A top administrator at the City Colleges of Chicago recently resigned under pressure, leaving a $120,000-a-year job but taking away a valuable life lesson: don’t play games with the city’s residency requirement.
Ronny C. Anderson, who was hired last year to the new position of chief of staff to Chancellor Cheryl Hyman, quietly “retired” several weeks ago amid an investigation by the City Colleges inspector general’s office, which concluded that Anderson’s self-proclaimed “move” last spring from south suburban Glenwood to Chicago’s South Side was effectively a sham.
Anderson, who was with the system 14 months at the time of his July 28 resignation, didn’t respond to several requests for an interview by the Better Government Association.
But in an email, Hyman indicated she knew nothing about the situation until “late July as a result of the Inspector General’s independent investigation.”
“All rules and regulations apply equally to everyone who works for the City Colleges of Chicago,” Hyman said in the email statement. “Last year, I ordered that our part-time inspector general be upgraded to a full-time position and that investigators be added to bolster compliance and efficiency.”
“As part of his office’s annual audit of residency status, Inspector General John Gasiorowski discovered that my chief of staff, Ron Anderson, was in violation of the City of Chicago’s residency rule. As the Inspector General’s process followed its course — a course that always includes presenting the employee with allegations and any evidence to support them — Mr. Anderson chose to retire.”
“This violation . . . represented a betrayal of trust and professional responsibility,” Hyman added. “Had Mr. Anderson not chosen to retire before our normal process was completed, the Board of Trustees and I would have moved for his termination in accordance with rules and regulations but also our deeply held belief in the need for exemplary conduct.”
Hyman said this case “demonstrates our enhanced safeguards are working.” But it was also a case that wasn’t confirmed publicly until the BGA inquired about it.
Hyman and Anderson have known each other for years, since well before she took the helm of the system that includes seven campuses and more than 100,000 students.
Anderson, 61, was living in Glenwood when he started at City Colleges in May 2010. Hyman granted waivers allowing him to keep living there for a year. By the time the waivers expired, he was supposed to have moved into the city if he wanted to keep his job as Hyman’s top aide.
|Cheryl Hyman, named by Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel at Olive-Harvey College 10001 S. Woodlawn Ave., to Chancellor, City Colleges of Chicago Leadership Team, Monday, April 25, 2011. (John H. White/Sun-Times)|
Earlier this year Anderson submitted a copy of a lease indicating that, as of May 1, he was renting a unit in Chicago, paying $1,200 a month in rent, according to documents obtained by the BGA under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act. Anderson also changed his driver’s license from Glenwood to the South Side on June 15, state records show.
The BGA visited the gated three-story building and a female answering the buzzer said Anderson was not there, and asked a reporter to leave a business card. The BGA also later called the woman listed on the lease as Anderson’s landlord. She said she was busy but promised to call back. She didn’t, and in a subsequent call, the woman answering the phone said it was the wrong number.The BGA visited Anderson’s Glenwood home – which as of Aug. 10 is again the address listed on his driver’s license, state records show – but he did not answer the door.
Cook County property records indicate that Anderson owns that home, and has for years.
City Colleges documents say this about where employees must live: “Any full-time employee hired on or after July 1, 1977 who fails to establish actual residency within the City of Chicago as provided in this Rule and any full-time employee hired on or after July 1, 1977 who moves out of the City of Chicago shall be considered to be in violation of this residency requirement and shall be subject to summary dismissal by the Board.”
“The term ‘actual residence’ means the true, permanent home where the employee physically resides and makes that place his/her principal home.”
In a letter to Hyman dated July 28, Anderson wrote that he was retiring with “great appreciation and humility” after “a career in Higher Education that spans 39 years, 7 academic institutions, 16 administrative appointments, 3 teaching positions, and countless special assignments.”
Hyman is planning to replace Anderson, a spokesman said.
This article was written and reported by Robert Herguth, the editor of investigations for the Better Government Association. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.