* Belleville News-Democrat…
The former head of the Illinois Department of Transportation’s regional office in Collinsville violated ethics rules by soliciting pizzas for an office party from a contractor, according to a report by the state’s top investigator.
Inspector General Ricardo Meza’s investigation determined that Mary Lamie violated the gift ban in the state’s ethics rules and recommended that she be disciplined. Lamie now works in the private sector.
Lamie, who worked for IDOT until at least March 2011, declined comment Monday. While at IDOT, she served as the engineer for District 8, which covers Madison, St. Clair and nine other counties in the area, as well as District 9, which covers 16 counties in Southern Illinois.
According to the inspector general’s report, during an interview with investigators Lamie admitted that she instructed an underling to solicit pizzas from an IDOT consultant for an office party for District 9, based in Carbondale.
Obviously, she shouldn’t have been soliciting $50 in pizza from a contractor. No defense there. But this is what the IG is concentrating on?
* Actually, the IG also issued another report on former Congressman David Phelps…
Phelps, hired [at IDOT] in 2003 after he lost re-election, was excoriated in the report, which included his inability to explain to Meza’s investigators what his work day entailed other than meeting with “lots of people.” Despite his title, the IDOT secretary at the time, Quinn appointee Gary Hannig, said Phelps was not part of the management team.
“It appears that Mr. Phelps does little work,” the report said. “This coupled with the … investigative findings, seemingly indicates that the primary actions which Mr. Phelps undertakes in an official capacity are those that constitute misconduct and abuse of his position.”
The report said Phelps, who made $128,000, acknowledged he met with job candidates, particularly for a 2009 summer hiring program, including those who had supported him in congressional campaigns. According to the report, he told employees doing the hiring whom he favored for jobs because he wanted to help “good people.”
Phelps countered that contrary to being unable to discuss his job in detail, he described how tried to bring accountability to the position, represented IDOT on the Illinois Terrorism Task Force, represented IDOT at events aimed at traffic safety, and submitted work schedules that IDOT secretaries approved. He disputed the report’s description of his intervention with job candidates and noted allegations that he improperly intervened came from witnesses whose names are redacted and whose testimony he had no chance to rebut.
“I talked to a lot of people about jobs,” Phelps said. “I helped direct them to the right information they could have so they’d have a better chance, but it’s not because of who they were. As soon as they went out the door, there might be somebody else talking about the same job.”