City employee accused of sending ‘sexually explicit' emails

- An employee of the city’s Department of Planning and Development was accused Wednesday of using city computers to send “more than 50 sexually explicit emails” over a three-month period and using city resources for more than a decade to moonlight at a second job.

The explosive allegation is one of two involving allegations of sexual misconduct contained in Inspector General Joe Ferguson’s quarterly report, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.

In another case, an employee of the city’s Department of Fleet and Facilities Management is accused of making “sexually suggestive comments, including uninvited and probing questions” to a pair of senior citizens at a city-run facility.

“At least one of the seniors became uncomfortable using the facility for fear of running into the city employee,” Ferguson wrote.

The employee was fired and appealed that termination. An arbitration hearing is scheduled to be held soon.

As always, accused employees are not identified in Ferguson’s report.

It simply states the basic facts of each case, which are particularly eyebrow-raising in the case of the city planner.

Not only is the employee accused of using a city email account for “over a decade” as the “primary means of communication for outside employment, including while on the clock” for Chicago taxpayers.

The practice of using the city account to conduct private business continued—with over 170 emails over a seven-month period ending in January, 2016– “even after” the employee had obtained a private email address.

The employee allegedly compounded the offense by failing to disclose the secondary employment as required by the city’s ethics ordinance. But that wasn’t the only problem.

“OIG’s investigation also established that, over a three-month period, the employee sent more than 50 sexually-explicit emails through the city’s system. The emails were sent during the workday,” the report states.

In response to Ferguson’s finding, Planning and Development Commissioner David Reifman moved to fire the accused, then changed the punishment to a 90-day suspension without pay after the employee’s response as required by a union contract.

The accused employee has since requested an arbitration hearing, which is expected to be held in early spring.

Ferguson’s report also accuses a “high-level official” in the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection of participating in the prosecution of businesses represented by the employee’s spouse, a private attorney.

The department ordered the high-level employee to “be vigilant” when it comes to stepping aside from cases involving either the spouse or the spouse’s law firm.

But the department concluded that the official “did not participate in any decision-making regarding the spouse’s clients and, therefore, did not have an actual conflict of interest.”

In yet another case, a commissioner of one of the taxing districts known as “special service areas” resigned after being accused of leasing office space to the SSA’s service provider.

Feguson also concluded that seven city officials and political groups, including unidentified aldermen, had violated campaign finance laws by accepting “illegal” campaign donations.

Recipients were given ten days to remedy the violation, as required by the city’s ethics ordinance. As a result, $12,700 was returned to donors, the inspector general wrote.

Of the refunded donations, $3,500 came from lobbyists; $7,200 came from city vendors and $2,000 was returned to an “entity with a matter pending before the City Council or a City Council committee.”

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