Chicago is in trouble and continues to flirt with junk bond status.
Can Mayor Rahm Emanuel Manage Chicago?
Since 2011, more than 20,000 shootings and homicides have left the city scarred. City pensions are nearly insolvent. While property taxes spike higher, the city still borrows for basic operations. The city now taxes plastic bags and even Cubs, Sox and concert tickets. One million residents have left Chicago since 1950 and 20,000 fled in the last year alone.
Chicago is in trouble. But the city’s woes aren’t stopping 10,600 government employees from bringing home six-figure incomes and higher. This includes 1,000 city employees who pocketed at least $40,000 each in overtime.
Under Emanuel’s leadership, Chicago now has more six-figure public employees than the entire state government of Illinois. Search our OpenTheBooks interactive map by ZIP code for the city employees earning more than $100,000 and costing taxpayers $1.3 billion. Just click a pin and scroll down to see the results rendered in the chart beneath the map.
Here are some highlights gleaned from our open records request of 2016 city payroll:
- $283 million in overtime costs – police ($143 million), fire ($71 million), and another $68.5 million from a myriad of city agencies. Incidentally, $143 million is equivalent to the first-year cost of fielding 1,030 new police officers!
- Ginger Evans, Commissioner of Aviation, is the most highly compensated Chicago employee. She made $400,000 and double dipped the system by receiving a $300,000 salary and a $100,000 bonus. Emanuel picked Evans to replace Rosemarie Andolino – who made $187,000 with no bonus.
- More than 700 employees at the Water Management Dept. earned more than $100,000 costing taxpayers $85 million including ‘plumbers’ ($160,859), ‘machinists’ ($168,823), ‘construction laborers’ ($137,488), ‘painters’ ($133,387) and ‘sewer brick layers’ ($133,387).
- More than 160 employees at Streets and Sanitation made over $100,000, including ‘motor truck drivers’ receiving up to $134,365; ‘auto pound supervisors’ making $144,453; and ‘tree trimmers’ bringing in $109,456. Sadly, Emanuel doesn’t seem have a similar passion for trimming the city’s budget.
Chicago Police Department (CPD)
While out-manned on Chicago’s crime ridden streets, Emanuel’s promise to hire another 1,000 officers has taken too long. His solution has overworked the city’s officers. Trying to stem the violence last year, CPD paid out $143 million in overtime (OT) on its $1.25 billion payroll. Thanks to the expensive overtime payments, there were 5,007 CPD employees making more than $100,000. Without OT – there would be only 1,605 six-figure salaries.
Here are more of our findings:
- Over $1.2 million in overtime went to just ten hard working officers – an average of $124,500 in overtime each. These officers worked approximately 80-85 hour workweeks.
- Timothy Walter, a deputy police chief, added $146,860 (OT) to his $94,056 base salary – out-earning Superintendent Eddie Johnson ($235,746). Brian Forberg, a police sergeant, made $231,832 including $123,888 in overtime pay.
- 532 members of the police department each exceeded $40,000 in overtime. Additionally, 132 police dispatchers collected overtime of more than $20,000 each.
- 4,800 ‘police officers assigned as detectives’ made between $10,000 to $126,987 in overtime trying to solve the city’s hundreds of homicides and thousands of shootings. Unfortunately, 71 percent of Chicago’s murders went unsolved last year.
Even the police emergency call center is a fiscal mess. Police dispatchers were able to double their salary using overtime. For example, Ramona Perkins made $121,318 in overtime ($196,726 gross pay); Amy Lovell earned $95,545 in overtime ($174,347 gross pay); and Lisa Jamison gleaned $87,712 in overtime ($170,563 gross pay).
Review our complete list of police department incomes here.
Chicago Fire Department (CFD)
A similar story of resource mismanagement is playing out at CFD with $71 million in overtime. With this amount the city could hire 800 new intensive-care paramedics.
Department bosses were among those receiving the most in overtime. Fire district chiefs and deputy chiefs earned seven of the top 21 overtime payouts during the past year.
Here are more of our findings:
- Thirteen employees out-earned the Fire Commissioner Jose Santiago ($202,000) because of the lucrative overtime payouts.
- The department’s top earner was David Dietz, a deputy chief, at $243,963 in gross pay with $87,603 in overtime.
- The top overtime recipient was Jason Leitner who doubled his base salary of $89,184 and made $186,585 as a ‘paramedic intensive care’ with $97,401 in overtime.
- Seven ambulance commanders had total earnings between $195,000 and $212,000. Thirty-nine paramedics made over $50,000 in overtime.
- The top earning regular firefighter made $129,000 – Christophe Zon – with a base salary of $90,382 and overtime of $39,070.
Review our complete list of fire department incomes here.
Other City of Chicago Agencies
Additionally, $68 million in overtime compensation flowed to city employees outside of the police and fire departments. Here are some highlights from just two agencies – Water Management and Streets and Sanitation:
Water Management ($20.6 million in overtime):
The highest earner was a deputy engineer, Joseph Morabito, who made $213,977 including $102,480 in overtime. Engineer Kevin Chavez made the most overtime ($108,899) with gross pay of $208,399 including a $99,000 salary. Seventeen engineers earned more than $80,000 each and 67 made more than $50,000 each – in overtime pay. Review our complete list of agency incomes here.
Streets and Sanitation ($13.3 million in overtime):
The highest earner also made the most in overtime: ‘hoisting engineer’ Kevin Craven made $183,330 including $81,265 in overtime. Truck driver Paul Markowski made $134,365 including $59,289 in overtime. Fourteen employees earned more than $40,000 each in overtime pay including engineers, forestry supervisors, ‘training agents’ and ‘motor truck drivers.’ Review our complete list of agency incomes here.
Rahm Emanuel promised a forensic audit of city spending
The day after winning his mayoral election in 2011, Mr. Emanuel promised to scrub waste and inefficiencies. But, the mayor never followed through. He essentially subsidized his procrastination with higher taxes on Chicago families. This year, ever-escalating taxes cost an average Chicago family $1,700 more than they paid in 2011.
Our audit of the city payroll suggests Emmanuel protected his political power rather than pursuing real reform. Ten thousand public employees with six-figure incomes boosted by $283 million in overtime pay tend to stay loyal to the machine.
However, the city’s other residents looking at the murder rate and fiscal mess are asking:
“What’s the matter with Chicago?”
Adam Andrzejewski (say: Angie-eff-ski) is the Founder and CEO of OpenTheBooks.com – a national transparency organization with a database of 4 billion federal, state and local expenditures.
When referencing this piece, please use the following citation: ‘Adam Andrzejewski, CEO of OpenTheBooks.com, as published at Forbes.’
Quick links to other public employee salaries and pensions in Chicago (Teachers, METRA, CTA, Park District, etc.) and across Illinois, click here.