The avaricious romance of the local housing authority & our mayor


***UPDATE 8/21/2021: I’ve come across the rest of the conversation in my giant pile o’ emails and added the new pdf below the first one. In this batch, the operations director shares information about Sundog’s competition and says, “So, please update your quote. I now, officially have 3 bids or contacts so I can move forward with Sundogit replacing/updating our servers.”***

The following is an email conversation between the operations director of the Housing Authority of the County of DeKalb, Illinois (HACD) and Cohen Barnes of Sundog IT (Barnes), who is now mayor of the City of DeKalb. HACD was gathering price quotes for replacement of a failing server at the time.

Barnes: Does this help you with having a competitive quote? If so, what are the next steps for moving forward?

HACD: Thank you so very much Cohen. I also have Impact Networking, LLC…They supposedly also work out of Rockford and now support Ogle County HA — which is a smaller HA. They are coming in next Wednesday to talk servers. Hopefully, I can get a quote out of him ASAP (and yes, I will share that info with you)[.] Once I receive that quote — I will add it to my comparison spreadsheet — run it by the grand pooba (aka Shelly) — I am guessing she will want to give the board a little more in depth facts and figures (they already know our server has to go). And then we will give you the go to order.

Barnes: Let me know when we are closer and I will refresh our quote.

— Email string obtained from HACD under Illinois Freedom of Information Act

One of the basic rules HACD must follow as a government body in buying goods and services is the way they conduct procurement should “maximize competition and competitive pricing among contracts and decrease the Agency’s procurement costs.”

It is difficult to see how HACD can accomplish any increase in competition when it plays favorites, as illustrated by its relationship with Cohen Barnes and Sundog IT in which Sundog is the presumed winner even before all the quotes come in.

Both Mayor Barnes and HACD have ended up under scrutiny of this blog since the April elections: the mayor by his ethical lapse in the matter of the park district IT contract; HACD by its disregard of the Open Meetings Act; and the both of them for their behavior in making City of DeKalb responsible for addressing HACD’s claimed shortage of parking spaces that the body had failed to mention in any public communication before Mr. Barnes took office.

The latest breach is Mayor Barnes’ failure to recuse himself from discussion and voting on the HACD parking ordinance despite his continuing business relationship with HACD as well as his previous use of recusal. In other words, Mayor Barnes has demonstrated he knows the city code governing council members’ conflicts of interest, but loyalty to his HACD pals evidently is more important to him than loyalty to his oath of office. The emails, written in late 2016, suggest this loyalty is mutual and longstanding; and the recent granting of the parking favor suggests the romance will continue until something outside of them causes a breakup.