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New Cook County IG report raises more questions than it may answer

Wednesday, Oct 17, 2018

* Yikes

An SUV driven “nearly exclusively” by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle’s security chief was improperly used to transport political materials, Inspector General Patrick Blanchard concluded in a report released Monday.

Blanchard’s finding is the result of an investigation into a bizarre incident during the early morning hours following the 2016 election, when a Chevy Tahoe assigned to Preckwinkle’s security team was discovered abandoned near suburban Lemont. On that Election Day, the security chief drove Preckwinkle to campaign events, but said he did so in his personal car, according to the report.

A sheriff’s police officer found the vehicle stuck in the mud with its engine still warm, and a witness told police that the driver had abandoned the Tahoe and walked away, Blanchard said in his report.

All the tires were slashed, as was the driver’s seat, the center console and the dashboard, Blanchard said. The car’s rear cargo area contained bags of political literature, a button adorned with an image of Preckwinkle’s face and a dry cleaning receipt bearing the telephone number belonging to her chief of security, Delwin Gadlen, according to the report, which identified Gadlen only by his title. In the report, the security chief is quoted saying that the vehicle was stolen, but the alleged theft was never reported to police, Blanchard said.

Blanchard’s investigators spoke to sheriff and county officials with “significant experience in law enforcement” and executive protection who said the damage in the vehicle “appears inconsistent with damage typically associated with vehicle theft.”

Instead, the damage “looked hurried and staged where it appeared to have been done all at once, in the same manner and primarily in close proximity to the driver’s seat,” they said, according to Blanchard. All keys to the vehicle are accounted for and there were no signs of the car being forcibly started, the report said.

* Speaking of the Cook County Inspector General, this is from the county assessor’s office…

Because the Assessor’s Office promised Capitol Fax all information and facts we learned regarding why we never received a copy of the report from the Office of the Cook County Independent Inspector General, here are the results of our review, which concluded yesterday.

The Inspector General emailed the Assessor’s Office copy of the report to the wrong e-address. It is that simple. In fact, the Inspector General sent it to an e-address not on the Assessor’s Office domain/email server. Every one of our email addresses ends in “@cookcountyassessor.com.” The Inspector General later told us he used “@cookcountyil.gov.”

The Inspector General has acknowledged using the wrong email domain to contact the Assessor’s Office in this instance. This problem would have been somewhat offset if the Inspector General’s office had delivered the hard copy. That also never occurred.

The Inspector General graciously introduced me to the employee who delivered all hard copies. He also provided the specific delivery location and a one-hour window in which that was done here. However, two viewings of Assessor’s Office security video for a 1.5 hour period including that hour showed nothing was delivered and the Inspector General’s employee was not here.

After he was informed of those facts, the Inspector General’s Office found the envelope (unopened) this week. It was located in an Inspector General’s inbox, two floors above the Assessor’s Office, in an office area unrelated to our work. The Inspector General believes it was initially “likely misdelivered,” and we certainly agree.

We originally stated the Assessor’s Office never possessed a copy of the Inspector General’s report, in electronic or hard copy form, before the Chicago Sun-Times published it and other media called us. We now add that the Inspector General acknowledges our statements were and are correct. Thank you.

* Related…

* Wide range of shocking behavior by city workers fills inspector general’s report

- Posted by Rich Miller        

20 Comments
  1. - Perrid - Wednesday, Oct 17, 18 @ 10:17 am:

    I believe we should never attribute to malice what can be attributed to incompetence, but two errors happening at once that prevented the Assessor from having an opportunity to look at the report before it was leaked stinks.


  2. - Precinct Captain - Wednesday, Oct 17, 18 @ 10:20 am:

    Sounds like the Cook County IG’s office is a disaster.


  3. - CURIOUS - Wednesday, Oct 17, 18 @ 10:25 am:

    Is it standard procedure for Cook County officials to have personal security officers, who are paid a salary of $126,000 per year?


  4. - low level - Wednesday, Oct 17, 18 @ 10:29 am:

    Theres a reason some of us say IG stands for “Inspector Gadget”


  5. - Ron Burgundy - Wednesday, Oct 17, 18 @ 10:39 am:

    As to the first item, it seems Board President Preckwinkle has some serious issues with her personally appointed staff. Like Governors, Board Presidents (and Mayors) own. The problems with her high level staff don’t reflect well on her leadership.


  6. - Amalia - Wednesday, Oct 17, 18 @ 10:47 am:

    delivery problems on something do not make the report on Preckwinkle incorrect. if you know Blanchard, you know that he does good work.


  7. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Oct 17, 18 @ 10:47 am:

    –A sheriff’s police officer found the vehicle stuck in the mud with its engine still warm, and a witness told police that the driver had abandoned the Tahoe and walked away, Blanchard said in his report.–

    From my experiences covering courts, it’s impossible to convict someone on a DUI charge if no one saw them driving the wrecked or stuck vehicle, or if they are not found intoxicated in the vehicle.

    Just saying.


  8. - Scott Fawell's Cellmate - Wednesday, Oct 17, 18 @ 10:53 am:

    Amalia:

    Sorry, but Blanchard’s incompetence here is part for the course. He couldn’t correctly send an email or deliver a package. Yup, sounds like Blanchard.


  9. - Conn Smythe - Wednesday, Oct 17, 18 @ 10:57 am:

    Who’s watching the watchdogs? The Cook County Board should do a resolution admonishing his shop for that.


  10. - Roman - Wednesday, Oct 17, 18 @ 11:03 am:

    == if you know Blanchard, you know that he does good work. ==

    Maybe he does, but why did it take two years to complete this investigation? Seems like it was shelved until it became an issue late in the primary campaign when the Sun-Times did an editorial asking why the case was still open.

    I guess possible Preckwinkle’s security detail was stonewalling Blanchard, but he should more forcefully call her out if they did.

    Either way, not the last where gonna hear of this.


  11. - BigLou - Wednesday, Oct 17, 18 @ 11:06 am:

    How come no one is taking issue with Preckwinkle having political literature in her car. I don’t think her security guy would be the one to think of transporting campaign stuff in her car.


  12. - phocion - Wednesday, Oct 17, 18 @ 11:09 am:

    Tons of oppo material piling up on Preckwinkle. When will Chicago media finally admit the obvious fact that she’s not a reformer?


  13. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Oct 17, 18 @ 11:11 am:

    The Cook County IG has applied to be an associate circuit judge, perhaps he is distracted.


  14. - low level - Wednesday, Oct 17, 18 @ 11:27 am:

    “If you know Blanchard…”. Oh. He’s the IG and cantf find the correct email address? Wow. Impressive.

    As for the other Inspector Gadget, Ferguson, and Fran, as usual they make it out to seem like the entire city workforce is bad. Hmmm. 10 employees out of what? 25,000 including police and fire? .04%.


  15. - Amalia - Wednesday, Oct 17, 18 @ 11:29 am:

    yeah, cause investigations are so simple….


  16. - low level - Wednesday, Oct 17, 18 @ 11:47 am:

    Actually they are rather simple. All of that and he couldnt come up w the correct email?

    As for investigatons, here’s one example. When city IG Ferguson came to office he issued a report on ways to save money. All good.

    One of the “findings” was that city workers ‘only work a 7 hour day’ and that they should work an 8 hour day.

    Sounds horrible, no?

    Well, this particular “investigation” failed to discover that city workers do work an 8 hour day, but for time accrual purposes lunch is considered unpaid. They are all on salary however so this is meaningless. They work 8 hours - lunch is “unpaid” - so technically it is 7 hours.

    Wouldnt have taken much more investigation to ask why the time accrued like that.


  17. - Fav Human - Wednesday, Oct 17, 18 @ 11:51 am:

    Well, this is truly a bizarre day for news. Kind of appropriate for Halloween season.


  18. - TNR - Wednesday, Oct 17, 18 @ 12:00 pm:

    The report is a must-read. Wondering, if the SUV is owned by the county’s department of Homeland security and emergency management, why is it being used to drive Preckwinkle? And, was it paid for with a federal homeland security grant? Is anyone at 219 South Dearborn looking into this?

    Also, given Preckwinkle’s reputation for not being the most loyal employer, it’s interesting to see she’s sticking by Delwin Gadlen through this.


  19. - Shytown - Wednesday, Oct 17, 18 @ 12:06 pm:

    Now the IG is incompetent because he’s investigating Preckwinkle’s team? Looks her supporters on this thread are getting nervous.

    Ok so the IG’s office was negligent in getting the report to the assessor’s office. Big whoop. What’s offsensive is Preckwinkle’s staff who are arrogant enough to claim campaign lit was planted in their car by someone joyriding. I’m sure that Anita Alvarez’s staff back in 2016 were just waiting for the op to steal this car so they could plant Foxx campaign lit in it. This guy lied to the IG and everyone knows it. If anything it speaks to the culture that Preckwinkle has built. Another strike against her so-called progressive credentials.


  20. - Amalia - Wednesday, Oct 17, 18 @ 1:12 pm:

    great diversion from the Preckwinkle campaign literature holding government vehicle that was reported.


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