Three Hired Truck firms paid to clear snow after blizzard
BY FRAN SPIELMAN AND TIM NOVAK Staff Reporters February 14, 2011 10:02PM
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
The blizzard of costs to clean up Chicago’s third-largest snowstorm is starting to pile up — with $8 million in emergency contracts awarded in just one day, three of them to former Hired Truck companies.
On Feb. 3, the day after it stopped snowing, the Daley administration awarded 32 emergency contracts of $250,000 apiece, all of them tied to snow removal, storm cleanup or rescue.
One of the contracts went to Power Sports Rental Network of Appleton, Wis., which supplied snowmobiles such as those Chicago firefighters used to rescue stranded motorists on Lake Shore Drive.
The list also includes three companies that rode the Hired Truck gravy train before the Sun-Times blew the whistle on a program that paid clout-heavy companies — some with ties to organized crime — to do little or no work.
They include G.G. Connections Inc. of Willow Springs, which got more than $400,000 in work under the Hired Truck program in 2003; S.A.S. Dump Inc. ($225,000 in 2003), and KLF Trucking.
The Aviation Department signed an emergency contract with Diamond Coring, an O’Hare Airport contractor currently under federal investigation.
The concrete cutting and paving company formerly employed Michael Levar, a former Aviation Department deputy who is the brother of retiring Ald. Pat Levar (45th), chairman of the City Council’s Aviation Committee. Diamond Coring contributed $11,400 to Levar’s campaign funds.
Yet another emergency contract went to Allied Waste Services, a company with ties to Bridgeport trucking magnate Fred Barbara and the Hispanic Democratic Organization at the center of the city hiring scandal.
Two years ago, Allied was awarded a three-year, $17.6 million contract to supply the giant garbage bins that helped Mayor Daley abolish the scandal-ridden Hired Truck program.
The $8 million in emergency spending is just the beginning of costs tied to the Blizzard of 2011.
It does not include costs associated with implementing Phase 4 of the city’s snow plan, which calls for leasing heavy equipment and operators to assist during heavy snowfalls.
MAT Leasing, owned by former Hired Truck kingpin Michael Tadin, provided high-lift equipment, front-end loaders and 50 dump trucks that played a pivotal role in clearing Lake Shore Drive from Interstate 55 on the south to North Avenue, said company spokesman Bill Plunkett. Tadin’s trucks also helped clear downtown and neighborhood streets.
“The city called on Mr. Tadin’s company, and it responded immediately,” under a Phase 4 contract awarded in 2007, Plunkett said, noting that MAT has responded to “at least four earlier snow emergencies.”
Tadin is the perennial city trucking magnate whose $1.25 million loan to a security company co-owned by then-Ald. Patrick Huels (11th) forced the 1997 resignation of Daley’s former City Council floor leader. Tadin’s trucking company had received a $1.1 million city subsidy with Huels’ help.
Tadin was the undisputed king of Hired Trucks, emerging from the pack, even after City Hall accused the company of overbilling and agreed to spread the wealth to other firms. No overbilling was ever documented. The program was disbanded in 2005.