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Consultants Look Into Inspector General Position

Updated: Wednesday, July 9 2014, 02:32 PM CDT
SPRINGFIELD -- Transparency and accountability are the goals of a proposed inspector general position for the City of Springfield, but the actual duties and operation of the position are still being debated.

Last month, aldermen approved a $79,000 contract with Chicago consulting firm Hillard Heintze to recommend how to implement an inspector general position. During a special meeting here Tuesday afternoon, CEO Arnette Heintze said it was "day one."

"We want to help outline and establish a road map for the office here that will guide the office here that you intend to implement," he told the assembled officials, which included Ward 6 Ald. Cory Jobe, Mayor Mike Houston and City Clerk Cecilia Tumulty.

That's the long and short of the firm's plan to help Springfield set up an inspector general position. Jobe, who has been leading the charge to establish the position, says an inspector general would improve transparency and accountability.

"There's no trust at City Hall," he said.

But that's a little ways off. The consultants say they plan to talk to every department head to figure out their concerns and will draw up their plans for their office from there. Then they'll discuss it with the city.

"We believe this timeline is very reasonable, and have no doubt that we will complete this on or before October 1st," Heintze said.

Then it will be up to the city whether or not to go ahead and actually create the position or not. It could end up being a full time position, or someone contracted, or even a mix between the two.

But does the city need this position? Mayor Houston says he'd be for it if he had a wish list, but the city has other needs.

"And at this particular time this would not be something that I personally would have pursued," Houston said.

Jobe disagrees. He says the city's shredding scandal, which ABC Newschannel 20 revealed last summer, of Springfield Police shredding some internal affairs files that were under a Freedom of Information Act request, was a prime example of why the city needs an inspector general.

"That's just maybe the tip of the iceberg," he said. "But again, we're not sure what may be out there, or could this office have stopped something like that?

Aldermen say they want an independent inspector general position, but if that's the case, they'll need to change some city codes. There already is a position on the books, but it reports to the mayor's office.

The consulting firm says it has already had one call to report a problem. It has also set up an email address (Inspector.General@SpringfieldOIG.com) for city employees and residents to send complaints.

Heintze says the firm's working on an 800-number for people to report their concerns, too.Consultants Look Into Inspector General Position


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