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Stroger Still Squarely in the "Screw It" Zone

By Kevin Robinson in News on Jul 7, 2010 2:20PM

The election to replace Cook County Board President is still five months away, but Todd Stroger's still in the captain's seat. And that means that his administration is still in charge when it comes to contracts and hiring. According to the Sun-Times, the Stroger administration quickly hired and payed two contractors to help promote energy efficiency and composting in Cook County (you remember those campaigns, right? Right?), even though they aren't listed in state or county business registries, as required by law.

Of course, when the firm is run by a man that goes by the hip-hop nom de guerre "Shorty Capone" (yes, really), little things like filing paperwork with the sate don't hold you back. In fact, when Fox News Chicago tried to contact Capone (his real name is Terrell Harris), they reached a different business that didn't know anything about either Harris or his county contract. Actually, neither Harris (a convicted felon) nor Mark Carter, who holds a contract to do outreach "to build awareness of the department's (Department of Environmental Control) energy and conservation program," have actually done any work on the contract, despite having already been paid for the work.

But that's not all. While the rest of Cook County was trying not to get hospitalized with fireworks accidents, the Stroger administration was retaliating against whistleblowers and trying to give jobs to cronies. According to 21-year county employee Vanessa James, she was fired in late June after she registered a complaint with the County Inspector General about some of these no-bid contracts. "Carla [Oglesby, who's involved in the ballooning Stroger contracts scandal] said she needed a check today for Arrei Management [Mark Carter's consulting firm], and Faisal said he can do it," James told the Sun-Times. "I told Carla, 'That isn't normal procedure; you can't do that in 24 hours because so many signatures are required on a contract.'" James filed a complaint with the IG, and was fired. And Stroger spokesman Eugene Mullins claimed that the county had hired a politically connected attorney to manage its labor relations. Mike "Pickle" Joyce says he got a phone call offering him the job, but that it wasn't the position or the paycheck he had originally agreed to with Stroger, and turned down the offer. Pickle was supposed to have replaced Jonathan Rothstein, who was fired after his mother and former chief executive of Stroger hospital supported Toni Preckwinkle in the recent Cook County Democratic primary.