Friday, July 4, 2008

It's not illegal, but contractors and business pour money into Mayor McLaughlin's campaign warchest

So you want to run for Mayor of Orland Park? Anyone can. But, if you do decide to run for office, you might want to get to know many of the village contractors who do business with Orland Park. Because they make a lot of contributions, including to Mayor McLaughlin.

Orland Park is a "play-and-pay" system where contractors get business from the village and don’t hesitate to make contributions to the elected officials who approve their contracts. The test of whether a contractor is making a donation to reward the receipt of a major contract would come in whether they also make donations to other candidates running against the incumbents they support.

A review of Mayor McLaughlin’s campaign contribution disclosures, the last one filed for the last half of 2008, which reported more than $37,000 in contributions in it’s annual filing that was due Jan. 22, 2008. The new Campaign Disclosure D-2 Report representing contributions received during the first six months of 2008 is to be filed July 21, 2008.

Almost one-third of the donations made to Mayor McLaughlin during the reporting period (June 1, 2007-Dec. 31, 2007) came from contributors who do or have done business with the Village of Orland Park, or that are existing village businesses.

It’s all legal. Some argue convincingly that government officials should not be taking donations from companies who do business with their village, and that officials who do take donations should not be voting on the approval of those contracts. Right now, there is legislation (HB0824) to tighten the restrictions on statewide policies involving contributions, mainly targeting Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Here’s an overview of donations from Orland Park Village contractors and village businesses, including the date when the contract awards or extensions were approved, and also when the donations were made:

(Information obtained from "Citizens for Daniel J. McLaughlin," last report filed Jan. 2008.)

Alpha Construction Company, Hazel Crest
CONTRACT: Bid opened April 4, 2007; awarded contract April 9, 2007.
DONATION: Oct. 26, 2007 donated $1,000 to McLaughlin’s campaign

(From the Village Board Minutes, April 9, 2007)
Four companies remitted a bid proposal. Sealed bids were opened by the Clerk's Office on Wednesday, April 4, 2007, at 11:00 a.m. Bid proposals were received from: Alpha Construction Co. of Hazel Crest, Illinois; Central Blacktop Co., Inc. of LaGrange, Illinois; Crowley-Sheppard Asphalt, Inc. of Chicago Ridge, Illinois and K-Five Construction Corp. of
Lemont Illinois. Alpha Construction Co. was the low bidder at $2,477,178.80. Therefore, it is recommended that Alpha Construction Company be awarded the bid. I move to recommend to the Board of Trustees to approve awarding the bid for the 2007 Road. Improvement Program and miscellaneous pavement patching to Alpha Construction Co. of Hazel Crest, Illinois, for an amount not to exceed $2,778,165.31;

Blackwater Construction & Development
CONTRACT: Petitioned the Planning Commission for a new development. Approved Oct. 9, 22, and Nov. 5, 2007 with no opposition on board
DONATION: Oct. 26, 2007 donated $250 to McLaughlin’s Campaign

Contract Info:
Orland Park: Biltmore Towers Mixed-Use Development, Ravinia Ave. and 144th Street, 39,930 mixed-use development, July 2008, $3 million.

Blackwater donated more than $23,000 to elected officials during the same period, and McLaughlin’s donation was the smallest amount given. Most were above $500 or more.

Christopher B. Burke Engineering Ltd.
CONTRACT: $56,000 in legal work Submitted March 2007, Approved by the Village July 2007
DONATION: $1,000 on Oct. 26, 2007

(From Village Board Minutes July 2, 2007)
The Spring Creek Agreement obligates Gallagher & Henry to turn over Doctor Marsh to the Forest Preserve District of Cook County. Cook County has still not taken this property so the Village can hold it until the County accepts it. This property includes Doctor Marsh and Spring Creek, both of which need restoration. The Army Corps of Engineer has agreed to this area being designated a wetland mitigation bank. This allows mitigation dollars from developers and projects to be funneled into this site for restoration, keeping the funds in Orland Park and reimbursing the Village for its costs. Currently, the Village is involved with two projects that require wetland mitigation. One is 156th Street between LaGrange Road and Ravinia Avenue. The other is the bikepath along the ComEd easement near 139th Street. A suitable site and a restoration plan for that site are required. The Doctor property is a suitable site and Christopher Burke has prepared a scope of work not to exceed $56,600. The scope of work specifically addresses the 156th Street project but included identification of other potential restoration on the site. The idea is that this will draw other mitigation funds required by the Army Corps and the Village can get reimbursed. The scope of work includes topographical survey, wetland field reconnaissance, assessment report, conceptual wetland mitigation plan, agency coordination and final engineering plans for a wetland mitigation/restoration project on the Doctor property.
Christopher Burke, an engineer from Rosemont, has donated $13,400 in his name personally to an assortment of candidates. But under the company name, through which McLaughlin received his contribution, Christopher B. Burke Engineering donated over $400,000 to candidates, including McLaughlin, according to state disclosure records.

McDonough Associates Inc.
CONTRACT: Requested approval for $10,000 in additional fees for construction work at 159th and Ravinia on April 2, 2007, approved by village April 16, 2007.
DONATION: $1,000 made on Oct. 19, 2007
McDonough has sponsored many Orland Park events going back several years.

MCZ Development Corp.
CONTRACT: $6.4 million land development in Orland Park planned in 2007, dropped in March 2008 (according to Crain’s Chicago Business, June 9, 2008).
DONATION: $1,000 Oct. 18, 2007

(From Crains Chicago Business June 9, 2008:)
Just across 153rd Street from that site, two deals to buy 73 acres where Andrew had its headquarters have failed to materialize. Last May, Kimball Hill pulled out of a deal to pay $16.5 million for the property, which is zoned for 172 housing units. In March, Chicago-based MCZ Development Corp. failed to pull the trigger on buying the property for $6.4 million, says Len Caldeira, managing principal with the Chicago office of Staubach Co., who is marketing the property.

MCZ also hosts a golf outing for the Crisis Center.

Mid America Tree & Landscape Inc.
CONTRACT: Low bidder for three-year contract for 50-50 tree planting program, July 23, 2007
DONATION: $500, Nov. 3, 3007

(From the Village Board Minutes, July 23, 2007:)
The three (3) year 50/50 Tree Purchase and Planting Bid was opened on July 11, 2007 at 11:00 a.m. Three (3) bid specifications were sent out and two bids were returned. Mid-America Tree and Landscape, Inc., was low bid at $250 per tree for three years. With the 50/50 split, the cost to the homeowner will be $125.00 per tree and the cost to the Village will be $125.00 per tree. Last years' prices were $300.00 per tree. This is a great savings not only to the homeowner, but to the Village as well. 3" caliber tree planted: $250 per tree each year for three (3) years 2008, 2009 and 2010. I move to recommend to the Board to approve accepting the 50/50 Tree Purchase and Planting Bid amount for a three (3) year contract as stated in the specifications from Mid-America Tree & Landscape, Inc., at a cost not to exceed $250.00 per tree for three (3) years 2008, 2009 and 2010;

Mulcahy, Pauritsch, Salvador & Co., Ltd.
CONTRACT: Conducts village’s annual audit, accepted April 9, 2007
DONATION: $800, Oct. 19, 2007

(Salvador, Philip, donated $300, Oct. 19, 2007. Mulcahy, Edward W, donated $500, Oct. 19, 2007.)

The Horton Group Inc.
CONTRACT: Provides Insurance for the Village. Liability Insurance renewal for 2008 approved unanimously by the Village Board Sept. 4, 2007
DONATION: $500. Donated Oct. 26, 2007

(Brad O’Halloran abstained from vote.)

Waste Management
CONTRACT: Provides waste removal for the village, awarded 3 year contract extension July 16, 2007
DONATION: $500, Nov. 2, 2007

(From Village Minutes July 16, 2007:)
The Board of Trustees approved entering into a five (5) year contract with Waste Management of Illinois for the collection and removal of garbage, refuse, yard waste and recycling throughout the Village beginning November 1, 2002. Article Six (6) of the Agreement includes language which allows for a three (3) year extension to be negotiated after the initial term of the Agreement. Waste Management has provided continued exemplary service for the entire time that they have been under contract with the Village of Orland Park. Therefore, it is
recommended that Waste Management of Illinois be awarded a three (3) year extension to its existing contract starting on November 1, 2007 through October 31, 2010. Staff recommends Option "C" for the length of the extension for the following reasons: Every other week pickup for recycling service reduces fuel consumption, reduces loading on the Village streets and encourages co-mingling of recyclables. The 96 gallon container seems more than ample for storage volume for a two-week period of time. It has been suggested that Waste Management provide a sticker showing the dates of recycle pickup with the container. [Trustee moved] approve the extension of the Waste Management of Illinois contract for a three-year period beginning November 1, 2007 through October 31, 2010; And Approve authorizing the Village Manager to execute the contract.


DONATION: $1,000, Pct. 29, 2007
Principals involved in the building of the Orland Park Mosque also known as the Orland Park Prayer Center in 2005.
Co-sponsors the Orland Lands Garden Walk

Other ongoing contractors or businesses located in Orland Park who have donated to McLaughlin:

Comcast: $500
Community Honda, $500
Bell Boyd & Lloyd $1,000
Klein Thorpe & Jenkins, $1,000

(Note. I have done my best to track contributions based on what is available for the State, and to research awards and extensions for those companies. If any information is inaccurate, please email me at and I would be happy to correct or clarify it.)

Ray Hanania

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