Here’s a basic tenet from Watchdog 101:
The office of inspector general is one of government’s best anti-corruption tools, but only if it has authority, resources, independence and integrity.
And those are big ifs.
For instance, Chicago’s IG, Joe Ferguson, is considered the gold standard, unless you work in the mayor’s office at City Hall.
Ferguson aggressively pursues traditional misconduct by city workers — knucklehead stuff like employees living outside the city, stealing supplies or doing political work on city time.
But he also vets the Emanuel administration’s programs, policies and contracts — often to the mayor’s chagrin — which creates a tension that’s healthy, albeit uncomfortable.
The Illinois Tollway’s IG, former FBI agent Jim Wagner, also gets high marks.
But his counterparts at Cook County and the Board of Education are so-so.
Then there’s the General Assembly’s outgoing inspector general, Tom Homer, who was so ineffectual he actually looked like an apologist for the lawmakers he was supposed to be keeping in line.
And even worse, we’re looking at one community where the IG was allegedly collecting full-time pay for part-time work.
That watchdog needed watching.
These mixed reviews come to mind as Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart offers to serve as an inspector general in Maywood and other suburbs that need an internal watchdog but — for lack of money or motivation — don’t have one. More…