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 - if By Ray Long and Molly Parker Tribune staff...
if By Ray Long and Molly Parker Tribune staff reporters SPRINGFIELD—In a strong rebuke, Auditor General William William Holland lashed out at the Blagojevich administration Tuesday for improperly launching work on a $25 million million contract with a politically connected venture to review state assets before the agreement agreement is signed. Holland has been critical of the way state government manages property it owns and leases, but he complained that the administration’s haste has made it impossible to monitor howGov. Rod Blagojevich is spendingmoney to address the problem. “To know exactly what is going going to be performed, and what those services are that are being being provided at this point, nobody nobody really knows, except for CMS,” complained Holland, referring to the Central Management Management ServicesDepart- ment, which oversees most state property. Holland maintained the size of the proposed contract makes it even more important that the details are finished before work commences. “The law provides for contracts” contracts” to be in place, Holland said. “I don’t quarrel with the intention, but there is a lot at risk here.” Michael Rumman, the director director of CMS, defended the deal with a consortium of five firms for a three-year review of state assets, ranging from an examination of state leases to whetherstate-owned properties properties are being put to their best use. The asset management consortium consortium includes Mesirow Stein Development Services Inc., which is affiliated with Mesirow Financial Inc., whose lobbyists have included William Filan, the cousin of Blagojevich budget director John Filan. A brother of Comptroller Dan Hynes also works at Mesirow. Rumman said the decision was made to choose the Mesirow Mesirow consortium in late De- cemberand the company is proceeding at its own risk. He said he expected thewritten contract to be ready in two weeks and that he did not want to waste “90 precious days of productivity” by waiting to finish the details. “I believe what we are doing is the appropriate set of actions,” actions,” Rumman said. But Holland said his office has not “even assessed the contract because the contract doesn’t exist, which is problematic.” problematic.” The auditor all but predicted predicted he would cite the agency for failing to have a contract in place. Holland said five firms bid on the deal after requests for companies to offer proposals were sent in September and the proposal selected for the work has yet to be seen by “anybody in the public.” Becky Carroll, a spokeswoman spokeswoman for both the offices of Rumman and John Filan, said Filan bases his budget decisions decisions on what is best for taxpayers. taxpayers. Rummansaid he was unaware of any political connections connections until after he had chosen the consortium. Governor criticized on state assets study Tribune photo by Phil Velasquez Heart of the matter Laura Bush (second from left) shares a light moment with heart disease survivors Jody Knack (from left), Melodee Church and Kathy Cunningham after speaking Tuesday at the Bloomingdale’s Bloomingdale’s Building about heart disease risks. By Ray Long and Molly Parker Tribune staff reporters SPRINGFIELD—Gov. Rod Blagojevich proposed accelerating accelerating $200 million in road construction construction projects in order to put people to work faster as part of his $10.1billion capital spending plan unveiled Tuesday. Tuesday. The administration rolled out most of the capital program program with a focus on building schools and roads but also with projects ranging from buying state police cars to pumping $29 million into a new shooting and archery complex in Downstate Sparta. Budget chief John Filan also predicted the administration would not spend more than $450 million on pet legislative projects left over from former Gov. George Ryan. Blagojevich decided last year he would pay for no more than $450 million in projects even though he estimated more than $1billion worth were in the pipeline from the Ryan years. Filan gave little hope to lawmakers lawmakers that Blagojevich would exceed the $450 million plateau. “I think the member intitia- tive project program was capped at $450 [million], and that’s where it’s going to stay,” Filan said. To date, Blagojevich has spent about $162.2 millionof the $450 million. Along with $1.75 billion in road construction for the fiscal fiscal year that begins July 1, the public transportation component component includes money to reha- bilitatethe CTA’s Brown and Blue Lines. For Metra, money would be used to improve the North Central Service, Union Pacific West Line and South- West Service Line. Blagojevich seeks revved-up roadwork

Clipped from
  1. Chicago Tribune,
  2. 24 Mar 2004, Wed,
  3. Other Editions,
  4. Page 1-8

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