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Ozinga defends minority company

Wednesday, Apr 23, 2008

* Martin Ozinga has been slammed by Democrats over a Tribune story from 2005 that alleged he had set up a minority front company to score contracts from the City of Chicago. Ozinga is the odds-on favorite to replace Tim Baldermann on the 11th District congressional ballot against Sen. Debbie Halvorson.

Anyway, Ozinga told the Tribune this week that he is “proud” of that minority company

“Our efforts with Metro Mix were always completely transparent, on top of the table, done in conjunction with many, many, many discussions of all the government agencies involved,” he said from his new campaign office in Mokena. “And I am—I was then, and I am to this day—proud of all the people who worked hard, put forth so much effort into trying to create a business opportunity that would have been so very beneficial, but that was probably just not meant to be.”

Ozinga said he started Metro Mix as a way to create jobs and promote economic development in minority neighborhoods.

Metro Mix initially had trouble being recognized as a minority-owned business—officials said Ozinga’s ties to the company were too close—so the group restructured with new minority ownership to meet requirements. Eventually, however, Ozinga had a disagreement with one of the new partners in the mid-1990s, and the company folded.

“I have no regrets, and I appreciate everybody that participated,” he said. “And nowhere along the line did we violate any rules, regulations or attempt to create any kind of an atmosphere that was anything less than above board and straightforward.”

Ozinga has said the same thing to Republican bigwigs, but the allegations remain. Regardless of the latest Tribune story, expect the company to be a big issue in the DCCC’s direct mail campaign this fall.

* Meanwhile, Phil Hare has named Tom O’Donnell his new chief of staff

O’Donnell, a native of upstate New York and a graduate of SUNY-Plattsburgh, most recently served as chief of staff for Congressman Rush Holt (D-NJ). Before that, he spent 13 years working for Hare’s predecessor Congressman Lane Evans, nine of those as legislative director.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Wumpus - Wednesday, Apr 23, 08 @ 9:30 am:

    As long as the Dems are silent what goes on in area code 312 and minority, shut up about this

  2. - Ghost - Wednesday, Apr 23, 08 @ 9:32 am:

    Repubs need somone with cash on hand to try and take on Halvorson, that give them little to no choice in a caidate. I still think they should go with Jack Ryan over this kind of corrpuption.

  3. - Pat collins - Wednesday, Apr 23, 08 @ 9:43 am:

    He is handling it EXACTLY the way I would. “dont be defensive, be proud”.

    And every time it gets raised, say “I tried VERY hard to make jobs in minority areas, with minority biz. It didnt work out, but I am glad I tried, and if elected I will make it easier for the next guy to try and succeed. And, by the way, I am not under Fed. investigation like my opponents good friend Rod B”

  4. - PhilCollins - Wednesday, Apr 23, 08 @ 10:26 am:

    No government officials should care whether a company is owned by minorities or Whites. They should only care about whether the company performs its work well, at a fair price. Our country should be color-blind, in all hiring.

  5. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Apr 23, 08 @ 10:55 am:

    Given the sordid history of WBE and MBE abuse in Chicago, I wonder exactly what the set-asides actually accomplish in developing new entrepreneurs.

    My own experience in government contracting work has included occasions where partnering with a WBE and MBE was required for the job (not to do the job, but to get the job). A helpful list of qualified entities was always provided. Always the same insiders. Always an uneasy feeling that I was doing something wrong.

    I have friends who are MBE and WBE certified who carry two sets of business cards: one that indicates the certification, one that doesn’t. Some in the private sector consider the certification an indication of lesser ability.

  6. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Apr 23, 08 @ 12:11 pm:

    Being a professional and being a part of the community meant Ozinga did what he could to meet the spirit behind these mandates.

    If you believe that businesspeople are greedy heartless thugs that prey on communities, then you will want to believe that Ozinga wasn’t trying to be nice. This is the line being fed by Democrats.

    If you believe that businesspeople really do try to help others or have a conscience that makes them wish to assist the communities they work within, just like normal people, then you won’t buy this line of tripe.

    This race will be between a professional politician who has few accomplishments while working as the Senate Majority Leader in a gridlocked General Assembly and a professional businessperson who works with government to build infrastructure projects and makes a profit getting things done.

    For residents of this District, the choice is clear.

  7. - JonShibleyFan - Wednesday, Apr 23, 08 @ 2:21 pm:

    Line fed by what Democrats?

    Did hey travel back in time to 2005 and force the Tribune to investigate? Or were they so prescient as to know, in 2005, that Ozinga would one day run for shamed Congressman Jerry Weller’s seat, and pushed the story on the Trib?

    While we’re at it, “the choice is clear?” Only if blind partisan fealty is one’s sole political criterion. Because, they guy hasn’t even been officially been chosen to run yet. He’s put forth only the most basic positions. He’s not faced the media, not once. But the choice is clear?


  8. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Apr 23, 08 @ 4:40 pm:

    What do you think voters want in this age of gridlock and do-nothing Congress?

    A professional politician who as Senate Majority Leader is the ‘Queen of Gridlock’, or a businessperson with a record of accomplishments that prove he gets things done, even when hamstrung by government bureaucracies and mandates?

    The person who helps create the barriers to getting things done, or the guy who figured out how to get things done in spite of these barriers?

    The person who can’t get a reform bill off of her desk or any meaningful legislation passed even as Senate Majority Leader, or the guy who runs a multimillion dollar company and makes a profit doing it?

    Who has proven they get things done?

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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