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Stroger allies give donor contract, despite it being the most expensive

Thursday, September 04, 2008
Daily Herald
by Rob Olmstead

Allies of Cook County Board President Todd Stroger awarded one of his campaign donors a $300,000 contract Thursday, despite that donor being the most expensive of three bids.

In a contentious 8-7 vote, commissioners split on whether to award Infrastructure Engineering the job of engineering a parking lot at the county's west side warehouse. The company's bid was 32 percent more expensive than Dynasty Group Inc.'s $225,615 bid and 22 percent higher than a $243,675 bid by Delta Engineering.

County administrators had originally proposed the contract back in June, but abruptly pulled it from board consideration after the Daily Herald reported it.

Last week, administrators quietly put it back on the agenda for Thursday's meeting, but commissioners remembered it nonetheless, and Bartlett Republican Tim Schneider demanded to know the rationale of Capital Planning Director Bruce Washington for spending more money needlessly.

"He (Washington) explained why he thought it was worthwhile," Schneider told his fellow commissioners. "I still disagree."

Washington claimed the selected bidder offered more experience in the type of project planned, but he admitted during the debate that Delta had once done a parking lot project of the exact same size.

The lowest bidder, Dynasty, has done paving jobs for the Illinois Toll Highway Authority, the city of Chicago and the Illinois Department of Transportation.

In the end, though, the vote came down to the all-too-familiar split between Stroger supporters against Republicans and self-styled reform Democrats. Swing voter Earlean Collins provided the crucial eighth vote.

Supporting the highest bid were: Collins, Bill Beavers, Jerry Butler, John Daley, Roberto Maldonado, Joseph Mario Moreno, Joan Murphy and Deborah Sims. Opposing it were Forrest Claypool, Liz Gorman, Gregg Goslin, Tony Peraica, Mike Quigley, Schneider and Pete Silvestri. Commissioners Robert Steele and Larry Suffredin were absent.



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