CHICAGO — Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle has asked for the resignation of a part-time county employee under investigation by Chicago's inspector general.
John A. Bills, who is being investigated on charges of receiving a luxury hotel stay from the red-light-camera firm he was assigned to oversee, is now sitting on Cook County's Employee Appeals Board in a position paying $35,000. Preckwinkle appointed him to the position in December, citing what was then considered a stainless 32-year career in Chicago government.
Bills retired last year as managing deputy commissioner in the city's Department of Transportation after overseeing the red-light-camera program since its inception in 2003. The red-light-camera firm, Redflex Traffic Systems Inc., recently informed the city that one of its consultants paid almost $1,000 at an Arizona luxury hotel for a stay by Bills in 2010.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel immediately banned Redflex from bidding on the upcoming speed-camera contract and referred the matter to Inspector General Joseph Ferguson, who is conducting an investigation.
"I was very troubled by reports of Mr. Bills' alleged impropriety with the city's red-light-camera vendor," Preckwinkle said in a statement, adding that she had asked for his resignation by the end of the week and he had promised to deliver it.
Bills is also a registered campaign worker for Illinois Speaker of the House Michael Madigan (D-Chicago).
Bills could not be reached for comment.
Bills started working for the city in 1979 and rose through its electrical operations department, which is what led him to hold sway over the red-light cameras when they were adopted, sources said.
Upon his retirement last year, Ald. Edward Burke sponsored a resolution lauding him, saying, "Throughout his 32-year career with the City of Chicago, John A. Bills upheld the finest and most noble traditions of public service."