03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Emil Jones, His Stepson, and Todd Stroger -- A Great Deal for Them

Some mornings when the Chicago Sun-Times has a dumb celebrity story on the front page, as if there were no news locally, nationally, or internationally, I wonder why I still pay to have the tabloid delivered to my doorstep.

I got my answer again today when the paper broke an important local story.

First, gossip columnist Michael Sneed reported that retired Senate President Emil Jones -- Obama's mentor -- "is mounting a formidable effort to re-elect embattled Cook County Board President Todd Stroger" by gathering "business powerhouses from the black community to generate a business-based final push for the candidacy of Stroger, who needs a concerted turnout in the black community."

There was no link in her story, unfortunately, to Carol Marin and Don Moseley's excellent investigative piece, also in today's Sun-Times:

A consulting firm headed by former Illinois Senate President Emil Jones Jr.'s stepson John Sterling has been paid more than $787,000 under a Cook County contract funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, despite failing to provide required weekly reports -- for 21 months.

Read the story, done in conjunction with NBC5 News -- no link between it and Sneed's column -- and weep for the nauseating waste of taxpayers' money.

Under the contract, Emil Jones' stepson, John Sterling, CEO of Synch-Solutions, was to deliver to the county's chief information officer weekly written reports. (The work was for Project Shield, a federal program to place video cameras throughout the county transmitted to a central command in case of a large-scale emergency.) The county received not a single such report, but kept paying Sterling's company anyway. Ten invoices submitted; 10 paid. The total cost to the taypayers: $787,470.

By the terms of the contract with the county, Synch-Solutions was to deliver its "detail[ed]" reports "in electronic format." Instead, Marin and Mosely report, the reports were delivered by "word of mouth."

Commissioner Forrest Claypool, who is leaving county government, commented:

I don't see how you can orally report on something this complex. To pay someone almost a million dollars and only get oral reports is really scandalous. ... Even by Cook County standards, this is an outrageous abuse.

Last May, I wrote about Todd Stroger, who succeeded his father John as Cook County president, and how discouraged it makes me to remember Barack Obama's role in the election of the inexperienced, inept, Todd:

I still can't get it out of my head that President Obama, then the junior senator from Illinois, while not actually endorsing John Stroger over Forrest Claypool in the primary for county board president, sent a message to vote for John by withholding an endorsement for the reformer Claypool. After it became clear that John was incapacitated by a serious stroke, Todd was slipped in to replace his father in the general election in November 2006. Obama, along with his senate colleague Dick Durbin, then enthusiastically endorsed Todd.