Friday, March 20, 2009

WLS-TV - Unaccounted aldermanic allowances

I-Team report:
What happens when Chicago aldermen get their hands on generous expense accounts? And why isn't anyone watching?

The economy may be in the tank but Chicago aldermen are now flush with spending money. Their expense allotment more than doubled last year.

Each of the fifty members of Chicago's City Council now receives $73,280 a year for expenses.
Chicago overlooks part of the largest fresh water body in the world which provides drinking water for millions of us.

But according to city expense records obtained by the I-Team, Lake Michigan water isn't good enough for most Chicago alderman. They pay thousands of dollars a year from their city expense accounts to have bottled water delivered to their ward offices.

Among them is South Side alderman Anthony Beale who also paid more than $16,000 in tax money last year to a public relations firm that helps prepare ward newsletters sent out a few times a year, screens press calls, and sets up media interviews such as ours.

Goudie: "Nobody else in the city council has a public relations agency handling their calls from the media.

Ald. Anthony Beale, 9th Ward: I do know that the mayor has a very large media staff, um, and ya know, we're basically the mayor of a small ward."

City council rules allow the $73,000 in expense money to be spent on anything that aldermen consider "ordinary and necessary."

In some cases, purchases and payments are first made by the aldermen themselves or their election campaigns, meaning that the city many times reimburses alderman personally or their political organizations.
Read the whole thing!

Via Uptown Update!

1 comment:

  1. The ABC-7 news report was sensational but inaccurate in numerous ways. Most importantly, the 'teaser' led with an insinuation that no one monitors the expense accounts allocated to Aldermanic offices. In reality new aldermen are presented with a set of regulations governing what is and is not a permissible expenditure. Each dollar is requested by voucher, with an approved vendor number, for payment by the Comptroller. The Comptroller's office routinely questions both the form and content of the supporting documentation i.e. the bill or in the case of a reimbursement, the bill and proof of payment by the requestor in the form of your bank statement for example. The check is then paid or denied by the Comptroller. No funds are ever transferred to Alderman. Each month the Comptroller's office sends a statement showing all disbursements from your account and your balance. So I disagree wholeheartedly with the suggestion that no one is 'watching' the spending of these funds.

    Additionally when the increase in the account was being discussed there was a split in the Council between those who wanted more money for office expenses and those who wanted additional funds for staff. A certain amount was allocated and each Alderman is allowed to select how that money will be spent. I understand that the large amounts reported in December were charges to the accounts for staff that had been charged under another account because the program was new. All 50 accounts are online on the Chicago Reader blog.


PLEASE READ FIRST!!!! Comment Moderating and Anonymous Comment Policy

While anonymous comments are not prohibited we do encourage you to help readers identify you so that other commenters may respond to you. Either read the moderating policy for how or leave an identifier (which could be a nickname for example) at the end of the comment.

Also note that this blog is NOT associated with any public or political officials including Alderman Roderick T. Sawyer!