Daley pal lands new city contract
BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org February 22, 2012 10:48AM
Updated: March 23, 2012 8:19AM
A clout-heavy contractor who made millions from former Mayor Richard M. Daley’s affinity for wrought-iron fences has been awarded a $2.7 million airport contract by Mayor Rahm Emanuel for which the company was the lone bidder.
The latest in a gravy train of city contracts for Daley pal Richard Crandall calls for Crandall-owned Builders Chicago Corp. to “maintain and repair interior and exterior expansion joints” at O’Hare and Midway Airports.
The metal joints are located all over the place at O’Hare and Midway — in passengers terminals, concourses, pedestrians tunnels and upper-level sidewalks, just to name a few locations.
The five-year contract calls for the repair work to be done between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., when air traffic is sparse and the number of passengers milling around is small.
Crandall, who also owns G.F. Structures, has political ties to the Daley family that go back decades.
Crandall has been a longtime insurance client of Cook County Commissioner John Daley, the former mayor’s brother. Crandall is also a longtime friend of Daley’s longtime purchasing agent, Alexander Grzyb.
During Richard M. Daley’s 22-year reign, Builders Chicago and G.F. Structures were paid tens of millions of dollars for fencing and other construction-related work. Much of it was the result of Daley’s love affair with wrought iron fences developed after one of his many trips to Europe.
Nearly a decade ago, Builders Chicago was awarded a $10.9 million contract to repair and replace thousands of doors at O’Hare and Midway.
The contract was competitively bid, but Crandall ended up winning it by default after three rival companies picked up specifications, then failed to submit proposals.
That’s apparently what happened with the latest airport contract.
The contract was advertised for bid in August, 2011. A dozen firms picked up specs. Three companies attended a pre-bid conference.
But, when it came time to bid, there was only one proposal — from Builders Chicago.
“Despite its best efforts, in some instances, the city receives limited or no response to its request for bids. It can only review those responses it receives to its public advertisement,” Shannon Andrews, a spokesperson for the city’s Department of Procurement Services, said in an e-mail to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Why not re-bid the contract to encourage competition?
“From an operational and safety standpoint, the airports need the expansion joint services provided. ... Re-bidding the contract at this juncture would cause a lapse in those services, potentially jeopardizing safety,” Andrews wrote.
“Further, rebidding a contract where the city only receives one bid — but where there was a market that was aware and chose neither to submit a bid nor ask questions about the specifications — will not guarantee more bidders or a better price. In fact, it may lead to the previous sole bidder submitting an even higher price and being the sold bidder again.”
During the 2003 incident, Larry Hooker Jr., owner and president of Schaumburg-based American Overhead Door, said he decided not to “waste my time” after concluding the political ties between the families of Daley and Crandall made such contracts “impossible” for anyone else to win.
Three times, American Overhead Door won the contract for maintaining overhead doors at city facilities, only to have the contracts mysteriously rebid, Hooker said.
“We lost it each time. The city doesn’t want anybody else to have it except Builders Chicago. I could have put in a bid for $5 million [on the airport contract] and I would bet you my life it would be sent out to rebid,” Hooker said.
Another 2003 competitor, who asked to remain anonymous, charged that the city’s bid specifications were tailor-made for Crandall.
Reminded of the prior controversy, Andrews said, “The city is not aware of any such allegations here.”