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Stroger donor may get no-bid deal
Board president pushes cleaning contract to firm

Saturday, March 17, 2007
Chicago Sun-Times
by STEVE PATTERSON Staff Reporter

As Cook County laid off dozens of janitors on Friday, County Board President Todd Stroger was pushing a no-bid cleaning contract to a firm that has made annual donations to his 8th Ward political organization.
Stroger wants the $375,000 contract with Berwyn-based We Clean Maintenance & Supply approved on an emergency basis to begin Monday, to replace the janitors let go in budget cuts.
The 135-day contract would fill the void until the county can seek competitive bids for long-term janitorial service and would save the county more than $150,000 over using county-employed janitors.
But critics say Stroger should instead steer that $357,000 toward hiring back janitors now unemployed.
"That's the most simple solution in all of this," said Commissioner Forrest Claypool.
Commissioner Tony Peraica called it "absolutely amazing" that Stroger would ask for a "no-bid contract for a politically connected company as people are being laid off."
But Stroger spokesman Steve Mayberry said the contract makes sense for the county and its taxpayers.
"Hiring individuals back would clearly fly in the face of the will of the board, as evident by their vote to make staffing reductions," he said. "It is our responsibility, in the short term, to make sure our facilities are clean, and in the long term, to ensure a competitive bidding process takes place for janitorial services."
Inmates to clean offices
Stroger wants to transfer existing funds from things like salaries and supplies to help pay for this contract.
Sheriff Tom Dart, who oversees county janitors, said he's redeploying what janitors are left to suburban courthouses, which he's obligated to clean, while he plans to have work-release jail inmates cleaning the downtown County Building on Monday.
Though that will cost the county nothing, those inmates won't have access to interior offices, meaning employees must clean their own offices and interior bathrooms.
That's why Stroger is seeking this emergency contract.
Records show the company is headed by Julie Leopold, but a company official said "for the security of our clients" she couldn't answer questions.
The company, which now cleans the juvenile court building, has donated money to several political groups, including about $800 to the 8th Ward.
Because the contract is an emergency, board members are voting by phone and have until Monday to cast votes.


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