McDonough Associates Clout: Just One Reason Illinois Politics Needs Change

McDonough Associates Clout: Just One Reason Illinois Politics Needs Change

If I have said it once I've said it a thousand times in some shape or form already - "the amount of monies extracted from the taxpayer is in direct proportion to what the politically connected insiders take out of the system." And nowhere is that truer than right here in Illinois where controlling the ebb and flow of tax dollars while diverting them has been something of an art form among the nastiest of political vermin - the Chicago Democratic Machine and its dinosaur holdovers.

Some say the machine is dead, but let me tell you something not so profound - it isn't, it has just reinvented itself over the years. Political insiders still get the bulk of the work and in turn they play games with their books to feed the rest of the operation. After all, there are a lot of beneficiaries to those tax dollars and just to make sure no one is deluded here - the businesses that do the bilking are doing so with the express knowledge of politicians and their political appointments and hires.

In Illinois - everything is for sale. Unfortunately, though, those precious contracts are doled out to long term supporters of the Democratic Party because they fill up the campaign coffers with taxpayer monies that have been skimmed off the top. Now anyone who doesn't understand how the game is played only need to look at the latest revelations concerning McDonough Associates.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) conducted an audit and concluded that McDonough ""committed theft” by over-billing taxpayers "millions” of dollars, the state has banned McDonough Associates Inc., a 45-year-old engineering giant with ties to the Daley family and dozens of other politicians, from getting any state work for three years."Of course McDonough Associates has denied that there was ever any theft. They did, however, agree that some of the audit findings were legitimate and have attempted to justify them as errors in bookkeeping and internal quality control practices. Well maybe that is true, but their response does seem to me as something of a standard one whenever someone gets caught with their fingers in the cookie jar.

But hey I could be wrong, right?

What strikes me as odd, though, is that here is a major construction firm who has been doing state business for as long as I can remember and that they didn't have proper internal quality controls in place? The fact that corrective actions, and the addition of a quality officer, needed to be instituted after the fact is also suspicious to me. I mean this is a firm who has done gobs of government work for the state, Chicago and other municipalities and I have no doubt that the paper trail, from bid to project conclusion, must be carefully documented. So excuse me if I sound a bit skeptical here, but I have more than once remarked about how certain contractors were favored over others, especially by the former Daley Administration.

The way I see it, the entire system is rigged and only those who are willing to pay to play are considered in the long run. And don't think for a minute, say, that former Mayor Daley didn't know about some of the shenanigans, after all his family relations seem to have made out very nicely thank you. But that is a much bigger story than can be told here. So I suppose we will have to leave that for another day to write about.

In the meantime, just consider this "why must we taxpayers pay so much and so many times over?" And what about that motivation for the Illinois Tollway Administration (and their bevy of political appointments) to jack us around by doubling the cost of tolls? Well folks, it has nothing so much to do with maintaining its roads and vital infrastructure as it is about maintaining their network of contractors who are busy helping them distribute the wealth among the Illinois Political Insider Club.

Funny thing though - I just wonder when the taxpayers (and voters) finally get mad enough to say no? Will it be in the upcoming election where every single state representative is up for reelection? I mean wouldn't that not be the absolute best time to finally begin the process of shutting shut down that Chicago Machine Mentality and specifically Mad Dog Michael Madigan and his Madigoons?

Well the choice is yours, but if you don't then the over-billing of taxpayers will continue. And mark my words, this bilking and manipulation thing isn't just about one firm named McDonough Associates Inc.. You must include all those clients who routinely employ and contribute campaign funds to the likes of a Michael Madigan Law Firm in order to escape paying their fair share of taxes. It is no accident that so many lawmakers are engaged in what appears to be far too many conflicts of interests. Yet, despite those serious breaches in ethics, no meaningful reform has emerged from a Madigan led Illinois Legislature. But I suppose that is no accident either.

Still, in spite of it all, Illinoisans cannot say that they aren't aware of how the game is being played in the State of Illinois. Pay to play has been such an integral part of our political fabric that it almost feels normal. And the reason for that is in large part due to the dictatorial antics being played by Michael Madigan and his Madigoons. They are all products of the Chicago Machine and have systematically stripped the people of this state of their rights and liberties while engaging in legislative actions that shield their actions from recourse.

While many support the Democrats, one thing they miss is that they have unwittingly supported an ideology that no where resembles its core beliefs. To say that being a hardcore Illinois Democrat is someone who is empty and devoid of principle is pretty much spot on. Hey it is what it is, it doesn't take  a genius to see what you have been given in return by your elected leadership. But for the sake of argument let's just say they have given the people nothing but lies, more lies and squandered our tax dollars on their excesses.

You know, now that the November Election is fast approaching, I really want the people to consider something before they cast their vote - is this the way government is supposed to work? Should pay to play really feel as normal as it does? Now if the answer to those questions are yes, then by all means continue voting for the same people who have led us to the brink of bankruptcy. On the other hand, if you are tired of the same people representing an empty and meaningless ideology that has stripped them bare, then it is time to show them the door.

Illinois, it seems, has a very big decision to make?

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  • You are starting to be like Jack Spatafora, and have too many ideas going in one post. ;-)

    The first is that there are only a couple of companies that get the jobs. Throw in say Kiewit and Kenny, and that's about it, so you know it is clout.

    This one was only caught for overbilling. While I am surprised at that...

    In the meantime, just consider this "why must we taxpayers pay so much and so many times over?" That's the real question. Go to the CTA Tattler about "Purple Line project replaces 100-year-old viaducts" of Wed. (June 6) starting with chris's question on whether I thought there was ever a competent CTA General Manager, where I get into how CTA construction projects generally fall apart, and the one about "CTA decides to shut South Red Line for 5-month track rebuild in 2013" of Monday (June 4) where Scooter Libby and BNSF1 say that CTA lied about the work they did in 2005-2007, that Rahmbo says has to be pulled out now. I had written it off as CTA management incompetence, which I am sure it is, but it also seems like crooked contractors, as indicated in a story on CBS-Chicago about the O'Hare extension having to be rebuilt because of corrupt contractors.

    In that the letters to the editor supporting the various toll hikes were signed by the head of the concrete lobby, I knew that the point was. But I have said here before that the tollway is at least the one example of market economics in this state, in that one can avoid paying for it by avoiding it.

    But when it comes down to voting, there is first the point made in some business magazine I read that so long as there are government projects, there are going to be corrupt contractors doing them. Especially in Illinois, well known for its combine. So, voting Republican isn't going to change that.

    The only thing that may be of consequence is that since it is reported in today's Tribune that, now it is the easy thing to do, Cook County, CTA, and Tollway are going to jump on the 3 year debarment, whether they actually stick with that. I wonder if McDonough has any legal recourse to prevent that.

  • In reply to jack:

    Good Points All Jack. There is one area though that probably needs a little more explanation on my part - yes I agree that voting Republican isn't the end all to be all - as a regular commenter you are one of the people in the know in where my philosophy is; i.e. I have advocated for Regular Joe's and Josephine's to engage the process. I would think that if more people challenged the status quo by getting petitions signed and running we may have a change in the way things are. I was heartened to see, for instance, that Mad Dog Madigan actually had a challenger. Okay - she lost but the intent was admirable and much needed.

    In the meantime, yes there is a combine but statistically their numbers are not as rife as on the Democrat side. So maybe voting GOP is a temporary solution to at least getting rid of Madigan out his dictatorial position.

    We have seen a shift out this way in that there are more candidates challenging incumbents - if that can be made more common, well there is hope. Albeit that may be too idealistic. Still, the more people that engage - the more chance for change.

    Thanks for commenting - as always it is appreciated.

  • In reply to Michael Ciric:

    On your second paragraph, it was reported that the Republican state convention was foaming to the same extent, but my instant response what that they do not have anything effective to back that up.

    Throw into that how the Dems. reinforced their position from the 2001 malapportionment in 2011, and many of the Dems the Tribune endorsed as "independent of Madigan" were his whips, not even John Kass coming to the realization that the Madigan majority needs to be voted out is going to result in it happening.

    The only place where Madigan and Cullerton are weak is that there are not enough city representatives to get what they want without giving something to the Dem. suburban representatives. That is currently reflected by that they can't get through the shifting of teachers' pensions back to the property tax, and I saw that coming when the 2008 RTA bill depended on North Shore Dems shepherding it through and all sorts of set asides for Pace. But I don't see any meaningful opposition for those North Shore Dems.

    Heck, I mentioned earlier whether natural causes would take care of Madigan. The best I can tell, he must have been first elected speaker when he was 24. True?

  • In reply to jack:

    Last first - He was born in 1942 (70 years old). Elected to House in 1971 at age 29. Assumed speaker in 1983. Hate to say it but hopefully that apple a day thing isn't true and he kicks it sooner than later. He is just bad for Illinois period. As for the GOP not having anything - well they have been decimated in last 2 remaps so there is no strength there. What we need is a 3rd party, but hey until people realize that what they have supported has screwed them unmercifully what are you gonna do? Look at the African-Americans - they continue to get shafted while a few Uncle Tom's eat good and perpetuate the Good Ole Boys Club. Yet they vote Dem in droves? How stupid is that?

  • In reply to jack:

    p.s. yes those Tribune endorsements were a joke, then again both papers continue to endorse the system while publishing explosive investigations. Seems to me they need to pick one side or the other instead of playing the fence, but hey they need legislative help from time to time themselves so everything in the end is self-serving.

    In practical terms the only way we ever get change in Illinois is if one of two things occur; (1) a nuclear bomb destroys us or (2) the people rise up in arms. Neither of which will occur. Just keep bending over I guess.

  • In reply to Michael Ciric:

    After Wrapports (or whatever hedge fund that formed that LLC) took over the Sun-Times, they said no more endorsements,* and stuck to that in the last primary.

    Maybe when the bankers take over the Tribune (possibly in this decade), they will come to the same conclusion.

    _______
    *I cite the editorial only as evidence, not that I buy any of the rationale stated in it.

  • In reply to jack:

    True, True although we still get enough Dem propaganda from certain columnists. I suppose that is as good as an endorsement.

    Here is a funny story on the Trib, I just cancelled my print subscription this morning after more erratic delivery. Got sick and tired of calling customer service to report it and talking to someone in the Philippines. (Yep that is correct!) That was last straw - maybe they should take the American Flag off their front page since they don't like the idea of paying Americans to do Customer Service.

  • In reply to Michael Ciric:

    I found out indirectly that Citibank customer service was in India. After a strange e-mail exchange, which I finished off with "I guess you are in Bangladesh and do not comprehend U.S. English," I made a call on another credit card, and asked "how's things in India," to which "Mike" replied, "thank you for asking."

    In that case, I didn't first ask "are you on Devon Ave.," and in your case, I guess you didn't ask if they were from around Dempster and Harlem.

    And I just pulled my money out of Beemo Harris, because a live person in their branch office, after a pattern of telephone harassment to try to get me to change my account, lied to me about a promotion.

    As far as the American flag, I questioned that on Pace Hungarian buses. At least now they buy U.S.

    But, as far as buying a paper Tribune, I haven't seen a need to do that for at least 10 years.

  • In reply to jack:

    I know exactly what you mean. Normally when I call any customer service, but especially financial related, I ask where they are situated - if they say India, Pakistan, etc. I ask to be transferred to a US Rep. Which by the way is your right to do so. I do it mainly because I am tired of American jobs being outsourced and it is my little way of trying to keep jobs here. Same with the print edition - yeah probably didn't need it but I figured it was preserving some jobs here. Same when I shop for anything - i always look to buy US 1st if at all possible even if the cost is slightly higher.

    Remember my tirades on Big Business? Well, this is the sort of shit they do to maximize their profits and show our workers the door - it is just plain fu$king wrong. Seems as though there have been many, many things pissing me off of late and all is centered on this incessant greed at our expense.

    p.s. when some shit starts talking to me using the King's English - I immediately know I am not dealing with some here even if they choose to call themselves Jonny (misspelled on purpose). Have a great day Jack. Time for me to watch 2012 Euro Soccer.

  • Thanks for the tip on asking for a U.S. representative, although even though asking for one at Chase may get you someone in Texas with an IQ of 20. No one from First Chicago is left here in any position of authority.

    On your tirade, I just figure that "customer service" is an oxymoron. However, Comcast has been more responsive as of late.

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