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Chicago IG challenges Mayor Rahm Emanuel's claimed savings with new garbage system

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Watchdog Blog,Corruption,Kelly Cohen,Rahm Emanuel

Chicago's mayoral office appears to be stonewalling the city's inspector general. The IG's office has been attempting to audit a new garbage collection plan that supposedly could save $18 million a year, but can't get the information it needs to do so.

The city's new garbage collection system switched in June 2012 to a new grid-based system from one that was based on official city ward lines. The new system test lasted until April 2013, when Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced his office had determined that there would be $18 million in savings after the system was in place for a year.

Thus, an audit began in December 2012 to discover how exactly the $18 million savings would happen. Besides being unable to get the basic information needed, at a meeting in April 2013, the Department of Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Charles Williams abruptly walked out when pressured to answer questions about the new system.

A back-and-forth between the two offices has ensued since then, as Williams will not "respond to an additional request to continue the discussion."

The IG reports the DSS still refuses to cooperate ??-- it won't even answer simple questions like giving an official number of trucks and people that would employed in the new garbage collection process. Inspector General Joseph Ferguson says the city's failure to cooperate "raises significant doubts about the city's commitment to, and ability to effect, continual improvement in this important city service."

The DSS has a 2013 budget of over $260 million.

Since the IG report was released early today, Williams says the audit was "premature," since the new system is still in its beginning stages and should wait for his office to give a go-ahead to do the next one.

Go here to view the full report.

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