CSJ Investigation Update: City Bans Former Ravenswood Chamber Leaders From City Contracts

By Mike Fourcher | Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Until it closed in early 2011, the Ravenswood Community Council shared this space with The Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce office at 1756 W. Wilson Ave. Credit: Mike Fourcher

The Chicago Department of Procurement Services banned the former executive director and treasurer of the defunct Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce from doing business with the City of Chicago last month, an action taken following a December 2010 investigative series by the Center Square Journal and a subsequent rumored investigation of the chamber by the Chicago Inspector General.

Tom Kamykowski and James J. McHale, the chamber’s executive director and treasurer respectively, were debarred by the Chicago Department of Procurement services on September 11, 2012. When contacted by CSJ this morning, an Inspector General spokesperson said the city investigative agency was legally restricted from specifying whether or not Kamykowski and McHale’s debarrments were a result of an IG investigation. However, the IG’s quarterly report released this morning specifies a delegate agency that, “violated the City’s False Claims Act and caused the delegate agency to breach the Delegate Agency Agreements it executed with the City by submitting fraudulent reimbursement vouchers to the City and falsely representing to the City that the delegate agency fully paid its payroll taxes,” a profile that matches Center Square Journal’s December 2010 series.

Further investigation into the unnamed delegate agency by the Inspector General found that:

  • The executive director also stole more than $11,000 from the City by fraudulently obtaining personal health and dental insurance in excess of the amounts authorized by the Delegate Agency Agreements.
  • The delegate agency’s former treasurer was complicit in executive director’s fraud in that he knew about certain of the executive director’s funding misappropriations, but made no effort to stop or curtail the deceptive practices.

According to the IG’s report, “The IGO recommended that the executive director and treasurer both be permanently debarred…The IGO further recommended that the City seek cost recovery from the executive director pursuant to the False Claims Act.” The IG report also says the Chicago Department of Law is investigating ways to recover the lost funds.

Between 2008 and 2011, the Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce had received an average of $69,000 a year from the City to support area businesses. CSJ’s investigation found that Kamykowski was often an no-show at his office for years and projects required by the city contracts were never completed.

Since the dissolution of the Ravenswood Chamber, the Lincoln Square Chamber of Commerce has since picked up responsibility for the area, along with a new name the “Lincoln Square-Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce.”

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  • http://www.sheepsheadbites.com/ Ned Berke

    GO CSJ!!! Rock on.

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