April 2016

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April 8, 2016

Powers Out in Chicago. Chicago Lead in Water Crisis gets new leader at Chicago Department of Water Management

Welcome to Clout Street: Morning Spin, our weekday feature to catch you up with what's going on in government and politics from Chicago to Springfield.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel will soon have a new official heading up the city's massive sewer and water main replacement program and trying to urge Chicago property owners to switch to water meters.

Barrett Murphy, who's held various City Hall positions over the past two decades, will take over for Thomas Powers as the man who gets to stand next to Emanuel at periodic press conferences to show taxpayers the benefits of the pipe upgrades they're paying for with big increases to their water rates. The mayor likes to display sections of old wooden water pipes at such events as the water commissioner looks on.

The water commissioner is also known to Chicagoans as the guy who shows up at water main breaks and sinkholes to explain what went wrong.

Murphy is a deputy water commissioner who worked under Mayor Richard M. Daley in the Aviation Department and as the city's project manager to prepare for possible Y2K computer problems, a predicted calamity that never came to pass. He will take over for Powers, who stayed on in the top position when Emanuel succeeded Daley as mayor in 2011.

The change comes at a time of heightened concern about the amount of lead in Chicago drinking water in light of the water crisis in Flint, Mich. The city Health Department announced this week it would start testing for lead in water in the homes of children poisoned by the brain-damaging metal.

Health Department officials said they would work with the Water Department to deal with the problem if elevated levels of lead are found.

The Water Department is huge, with about 2,200 employees and a budget of around $1 billion. It has taken on greater prominence in recent years thanks to Emanuel's signature main replacement program.

"Over the last five years, Tom has overseen an historic investment in Chicago's infrastructure that has helped to build a better Chicago, and I thank him for his service to the City," Emanuel said in a statement.

Emanuel said Murphy is up to the task. "Moving forward, Barrett Murphy's vast knowledge of and experience within the Department make him the best choice for the job as we continue to implement our 10-year Capital Improvement Program," he said.

Daley elevated Powers to head the Water Department in 2010, after the city Inspector General's Office reported department crews under Commissioner John Spatz had done private work with city material on city time.

Among the jobs detailed by the inspector general was a 2008 repair project at Nativity of Our Lord Roman Catholic Church, in the 11th Ward, seat of the Daley family's power. This information was provided by Chicago Clout, no reward money ever paid. Spatz himself was not implicated in any wrongdoing, but Daley demoted him. (John Byrne)

April 5, 2016

Former State of Illinois Inspector ready to test Lead in your Chicago Drinking Water

Many folks are very concerned about the lead in the drinking water in Chicago. We at ChicagoClout will provide expert witnesses as to the ways the lead has purposely been put into the drinking water in Chicago. We will provide expert testimony and provide existing sworn testimony as to the way the Department of Water Management willfully violated laws that have adversely affected your family's health.

We will provide testimony that will show the Department of Water Management retaliated against whistleblowers and stopped water from being properly inspected by Chicago Plumbing Inspectors. We will also show the way Chicago has been testing water to avoid giving an honest result which would have given results with a positive lead result.

We will also show how the promotions have been given to insiders not licensed or qualified to make decisions that affect your life and wellbeing. Please contact chicagoclout@gmail.com and we will provide a lead test that is Calibrated to the EPA standard for lead. Our test procedures document the correct way for an honest result. Every person making the test is a State of Illinois Certified Plumbing Inspector that has been a former employee of the Department of Water Management. There is no charge for those that can not afford the test!!!

April 2, 2016

Some time Alderman Burke and the Chicago Workers' Compensation System needs a second look

Steve Collier Final City of Chicago Hoisting Engineer Former Green Bay Packer Football player and City of Chicago Hoisting Engineer wants a look at his records keep by Alderman Burke and Monica Somerville at the Chicago Committee on Finance. Mr. Steve Collier went to the Mayor of the City of Chicago's administrative officer to make sure his FOIA does not get lost. I suggest if you work for the City of Chicago, past and present, to review all document the City keeps on you. Jay Stone wrote many articles on Alderman Burke and Monica Somerville, I suggest to enlighten yourself. "You can accept or reject the way you are treated by other people, but until you heal the wounds of your past, you will continue to bleed. You can bandage the bleeding with food, with alcohol, with drugs, with work, with cigarettes, with sex, but eventually, it will all ooze through and stain your life. You must find the strength to open the wounds, stick your hands inside, pull out the core of the pain that is holding you in your past, the memories, and make peace with them" ― Iyanla Vanzant, Yesterday, I Cried Photo by Chicago Clout

Continue reading "Some time Alderman Burke and the Chicago Workers' Compensation System needs a second look" »

March 29, 2016

Alderman Ed Burke's Workers' Comp Aide is Committing Fraud

Burke's Legislative Aide Falsely Claims She is the Workers' Comp Director Monica Somerville is a legislative aide who is fraudulently claiming she is the Director of the Workers Compensation Division. I discovered Somerville's fraud when a friend showed me a letter that Somerville sent him (See note 1 to view two Somerville letters). At the top of the letter was "City of Chicago," "Committee on Finance," and "Alderman Ed Burke, Chairman." In the body of the letter, Somerville gave a one-word explanation of "Non-Compliant" as the reason why the city was terminating my friend's duty disability and medical payments. My friend was on duty when his ankle was hit with a fork lift truck. The driver of the fork lift tested positive for cocaine and was fired. Two months after Somerville's letter, my friend is still trying to find out what he did that was non-compliant. For Somerville to give a one word explanation for the termination of duty disability pay and medical expenses is incompetence, not fraud. My friend has a wife and five children that rely on his duty disability pay check. The workers' comp division owes my friend due process and an explanation of more than one word for the stoppage of his income and medical payments related to his on duty injury. Somerville's fraud occurred after she signed her letter. Underneath her signature, she typed, Monica Somerville, Director. In the next line Somerville typed, "Workers' Compensation Division." Somerville is not the director of the workers compensation division. The real director of workers' comp is Robert Serafin. Somerville has no legal right or authority to call herself the director of workers' comp when she is not. The city pays $119,556 to Robert Serafin to serve as the director of workers' compensation. The city pays Monica Somerville $75,408 for her work as Alderman Burke's legislative aide. Because of the seriousness of accusing Somerville of fraud, my friend submitted a Freedom of Information Request (FOIA) to verify Somerville's legislative aide job title with the city's human resources department. Indeed, the human resources' FOIA response confirmed Monica Somerville's job title is a "legislative aide," not the director as she types on her letters. I know of at least one other Somerville letter in which she fraudulently claimed she is the director of workers' comp. I'm confident that Somerville sent many more letters with her fake job title to injured city employees. The Chicago Defender wrote an article about how Reginald Williams Sr. was injured when he was a passenger in a city truck that was involved in a major accident. Williams Sr. and his doctor want surgery to repair the injuries he sustained on duty; Somerville's letter ordered Williams Sr. to return to work. This is exactly what Chicago Defender reporter KaiElz wrote, "In a letter dated January 14, 2015, Monica Somerville, Director of the Workers' Compensation Division, stated that Williams was to complete the paper work to be reinstated to 'full duty' work in an 'unrestricted capacity.'" To read KaiElz's complete Chicago Defender article, click here. Monica Somerville also listed herself on the Linkedin professional networking site as the "Director of Workers' Compensation, and Police and Fire Claims" (see note 2 for a screen shot of Somerville's false claims). Here are five of the 11 duties that Somerville claims she does for her legislative aide job. *Manage the Committee on Finance workers' compensation program *Recruit, train, manage 17+ claims examiners for timely investigations and bill payments *Analyze and review complaints and assist in resolving all complaints *Advise counsels on parameters of settlement negotiating and grant authority *Provide assistance to the executive director and prepare and present staff reports and other correspondence as appropriate Somerville can't arbitrarily assign job titles to herself and others because the Shakman settlement specified the job titles for all city council employees, including those in Burke's finance committee. The exempt job list has only one Director of Workers' Comp. Somerville can't claim she is the director because Robert Serafin is the one and only director. Somerville can't claim she assists the executive director because no such executive director job title or person exists. Somerville falsely boasts she recruits, trains, and manages 17+ claims examiners though no such job title for claims examiner exists in the Chicago budget or Shakman exempt list. It seems that the duties and responsibilities that Somerville posted to the Linkedin website are as fraudulent as sending letters with her job title as the director of workers' compensation. Somerville should have known better to falsely claim that she is the director of workers' compensation. Not only is Somerville a lawyer, but she also served more than five years on the Illinois Supreme Court's Committee on Character and Fitness. Alderman Ed Burke's wife Anne was one of the Illinois Supreme Court justices who appointed Somerville to the Committee on Character and Fitness in 2011 and then reappointed her for a second term in 2014. Illinois Supreme Court justices bestowed Somerville with the duty to "evaluate the moral character and general fitness of applicants to practice law." Since Somerville evaluated future lawyers' moral character for over five years, one would think that Somerville would have known it was immoral to falsify her job title and responsibilities. The question is did Monica Somerville take it upon herself to fraudulently claim she is the director of workers' compensation or was Somerville following orders from Alderman Ed Burke or the real workers' comp director Robert Serafin? If someone in a position above Somerville ordered Somerville to sign her letters with the workers' comp director's job title, then that person should be held equally accountable as Somerville. Notes 1.Click the following document to see the letter in which Monica Somerville fraudulently claimed that she is the workers' comp director. Patrick McDonough Committee on Finance Stop Payment letters 2.For a screen Shot of Somerville's false Linkedin job title and duties claims, see following document. Monica Somerville's False Linkedin Claims

Letter to Joseph Ferguson Chicago Inspector General: The 2nd Inspector General Complaint

I am a two-time victim of fraud committed by a Chicago City Council Finance Committee employee named Monica Somerville. Ms. Somerville's job title is a "legislative aide" though she has fraudulently written in her letters to me that she is the "Director of the Workers' Compensation Division."

Monica Somerville sent me letters on October 19, 2015 and January 7, 2016 to inform me that my benefits were being stopped for "Not participating in vocational rehabilitation" and "Non-compliant." Somerville typed the word "Director" next to her name in both letters (see PDF of my October 19, 2015 and January 7, 2016 letters). Underneath her name and title of "Director," Somerville typed, "Workers' Compensation Division."

Somerville is not the Director of the Workers' Compensation Division. According to Human Resources, Robert Serafin is the workers' comp Director and Somerville is a legislative aide (see Human Resources work history of Somerville and Serafin PDF). Somerville committed fraud by falsely claiming she was a director when she has no legal authority or legal power to do so. Furthermore, Somerville deceptively listed herself as the "Director of Workers' Compensation Division" in the professional website called "Linkedin" (see Linkedin PDF).

Fraud is defined as, "a person or thing intended to deceive others, typically by unjustifiably claiming or being credited with accomplishments or qualities." Commit fraud is exactly what Somerville did. She purposely deceived me by falsely claiming she is the workers' comp director when her job title is legislative aide. Somerville expressed she had more power and authority from her phony "Director" job title than she actually had. Somerville's overstatement of her position and authority with the job title of "Director" is very relevant because in both her letters to me she stopped my duty disability pay and payment of my medical expenses.

City employee Reginald Williams Sr. also received a letter in which Somerville committed fraud with her false claim that she is the director (See Williams Sr. Article). In Somerville's letter she denied Williams Sr. surgery and said he can return to unrestricted duty though he is taking the strongest painkiller available. Williams Sr. and his personal physician both maintain surgery is necessary and only hope of Williams Sr.'s recovery. Since Somerville is deceiving injured city employees with her false job title of "Director," you have to wonder what other things is she lying about or doing wrong.

The four exhibits and supportive evidence mentioned in this fraud complaint against Monica Somerville are as follows:

1. A copy of my complaint
2. Monica Somerville's letters dated October 19, 2015 and January 7, 2016
3. Legislative Aide Monica Somerville and Workers Comp Director Robert Serafin's work history from the Human Resources Department
4. Monica Somerville's false Linkedin claims
5. Article featuring Reginald Williams Sr. and self-titled workers' comp "Director" Monica Somerville's bewildering response

Patrick McDonough

Injured City Worker

Monica Somerville Workers' Compensation Director Unsuccessfully Sued the City After She was Fired for Poor Job Performance

Worker's Comp is another Hired Truck and Clout List Scandal Waiting to Happen

I predict current workers' comp Director Monica Somerville will join the ranks of city managers Angelo Torres and Robert Sorich. Torres managed the infamous Hired Truck program. The city paid $60 million a year to contractors for trucks that mainly sat idle on side streets and parking lots. To secure their lucrative trucking contracts, city contractors used bribes, kickbacks, and political donations, including contributions to Mayor Rahm Emanuel's political committee that Emanuel set up when he ran for congress. Sorich maintained the "clout list" that FBI agents found on his computer when they raided his city hall office. Scorch kept the names of people that the city promoted or hired in exchange for their political work, a practice that the Shakman Decrees expressly prohibited. Not surprisingly, the names of workers comp Director Monica Somerville and three of her relatives appear on Sorich's clout list (see Note 1).

As with Torres and Sorich, Monica Somerville's political organization and political sponsors secured her workers' comp job. As with Torres and Sorich, workers' comp Director Somerville must obey orders from her political clout bosses regardless of whether her orders are moral or immoral or legal or illegal; otherwise, she will be out of her seventh public sector job.

Somerville's job as workers' comp director is her fourth city job. Somerville worked in the law department as an attorney and assistant corporation council from January 1991 until she resigned in September 1997. Somerville returned to the law department as a chief assistant corporation council in June 2000. Somerville's return to city employment at double the salary is significant because it occurred after Sorich put her name on his clout list. Seventeen months later, the city fired Somerville for disciplinary reasons in November 2001. Somerville did not leave her city job quietly. She filed a sexual harassment and racial discrimination suit against her boss Melvin Brooks and the City of Chicago. The judge ruled the city fired Somerville for "poor performance." The judge specifically noted Somerville made mistakes that led to a $50 million and $3 million verdict against the city. The judge said Somerville provided no evidence that she was sexually harassed or racially discriminated against.

Somerville Should Have Been on the City's Do Not Hire List

The assistant commissioner for the human resources department maintains a "do not hire list" of employees whom the city will not rehire because of the actions that led to their termination. The do not hire list is divided into finite and infinite classifications. The city may rehire former employees after one year if city workers' terminations are listed as "finite." The city will never rehire former city employees whose terminations are classified as "infinite."

At the very least Monica Somerville's disciplinary termination would have put her on the do not hire finite list had there been one in 2001. Somerville falsely accusing her supervisor and city of sexual harassment and racial discrimination after she was fired probably would have earned her a do not hire infinite termination. It's one thing to get fired for poor performance and disciplinary reasons, but making false accusations after termination against a supervisor and the city is far more serious. I pity Somerville's boss who had to defend himself against her awful allegations.

Alderman Burke hired Somerville for political reasons, and he continues to employ her for political reasons. As with Somerville's current workers' comp position, her previous employment was also a Shakman exempt job. Prior to joining Alderman Ed Burke's finance committee, Somerville worked nine years at the Illinois Department of Employment Services (IDES). She went from a $28.36 hourly hearing referee in 2003 to earning $7,917 a month for working as a public service administrator starting in 2009. Somerville has an eight month employment history gap from when she left IDES on Sept. 1, 2012 until she started working for Burke's finance committee on May 16, 2013. Somerville's pay dropped from $95,000 a year at IDES to the $75,000 a year that she is currently earning as a finance committee employee.

Alderman Ed Burke is solely responsible for hiring Monica Somerville. For the 31 years that Burke has served as finance committee chairman, he has handpicked all of his workers' comp employees. Somerville did not make the city's do not hire list because there was no such list when she was fired, but wouldn't her termination for poor job performance, false allegations against her supervisor, and unsuccessful lawsuit against the city give Burke pause to hire her? Has Somerville accomplished anything remarkable that shows she is a far better employee today then the day the city fired her?

Burke has some explaining to do. Why did Burke hire Somerville after she was fired from the law department for poor performance? Why did Burke hire Somerville after she made false sexual harassment and racial discrimination claims in a lawsuit that she lost? Why did Burke hire Somerville who has an extensive political pedigree for a job that requires independence and impartiality?

Burke's hiring of Somerville is a symptom of a much bigger problem, namely workers' comp is under Burke's finance committee's control when it should be part of the executive branch. During Burke's 31 year reign as finance chairman, I estimate that he has submitted $2 billion to $3 billion in workers' compensation vouchers without a financial audit or oversight of his expenditures. Indeed aldermen have passed Burke's workers' comp budget for 31 years, but once the city council appropriated money to fund Burke's committee, there has been no review to make sure Burke has properly spent the $2 to $3 billion of workers' comp money.

Three 1913 municipal code ordinances give Burke the unchecked power to hire workers' comp employees, sign vouchers for both duty disability pay and medical expenses without proper financial controls over his spending or oversight of his employees. Workers' compensation employees like Somerville maintain power and control over city employees' livelihood and their health since they must give their prior approval for medical procedures such as surgery. If you are a city employee or someone you care about is a city employee, you'll want to know the answer to this question: How many other Monica Somervilles did Alderman Ed Burke hire to administer Chicago's workers' comp program?

1.To view Monica Somerville and her relatives names on the clout list, click the following document. cloutlist2006(2)

March 14, 2016

Alderman Burke and Committee on Finance Video

The Defender speaks on Alderman Burke and the Committee on Finance

City Worker Denied Surgery to Relieve Pain

By Ken Hare

Chicago Defender Staff Writer

On January 7, 2013, city worker Reginald Williams Sr., who has worked with the Department of Transportation for over 20 years was injured on the job.

He was a passenger in an 18-wheel city truck when the driver miscalculated the height of a viaduct and ran into the overpass. The impact injured everyone riding in the cab and an ambulance was dispatched.

The next day, Williams was instructed to go to Mercy Works for Occupational Medicine and see the doctors that are part of the city's workers' compensation network.

Shortly after his accident, Williams applied for workmen's compensation and was immediately awarded monthly benefits that started the same month of the accident, January 2013 and lasted until December 2014.

In a letter dated January 14, 2015, Monica Somerville, Director of the Workers' Compensation Division, stated that Williams was to complete the paper work to be reinstated to "full duty" work in an "unrestricted capacity." The letter was based on a Dr. Levin's Independent Medical Examiner's (IME) report that was written on December 3, 2014.

Dr. Levin, in addition to that report, also wrote a 53-page report addressed to a Patricia O'Connor chronicling Williams' medical history throughout the life of his claim. The report is a compilation of all the visits that Williams made to the doctor's office regarding his conditions while he received benefits, benefits that lasted for twenty-three months.

"I contacted my attorney and asked how could they terminate my benefits. He said it was based on the MRI report and the doctor's opinion that I was able to go back to work full time," Williams stated. "I told my attorney that someone was lying and he said we have to wait to see the report."

Williams ended up firing his first attorney and hiring another after weeks went by with no progress on his case. Subsequently, he hired another attorney who also didn't make any substantial progress and he too was fired after several months.

After obtaining a copy of the report, according to Williams, he came to the conclusion that Dr. Levin had incorrect information about his shoulder that wasn't injured in the accident and somehow this information was used to justify terminating his case.

Attorney Mark Weissburg, who isn't affiliated with the case, but specializes in Social Security and Workers' Compensation is all too familiar with the decision to terminate clients.

"The City would have to explain its decision making process. Some employers fire injured workers as a way of scaring the remaining employees so they don't report work injuries," Weissburg said. "Other times an employer fails to follow the law and acts in ways that are contrary to the word and intent of the Workers' Compensation Act."

Throughout the 53 page report, it's indisputably noted that Williams continues to experience severe back pain, and is commented on by several of the doctors that Dr. Levin uses in his final report.

"I continue to be in constant pain while taking Norco and Dr. Levin knows that I am," Williams said. "I am sad that my request for surgery has been denied even though I did everything the city told my doctors to do. Just when I thought the city was about to approve my surgery, Dr. Levin said I didn't need it. And my benefits were terminated."

Attorney Weissburg said, "I've seen employers make decisions that not only hurt the injured worker, but are also not in the employer's own best interests. When there are reasonable questions regarding the facts of a work injury, those should be investigated, but when it is clear that a worker was injured at work, the appropriate benefits should be paid in a timely manner."

The question some ask is how the city of Chicago and one of its affiliated doctors says it is okay for a city employee, who is taking one of the most powerful pain killers known to man, to return to work in "full duty" in an "unrestricted capacity."

The warning label for Norco states: "This medication may impair your thinking or reactions. Avoid driving or operating machinery until you know how Norco will affect you. Dizziness or severe drowsiness can cause falls or other accidents."

The Chicago Defender attempted to contact Dr. Levin, Monica Somerville from Workers' Compensation and Mr. Williams' attorney, George Argionis, all declined to comment on this story.