Commentary — 25 October 2010

For those outside of Chicago, the Stroger name is probably an

Todd Stroger

unfamiliar name.  For those inside the Windy City…his/their (John and son Todd are  often one degree of separation from major corruption.

Coincidence?

From the Chicago Sun-Times in 2003 (Reprint of story HERE.)

Until September, Stroger had one of his top 8th Ward precinct captains, Bill Granberry, as Forest Preserves maintenance director for $90,000 a year. The Sun-Times reported that the district kept a fleet of five special outhouses that came out just once a year for Stroger’s annual picnic — at a time when other commissioners were clamoring for cleaner outhouses. Granberry resigned. Stroger said he never knew about the outhouse arrangement.

To replace Granberry, Stroger chose a member of his ward organization, LeRoy Taylor, controversial with some co-workers because he was promoted to regional superintendent when longer-serving workers were laid off. Taylor, a retired deputy commissioner for the Chicago Water Department, has donated $2,145 to Stroger, the 8th Ward organization and Stroger’s son’s campaigns since 2001. Taylor also was given a coveted Forest Preserve home in Beverly.

Bylina said he and Stroger talked about Taylor replacing Granberry. Bylina insisted the appointment be on an “acting” basis until Taylor demonstrates he can handle the position.

“I think he’s got the experience, the exposure, the knowledge of the preserves,” Bylina said. Whether he gets the permanent job remains to be seen, he said.

“Oh, he’ll get the permanent position,” one mid-level Forest Preserve official said. “Stroger won’t let that go to anyone but an 8th-Warder.”

In 2001, another top 8th-Warder, Mezell Williams, resigned as the Forest Preserves’ $99,000-a-year chief financial officer on the eve of a hearing where he was to explain how the district amassed a nearly $20 million deficit. The district raided land acquisition and maintenance funds for day-to-day operations. Stroger said the district had little choice because tax caps limited its ability to raise taxes or float bonds.

In a step many board members praised, Stroger replaced Williams with Barbara McKinzie, an accountant with a master’s degree in business administration from Northwestern University.

(Another story had it this way…)

The troubled Cook County, Ill., Forest Preserve District on Thursday announced the appointment of a new chief financial officer and approved beginning the competitive process for selecting a firm to privately manage the county’s golf courses.

Cook County Board President John Stroger appointed Barbara McKinzie, a certified public accountant, after a nearly year long search. McKinzie had worked in accounting firms in Chicago for about 17 years, and lived in Louisiana for nearly two years. She has assumed the $106,460-a-year job vacated last year by Mezell Williams, who resigned.

McKinzie has “extensive experience in internal auditing, cash management, …

(Story Summary HERE.)

___________

Readers…this is called, “connecting the dots.”

Carla Oglesby

Well, it seems now another Stroger “associate/employee” is in serious trouble.  Recently ANOTHER Stroger aide, Carla Oglesby…Stroger’s deputy chief of staff was ARRESTED and charged with stealing more than $300,000 from taxpayers in a scheme to award sham contracts, including some to firms she owned but for which she did no work.

Carla Oglesby, 41, Stroger’s deputy chief of staff, was ordered held on $250,000 bail Tuesday after she was charged with three felonies: theft of government property and money laundering, both of over $100,000, and official misconduct. She faces up to 30 years in prison in connection with the allegations, some of which were first reported by the Chicago Sun-Times in March.

Full story HERE.

__________

Subsequent to the original allegations against McKinzie, Cook County

Liz Gorman

Commissioner Liz Gorman alerted the aforementioned Stroger that an investigation and audit should be conducted, relative to McKinzie’s previous employment.

A former sorority staffer on Tuesday said she was fired after alerting the Illinois attorney general’s office to alleged financial abuses at the group’s Chicago headquarters. “In light of these allegations, I am very concerned of the possible misuse of funds during her tenure as chief financial officer at the Forest Preserve District,” Ms. Gorman stated yesterday in a letter to Cook County Board President Todd Stroger.

Ms. McKinzie was the district’s Chief Financial Officer from 2001-2004 and also has served in financial management positions at the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority, Neighborhood Housing Services Inc. and the Chicago Housing Authority.

When she was County Board President, Bobbie Steele, a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha, signed a $12,000 consultant contract with Ms. McKinzie to help draft a budget and provide other financial advice. That budget never materialized.

Story HERE.

The latest is that Oglesby also has the unmitigated gall to file for unemployment after being fired/arrested for laundering hundreds of thousands of dollars to her OWN company.

Story HERE.

Let’s bring it all together now.  Oglesby, besides paying her own dummy companies (not registered with the state) also is accused of not doing any work for the $24,995 contracts she awarded “herself.”  Sound familiar?

Stroger accepted her resignation today as deputy chief of staff. She had been the spokeswoman for Stroger’s failed Democratic primary re-election campaign. Stroger put her on the county payroll after his loss.

Prosecutors say an investigation into more than a dozen no-bid contracts awarded by Oglesby found that little or no legitimate work was performed by any of the companies, including two controlled by her. (Click HERE for details of the charges.)

The loss to the county from the contracts exceeds $300,000, prosecutors said during the bond hearing for Oglesby, 41, who is charged with theft of government property, money laundering and official misconduct. (Get details of the allegations against Oglesby here)

One of Oglesby’s companies, CGC Communications, was awarded a $24,975 contract to inform county residents of federal grant money available to those affected by heavy flooding in 2008.

The contract was paid up-front, and CGC later tried to justify the contract by claiming credit for outreach efforts spearheaded by a member of Stroger’s press office.

In a second contract highlighted by prosecutors, a county official expressed concern to Oglesby and “Public Official C” — identified as a Stroger media representative — about a contract he was asked to authorize.

The county official agreed to sign after Public Official C pressured him, and the money was traced to Arrei, a company controlled by Oglesby, prosecutors said.

In all, Oglesby awarded or approved payments for more than a dozen no-bid contracts. In at least two instances, contractors returned checks to the county because they hadn’t performed any work, prosecutors said.

Story HERE.

Stroger, McKinzie, fraud, arrests and/or investigations over contracts to cronies for work never done.

Coincidence?

Fraud usually never is…


The Mo’Kelly Report is an entertainment journal with a political slant; published at The Huffington Post and www.eurweb.com. It is meant to inform, infuse and incite meaningful discourse…as well as entertain. For more Mo’Kelly, https://mrmokelly.com. Mr. Mo’Kelly can be reached at mrmokelly@gmail.com.

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Mo'Kelly

Morris W. O'Kelly (Mo'Kelly) is a columnist, radio and television commentator. Visit https://mrmokelly.com for the latest from Mr. Mo'Kelly. He is heard weekends from 6-8pm on KFI AM640 in Los Angeles. The program is available via the iHeartRadio app and for download on iTunes and all podcasting apps. Find him on social media - @mrmokelly (twitter and instagram) facebook.com/themokellyshow Contact Mo'Kelly: @mrmokelly

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