Inside McPartlin's departure from the tollway

Inside McPartlin's departure from the tollway

Posted by Joseph Ryan on Thu, 09/25/2008 - 20:03
Tollway board member Ronald Materick of Oak Brook left the tollway without much public fanfare more than a year ago. Materick was an outspoken board member, which is of course an oxymoron. Sure some tollway board members will criticize off the record or make measured statements against something blatantly questionable, like those massive Gov. Rod Blagojevich signs across the tollway. But Materick would actually go through the tollway's laundry list of contracts every month and when he saw something that didn't smell right to him, he would say it - right there in the board meeting in front of the press. So it was fitting and quite ironic that back in 2006 Materick openly took issue with one particular contract to McDonough Associates, a large engineering and construction firm that has helped build many of the Chicago area's biggest public works projects. At stake was a $1.7 million contract to McDonough to plan widening for the Tri-State Tollway, I-294. A list compiled at his behest showed McDonough drew the most consulting work of any firm in the previous 3 years, some $20 million. "I know these are politically connected firms," Materick barked at the meeting, drawing wide eyes around the long executive table. "It causes other firms to be less interested in competing." Board Chairman John Mitola insisted administrators knew nothing of McDonough's alleged connections. Engineer chief Jeff Dailey said the firm was picked because it worked on other elements of the Tri-State rebuild and widen plan. "This is done on a qualifications selection, not a political qualifications selection," McPartlin chimed in, then as the acting tollway director. The contract was approved, Materick the only dissenting vote. Thursday McPartlin announced his resignation to take a top vice presidential position at McDonough, which has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to politicians across the state and across the aisle. McPartlin hasn't even been granted a waiver yet to bypass the state's ethics laws, which say he can't go work for a company he played a roll in awarding contracts to. The company has landed more than $30 million in work since McPartlin officially took over a few months after that bout with Materick. When reached at his home Wednesday night - as rumors were floating about McPartlin's departure for a private gig - he spoke well of the Mount Prospect man. But he acknowledged he hadn't kept up on tollway business, not that they would want him to. "I got along well with Brian even though I know he would get upset with me," Materick said. "He would have liked me to keep my mouth shut a bit more."
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