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Things that make you go “Hmm”

Saturday, Feb 26, 2005

Another “old” story, but generally missed by the mainstream media. Illinois Issues looks into a controversial state contract with a private company.

The Blagojevich Administration has doled out at least $68 million in consulting contracts, eyeing cost savings of up to $1 billion.

But a look at one of the administration’s most lucrative arrangements, a $24.9 million contract with a politically connected Chicago firm designed to help CMS streamline its property management practices, suggests savings projections were overblown. […]

CMS says its contract with Illinois Property Asset Management LLC, a Chicago consortium, saved taxpayers $6.5 million. But the contract was supposed to save at least $14 million last year. […]

In an interview last spring, CMS Director Michael Rumman estimated that the contract with Illinois Property Asset Management could eventually save the state $100 million a year. The budget proposal Blagojevich unveiled a few months earlier estimated savings of $120 million by 2006. Today, that estimate has been cut in half. CMS spokeswoman Nicole Grady now puts the total savings at $57 million over a three-year period. […]

And at least two real estate deals signed since Illinois Property Asset Management came on board raised questions about the effectiveness of the high-priced advice CMS is getting. The first is a two-year no-bid lease for storage space near the Kennedy Expressway in Chicago. The Illinois Lottery inked the $48,000 deal with Mark IV Realty, which also rents billboard space to the agency and donated $90,000 worth of billboard space to Blagojevich during his campaign for governor.

The second deal involves the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. At the suggestion of Illinois Property Asset Management, DNR employees moved out of the Thompson Center last summer and into $61,000-a-year office space in the Chicago Loop. The five-year no-bid lease was signed a few months before the agency laid off 124 employees. […]

Documents released by CMS do not indicate that Illinois Property Asset Management has suggested reforms that would have made those no-bid deals any less likely. In general, the advice the state is getting remains a mystery outside the administration. […]

With CMS taking its cues from the private sector, the business of state government is increasingly becoming a private matter for this administration. Critics argue this sells short the 12 million Illinoisans who are the de facto shareholders in the business of state government. While the private sector might produce a better work product, so far Illinois taxpayers aren’t seeing much more than the price tag.

- Posted by Rich Miller   3 Comments      

Tattoo artists, rejoice!

Saturday, Feb 26, 2005

I suppose the rationale for the current law is that people shouldn’t be allowed to legally get a tattoo until they can work up the courage by legally getting drunk.

The Illinois House Friday approved a proposal that would allow 18- 19- and 20-year-olds to get tattoos without parental permission.

House Bill 29 also would bar anyone younger than 18 from entering a tattoo parlor or body-piercing shop unless accompanied by a parent or guardian.

The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Jerry Mitchell, R-Sterling, cleared the House on a 73-35 vote. There was no debate.

At present, anyone younger than 21 may not legally get a tattoo without parental consent.

This story is old, by the way, but I came up with the (allegedly) funny line this week, which is why I’m posting it now.

- Posted by Rich Miller   8 Comments      

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