The opinion of the court was delivered by: JOHN NORDBERG, Senior District Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiff Bruce Hardy worked for the Housing Authority of Cook
County (the "Authority") for almost 18 years. During his career,
he generally received positive reviews, and eventually worked his
way up to the position of Director of Management.*fn1 In
this job, he reported only to the Executive Director, James
Floyd. In May 2001, however, things began to change when the
Authority created a new position of Deputy Executive Director and
appointed Terry Corcoran to this position. Hardy now reported to
Corcoran rather than Floyd.
This appointment led to conflict as Corcoran and Hardy
disagreed fundamentally about how the Authority should be run and
specifically about how Hardy should do his job. In December 2001, this conflict came to a head when Corcoran gave
Hardy a strongly negative mid-year evaluation that faulted Hardy
for not carrying through with a number of duties that Corcoran
had assigned him. Hardy was upset and responded by criticizing
the management of the Authority in several memos and in two
meetings. His criticism focused entirely on Corcoran who Hardy
believed was unqualified for the job and was trying "to sabotage
and destroy public housing's high performance standards and to
discredit its employees." Hardy claims that he made these
accusations because he genuinely believed that Corcoran was
instituting changes that were detrimental to the Authority and to
the low-income tenants served by the Authority. The Authority
believes that Hardy was merely raising these allegation to
deflect attention from his poor performance. Eventually, Corcoran
recommended to Floyd that Hardy be fired. On March 15, 2002,
Floyd terminated Hardy's employment.
Hardy filed a five-count complaint in this Court against the
Authority, Corcoran, Floyd, and six individual members of the
Board of Commissioners. Hardy alleges that his firing violated
the due process because he did not receive any notice or a
pre-discharge hearing and violated the First Amendment because he
was fired for speaking out on matters of public concern. Hardy
also asserts a claim for retaliatory discharge under state law.
Defendants have filed a motion for summary judgment on all
counts. For the reasons set forth below, the motion is granted.
On May 1, 2001, Terry Corcoran was promoted to the position of
Deputy Executive Director. Several weeks later, he met with Hardy
for several hours. According to Corcoran, he discussed areas that
Hardy needed to improve and identified areas in which Hardy
required assistance. After this meeting, Corcoran communicated with Hardy
on a regular basis and discussed with him various items that
required Hardy's supervision.*fn2
In December 2001, Corcoran conducted a mid-year review of all
managers who reported to him (including Hardy). Corcoran gave
Hardy his mid-year evaluation in a memo dated December 3, 2001.
It is fair to say that this memo was critical of Hardy's work.
The first paragraph states:
During the course of the past seven months we have
identified many issues that are in need of attention
within the Public Housing program. Some of the items
have been sufficiently addressed and completed.
However, a vast majority of them have had no
significant progress to speak of. I am concerned that
these items are not being given the priority that
they require. For that reason, I will detail some of
the items below along with the dates that they were
The memo contains 34 bullet points, summarizing specific tasks
that Corcoran believed needed to be addressed. It concludes by
stating that "there are several areas that have not been given
adequate attention" and that Hardy's "follow-up and progress rate
 ha[d] not met [Corcoran's] expectations."
The memo upset Hardy, and he became worried that this
evaluation "might [be] the first step down the road leading to
[his] termination." (Hardy Aff. ¶ 20.) During the next several
weeks, he took several steps to try to keep his job. He consulted
a lawyer. He also prepared two memos that he would later submit
to Corcoran and Floyd: (i) a memo to Corcoran entitled "Rebuttal
of Mid-Year Evaluation" dated December 26, 2001; and (ii) a memo
to Floyd and Corcoran entitled "Time to Blow the Whistle" dated
January 8, 2002. The December 26th rebuttal memo begins by pointing out that
Corcoran's mid-year evaluation overlooked many duties performed
by Hardy. It then states that Corcoran has instituted 36 new
orders for the public housing staff. Although the memo contains a
point-by-point rebuttal to each of Corcoran's many criticisms,
the gist of the memo is that Hardy has not completed all the
assigned tasks because he does not have enough time and because
many of these tasks are not in his assigned job duties. For
example, Hardy repeatedly states that he will begin working on a
certain task only after "I complete jobs specific to my job
description." One issue that Hardy was particularly upset about
was Corcoran's decision to require monthly meetings. He called
this decision a "disaster" and asserted that the group meetings
he had been using previously were "far superior" to Corcoran's
suggested approach. The memo ends with the following summary:
As Director of Management, I should not be given
jobs outside of my job description. I should be
allowed to direct this department as I have done in
the past. Recent changes you've made have been a
disaster for Public Housing.
As I said in the beginning, in this Mid-Year
Evaluation, you missed most of the work we do as
part of the job description, and you have assigned
work that is not in our job descriptions.
(Memo at 4; emphasis in original.)*fn3
The January 8th "whistle-blowing" memo is harshly critical of
Corcoran as illustrated in the opening paragraph:
Terrance Corcoran set out right from the beginning to
sabotage and destroy public housing's high
performance standards and to discredit its employees.
Why he is doing this, I don't know, it could be to place
friends in our jobs, it could be political or maybe
he just doesn't like older employers.
(Memo at 1.) The memo specifically complains that Corcoran
negotiated a "horrible lock box deal" with LaSalle Bank regarding
the collection of rent payments; that Corcoran fired the
Authority's 30-year business association with the law firm of
Brunswick, Keefe and Jacobson LLC and hired another law firm that
submitted a higher per case bid; that Corcoran fired Barbara
Harris, who worked in the computer department; and that Corcoran
imposed too many job demands while at the same time requiring
staff to attend unproductive meetings (which Hardy described as
the "Sandbagging technique").
Armed with this two memos, and a third memo describing his
positive contributions to the Authority, Hardy sought to meet
with Corcoran and Floyd. On January 9, 2002, Hardy came to the
Authority along with his attorney.*fn4 But Corcoran told him
that the mid-year review was an internal matter and that it was
inappropriate for counsel to be present. Hardy states that
Corcoran and Floyd specifically told him that "there was no
disciplinary action pending." No meeting was held on this day,
although Hardy apparently then submitted the three memos to
Corcoran and Floyd.
The Authority then ordered Hardy to appear at a meeting three
days later on January 11th. Prior to the meeting, Hardy asked
Floyd if his attorney could attend. Floyd said no and Hardy then
asked if a court reporter could be present so that all exchanges
of information would be recorded accurately. Floyd again said no. At the January 11th meeting, Corcoran discussed some of the
criticisms listed in the mid-year review. During this meeting,
Hardy raised a new issue. He stated that he had information
regarding monetary improprieties at the Authority and that he and
other unidentified individuals were looking into the issue.
A second meeting was held on February 4, 2002. This time Floyd
and Patricia Emanuel, who was the Authority's director of human
resources, also attended. Hardy further elaborated on his earlier
charge, stating that some of the monetary improprieties he
alluded to could be criminal and might eventually go to court.
However, he again provided no specific details.
After this meeting, Floyd and Corcoran decided that they should
follow-up and seek more information regarding Hardy's allegations
of financial improprieties. Floyd and Hardy then exchanged
e-mails over the next couple of weeks.*fn5
On February 8, 2002, Floyd e-mailed Hardy asking for more
information concerning the allegation about "the money." Floyd
stated that he was "very concerned that you would make such an
allegation insinuating that you had knowledge of some impropriety
about money but refuse to disclose this information to me." On
February 13, 2002, Hardy e-mailed back to Floyd:
The information uncovered thus far involves the
inappropriate use, missing, and public funds being
used to influence private business deals. This effort
is part of an ongoing private investigation that I
and others, who wish not be identified at this time,
are conducting. When this investigation is complete,
we will make all results known to individuals or
organizations that we feel will best serve this
Authority, the employees and its residents.
(Id.) Floyd was not satisfied with this response. On February 15,
2002, he again e-mailed Hardy. This e-mail was more forceful and
"ordered" Hardy to disclose "every detail" of the allegation,
including the names of the others involved in the investigation.
On February 19, 2002, Hardy e-mailed the following (in full):
Regarding the misuse of money.
I believe that the Chicago Heights J.E.M. Company has
double billed ...