County Corkscrews

Todd Stroger holds an online garage sale

Cook County officials have announced that they are disposing of waste - yes, hard to believe I know - via an online auction through the state's iBid system. The first of two phases will start with vehicles and then, in October, furniture and other goods will go on sale. I checked in with the auction site, though, and found several items already up there I could swear come from the county. For example:

Lot #3533: Corkscrews. Thirty-eight pounds' worth. Assorted varieties. Probably used to pop Champagne upon each contract successfully awarded to a crony.

Lot #3409: Stove. A 1940s GE Hotpoint. Includes broiler. Probably from a breakroom, but I thought county employees used the forest preserves for breaks.

Lot # 3548: Money Clip Knives. Apparently to shiv a stoolie who thinks you're about to give him cash.

Lot # 3478: Trumpet. A Selmber Bach 72. Mouthpiece missing. But still workable enough to warn that a federal raid is about to commence.

Lot # 3494: Dump Truck. Because who wouldn't like to have one, right? Probably used to dump dirt on shredded documents buried in the, um, forest preserves.

At any rate, you can consult this press release from the county for more information.


Stroger Announces Online Auction to Sell Surplus County Vehicles, Office Furniture, Other Surplus Items

Cook County Board President Todd H. Stroger and the Purchasing Department of Cook County launched the first of two phases of the County's online auction initiative today. The effort is being undertaken with the support of the State of Illinois Department of Central Management Services.

The online auction system is designed to sell surplus County goods - items that are excess or retired inventory items no longer needed or used by the County. Vehicles, for example, may be retired after acquiring a certain amount of mileage but may still have a usable life to an outside buyer. Computers may be sold as surplus after a number of years in County service, when they may no longer meet the computing needs of County staff but may still be useful - and affordable - to bidders.

The first phase of the online auction project, known as iBid, involves the sale of surplus Cook County vehicles. The second phase, which is scheduled to begin by the end of October, will involve the sale of office furniture, computers, and all other surplus items in the County's inventory.

The website address for the online auction is Bidders must register with the site, and have the option of paying with a credit card, cash, certified check and/or money order.

President Stroger embraced the program as an innovative way for the County to generate revenue and to support re-use rather than disposal, giving goods a longer half-life and making sure that items with some utility dont instead unnecessarily end up in landfills or as an environmental burden.

"It's important to find creative ways to add revenue to the County's funding base and to generate benefits for taxpayers," says President Stroger. "By using online action tools to sell surplus government goods, we have the opportunity not only to deploy this popular technology on the County's behalf, but also to encourage a form of re-use and recycling that helps squeeze more productive use out of supplies that have exhausted their usefulness in a particular venue but may have a lot of value for another user with less restrictive needs. This project has the added bonus of offering opportunities to shoppers who are looking for real values in the face of tight economic times."

Erica White, one of the Cook County administrators overseeing this project, believes that finding a better and cheaper way to sell off Cook County surplus items makes good business sense. "While we can't say for certain how much revenue this may generate, we know we'll certainly do better than by simply disposing of goods as salvage," she says.

According to a September 2007 article in the Illinois Municipal Review, the State of Illinois' Central Management Services has sold more than 5,700 surplus items via iBid for more than $1.4 million since the State of Illinois began using the iBid initiative in 2003,.

Central Management Services will run the on-line auction system for Cook County as it does for other participating municipalities. The Illinois Municipal Review sets the cost for local Illinois governments to use the iBid service at 4.5% per item - substantially less than costs on eBay, which charges sellers 8% per item. Under the terms of iBid, the highest bidder pays for the given item as well as small surcharges for the service and for shipping and handling.

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