Thursday, April 9, 2009

Only political will can stop minority contract fraud

You may have read this week that a major contractor was charged with fraud for allegedly stiffing minority subcontractors on their shares of city work and deceiving public officials about it.

Castle Construction and its owner, Robert Blum, are accused of taking public money reserved for minority subcontractors and pocketing it instead.

The charges from Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office came down a day after Chicago Sun-Times reporter Tim Novak broke the story that Castle had received a $10 million contract from the city to build a Rogers Park fire station but then allegedly stiffed a minority subcontractor on promised masonry work and hired a company owned by white people instead.

Such criminal charges are rare, but the practice of white contractors paying lip service to minority set-asides while working to get around them -- and getting away with it -- is nothing new.

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