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.
Search recent columns
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.
A federal judge blasted the Chicago Police Department and Cook County state’s attorney’s office but dismissed a lawsuit that accused police, prosecutors and City Hall of an “official cover-up” to keep former Mayor Richard M. Daley’s nephew Richard J. “R.J.” Vanecko from being charged in the death of David Koschman.
THE WATCHDOGS: As the Chicago Police Department began re-investigating a homicide involving a nephew of Mayor Richard M. Daley, a high-ranking cop met secretly with the retired detective who hadn't solved the case seven years earlier, according to records obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times. The meeting was in January 2011 — the same month the original police file on the David Koschman case was reported missing.
Chicago Public Schools officials are not allowing a beleaguered charter school operator to open a planned South Side campus next month, a CPS source has confirmed to the Chicago Sun-Times.
THE WATCHDOGS: Contractors facing scrutiny in an ongoing investigation of Concept Schools have been paid nearly $1 million over the past three years for work at three Chicago Public Schools-funded campuses run by the charter operator, records show.
THE WATCHDOGS: Chicago Teachers Union boss and potential mayoral challenger Karen Lewis, who has railed against the influence of the wealthy and called Mayor Rahm Emanuel “Mayor 1%,” has three homes, including a condo in Hawaii, and is paid more than $200,000 a year in union salaries, records show.
THE WATCHDOGS: When conventions and trade shows threaten to leave McCormick Place or Rosemont for Orlando, Las Vegas or elsewhere, convention center officials sweeten the pot, tapping a pool of taxpayer money they guard so tightly they’ve tried to keep secret how it’s spent, the Chicago Sun-Times has found.
THE WATCHDOGS: Even as he has poured $9.6 million of his own money into his campaign, Bruce Rauner, the Republican candidate for governor, also has been dippping more heavily into his personal wealth to help finance GOP candidates and groups, records show.