CHICAGO — Community organizers and city leaders are calling on the United States Department of Justice to investigate after details emerged in a recent inspector general report on the 2020 Hilco smokestack implosion.
Alderman Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th) and residents of Little Village were chief among those who called for action Tuesday, saying that the City had plenty of time prior to the smokestack implosion to address the issue of dust being spread by the demolition.
“The city was aware of this 51 days prior to the implosion,” said Kristian Armendariz, a community organizer. “Aware of the dust that was going to occur and come into the resident’s area.”
The report by former Inspector General Joe Ferguson showed city officials knew the potential consequences in advance of what he called a botched implosion — and didn’t do enough to prevent them.
Ferguson cited environmental negligence and incompetence, and a multi-agency breakdown of city regulatory oversight.
The report stated top officials in the City’s Department of Buildings and Public Health should have known the sub-contractors Hilco hired had outlined inferior dust mitigation measures.
Ferguson recommended discipline for three unnamed city officials, but those who spoke out Tuesday said they want to see more done.
“We want the City of Chicago and the mayor to follow suit with recommendations,” Sigcho-Lopez said. “Fire those public servants who did not do their jobs and demand accountability and get people out of office who don’t represent them and represent their own pockets.”
Alderman Michael Rodriguez (22nd) — who attendees called for the resignation of in lieu of the findings being discovered — defended his actions in relation to the failed smokestack demolition.
“So my children, my wife and I live five blocks from where this tragedy occurred,” Rodriguez said. “No one is more concerned about the health and wellbeing of my community … I’ve done everything in my power to bring about transparency on this issue.”
Rodriguez went on to say City Council unanimously passed a resolution to release the OIG report on the Hilco smokestack implosion and his office is working to take the power of when an inspector general report is released from the mayor’s office into the hands of city council.