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Tollway board member balks at contract

Friday, Apr 28, 2006

Gov. Blagojevich has the tollway board pretty much locked, down, which is why this story is such a surprise.

In an unusual move, a tollway board member on Thursday took issue with a politically connected firm winning a multimillion-dollar consulting contract. […]

Tollway board member Ronald Materick of Oak Brook objected to hiring McDonough and Associates for $1.7 million to plan Tri-State widening near O’Hare International Airport. A list compiled at the earlier request of board members shows McDonough drew the most tollway consulting work during the last three years — nearly $20 million.

“I know these are politically connected firms,” Materick said of the list. “It causes other firms to be less interested in competing.” […]

Materick voted against the contract, an oddity on a board where all the members are appointed by Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Materick could not be reached for comment after the meeting.

The company and its owner have donated more than $61,000 to Blagojevich since 2002. The company did not return phone calls Thursday. […]

Meanwhile, the tollway re-hired IGOR, The Watchdog Corp. of Tinley Park on a three-year, $3.2 million contract for I-PASS packaging, delivery and promotion at more than 200 Jewel grocery stores. IGOR has donated $76,000 to Blagojevich’s campaign. Its lobbyist is John Wyma, Blagojevich’s former congressional chief of staff and 2002 gubernatorial campaign director. The new contract comes after two years of no-bid extensions on an original $150,000 deal in 2003 that jumped to $7 million by 2006.

And then there’s this:

Contractors rebuilding toll plazas on Interstate 90 need more than $3 million more than expected to finish their projects thanks to hastily-crafted construction.

The Illinois State Toll Highway Authority board approved change orders for all plazas on I-90, including a $1.7 million increase to the contract to rebuild the Elgin toll plaza. […]

The authority wants open-road tolling available at every plaza by this fall.

But the hurry to get the construction done fast meant that the toll authority was not ready with some aspects of its engineering. For instance, the Elgin, River Road and Devon plazas need more electrical work than the bids originally specified because the board wanted to get the bigger job of adding lanes started.

Gee, I wonder why they want the new lanes completed, along with their giant Brought to you by Rod Blagojevich signs, by this fall?

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Leroy - Friday, Apr 28, 06 @ 6:32 am:

    This story is probably just a shakedown of McDonough and Associates by the Blago administration that says ‘You are not ponying up enough campaign money for the fall 2006 elections. You either dig a little deeper, or we will be running more stories just like this one. Have a nice day.’

    A bad PR shot-across-the-bow, so to speak.

  2. - girl friday - Friday, Apr 28, 06 @ 6:34 am:

    another joke brought to you by the Blago administration. Bend over tax payers, get ready!!

  3. - Jack Blades - Friday, Apr 28, 06 @ 6:43 am:

    Stevie Wonder could see the corruption, pay-to-play and my-name-is-everywhere crap in this administration.

    Besides voting in November, what more can be done about this obviously me-only governor? The people need to know what’s really going on, but I fear the political machine might be too strong (which is nothing unusual, unfortunately).

  4. - Disgusted - Friday, Apr 28, 06 @ 7:01 am:

    I pray to God that Patrick Fitzgerald or his staff are monitoring this site.

  5. - Anonymous - Friday, Apr 28, 06 @ 7:15 am:

    You mean the untrained, unskilled kids earning over $100,000/year just did what they wanted to do without proper planning? Again?

    And again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again.

    Is Rod half baked? Again? He can’t remember.

  6. - Cassandra - Friday, Apr 28, 06 @ 7:16 am:

    Again, I am stunned at how cheap it is to buy the state managment jobs and state contracts offered for sale by the Democrats.

    $61,000 for $20 millions in contracts. Peanuts.
    A state management job paying $100k and up plus free health care and almost-free pension, plus
    little or no actual work to do—a few hundred bucks and a couple of precinct walks. Little peanuts.

    If we are going to continue selling Illinois state jobs and contracts, let’s get some real money out of it instead of letting Blago scarf up the money for his lifetime income stream, uh,
    campaign fund. Let’s sell them outright.

  7. - angry and outraged - Friday, Apr 28, 06 @ 7:18 am:

    Say it is not so!!! I think there were a couple bloggers yesterday (original Bill) that accused us of bashing the Gov with no facts saying that he has cleaned up government. Right! You got to ask yourself what is going on at the Tollway when the Executive director and the Chief of Staff have quit and a board member finally takes a stand. Who are they going to blame this time for IGOR getting the contract now that they released Scott Okun, Manager of I-Pass, for awarding a contract to them. I said it before and I will say it again if Rod gets re-elected than the people of Illinois get what they deserve!

  8. - DOWNSTATE - Friday, Apr 28, 06 @ 7:35 am:

    Watch them throw this guy under the bus for not being a team player.It isn’t just the toll system it is every state agency that is falling apart.4 more years of this bunch and the entire state will come to a halt.There is rumor now that several small state parks will close by years end and more lay-offs of 104 at IDNR.Of course none of these are Blago’s appointees.

  9. - the Patriot - Friday, Apr 28, 06 @ 8:55 am:

    It is not all gloom and doom. If Blago wins, the state will be in such bad shape in 4 years, Lisa Madigan will be set up to fail. What is she going to say, it is the fault of the guy of our own party that I never indicted even though he made George Ryan look honest. No, this is good. If he wins, Lisa and Mike will be left holding the bag and the republicans can say for the next 10 years, “remember what happened when the democrats were in charge.”

    Right now, Mike Madigan is sipping his coffee reading the Tribune trying to figure out how to protect his party, give Lisa a shot, and still let the biggest idiot over to be governor of IL 4 more years.

    Cut bait Mr. Madigan, you can cover the first two, but try to get all three and you will get a goose egg.

  10. - can't imagine - Friday, Apr 28, 06 @ 9:12 am:

    Ever wonder why virtually ever morning M-F there is a huge back up from Cicero to 83rd street plaza. Becuz in their attempt to open as many ORT plazas as possible they spent Millions of $’s extra just so Blago could get credit. Now the Tollway has to virtually rebuild what they should have done right the first time. What a rip off for all those commuters that are wasting time just so Rod could get another sign on the tollway.

  11. - Randall Sherman - Friday, Apr 28, 06 @ 9:58 am:

    All it will take is one or two traffic snarls by those signs a week before the election for this to backfire in the face of Gov. Elvis.

    But I agree with previous comments calling on the U.S. Attorney not to delay in seeking appropriate action against Blaojevich and his cronies. By not taking action now, Fitzgerald is still influencing political outcomes, while potentially letting scoundrels go unpunished for a longer period of time.

  12. - steve schnorf - Friday, Apr 28, 06 @ 10:43 am:

    For those of you not old enough to remember or well read enough to know, I want to remind that IGOR has been a well thought of state vendor for 20 or 25 years. I really don’t remember ever seeing any criticism of them before.

  13. - annoyed all the time - Friday, Apr 28, 06 @ 1:38 pm:

    Thank you Steve… as is McDonough - they are quite qualified and there are not a lot of large firms out there who want to work in Illinois who can handle these big jobs. I wish people would stop attacking companies who do good business in Illinois. I would say that 99 % of companies who do business in Illinois either contribute to campaigns or have lobbyists. It’s amazing also what folks think lobbyists can do. I have a lobbyist friend who is always shocked at how much ‘power’ people think she has.

  14. - Anonymous - Friday, Apr 28, 06 @ 3:57 pm:

    Most of us on this blog don’t know enough about the quality of the bidding contractors to render an opinion on their qualifications to do a job or not. However, what we can and should question is why campaign donations appear to be a requisite cost-of-doing business qualification for landing a contract.

    The Auditor General has raised enough questions in the CMS and transportation audit reports to indicate that RFP and contract monitoring rules are very lax in some instances, and for many, the political correlation is an easy inference.

    And BTW, John Wyma is not you’re average lobbyist. His influence may be just a little greater than your friend’s.

  15. - steve schnorf - Friday, Apr 28, 06 @ 4:18 pm:

    I don’t see any EVIDENCE that campaign contributions are a prerequisite. I’m not at all surprised to find that vendors doing business with the state make contributions to elected officials: why would they want a change in administrations?

  16. - It's all about money - Friday, Apr 28, 06 @ 4:41 pm:

    I would be interested in seeing the list of 20 and the amount of contributions. I would also be interested in seeing how much they are paying consultants to implement the tollway plan and how much those contracts have increased to accomidate the impossible schedule and construction errors.

  17. - Anonymous - Friday, Apr 28, 06 @ 5:19 pm:

    So campaign contributions and contracts awards are merely unrelated coincidental events? And Joseph Cari was lying. And the US Attorney’s Office is chasing its tail. And Bill Holland is fabricating contract abuses. And Santa Claus really can visit every home on Earth in one night.

  18. - CONCERN WIFE - Friday, Dec 1, 06 @ 3:20 pm:


  19. - Loukianos - Thursday, Apr 19, 07 @ 8:48 pm:


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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