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Police, fire unions blast proposed budget cuts

City Hall Reporter

Attorney Dan Webb (left) after being named special prosecutor in April . | JOHN H. WHITE~SUN-TIMES.

Koschman bills top $366,000 as cops being interviewed

Staff Reporters

The legal tab for the investigation into David Koschmans death has topped $366,000, as special prosecutor Dan K. Webb has begun interviewing Chicago Police officers who worked on the case that involved a nephew of former Mayor Richard M. Daley. Cook County Circuit Judge Michael P. Toomin, who appointed Webb, is asking the Cook County Boards Finance Committee to pay Webbs latest bill: $111,405 for the month of July. The committee is set to do so Tuesday. Webb, a former U.S. attorney in Chicago, has now billed $366,619 for the first 99 days of the investigation, which began on April 23 when Toomin ordered Webb to determine whether Daley nephew Richard J. R.J. Vanecko should be charged in Koschmans death. Toomin also ordered Webb to investigate whether employees of the Chicago Police Department and the Cook County states attorneys office acted intentionally to suppress and conceal

David Koschman
evidence, furnish false evidence and generally impede the investigation into Mr. Koschmans death. Koschman, 21, of Mount Prospect, died from brain injuries 11 days after he was struck during a drunken confrontation along Division Street in 2004. No one has ever been charged in the case, which had remained an unsolved homicide for seven years until a Chicago Sun-Times investigation prompted then-police Supt. Jody Weis to order a re-examination of the case in January 2011. Three months before Daley stepped down as mayor last year, the police concluded that the 6-foot-3, 230-pound Vanecko punched the 5-foot-5, 140-pound Koschman, but in selfdefense and shouldnt be charged. Vanecko, now 38, has never been

interviewed by the police. Citing problems uncovered by the Sun-Times with the way police and prosecutors handled the case, Toomin agreed to a request for a special prosecutor made by Nanci Koschman, Koschmans mother. Webb and his staff have been gathering documents and interviewing witnesses, some of whom live out of state. Theyve also begun interviewing police officers who investigated Koschmans death in 2004 when the police said they couldnt determine who hit Koschman and those who reinvestigated the case last year. Some of the police officers have retained lawyers. And some of those lawyers were hired through the officers union, the Fraternal Order of Police. Between April 23 and July 31, Webbs biggest expense $343,797 has been for fees for his deputy special prosecutors and paralegals. He also has spent $10,358 on travel expenses and billed for $2,795 in expenses for the grand jury he empaneled in June. The grand jury can subpoena records and compel testimony.

Police and fire unions on Thursday torched a $1.2 billion roadmap from the citys inspector general that calls for reducing staffing levels on fire apparatus, converting 20 percent of all engines and trucks to ambulances, staffing the Fire Prevention Bureau with civilians and eliminating non-salary compensation for firefighters and police officers. Tom Ryan, president of the Chicago Firefighters Union Local 2, said Inspector General Joe Fergusons far-fetched suggestions would most certainly endanger the lives of Chicago residents, employees and visitors as well as his own members. The National Fire Protection Association recommends that a minimum of five firefighters staff each piece of fire apparatus in high-target areas, which includes Chicago, a densely populated city with high-rise buildings, specialneeds facilities, industrial and manufacturing districts and numerous hazardous materials-producing institutions, Ryan said. For someone like Mr. Ferguson . . . to make these kinds of recommendations is irresponsible and dangerous, Ryan said. To suggest that the Fire Prevention Bureau . . . be turned over to civilians is equally irresponsible and ridiculous. These members regularly inspect buildings, schools, hospitals and factories to uncover potential fire hazards and other dangers to the public and also assure that there is adequate water supply for fire extinguishment. Fraternal Order of Police President Mike Shields was equally incensed by the $144.4 million proposal to eliminate non-salary compensation and by Fergusons proposal to hire civilians for the Chicago Police Departments Forensic and Administrative Services Bureaus ($6.7 million). Manpower is way down. Murder is way up unlike other major cities. Now, the inspector

general wants to slash the police budget, Shields said. The city needs to get its priorities in order. I want to fight crime, I want less people getting killed. Cutting police resources will not accomplish any of that. Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who has a strained relationship with Ferguson, shot down the inspector generals revenue-raising suggestions, albeit a bit more gently. They include: Abandoning the citys twotiered amusement tax and imposing a 9 percent levy on all forms of live theater, music and cultural performances to raise $116 million. Resurrecting Emanuels campaign promise to broaden the sales tax to an array of legal, medical, financial, real estate, car repair and accounting services not now covered to yield $500 million. And imposing a $5 Londonstyle congestion fee on vehicles entering the citys Central Business District during the morning and evening rush periods to raise $210 million, even after a 20 percent reduction in traffic and a $300 million capital outlay for checkpoints equipped with cameras and electronic transmitters. Seven of the IGs proposals involve increases to or broadening of taxes and fees, including one that he admits could be considered a massive tax increase at a time when Chicagoan can least afford it, the mayors office said in an email to the Chicago Sun-Times. The mayor agrees that massive tax increases are NOT something Chicagoans can afford. He has already rejected any increases in property, sales, fuel or amusement [taxes] and said he will turn to reforms and efficiencies first before turning to taxpayers. In 2010, Ferguson rocked the boat with a $247.3 million menu of cost-cutting options. Last year, he upped the ante to $3 billion, including a 1 percent city income tax; a $2.50-per-vehicle toll on Lake Shore Drive; privatizing garbage collection or mandating a pay-as-you-throw fee; and imposing the rush-hour congestion fee.