Why is Chicago paying so much to an outside contractor to haul dead bodies to the morgue?
Because it's Chicago!
If the dead can vote, they can certainly be exploited at taxpayer expense - and used for political opportunism at the same time.
Ald. Ed Burke said this week that he plans to hold hearings on city's contract with an outside vendor that transports our dead bodies around town - a task once handled by the police department.
"But during negotiations with the police union awhile back, the city agreed to outsource the work, and in 2004 they hired Dayton, Ohio-based GSSP Enterprises for about $200 a body," Mick Dumke reports at Clout City. "Somehow, Burke informed his colleagues [at a city coucil meeting this week] the rate climbed to $915 a body within two years."
“When we looked into this we were surprised to learn that other municipalities are able to transport deceased persons at considerably less cost,” Burke said. “In St. Louis, they pay $175 a body. In Detroit, it’s $110. Atlanta pays $45, and San Jose pays $105. And the Cook County sheriff - right here in Cook County, right outside the city limits - pays $130 a body!"
The company blames the city.
"Tony Cicero, general counsel for GSSP, said the company was losing money and nearing bankruptcy under its previous contract with Chicago," the Tribune reports. He also said GSSP was the lowest, most responsible bidder for its current deal.
Unlike other cities, Chicago requires body pickup at all city locations within 75 minutes of a call to dispatch, according to Cicero, which means the company has to staff its operation 24/7. The city also requires those working morgue transport duty to be unionized, Cicero told the Tribune.
More curious, though, is the timing of Burke's complaint. After all, it was two years ago when the Tribune ran a story that began like this:
"Police call them the body snatchers, and their invasion from Ohio began in 2004 when a Dayton company called GSSP Enterprises Inc. won a city contract for the grim but necessary task of hauling thousands of Chicago's dead to the morgue.
"Since then, GSSP has mixed up bodies, routinely overbilled for services, failed to meet commitments to use minority subcontractors and violated contract rules designed to preserve the dignity of the dead, a Tribune investigation has found. One former employee told the Tribune the company skimped so much on required staff and equipment that he sometimes was forced to stuff five or six bodies into a single van, even though one was the maximum the city allowed in most cases and never more than two.
"A city audit last year found the company had failed to spend a penny with some of the minority-owned vendors it had promised to hire. Yet officials with the Daley administration's procurement office, which oversees city contract awards, took no action and said they aren't aware of any chronic problems with the performance of GSSP."
So add dead bodies to the Olympics and parking meters as examples of the city council acting after the fact. In this case, long after the bodies have grown cold.
Steve Rhodes is the proprietor of The Beachwood Reporter, a Chicago-centric news and culture review.