The city’s legislative inspector general on Tuesday lodged a lawsuit against Mayor Rahm Emanuel and other city officials, claiming proposals to cut his salary and abolish his office will prevent him from performing his watchdog duties and boot him a year before his four-year term ends.
In his suit, Faisal Khan asked the Cook County Circuit Court to issue an injunction preventing Emanuel and the other defendants from “prematurely and wrongfully terminating” him, as well an order to force them to give his office $200,000 in emergency funding.
Khan’s suit comes a month after an ordinance was introduced to the City Council that would shift his power to investigate alderman to Joseph Ferguson, the city’s main inspector general and a few months after alderman limited his ability to investigate their campaign finances.
On top of Emanuel and the City Council, Khan’s suit names the following as defendants: Michelle Harris, chair of the city’s Committee on Committees, Rules and Ethics; Carrie Austin, chair of the Committee on the Budget and Government Operations; and Ald. Ed Burke, as chair of the Committee on Finance.
Khan, who is represented by Chicago attorney Clinton Krislov of Krislov & Associates and the Center for Open Government Law Clinic at Chicago-Kent College of Law, asserts in his suit that proposal to abolish his office would constitute a wrongful termination and a breach of contract if approved.
Citing the Municipal Code, Khan contends he can’t be removed from office before the end of his four-year term next November unless the City Council provides him with a charge for cause and a hearing, neither of which have occurred. He further alleges his removal would breach his contract with the city.
In addition, Khan claims the proposed 2015 budget that calls for a decrease in his salary from $202,000 to $177,000 would not only make it hard to do his job, but would violate the Municipal Code as it would mark a compensation cut during a term of office.
The City Council in 2011 appointed Khan to the position - which is charged with investigating complaints of misconduct against alderman, their employees and lobbyists-- for a four year-term ending Nov. 23, 2015, with him and his staff hired as contractors.
In the first half of this year, Khan’s suit states his “office interviewed more than 100 witnesses, received 57 complaints of misconduct concerning members of the defendant council.” It adds the office “currently has over 60 active investigations.”
Khan contends he has actively been performing his tasks “despite an appropriation that is patently inadequate to enable him to fulfill his obligations under the law.”
Asserting Khan’s office is one of the lowest funded agencies in city government, the suit states the $354,000 that was appropriated this year is not sufficient “to continue performing his statutorily defined duties or to collect salary or pay his employees beyond August 2014, and has been exhausted” even though he allegedly hasn’t taken any compensation since July 1.
“The office of the Legislative Inspector General would require approximately $200,000 additional funds, just to function properly and fulfill its crucial legislative oversight duties for the rest of this fiscal year,” Khan asserts in seeking emergency funding.
His office “would also need $1.5 million to operate by proper professional standards next year,” according to Khan’s suit that alleges Khan has repeatedly told the defendants this, but they have “failed or refused to provide the office with sufficient funds to perform its duties.”
In a prepared statement available on his office's website, Khan said his lawsuit "is not about job security or any other political or professional agenda. It is simply about giving a City agency the resources to effectively do its job."