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Reform and Renewal… Part 46,397

Wednesday, Jan 31, 2007

Funny how things work out, isn’t it?

A Chicago drug-testing company with a long-standing no-bid state contract is under state and federal investigation amid allegations it billed the state for drug tests it never performed.

The company–K.K. Bio-Science Inc.–came under scrutiny following an Oct. 27 report in the Tribune detailing how Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s wife, Patricia, earned more than $113,000 in real estate commissions from the company’s owner and president.

Remember that one? Here’s a refresher

When questioned by a Tribune reporter, Anita Mahajan denied her friendship with the Blagojeviches and said didn’t know who Patricia Blagojevich was until someone brought it up at the first closing.

“I didn’t hire her,” Mahajan said in a brief interview from the balcony of her Chicago townhouse. “I didn’t even know who she was until closing. That’s when I heard she was the governor’s wife. I try not to get involved in politics.”

Eventually, her lawyer told the Trib that the couple have been “friends for a long time” with Mrs. Blagojevich.

The governor’s office flatly refused to give the Tribune or any other reporters documents related to the company last year, claiming it would be an “unwarranted invasion of privacy.”

Anyway, back to today’s story.

K.K. Bio-Science abruptly closed down Jan. 19, giving its employees no warning. Company representatives then spent the next week tossing records and office equipment into trash bins, said other building tenants.

“They threw away an incredible amount of stuff,” said Paul Leslie Beals, who works across the hall at the Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing. “I counted at least five Dumpsters in the hallway. There was a printer in there that one of my colleagues took. There were all kinds of files and documents. Somebody said they even saw some checks in the trash. They were throwing away everything.”

Gov. Blagojevich’s spokeswoman, Abby Ottenhoff, declined Tuesday to address the specifics of the investigation.

Mahajan’s bank has also lent millions of dollars to none other than Tony Rezko. What a coinkydink.

Meanwhile, back at the DeFraties hearing

An administrative law judge halted testimony Tuesday in the case of two state workers accused of breaking government hiring rules.

Anthony Dos Santos ordered Blagojevich administration lawyers to hand over copies of job applications they claim were improperly handled by Dawn DeFraties and Michael Casey.

DeFraties and Casey were personnel officials at the Department of Central Management Services. Gov. Rod Blagojevich fired them last spring for allegedly manipulating the hiring process. The hearing will determine whether they get their jobs back.

Blagojevich lawyers want to introduce handwritten logs that, according to DeFraties’ subordinates, show some applications got special treatment. The logs contain as many as 1,200 names.

And

The documents issue arose Monday during the testimony of CMS employee Marc Longmeyer. He said he would get job applications from DeFraties and Casey that had been graded and put into a computer database ahead of other applications. Longmeyer kept a written list of the names - nearly 500 of them - that came from DeFraties and Casey. The list was submitted as evidence.

Draper, though, argued that if the list was going to be used to impugn his clients, he was entitled to the application forms for he people on it. Attorneys for the state produced six application forms Tuesday, but Draper said that wasn’t enough.

He repeatedly complained that information was withheld from his clients that they need to defend themselves.

CMS Director Paul Campbell testified Tuesday that he signed off on termination proceedings against DeFraties and Casey based partly on a report from the inspector general’s office. However, Draper said the report has never been turned over to him or his clients.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


20 Comments
  1. - Just Because - Wednesday, Jan 31, 07 @ 9:27 am:

    I am confused, why did Campbell testify he signed termination papers? I thought the HFS director fired Defraties.


  2. - Mr. Ethics - Wednesday, Jan 31, 07 @ 9:53 am:

    Even the First Lady is corrupt? Please Patricia say this isn’t true. Can’t IDFPR - Real Estate Division look into this commission. Phoney commissions once brought down some tollway bigwigs, but the First Lady - think of the children.


  3. - He Makes Ryan look like a saint - Wednesday, Jan 31, 07 @ 9:55 am:

    FPR will not look into her Real Estate commissions, that agency is under GROD.

    Rich, This is going to be an interesting 4 years, the question is, when is Fitzy going to pull the trigger on these guys?


  4. - Ron Burgundy - Wednesday, Jan 31, 07 @ 10:18 am:

    Gee… insider firm accused of defrauding state, loses contract, and abruptly closes up shop and gets rid of all of its documentation in a panicked frenzy right before the feds and other law enforcement authorities show up.

    Nothing to see here…


  5. - Limerick - Wednesday, Jan 31, 07 @ 11:04 am:

    As the cases begin to evolve,
    The mysteries begin to resolve.
    If Rod doesn’t go down,
    He will still lose his crown,
    For his power will begin to dissolve.


  6. - Cassandra - Wednesday, Jan 31, 07 @ 11:29 am:

    Media accounts have underplayed the fact that the KKBS contract was with DCFS. Since Illinois state agencies do not test their employees for drugs or alcohol (they should) one assumes that the testing was for DCFS clients suspected of child maltreatment who are trying to maintain or regain custody of their children. Substance misues is very frequently a factor in child maltreatment. And self-reporting is notoriously unreliable especially when the safety of children is at issue. Hence the tests.

    Now, this contract has supposedly been in effect for 15 years, well back into the Republican administrations. But Blago said he was going to fix all those DCFS problems left by those awful Republicans. But weren’t his DCFRS appointees supposed to be checking on this contract? After all, nobody asked any questions until a newspaper article came out about the real estate connection betwen the contractor and Mrs. B.

    No wonder kids are still dying after DCFS “intervention.” With Blago, politics trump the kids, every time.


  7. - Six Degrees of Separation - Wednesday, Jan 31, 07 @ 11:35 am:

    You might want to ask those IDOT highway maintainers who have been fired for drug/alcohol in their urine during random or “post-incident” testing on whether “state agencies do not test their employees for drugs or alcohol”.


  8. - Dem Bob - Wednesday, Jan 31, 07 @ 12:19 pm:

    Apparently KK Bio S has had numerous other contracts with several government agencies, city and county as a minority vendor for the last 12-15 years or so. They do not have the corporate capacity to handle big lab contracts, so they tend to get smaller drug testing contracts nowadays, or at least up until recently.I believe there was some controversy about Chicago police or fire testing a year or two back. Their political friends and connections long precede Governor B.


  9. - Hugh - Wednesday, Jan 31, 07 @ 12:43 pm:

    Neither the October ‘06 or this most recent Trib article mentioned that Amrish Mahajan is a long-standing member of the Chicago Plan Commission, uniquely positioned for early insider info on subsidized projects. Is this irrelevant?

    While this story swirls incredibly our City Council is in the process of re-upping him for another two years.

    http://www.chicityclerk.com/citycouncil/agendas/zoning011807.pdf#page=3


  10. - Commonsense in Illinois - Wednesday, Jan 31, 07 @ 1:21 pm:

    A number of state agencies test…Corrections, State Police, IDOT (as has already been mentioned). In fact every state agency has a drug and alcohol policy that allows for testing. I don’t recall if it was implemented in late Thompson or early Edgar, but it’s been around for a long time.


  11. - cynically anonymous - Wednesday, Jan 31, 07 @ 2:46 pm:

    No more business as usual…I’m hoping that the state doesn’t completely collapse before I can retire and move elsewhere. The way this administration is keeping information from being made public is beyond belief - and it is clear that the governor is completely devoid of ethics or a conscience - or is so totally delusional that he truly believes he’s doing a good job.


  12. - Huh? - Wednesday, Jan 31, 07 @ 3:59 pm:

    Highway maintainers have a CDL license and are subject to random drug test. Just like any other truck driver.


  13. - Papa Legba - Wednesday, Jan 31, 07 @ 4:04 pm:

    Geez. Only four real estate deals and they all seem very questionable. I know one can’t be too bright if they married Hot Rod but…

    IMO. I think it will be awhile before we hear from PFitz. I think his office will have to untangle 500 yards of fishing line before they can even begin to get everything in order. A new twist every week from these people.


  14. - Cassandra - Wednesday, Jan 31, 07 @ 4:25 pm:

    The extent of drug testing in Illinois state government was not the point of my post, merely to point out that the KKBio folks were not testing employees, they were testing (or not testing, as the case may be) parents and caretakers of maltreated children, with children’s safety dependent on honest testing.

    However, in many conversations with state employees over the years, I have heard tales of co-worker and superior substance misuse but never tales of random drug testing for the state employee population as a whole. The unions are agin it. Perhaps the random drug and alcohol testing is part of licensure for some job classifications, such as highway maintainers, but
    I bet such testing is far from widespread and that managers never get tested, even though they aren’t even represented by a union.


  15. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jan 31, 07 @ 5:34 pm:

    “Banned,” you’re not banned. You’re just in timeout until you stop the nonsense. It’s disappointing that someone from my alma mater would show the poor judgement that you did this afternoon.


  16. - Snakes In Suits - Wednesday, Jan 31, 07 @ 7:41 pm:

    Reform and renewal, PLEASEeeee !
    It’s all about the benjamins and mortgaging Illinois’s future with Corruptovich and company.


  17. - sgt. hulka - Wednesday, Jan 31, 07 @ 9:17 pm:

    Where is Michael Runman now? Anyone? He wasn’t just tight with Rezco. He had alot of private dinners at the big house on wiggens in springfield. This is where draper needs to look.


  18. - In the Sticks - Wednesday, Jan 31, 07 @ 9:36 pm:

    Any employee at the Department of Corrections must pass a drug test before employment, then is subject to random drug tests at any time. All employees are subject, not just correctional officers.


  19. - Snakes In Suits - Wednesday, Jan 31, 07 @ 10:01 pm:

    This administration would have everyone believe that they have invented and instituted all of these fantastic progams.
    SORRY ! They were in place long long ago.
    The only original thought this administratin has had is “corruption on steroids”.


  20. - OneTimeISPemployee - Wednesday, Jan 31, 07 @ 10:24 pm:

    Back in the nineties, as a mere hireling for ISP, I underwent a background check and a thorough drug test that included urinalysis and hair sample. Presumably, I passed since I got to work there…
    How this expense trumped the rape kit backlog developing at the time doesn’t matter. The point is it’s too expensive to run this sort of thing on rank and file employees of all agencies.
    Do we want small government or not?


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