Former Chicago inspector general named to head civic federation

The Civic Federation, a prominent Business-backed watchdog group known for its analyses of local budgets, has chosen former Chicago Inspector General Joseph Ferguson as its new president. Ferguson, who is set to begin his role on January 16, aims to continue the organization’s commitment to fiscal and budget issues. However, he plans to take a more collaborative approach with elected leaders, in contrast to the adversarial stance he often took as inspector general.

During his 12-year tenure as Chicago’s lead watchdog, Ferguson led investigations on a wide range of issues, from sexual harassment to infrastructure spending. He also oversaw the expansion of the office’s oversight to include a public safety section, which conducted high-profile audits of the city’s response to George Floyd protests and the Chicago Police Department’s gang database.

Ferguson’s appointment comes after the sudden passing of the Civic Federation’s longtime president, Laurence Msall, in February. The organization’s board expressed confidence in Ferguson’s ability to provide strong and strategic leadership, citing his extensive experience in promoting government efficiency and fiscal accountability. Ferguson’s departure from the Office of the Inspector General in July 2021 was marked by public disagreements with Mayor Lori Lightfoot, and he has since been involved in a variety of endeavors, including founding an organization focused on modernizing Chicago’s governance structure.

The Civic Federation, which has been active for over 130 years, sees Ferguson’s appointment as a pivotal moment for the organization and the city of Chicago. His extensive background in addressing government integrity and efficiency positions him as a key figure in addressing the challenges facing the city and its governance in the 21st century.

Historically, the Civic Federation has played a crucial role in advocating for fiscal responsibility throughout the state of Illinois. With Ferguson at the helm, the organization aims to continue this legacy while embracing a new form of engagement around the pressing issues facing Chicago.

The appointment of Joseph Ferguson as president of the Civic Federation marks a significant development for the organization and signals a shift towards collaborative approaches in addressing the city’s governance challenges.

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