Opinion: Council Critics Have Nothing But Insults for IG Khan | NBC Chicago
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Opinion: Council Critics Have Nothing But Insults for IG Khan

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Quick: What’s the first thing most politicians will do they find themselves losing an argument?

    Why, insult their opponent personally, of course.
    That’s what it’s come to in the battle between City of Chicago Legislative Inspector General Faisal Khan and the Chicago City Council, who Khan is charged with overseeing.
    Tuesday, Khan filed a lawsuit naming Mayor Rahm Emanuel and several aldermen in an effort to secure what he says is enough money to run his office.
    Legislative Inspector General Faisal Khan’s lawsuit is the latest salvo in an increasingly bitter feud between aldermen and the watchdog who has the power to investigate them. Khan long has complained that a lack of funding has hamstrung his office’s ability to look into possible wrongdoing in the City Council, and his lawsuit takes those complaints a step further, into Cook County court.
    Khan has long argued that his office has been starved for resources, so much so that it’s been unable to do its job.
    Council critics, including aldermen Joe Moore (49), Carrie Austin (34) and others, have long countered Khan simply doesn’t know how to do the job.
    Much of the initial animosity between the parties stems from a 2012 request by Khan to review time sheets for full- and part-time City Council employees. Some aldermen saw the effort as a “fishing expedition” simply designed to embarrass them. That was also around the time aldermen started claiming Khan was overstepping his bounds and perhaps should be gotten rid of.
    In the years since, City Council has taken steps both direct and indirect to limit Khan’s authority and effectiveness, all the while looking to blame him personally for the department’s problems.
    That theme reached a crescendo today as aldermen responded to Khan’s latest move. Instead of arguing against Khan’s motion on its merits, a number of longtime critics took to the pages of the Chicago Sun-Times to, well, basically call him an idiot.
    "Where does he think the money falls from — out of a cherry tree or something?” said Ald. Carrie Austin (34th), one of a handful of committee chairman named in the lawsuit.
    “Our budget is tight. He just wants to be able to spend willy-nilly for whatever he deems necessary. It’s already in our records how much his office is supposed to receive. So, good luck with that.”
     
     “It’s an ego battle for him,” she said Wednesday. “He’s just full of molasses” when he says he has no “political or professional agenda.”
     
    Not far behind was another longtime Khan foe, Ald. Moore. The bad blood between them started up in 2013 when the OLIG reported an abuse of power and political work being done in the alderman’s office. Apparently, it’s not something Moore has easily forgotten.
    “It just gets more ridiculous,” {Moore said of the suit]. “A totally frivolous lawsuit. Any first-year law student can tell you you can’t compel the government to fund a particular department. It’s a governmental political issue. It’s not a legal issue. It just once again demonstrates what a complete buffoon this guy is,” Moore said.
     
    “From long before he came on the scene, I was an advocate for having the inspector general—a professional office—investigate us. Not this clown show,” Moore said.
     
    Unfortunately, the problem isn't whether Khan himself is a buffoon. He may well be, although it’s unlikely that someone charged with running a city department—and who was handpicked by the Council itself—is a total idiot.
    The problem is aldermen just can't help embarrassing themselves every time they’re asked to step up and face the need for real oversight of the Chicago City Council. While there may be hard feelings between legislators and their appointed watchdog, those feelings shouldn’t get in the way of whether the office is funded or if the watchdog gets to do its job.
    But that’s not how some members of Council see it. Instead, they want to engage in schoolyard taunts before basically picking up their ball, going home, and forgetting about the whole thing.
    That’s why they can’t even agree over who should be in charge of investigating them—Khan or City Inspector General Joe Ferguson.
    No matter how many times alderman tell us over and over they’re committed to real ethics reform, the truth is Council as a whole wants nothing less than for that to happen.
    And the easiest way to make sure that doesn’t occur is to simply attack the guy who holds the office and avoid the real issues at hand.
    How else do you explain a politician who has no better argument than to call his opponent a clown and a buffoon?