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Cook County taxpayers on hook for $500,000 to settle bills for failed post-9/11 program

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle  |  Sun-Times files

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle | Sun-Times files

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Updated: October 23, 2013 5:59PM

The Cook County Board approved a $495,000 settlement with Johnson Controls for unpaid invoices related to “Project Shield,” a failed post-9/11 Homeland Security program initiated and continued by former board presidents John and Todd Stroger.

State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez had advised accepting the settlement.

The failed program lasted seven years and ate up $44 million in questionably spent federal dollars before Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle pulled the plug two years ago.

Preckwinkle on Wednesday took credit for cutting by more than half the nearly $1 million that Johnson Controls initially billed and paying “only for what was supported in the contract.”

A Johnson Controls spokeswoman on Wednesday had no immediate comment.

A Chicago Sun-Times/NBC5 News investigation over the past three years exposed problems with the program such as technical glitches, significant cost overruns and the hiring of clout-heavy subcontractors with questionable performance records.

Born out of the 9/11 attacks, Project Shield was a federally funded urban initiative to equip 128 municipal police departments in Cook County with cameras in squad cars and at stationary locations that could send live video to command centers in the event of a terrorist attack or natural disaster.

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