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Springfield Alderman Wants to See Inspector General Position Addressed

Updated: Wednesday, May 21 2014, 04:58 PM CDT

SPRINGFIELD -- A Springfield alderman says the city has a problem with transparency. NewsChannel at Nine's expose, "Ready, Set, Shred" on the destruction of some police internal affairs files is one such example. One solution is to hire a watchdog called an inspector general.

Alderman Cory Jobe says he will propose an ordinance Tuesday night to hire a firm that will tell us exactly what the city needs in an inspector general. The catch is that just the firm's investigation into this position will cost nearly $80,000. If that investigation finds a full-time inspector general is needed, that could cost taxpayers around $200,000.

Springfield taxpayer Cara Piper supports the idea of hiring a watchdog, but she's concerned about the high price tag that comes with it.

"I think I would support it as long as the finances are there to even be able to afford bringing in somebody from the outside. Sometimes it's helpful to have somebody from the outside, somebody that's unbiased," Piper said.

Jobe knows all too well about the perception of city government operating in the shadows.

"Let's make no mistake. We've had a few issues at city hall with a couple of contracts, obviously with the police shredding incident and so this is the next step," Jobe said.

At council, it's expected alderman will discuss using $79,000 to hire a firm to investigate exactly what, and who, is needed to fill the position of inspector general. That could include some changes to current ordinances regarding an inspector general. For years the city has had ordinance regarding the position, but never fully funded it.

"One of the ordinances I want to see changed is having the inspector general position, i.e. part time, full time, or contractual to the city council," Jobe said.

Alderman Joe McMenamin, one of council's most vocal critics about the city's lack of transparency, thinks a full time gatekeeper is too costly. McMenamin says he would rather alderman be responsible for inquiring into city practices and passing ordinances to hire outside investigators on a case by case basis.

"We should be alert to problems in city government. When constituents call us and so forth, we should look into things. So I'd like to avoid the expense of an inspector general," McMenamin said.

Jobe says he's not looking for any new taxes or increases to cover the costs. Instead, he supports moving money around in the current budget.

Jobe says he will introduce his ordinance for first reading tonight and the council could vote to adopt it in as little as two weeks. His goal would be to get the firm under contract immediately. The firm's investigation will then likely take three to six months.

During its investigation, the firm will open a toll free number for city employees and taxpayers. The idea is to garner as much information as possible from whistleblowers that can be factored into its overall recommendations.Springfield Alderman Wants to See Inspector General Position Addressed

Springfield Alderman Wants to See Inspector General Position Addressed

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