What happens when a contractor or vendor gets caught defrauding the city of Chicago? Especially if it is a minority contractor? They keep their contract of course.
Arrow Lumber defrauded the city out of building supplies. The supplies were diverted to a city worker, Kevin O’Gorman. for his personal use The city worker was indicted, tried, and acquitted in court. The owner of Arrow Lumber, Donald Beal was granted immunity from prosecution in return for his testimony. The judge did not believe the testimony Mr.Beal.
“Mr. Beal did get on the stand, admitted to defrauding the city, but obviously blamed (O’Gorman),” Goebel wrote in his verdict. “I find parts of Mr. Beal’s testimony absolutely dishonest and unbelievable.” (Chicago Tribune)
The fraud was caught in 2007. The trial wound up in January 2009. For three years the city knew about the Arrow Lumber fraud, yet did not move against it until the Chicago Tribune filed a FOIA request. Arrow also has contracts with the Chicago Park District and the Chicago Public Schools.
The city’s minority contract program has been a sham and a fraud from the time it was instituted. It was never intended to benefit supposed disadvantaged people. It was intended to benefit those connected to the administration and the aldermen. Just like all the other contract programs.
It is time to scrap the whole thing. The city is losing millions of our tax dollars to appease critics. The program is merely politically palatable not effective policy. Contracts should only go to the lowest bidder who can prove they can perform. Period. Only the merit and responsibility of the company should be considered- not its so called disadvantage.
The city has lost tens of millions of dollars through these programs. In most cases the city is paying above retail for supplies because so many middle men are involved. Instead of being concerned about appeasing people, the city should be concerned about fiscal responsibility. These programs are nothing more than fiscal malpractice.
Sometimes good intentions do not make sound public policy. The public his harmed by these window dressing programs when they are rife with fraud and corruption. Mayor Daley has nothing to lose. He is not running for reelection. It is time he started undoing the harm, he has caused.