As the weeks go by, we do our best to keep you up to date with what’s going on around the city as the intersection of news and music in the city. This time around, big news on the south side as the community finally realizes it’s long-held fight to get a trauma center, CPS enters into a deal with a shoddy cleaning service and a typical ballooning of public’s works contract mark another chapter in Chicago infidelity. All that and more on the latest Catch Up, below.
University of Chicago Trauma Center Opens
After a lengthy fight spanning almost a decade, a trauma center has officially opened on the south side of the city, in Hyde Park on the campus of the University of Chicago.
Located on 56th and Maryland, the center is part of the University’s adult emergency department and the first trauma center on the south side of the city since Michael Reese Hospital closed in 1991. Since then, shooting and assault victims were taken to hospitals as far away as Northwestern, nearly 10 miles away in Evanston.
The new center is expected to treat around 4,000 patients a year and will provide mental health and special rooms for sexual assault victims. The opening of the center is a windfall for activists who have protested for a new hospital in the community since the closure of Michael Reese. In 2010, the death of well-known activist Damian Turner sparked outrage across the city after he missed out on an opportunity to receive medical care after being transported from the south side to Northwestern Hospital 45 minutes away following a shooting.
The center is part of a $270 million overhaul of medical facilities in University of Chicago.
Chicago Public Schools Gives Aramark $259 Million For Cleaning
A couple weeks ago, startling photos of Chicago Public Schools looking dirtier than the average Blue Line stop started an intense conversation amongst parents, teachers and school board members about the job that Aramark, the company tasked with cleaning the facilities has been doing. This week, CPS made the decision to continue working with the embattled agency.
In a contract unearthed by the Chicago Sun-Times, Aramark will reportedly take over cleaning the schools, pest control, landscaping and more; jobs that used to be handled by an on-site CPS engineer. The Philadelphia-based company cam under fire after surprise visits to schools in the last month that found only 34 of 125 in compliance.
Aramark, which has overseen hundreds of CPS schools since 2014, will assume additional roles in the new contract, which CPS officials allegedly tried to hide from the press.
According to the Sun-Times, “The company’s 112-page contract includes controls that CPS didn’t require in a similar deal with another contractor. Among them, Aramark will be required to survey principals twice a year, rather than once, and to make monthly reports of any complaints or inquiries from the public, according to its contract, which took nearly a year to work out.”
The deals with Aramark and its counterpart SodexoMagic, don’t seem to be worth their weight, especially for a school system that is facing a serious budget shortfall. According to the Sun-Times, “Both contracts are for three years, can be extended for two more and include clauses allowing CPS to cancel them at any time without any financial penalty.” Within that, the prices in the contract don’t cover facilities management, such as clearing snow, which would cost extra.
Stay up to date with this story here at Mild Sauce as it develops.
Emanuel Wastes Tax Dollars on O’Hare, Midway Maintenance
If you’ve felt like your tax dollars have been wasted lately, well, you’ve been correct. As the seasons will inevitably change in Chicago, so too can you expect overblown budgets to emerge once work has begun, whether that be roads, a overpriced arena or shoring up our pair of airports.
This week, it emerged that a deal with Northlake-based Rossi Contractors to do pavement, maintenance and other upgrades were slated to cost $37.5 million, but have nearly doubled to $67.3 million.
According to the Sun-Times, “Rossi was awarded one of the contracts in 2012 and the second one in 2013, each time as the low-bidder. Since then, though, city officials have extended one of the two contracts five times without seeking competitive bids from other contractors and also added costly ‘modifications’ to both deals, the Sun-Times found.”
Since winning the pair of contracts, the projects have been extended by two and a half years and eight modifications have since been made to the plan. The issue here is that the extensions and modifications should have been open to a bidding process as well. The absence of such a process is considered a “no-bid” contract, something very familiar to a city known for greasing palms left and right.
On its face, the additional $30 million or more in excess will likely be handled as most everything is in Chicago and Illinois at large: by punting it to someone else. The taxpayers, already burdened by rising rent, overzealous ticketing and fines plus an ever-increasing tax on everything from plastic bags to sugary drinks, will likely be the ones fielding the ball at the other end, as Chicago turns.