County contracts violate trust
Wednesday, July 07, 2010
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.