Far from the first incident of strange government spending habits in the Chicago suburb of Cicero, the Chicago Sun-Times uncovered a recent bulk purchase of rubber chickens for the town's Czech heritage parade that came with a $1,000 price tag.
The Sun-Times reports that the town purchased 250 rubber chickens to be thrown into the crowd by TV personality Svengoolie, who was making a guest appearance at the annual Houby Day Parade in Cicero and Berwyn. It's the second bulk rubber chicken purchase for the town, after a similar Svengoolie appearance in 2008.
Both sales, as well as $500,000 in other promotional merchandise under town President Larry Dominick, were contracted through You & Me, a company owned by Rosemary Konz, who gets paid to sit on the town board and is the daughter of a town trustee.
The town's partnership with You & Me has been the subject of investigations and outrage in the past, after the Sun-Times reported in July that the novelty purchases were directed to You & Me without surveying other businesses to bid for the best price.
Cicero Spokesman Ray Hanania told the Sun-Times that You & Me was chosen in this instance because no other vendors would provide the rubber chickens before receiving payment, and You & Me was willing to wait to be paid.
“It was my call,” Hanania told the Sun-Times. “It was just a matter of convenience. We can order and pay them later.”
Hanania told Fox Chicago and the Better Government Association, who conducted a joint investigation, that the rubber chickens were technically purchased with taxpayer money, but that they hope to recoup the costs with proceeds from the parade--including Svengoolie's $2,000 appearance fee.
But some Cicero residents would rather that money be directed elsewhere, even if the costs are ultimately absorbed by profits from the event.
"Cicero needs to improve. The quality of life, property values, education," Cicero activist David Jenkins told the BGA. "There's better ways of spending that money."