City Workers Suspended for Not Spilling Beans

Buildings Dept keeping quiet about alleged gift cards

By Matt Bartosik
|  Thursday, Nov 5, 2009  |  Updated 8:24 AM CDT
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City Workers Suspended for Not Spilling Beans

They're not saying nuttin'.

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Last month, 20 current and former Department of Buildings employees were accused of accepting gift cards from a crooked permit expediter.

Those are some awfully early Christmas presents.

Now, two of those employees have been suspended for 10 days for refusing to answer questions from Buildings Commissioner Richard Monocchio about when, why, or how they may have received the gifts.

"We do not believe that either employee accepted a gift in violation of the ethics ordinance," said Buildings Department spokesperson Bill McCaffrey, reports the Sun-Times. "However, this discipline was necessary to reinforce the message that all department employees are required to cooperate with all inquiries to protect the integrity of the department."

Thirteen other alleged bribees have been questioned by federal and city investigators. Twelve of them have denied receiving any gifts from Catherine Romasanta, a former expediter who testified to giving bribes to Buildings Dept employees in exchange for city approval of dubious construction plans.

One employee though did admit to receiving a pair of $50 gifts over 4 years ago. At that time, the Buildings Department had not yet enforced its current no-gift policy.

"They have cleared him and his name appears on that list [of Romasanta's alleged gift-takers]. That makes us question the validity of the list," McCaffrey said.

Still, we suggest keeping an eye on the two suspended employees and make sure they don't do any excessive shopping over the next 10 days.

Matt Bartosik, a "between blogs" blogger, is currently accepting any and all gift cards.

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