The [Thursday] Papers
"The Emanuel administration and the CTA engaged in private discussions on a $300 million no-bid contract with the maker of the transit agency's new rail cars, but the talks collapsed amid disclosures about the poor quality of the company's work, the Tribune has learned.
"CTA lawyers had been working to justify the unusual practice of awarding such a large contract without competitive bids, the transit agency said."
"But the city and CTA backed away from the talks in recent weeks amid Tribune reports that disclosed defective-parts problems with Bombardier's ongoing production of 706 new rail cars under a contract that totals $1.14 billion."
Here's the context:
"First word of the previously undisclosed discussions with Bombardier comes as Emanuel is asking the City Council to give him broad authority to partner with the private sector to build everything from schools and sewers to ports and railways. The details uncovered by the newspaper highlight both the potential benefits and pitfalls of such public-private partnerships."
Here's the pattern:
"Emanuel's press office repeatedly refused to answer questions about what involvement the mayor had in the Bombardier discussions. On Tuesday his top spokeswoman would only acknowledge the mayor was initially attracted to the Bombardier plan because of potential jobs. She said the mayor soured on the idea because of the no-bid aspect, without saying when that happened."
Here's the daily credibility gap:
"CTA officials said the no-bid component had nothing to do with scuttling the deal and that Emanuel had encouraged it all along.
"'Very early, even before he took office, he asked me how we might turn this billion-dollar expenditure into an opportunity for jobs,' said CTA President Forrest Claypool, who was appointed to the post shortly after Emanuel's inauguration. 'So when I took office we took that mandate and ran with it.'"
But does that implicate Rahm? Yes.
"As recently as November, a top Bombardier executive who was in Chicago for what was billed as the official rollout of the rail cars discussed with an enthusiastic Emanuel the company's plans to build the repair facility, according to a CTA source."
Very much so.
"Emanuel was on board with the talks until the revelations over the defective parts made headlines, according to sources close to the top CTA management and CTA Law Department officials involved in the negotiations between the transit agency and Bombardier."
And the perfect ending:
"Meanwhile, Bombardier has in recent weeks rehired Avis LaVelle, a public relations consultant and longtime City Hall insider who also represented the company in 2006 and 2007 when it was negotiating the rail car contract.
"'My firm was engaged to increase Bombardier's visibility, put out positive information and ensure that people understand we build a quality product and that safety is the primary objective,'' said LaVelle, who worked for Mayors Harold Washington and Richard M. Daley and was appointed to the Chicago Park District Board by the current mayor."
From LaVelle's website:
"Bombardier was vying to win the CTA contract to supply new rail cars and needed to establish its presence in the marketplace without compromising the bidding process. A. LaVelle Consulting Services (ALCS) provided the Bombardier Transportation N.A. Senior Management with public affairs, media and government relations consultation in connection with consideration of its proposal to sell rail cars to the Chicago Transit Authority. Messages were developed for all impacted constituencies and strategies devised for the most effective delivery of these messages.
"Through an aggressive but targeted public, community and government relations campaign, Bombardier sought:
* To inform CTA officials, local government and business leaders of the growing presence of Bombadier as a part of Chicago-area commerce and industry.
Mission not yet accomplished.
"I think the deal is not in the final stages," he said. "This is a deal that involves a lot of complexities . . . There have been a lot of ideas on the table (as to how to do this). None of them have been very popular."
The Beachwood Tip Line: Bombs away.
Posted on April 12, 2012
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