out to be a profitable venture for the Pritzker family and Higgins but not as good a deal for taxpayers.
THE WATCHDOGS: Former Mayor Richard M. Daley went after a government contract in Chicago, records show. But Daley’s Tur Partners was part of a group that withdrew from consideration for the deal to develop 9.5 acres of government land, leaving only two bidders. The winning bidder hired Daley nephew Patrick Daley Thompson.
A WATCHDOGS FOLLOW-UP: Thomas J. Sadzak is out of a job with the city of Chicago — again — as the result of allegations leveled by a city worker who won a $99,000 settlement from City Hall after accusing Sadzak of sexually harassing her and threatening to rape her when she complained about him. The firing followed a report Monday in the Chicago Sun-Times detailing the case against Sadzak and reporting that Ald. John Pope (10th) had put Sadzak back on the city payroll even though he’d been placed on the city’s “do not hire” list.
The United Neighborhood Organization’s charter-school network is facing possible new legal troubles, with an IRS audit of bonds issued for its Chicago schools. The Internal Revenue Service audit involves nearly $37 million in bonds issued in 2011 for the UNO Charter School Network Inc.
THE WATCHDOGS: Ald. John Pope (10th) hired a man who had quit his job at the Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation; he was about to be fired over sexual harassment allegations leveled by a female laborer. The woman got a $99,000 settlement from the city.