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Stroger rips critics who questioned minority pact

Wednesday, June 08, 2005
Chicago Sun-Times
by ABDON M. PALLASCH

Cook County Board members on Tuesday rebelled against minority-owned business contracts going to companies they suspect are not really owned by minorities.

But Cook County Board President John Stroger lashed back at his critics, saying they only were making speeches as part of their respective campaigns to succeed him.

"As Bishop Ford used to say, don't say you're pouring lemonade on me when you're pouring something else on me, OK? Got the message?" Stroger told them.

Commissioner Mike Quigley told Stroger not to take questions about the contracts personally. "Not every vote revolves around you, Mr. President," he said.

Quigley questioned a $300,000 invoice for Chicago United Industries -- a company the city of Chicago is proposing to strip of its minority status that has given it a leg up on getting government contracts.

Chicago United also is certified as a minority-owned business by Cook County. County officials haven't taken any action against it.

Chicago officials in April said that Chicago United is nothing more than a broker and performs no commercially useful function.

Quigley and four other commissioners withheld support from paying Chicago United's bill, though it passed anyway.

Commissioners likewise were upset with Stroger's contract compliance officer, Betty Hancock Perry, for what they saw as incomplete answers about Faustech Industries, another minority-owned company some said should be de-certified based on Chicago's example.

When Commissioner Larry Suffredin asked Perry why she allowed a firm to bid on a contract without meeting county requirements for finding a minority subcontractor, Stroger said Suffredin was just asking the questions for show.

"Brother Suffredin, some of the things you did didn't come across as being all that pure," Stroger said. Stroger said Suffredin showed more respect to legislators in Springfield, where Suffredin is a lobbyist, than to Stroger.

Suffredin told Stroger if he had evidence of wrongdoing by Suffredin, Stroger should report him.



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