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Article posted: 10/22/2013 5:30 AM

Des Plaines' bidding rules unchanged, for now

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Des Plaines city bidding rules for public projects are staying in place for now, following Mayor Matt Bogusz's veto of changes sought by a majority of aldermen.

The council voted 5-3 Monday to approve revisions to the city's so-called responsible bidder ordinance that would remove a section requiring contractors bidding on city contracts over $25,000 to have active apprenticeship and training programs approved and registered with the U.S. Department of Labor.

A majority of aldermen said changes to the 2009 ordinance would improve the competitive bidding process and lower the city's costs. But Bogusz, as well as those represented by trade unions, argued the existing rules mitigate the city's risk by ensuring those working on public projects receive the best training for the job.

After Bogusz submits a written list of his objections during the next council meeting Nov. 4, aldermen could take a vote to override his veto on Nov. 18. But that would require a majority of six out of eight aldermen.

Monday's veto was a first for Bogusz, who was elected in April.

During the election, he received the endorsement and financial backing of several trade unions and the Chicago and Cook County Building and Construction Trades Council, whose membership was opposed to changes in the Des Plaines ordinance.

Alderman Jim Brookman, the lone council member to vote against the original ordinance in 2009, said the current law discourages potential contractors from bidding, and disqualifies many who do bid.

Kara Principe, counsel for the Indiana-Illinois-Iowa Foundation for Fair Contracting, asked aldermen to keep the rules in place, so that "projects will be done right the first time." She argued that the current city rules ensure construction workers are held to high standards.

"Why is it when it comes to the construction industry, we sometimes forget who's qualified and who is not?" Principe said.

Aldermen Brookman, Mike Charewicz, Patricia Haugeberg, Dick Sayad and Joanna Sojka voted in favor of the ordinance change, while Aldermen John Robinson, Denise Rodd and Mark Walsten were opposed.

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