You have the crooked contracts we've described on numerous occasions:
- Chicago needs widgets. The city can't just but them off the shelf at Home Depot or Wal*Mart. They have to go through a vendor. A percentage of the vendors have to meet certain requirements in terms of ownership (minority-owned, woman-owned, mob-controlled) along with the run-of-the-mill white guys. The city accepts "bids" via a easily corruptible process and chooses the vendor according to the whims of the aldercreature, the "reverends" or the voters the mayor needs. The vendor then goes and picks out the widgets at Home Depot or Wal*Mart and marks up the price by a skim-able percentage, contributes to the approved re-election fund, and pockets the rest.
We had a list of "vendors" at one point years ago. One was a storefront in Aldercreature Ed Smith's part of town, never open, but with a working phone that probably got forwarded somewhere else. The address handled all sorts of contracts for the city, including dog food for the Canine Unit - dog food that could have been purchased for 30% less than the vendor charged the city (and probably was purchased for 30% less). No one was much interested then, but maybe now?
Another place the city bleeds money - the schools. Back when the blog started, we had e-mails from old-time school officers who would relate tales of locked storerooms with unused textbooks still wrapped in shipping cellophane, supplies in original packaging, skids full of computers, monitors and printers. The officers have long since retired, and maybe the schools have gotten better at hiding things. But you still have the outright theft:
- Four people this week were named in arrest warrants tied to the theft of more than $876,000 from two Chicago Public Schools.
Officials with the Cook County state’s attorney’s office would not comment on the case Wednesday, but according to court records, Judge Nicholas Ford ordered the arrest warrants.
Ford on Tuesday issued a $400,000 arrest warrant for Jermaine Robinson, 36, of Chicago. Sidney Bradley, 46, of Chicago; Albert Bennett, 49, of Carpentersville; and Paul Simmons, 55, of Calumet City, were named in $200,000 arrest warrants, court records show.
All four were charged with theft of government property.
That's just one school. Then there's the crooked janitorial contract of recent days. The Byrd-Bennett swindle accounting for millions. Has anyone ever done an accounting on the food for the "healthy breakfast" every kid us supposed to get? When our kids were going to school, the teachers were nearly weeping with rage at the amount of perfectly good food they were throwing out on a daily basis because the kids weren't hungry or didn't like the fruit and milk provided for every student regardless of desire.
How about the 650 miles of bike lanes Rahm and his people were praising just two years ago? As we recall, the cost was calculated out at $140,000 PER MILE for paint, rubber lane dividers and labor. $91 million. We also recall posting pictures of some of the bile lanes with potholes and actual weeds growing in the lanes. Some of the longer stretches cut down perfectly serviceable four-lane thoroughfares to two-lane congested messes for maybe a dozen bikers a day through neighborhoods we wouldn't go near without a pistol.
And then there's this from the Channel 2 troll:
- They retire as Chicago police officers and get rehired by the city, doubling up on two taxpayer subsidized paychecks, one for a civilian job and the other for a police pension.
The Better Government Association and CBS 2 Investigators found that some even get hired back in a day to jobs at the top of the police department, all at a time when the police pension fund is only about 30 percent funded.
We've been pointing this out for years. They tag the usual suspects: O'Neill, Roussell, Shear, Hickey who retired from the department and got rehired immediately back as civilians, collecting not only their pension, but their previous salaries, sometimes with a raise. This isn't uncommon and they leave out quite a few bosses who landed other cushy government spots either in the city or at the state level: Townsend, Maurer, Keating, Grau, Schmitz. Hell, Bill Nolan got a 6-figure chief's gig at the Cook County Jail for his efforts on a number of issues. At least Ramsey left town, Kirby left the country and Cline created his own gig.
What about fire chiefs? Do they have these issues? Maybe a nice fire "inspector" slot somewhere? This double and triple dipping at the government trough has to stop. Cap pensions at the earned career rank - no more "merit" pensions. You get a "merit" bump, you get a patrolman's salary - you didn't earn shit. You come back as a civilian, you defer your pension until you actually retire for good. Government isn't supposed to make people rich, and it has made too many of the wrong people rich at the expense of the regular working cop, firefighter, teacher and retiree.
UPDATE: Someone complained in the comment section that if you earned your pension at 29-and-a-day, you ought to be able to collect it on your terms. We agree, but with the following stipulation - if you come back as a civilian, you haven't actually "retired." You are still working for the city. You are double-dipping, getting paid for the job you used to do for 29-and-a-day AND getting paid again for the job you used to do. Pension is for your non-working years, not as a 75% increase in pay for the job you're still doing for the same employer you used to (and still) have. Hope that clears up the reasoning.
Labels: money questions