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$175K in county deals won't get fed cash

Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Chicago Sun-Times
by Lisa Donovan

Federal grant money won't cover nearly $175,000 in no-bid contracts doled out by Cook County Board President Todd Stroger's administration, officials confirmed Tuesday.

Now a strapped Cook County government is left with the final tab for seven contracts -- five awarded under a federal energy grant to promote the county's "green" initiatives and two to promote more than $10 million in federal 2008 flood relief, officials said.

That includes a contract given to CGC Communications Inc., the public relations firm privately owned by Stroger's Deputy Chief of Staff Carla Oglesby. She was hit with a one-week suspension for signing off on the contract.

During Tuesday's meeting, officials revealed that grant administrators rejected applications for reimbursement for those contracts under investigation. Chief Financial Officer Jaye Morgan Williams told commissioners that the county has "eaten" the costs.

Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer says this points to a gap in the system, since it's clear contracts and checks were handed out before anyone knew whether the grant would cover it.

"What I'd like to see happen from now on is before any grant dollars are spent, we need to assess whether it's appropriate and reimbursable," Gainer said.



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