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EDITORIAL: A better ban on the wrong companies getting CPS contracts

You might think that a company too crooked for City Hall would be too crooked for CPS. You’d be wrong.

Nicholas J. Schuler, inspector general for the Chicago Public Schools.

Five years ago, the Chicago Public Schools hired a company that had been banned by the mayor’s office from doing city business.

Why CPS did this, we never understood. CPS knew the company, an electrical contractor, had been banned by City Hall for allegedly lying about who the company’s owners were. You might think that a company too crooked for City Hall would be too crooked for CPS.

But only after the Better Government Association and the Chicago Sun-Times started asking questions did CPS cut the company loose.

This sort of thing happens every so often and it’s always wrong. If a shady business is on one public agency or government’s do-not-hire list, it should be on every such list.

On Wednesday, a newly appointed Chicago Board of Education can make this the rule at CPS, and we trust it will.

The board will vote on a proposal, recommended by CPS Inspector General Nicholas Schuler, to prohibit CPS from doing business with companies or individuals which have been barred by City Hall or other city agencies.

City Hall already follows this policy, automatically disqualifying companies that “any other government agency” has excluded. The Chicago Transit Authority does the same.

As a practical matter, a shared “do-not-hire” list could make it easier for local governments and agencies to standardize contracting and purchasing policies, saving money.

As an ethical matter, there’s no good argument against this modest reform.

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