Cook County government operates on a $3 billion budget with dozens of small, no-bid contracts awarded under county business rules. Until recently, there were no checks and balances on those contracts less than $25,000 dollars. So when county official Carla Oglesby allegedly stole $300,000 in a no-bid contract scheme--less than $25,000 at a time-it was months before anyone noticed where the money was going or whether any work was being done.
"We'll let justice take it's course," Stroger told reporters after Oglesby was charged.
Cook County Board President Todd Stroger, who employed Oglesby as his deputy chief of staff, claims that "the issuance of contracts under $25,000 (is) standard and not an unusual process" but that the process broke down.
A check of 24-9 contracts by the I-Team has found that learned the process has been used to steer deals to businesses connected to Stroger friends since at least last year, including 24-9 contracts to:
Cook County officials claim the Anka Shank contract was to promote home foreclosure seminars but have yet to provide any evidence the seminars ever took place. The boyhood friend never returned our calls.
We also found another frequent aspect of 24/9 contracts: they are frequently awarded to newly incorporated companies that operate out of the owner's home.
Who cares about such measly contracts? Cook County residents like Marilyn McGuire, who waited months for flood relief funds and then ended up with a fraction of her claim paid.
"If you can't trust your local government, who can you trust. Who can you go to when the local government fails you?" said McGuire.
McGuire's complaint comes full circle to Carla Oglesby's legal troubles. One of the 24-9 contracts Ms. Oglesby is accused of awarding to her own company was to promote flood relief programs.