March 20, 2007
BY STEVE PATTERSON AND STEVE WARMBIR Staff Reporters
Cook County officials are investigating whether hospital contracts were doled out to firms using unqualified workers or, in some cases, firms not doing the work at all.
Board President Todd Stroger was vague in announcing findings Monday by hospital chief Dr. Robert Simon, but a spokesman said there are "specific instances" of concern involving "mismanagement and impropriety."
Stroger's announcement mentioned "a number of contracts" involving "managerial services." The announcement also noted that Simon has ousted "several" hospital leaders involved with billing, which has been a major source of budget shortfalls in the hospital system.
The findings have been forwarded to both the state's attorney and inspector general.
Billing and collections at the hospital have long been a concern of commissioners. They have repeatedly asked about the number of companies doing the work and how much each is collecting -- and have been getting few answers.
Janitorial deal approved. Also Monday, the county board voted 9-8 on Stroger's request to approve a no-bid contract with a cleaning company that has ties to Stroger's political organization and to Cicero-based mob figures.
We Clean Maintenance & Supply got the $357,000 contract to clean the county building for the next 135 days, replacing county janitors laid off because of budget cuts.
Company officials, citing the "security of our clients," declined to comment.
By August, county officials expect to award a competitively bid cleaning contract.
We Clean is headed by Julie Leopold, mother of Anthony Leopold, who testified in the criminal trial of ex-Cicero Town President Betty Loren-Maltese that the firm was loaned money by Michael Spano Jr., son of town mob boss Michael Spano Sr. Leopold paid some of the money back to Spano, but also to another man convicted in the case, John LaGiglio.
The $179,000, it was revealed, was illegally pilfered from town funds and led to Loren-Maltese's conviction.