Changing the culture at City Hall has been a priority of mine since day one, when I signed a series of executive orders to strengthen ethics rules and close the revolving door between lobbying and government. Since then, I have worked with the City Council to rewrite the ethics code based on the independent recommendations of good-government leaders, supported the establishment of an independent budget office to serve as a watchdog for taxpayer dollars, brought an end to the 45-years of Federal oversight of the City's hiring practices, and expanded the authority of the City's Inspector General. Change is happening across the government, in ways both big and small. For the first time, every sister agency has an independent Inspector General, and credit cards and parking spots are no longer a perk of government service. In the next week I will be outlining a series of initiatives to continue changing the way City Hall does business. More importantly, I will continue instilling a culture that doesn't tolerate the abuses of the past – a new culture that led Michael Shakman, the Inspector General and a Federal judge to finally have faith that the City could hire Chicagoans based on what they know, not who they know. The culture is instilled from the top, and I will spend every day of my second term continuing to champion that new Chicago. In regards to City Council oversight, I still believe what I said during my first campaign for Mayor: the Inspector General's authority should extend to City Council, and I will continue to push the City Council to take this very important step.
The Office of the Legislative Inspector General has been an unnecessary and ineffective agency in dealing with the critical function of policing integrity in the City Council. In my view, the City's Inspector General should have been given the authority to investigate City Council members and their staffs, and it is not too late to do so. City Inspector General Joe Ferguson has been an outstanding advocate for reform and transparency. I strongly favor transferring to his office the ability to investigate members of the City Council and their staffs, thus rendering the additional expense of the OLIG unnecessary. I further support proposals to guarantee funding levels for the Office of the Inspector General, so that the Council is prevented from slashing his funds to avoid scrutiny of their activities. I have been honored to work with President Preckwinkle and my colleagues on the County Board to regain the trust of taxpayers that previous administrations had squandered. I believe we have an historic opportunity to accomplish the same reforms now in City Hall.
We should have an independent board to investigate all activity of the city of Chicago for fraudulently wrong doing with and open book policy.
The City Council should keep the office of legislative inspector general. The Inspector General should have subpoena power. This authority should include the ability to subpoena the mayor, clerk, treasurer, aldermen, Shakman Decree exempt employees and city contractors to find out what they knew and when they knew it, in order to ferret out corruption. Bids should be received and bid results should be displayed online. With the exception of Sole Source Contracts, No-bid contracts should be limited to $25,000. Additionally, I think that we need a whistle-blower program that rewards those who expose corruption. We also need a financial risk bond for certain employees in certain categories. It was just reported that the city has to set aside $12 million to pay for people who were harmed because of hiring schemes. If they had financial risk bonds, the bonds would assume the responsibility; the taxpayers wouldn't.
The City Council should give both offices the authority and resources to properly do its job, which means properly funding the office and expanding it, as well as giving it the authority to investigate City Council members. I proposed a series of ordinances to expand these offices. Ethics comes from the top down. Individuals should not have more than a single role – either a lobbyist, serve on a city board or receive a contract. I also championed other ways to expand the authority of the Inspector General on the infrastructure trust. The Inspector General should review every department and city sister agencies. Aldermen who recuse themselves from votes should not be present in a committee meeting or speak on a topic. Lobbyists should be banned from the council floor during committee meetings and in the back of the room of the council during City Council meetings. They should be just like regular citizens and have identification that shows they're lobbyists and who they're lobbying for. During committee meetings, lawyers and lobbyists should not sit in Aldermanic seats if the general public can't. We should be much more rigorous in producing a full quorum for City Council committee votes.