Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Breaking -- Oh heavens! Somebody may have overpaid for school desks

Forget about the great UNO charter school rip-off. That was small potatoes.

Forget Rahm's great $150 million basketball arena scam. Puny by comparison.

Forget about Rahm's hiring of convicted crook Amer Ahmad as his comptroller. Mistakes happen.

Forget about Arne Duncan hiring a child molester/pornographer to help him run the schools. The guy had a guy. 

You can even forget about the current RTA scandal and Mike Madigan's son-in-law who he placed as an RTA top exec and who is now under investigation over allegations involving sexual and racial harassment of RTA staff. (Anyway, he's not actually a blood relative).

 Yes, you can forget about all these petty mini-scandals because Chuck Goudie and his ABC7's derring-do I-Team have torn the cover off the biggest scandal of them all. That's right, it's "Operation Desk Job."
"The Desk Job" found evidence that the Chicago Public Schools overpaid for desks and other classroom furniture that was less quality than ordered.  
Egad! Say it isn't so, Chuck.

As a result of the I-Team's amazing revelations, CPS has announced that it is centralizing all future furniture purchases. Yes, that'll do it.
Furniture orders can only be initiated by the CPS Operations Department. This allows for oversight of contract compliance. Previously, individual departments, including schools, were allowed to purchase directly from the furniture vendor.
Kevin Cooney
But wait.

The Frank Cooney Company was the approved vendor (and will be again after a voluntary 18-month hiatus) for CPS furniture. In other words, the well-connected company wasn't hired by the local schools but rather by the CPS bureaucrats themselves.

Headquartered in Elk Grove Village, the company has been run by Kevin Cooney for more than 20 years. During that time, he managed many of CPS' construction projects as well as some for suburban districts. You can bet, Cooney is connected. He has a guy.

After first telling ABC News that this was nothing more than a squabble between "rival" contractors, cps has done a 180 and begun a full audit of all furniture contracts. And now, an unnamed "top CPS administrator" who signed off on contract changes has stepped down (Fired? Or just moved to another department?).

Actually, Goudie's I-Team was covering old ground. The Cook County State's Attorney had long ago subpoenaed contract records of CPS furniture deals, looking into whether the Frank Cooney Company met minority contract requirements. In 1999, Kevin Cooney was found not guilty on charges he used a phony minority front to obtain Chicago school district furniture contracts. I don't know why they needed a trial. You can tell from just a quick look at Cooney's team that it's minority-owned and operated.

It has taken nearly a quarter of a century under mayoral control, but the central office bureaucracy's counterrevolution is now nearly complete. Now, about those few remaining functional Local School Councils... Quick call the I-Team.

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