All Mayoral Candidates Say Alderman Should Not Oversee Comp Program

All 14 candidates for Chicago mayor agree that the embattled head of the city's workers' compensation program should step aside or that the program should be managed by a separate city agency.

The Chicago Sun-Times asked the candidates if longtime Alderman Ed Burke, who as head of the City Council's Finance Committee oversees the comp program, should step down from that position, and whether the program should be governed by the executive branch of city government.

Chicago may be one of the few cities in which the legislative branch manages a program that in most places is considered part of the mayor's purview. On top of that, critics have said Burke has blocked audits of the $100 million program, which costs much more than most cities' workers' compensation programs, and has made it a political patronage agency.

All 14 candidates vying for votes in the Feb. 26 mayoral election, several of whom are sitting council members, agreed that significant changes need to be made, with Burke out of the picture. 

Here's a look at each candidate's answer:

Dorothy Brown: Model the city's comp program on Cook County's, part of the risk management department.

Gery Chico: Put the program under the executive branch and operate it with transparency and efficiency.

Bill Daley: Put the program under the executive branch and make it more accountable.

Amara Enyia: Burke should resign as head of the council's Finance Committee, the comp program should be part of a separate agency, and the city's inspector general should be able to audit the program, something Burke has blocked in recent years.

Robert Fioretti: As mayor, he would appoint a new Finance Committee chair and seek term limits on elected city officials. The compensation program should be reformed and should be run by professionals with more transparency and accountability.

La Shawn Ford: Would consider support of an ordinance introduced this month that would move the program to the corporation counsel, under the mayor's authority. The program's books should be audited.

Jerry Joyce: It's up to Burke to decide if he should step down, but the comp system should be moved to the executive branch.

John Kenneth Kozlar: Supports term limits on council members and "a fresh approach" to government.

Lori Lightfoot: Burke should resign from the post or the council should strip him of oversight of the compensation program. She plans to introduce an ordinance moving the program to the executive branch, overseen by a board made up of people from the city's legal department, the chief financial officer's office and human resources.

Susana Mendoza: Burke should step down as head of the Finance Committee, or the council should remove him from the job.

Toni Preckwinkle: Would move the program to the city's human resources department.

Paul Vallas: Would remove the comp program from the Finance Committee. Burke should resign if he is the focus of an ongoing FBI investigation.

Roger Washington: Burke should step down from the Finance Committee position or be stripped of the role.

Willie Wilson: Burke should resign from the committee chairmanship, or the council should elect a new chair.

This article was first published by WorkCompCentral.

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