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County contracts violate trust

Wednesday, July 07, 2010
Chicago Sun-Times
by Sun Times editorial staff

At a time when government at all levels expects taxpayers to give more even as services are cut, one factor is absolutely essential:


If taxpayers are asked to dig deeper into their pockets, they need assurance that the money will be spent as advertised.

So it's maddening to see yet another example of an apparent violation of that trust.

As Sun-Times reporter Lisa Donovan wrote Tuesday, two firms got hefty county contracts even though they aren't registered with the state or county, as required. They don't even appear to be legitimate businesses.

A $24,975 contract was given to Urban Rapport, run by convicted felon and hip-hop promoter Terrell "Shorty Cappone" Harris. The phone number on the contract was disconnected, and its claimed West Loop address actually is that of a different and unrelated business.

A separate $24,995 contract went to Arrei Management. Arrei lists a Greektown address that's actually a UPS store.

Arrei formerly was owned by Carla Oglesby, the beleaguered chief of staff to Cook County Board President Todd Stroger. Oglesby got into hot water recently by signing off on yet another contract -- for $24,975 -- for her own private public relations firm.

Community activist Mark Carter told the Sun-Times last week that he is president of Arrei, although his name appears nowhere on the contract paperwork. Almost as if designed to fuel taxpayer cynicism, both Carter and Oglesby campaigned for Stroger.

And there's little mystery about the contract amounts -- any contract for more than $25,000 must be approved by the County Board.

The two contracts are among a dozen under investigation by the county's ethics board, inspector general and, sources said, the Cook County state's attorney.

Those probes must be completed thoroughly and promptly to salvage whatever is left of the public's trust.

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