Chicago Department of Water Management Honor-Guard Busted

Honor-Guard Security.jpg
For quite some time, the Department of Water Management has used a lousy choice for Security Guards to protect the Drinking water of Chicagoland. Chicago choose a company that is not even located in Chicago. I know the Chicago Inspector General was aware of this company because I reported them as just another form of “Hired Trucks”. If you read the contract they promise some top guards, but the workers on site were never on certain posts. The “officers” guarding the entrance of the 3901 S. Ashland post was never in the post because, “there is no heat”.
The two ladies would chat in the front entryway all night. The guard in the back would watch t.v. all night and had nothing to do except guard a pile of dirt at the transfer station. These guards are paid about $10.00 – $10.50 per hour and they do not receive any health and welfare benefits. In the contract with the city Honor-Guard promised benefits and health employees with a military background. They also subcontracted to two “Minority” subcontractors to have a minority presence. The guard at 39th and Iron, in the middle of the street was doing nothing for months and nobody in management noticed? I say fire more of the management. Excellent job Sun-times and star journalist Fran Spielman. According to the story, Jan Pestka actually did a good job? Also the guards never received paid training according to two of the guards. Read story below. Photo by Patrick McDonough

]]>Gulp! How safe is our water?
CITY HALL | Private security company gets flushed after guards found sleeping on the job

October 22, 2007
BY FRAN SPIELMAN AND FRANK MAIN Staff Reporters/[email protected] [email protected]
A private security company’s unarmed guards have been yanked out of the city’s two water filtration plants amid concerns about safeguarding Chicago’s drinking water.

Honor Guard Security was hired last December to protect the Jardine and South water filtration plants, 12 pumping stations and Department of Water Management repair and maintenance facilities. The $13.3 million contract was to expire in 2011 but is now being rebid.

Honor Guard Security was hired last year to protect the Jardine Water Filtration Plant at 1000 E. Ohio, among other sites.

Water Management employees found gaping holes in the company’s performance, City Hall sources said.

“They were sleeping. They weren’t where they were supposed to be. The change really was necessary to protect the integrity of the plants. It’s not like guarding salt piles. This is one of the highest terrorist targets in the country,” said a source familiar with the review.

The firm was hired to provide security for several city departments, even though Water Management officials ranked it “dead last” among a handful of finalists.

Water Management’s $117,720-a-year security chief Janet Pestka, a retired Chicago Police assistant deputy superintendent, was outspoken about what she viewed as Honor Guard’s inability to handle such a sensitive assignment. After writing a letter of protest, she was reassigned to the job of director of internal audits. Two months later, she resigned.

Pestka could not be reached for comment.

Now City Hall has done an about-face. Last month, Honor Guard’s unarmed employees were removed from the Jardine and South filtration plants and replaced with city employees serving as watchmen.

Honor Guard — whose bid documents stated that 75 percent of its security officers are military veterans and 5 percent are “current or prior law enforcement officers” — continues to secure Water Management’s less-sensitive facilities.

Courtnai McCurdy, a vice president of the company, said the criticism of the employees is not fair.

“We have not been given a clear reason” for why the employees were pulled from the Jardine and South filtration plants, McCurdy said. “We have been told that, contractually, they can reassess their needs at any time and make changes.”

The company received only a few days’ notice of the changes, McCurdy said. “They did not give us a 30-day notice.”

“It was very clear from day one that they did not want the contract to go to us,” McCurdy added.

Water Management spokesman Tom LaPorte would only say, “The city reserves the right to solicit bids, based on our changing needs. … We use both watchmen who are city workers and private security firms.”

Lake Michigan water purified and pumped through Water Management facilities supplies drinking water to Chicago and 125 suburbs.

Concern about the vulnerability of Chicago’s water system goes back to Sept. 11, 2001. Shortly after the attacks, City Hall temporarily evicted all private contractors from Water Management facilities. The ban continued for several weeks, long enough for criminal background checks on more than 2,200 people with access to secure areas.

Water Management also replaced a former fork-lift driver with Pestka as in-house security chief, hired Aargus Security to assist Chicago Police officers stationed at Jardine and hired a private consultant.

At the time, Pestka talked about banning private vehicles from Jardine, 1000 E. Ohio, and using bomb-sniffing dogs and mirrors to inspect beneath employee vehicles. One secret report concluded that an attack on a chlorine truck entering the Jardine facility could create a catastrophe downtown.

The possibility of opening a police station on the Jardine grounds was also discussed, along with no longer allowing city employees to park at the plant when they go to nearby Navy Pier. It was not known whether any of these changes had been implemented.

“It’s not like guarding salt piles. This is one of the highest terrorist targets in the country.

21 Replies to “Chicago Department of Water Management Honor-Guard Busted”

  1. Do you mean State Representative John “Hired Trucks Laurino” D’Amico saw this every day and did nothing?

  2. Wow, you mean State Rep. D’Amico (Laurino)did not see all of this? Was he sleeping too- you know he has 2 jobs Why isn’t the Inspector General going after him? Oh I forgot is he blind? Oh I forgot too, he knows nothing about the “HIRED TRUCKS” scandal,
    hey maybe some one should look where some of these old “HIRED TRUCKS” actually park their trucks overnight? Bet you can find some “HIRED TRUCKS” in Alderman Laurino’s Ward !!!
    If you were to look on 4800-4900 block on SPAULDING, Geez you might find a few TRUCKS !!
    Hey PAT, Keep up the good work Bro.

  3. who is going to get the bid now.. an x aldermen has a security co….he is a friend of daleys..

    (Response) It is up for bid because someone might not know how to play the game.

  4. City fires security company supposed to protect water plants
    October 22, 2007 – The city of Chicago has fired a private security company that was supposed to protect the city’s water system. Some of the guards were found sleeping on the job.

    Honor Guard Security was hired with a $13 million contract last December to protect the Jardine and South Water infiltration plants.
    Water management officials say unarmed guards were caught sleeping.

    The city dropped the contract, which was through 2011. City employees will serve as watchmen while the city solicits bids for a new contract..

    The water department said it takes the security of the water facilities very seriously and is currently implementing additional security measures.

  5. October 6, 2005
    What Happens in the Water Department, Stays in the Water Department

    Is there a more fun city agency to work in than the Chicago Department of Water Management?

    First we discover that if you pay a little bribe, you can make a lot of dough in overtime. City worker Richard Pacheco (as opposed to the other Richard Pacheco) said that when he gave cash to his supervisors, he in turn received overtime resulting in an additional $14,000 in pay.

    The extra cash must have come in handy, as today we find out that Tom Briatta, a foreman of water pipe construction, has been accused of either participating in gambling on city work sites, overseeing gambling by city employees, or both.

    Tom Briatta is the brother of John Briatta, the water department’s chief equipment dispatcher and brother-in-law to the mayor’s brother, and Cook County Commissioner, John Daley.

    Got that? You might want to start a flow chart.

  6. Don’t Drink the Water
    First bottled water was cool and tap water was out. Then bottled water was bad (eek! pollution!) and tap water was the name of the game. And now… we say stick with beer, as some scary news has emerged about the people guarding Chicago’s H2O.

    Honor Guard Security was hired in December to secure several of Chicago’s water filtration plans, pumping stations and other facilities. The $13 million contract was supposed to expire in 2011, but is now being re-bid because, as it turns out, some Honor Guard Security employees weren’t quite pulling their weight.

    “They were sleeping. They weren’t where they were supposed to be. The change really was necessary to protect the integrity of the plants. It’s not like guarding salt piles. This is one of the highest terrorist targets in the country,” a source familiar with the situation told the Sun-Times.

    And of course, this being Chicago, this isn’t just a story about crappy security guards; it’s a story about the ineptitude and shady nature of our city government. Honor Guard Security was the last choice of Water Management officials when the bids were being reviewed, yet they still were awarded the contract to oversee security at the various facilities. When Water Management security chief Janet Pestka voiced concern over what she saw as Honor Guard’s inability to oversee security for the plants, she was reassigned. What, no whistle-blower policy?

    In the meantime, Honor Guard watchmen and security guards have been replaced by city employees at the most “sensitive” sites. We’re just glad that this is all coming to light; it’s been way too long since there was a good scandal at Water Management.

  7. Water Plant Security Guards Found Sleeping On Job
    CHICAGO (CBS) ― There are serious concerns over the safety of Chicago’s drinking water. The city terminated its contract with the company hired to protect Chicago’s two water filtration plants.

    As CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker reports, the tap water we assume is safe to drink is purified at the city’s water filtration plants. Until recently a private firm called Honor Guard Security had the contract to protect the plant, but that contract was pulled after guards were accused of sleeping on the job, and missing from their stations.

    “Two point four million people that you’re supposed to protect, and you’re out sleeping on the job? Anyone could come up from anywhere and kill a whole lot of people,” said Garfield Park’s Ald. Ed Smith (28th).

    “It’s very detrimental to all of our health if the water is not protected,” said West Town Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. (27th).

    “It’s one of the top terrorist targets, and it should be guarded with folks who are willing to do the job,” said Ald. James A. Balcer (1st Ward).

    Honor Security was paid more than $13 million to hire people to do the job. It’s headquartered in a nondescript building in Lansing. When CBS 2 stopped by, the owners weren’t available and the secretary wasn’t talking.

    , along with some aldermen, thinks Chicago police should be assigned to guard the inside of the plant.

    In a statement from the water department a spokesperson wrote: “We have had some serious performance issues with the company in question so we are looking to re-bid the contract.”

    The Daley Administration is rebidding the contract awarded to Honor just last December to guard the Jardine and South water filtration plants.
    An official with the company complains that the criticism is unfair and says the company received just a few days’ notice about the change.

    Lake Michigan water pumped through city Department of Water Management facilities supplies drinking water to Chicago and 125 suburbs.

    In the meantime, city workers are guarding the plant.

  8. These are the kind of jobs Daley offers blacks that served in Iran and Iraq.

  9. SEARCH FOR LICENSEE BY PROFESSION:
    Security Contractor Agency, Licensed
    THERE ARE 1 RECORDS WHOSE NAME CONTAINS: hon

    Licensee’s Name DBA /
    AKA License
    Number License
    Status City, State Original
    Issue
    Date Current
    Exprtn Ever
    Discplned?
    HONOR-GUARD SECURITY INC 122000932 ACTIVE Lansing, IL 10/23/2003 08/31/2008 N

    [1]

  10. Patrick McDonough should really get a life. What a cry baby. Talking bad about people you work with and for, what a jerk. How do you have time to take so many pictures,,,,hmmmmmmm

  11. Patrick McDonough should really get a life. What a cry baby. Talking bad about people you work with and for, what a jerk. How do you have time to take so many pictures,,,,hmmmmmmm
    ,,,,,,,

    Looks like someone hit home

  12. speaking of hired trucks, does anyone have any idea why a gigantic bulldozer dropped a huge load of gravel in a private garage on the 4700 block of Hermitage on the afternoon of Monday, 10/8?

    I think it was gravel that was supposed to be used in the project down at Wilson/Paulina. Just asking.

    That friggin bulldozer could have killed someone the way he was flying around. Somebody had a truck double-parked in the alley, which meant he had to go around the block, and it looked like he was gonna have a heart-attack, what with having to spin around trying to get rid of his stolen load.

  13. Water District cop owned security firm city yanked from filtration plants
    City: a ‘stretch’ for cop to handle both jobs

    November 1, 2007
    BY FRAN SPIELMAN AND FRANK MAIN Staff Reporters
    The company whose security guards were yanked out of Chicago’s water filtration plants for allegedly sleeping on the job and abandoning their posts is run by a full-time, $64,979-a-year police officer for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District.

    Now, Water Reclamation officials have started asking questions to determine whether William McCurdy, president of Honor Guard Security, conducted any of his private business on district time.

    McCurdy could not be reached for comment. A six-year veteran Water Reclamation District police officer, he is assigned to rotating shifts and currently works nights at the Stickney plant.

    District officials plan to question McCurdy when he returns Monday from a previously-scheduled vacation.

    “We’re going to check with his record and make sure all of his time is accounted for properly here at the district,” said Jill Horist, a spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District.

    “At this moment, we have no reason to suspect that it isn’t. It’s not illegal or against our policy to have secondary employment.”

    Horist said McCurdy’s problems at Honor Guard are “between him and the city.” She added, “We don’t tolerate sleeping on the job. We have too many things that have to be taken care of.”

    Chicago’s Acting Chief Procurement Officer Doug Yerkes found it “a little disturbing” to learn that McCurdy was working full-time security for another government agency when he was supposed to be riding herd over Honor Guard.

    “It would be a stretch” to believe McCurdy could find the time to dilligently perform both jobs, Yerkes said.

    “It’s something we definitely need to look into. It might explain some of the challenges they’ve had with regard to management. . Issues of timeliness and sleeping on the job.”

    Unlike the Chicago Police Department, the Water Reclamation District does not require its armed police officers to sign secondary employment forms. That’s a policy the district’s board might revisit, in the wake of McCurdy’s moonlighting, sources said.

    The Chicago Sun-Times reported last week that Honor Guard’s unarmed employees were abruptly removed from the Jardine and South filtration plants and replaced with city employees serving as watchmen.

    It happened after in-house surveillance cameras allegedly captured dozens of instances in which the company’s guards were either sleeping on the job or absent from their posts.

    Four days later, angry aldermen demanded to know why the company accused of lackadaisically safeguarding Chicago’s drinking water was still guarding Water Management pumping stations, district yards and trailers.

    On Thursday, Yerkes defended that decision. He said the Department of Water Management’s portion of a security contract shared with other city departments is now being re-bid and Honor Guard employees “will be allowed to continue in less critical facilties” until a replacement is chosen.

    Lake Michigan water purified and pumped through Water Management facilities supplies drinking water to Chicago and 125 suburban communities.

    “We can’t just dismiss them immediately and have no guards at all until a new contract is in place. We have to have something,” Yerkes said.

    “They’re all critical [sites], but there are degrees of criticality. . The Jardine water plant may be a little more critical than a construction site where they’re installing new pipes in the ground. Not to say that’s not critical infrastructure. But, less critical than a plant that supplies drinking water to an entire region.”

    In bid documents filed with City Hall, Honor Guard stated that 75 percent of its security officers are military veterans, but only five percent are “current or prior law enforcement officers.”

    “By providing prior military security officers, our clients get the very best in security. Our company was founded on military principles and our name comes from the military. We can provide security officers [who] have a proven track record of being self-disciplined, self-motivated, respectful, driven and can accomplish any job or task given to them,” the company wrote.

  14. Was water cop running firm while on clock? Runs security company used at city plants

    December 18, 2007
    BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter [email protected]
    A $64,979-a-year police officer at the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District has been placed on administrative leave until his bosses determine whether he ran his private security company — the one whose allegedly sleeping guards were yanked out of the city’s water filtration plants — on district time.

    William McCurdy, president of Honor Guard Security, has been on what amounts to a paid vacation since Nov. 2, said Ed Cook, deputy chief engineer at the Water Reclamation District.

    The paid leave began the same day the Sun-Times disclosed that McCurdy was working full time as a Water Reclamation District police officer at the same time he was supposed to be riding herd over Honor Guard.

    “We’re doing a personnel investigation. We’re investigating the information that you published in the Sun-Times,” Cook said.

    Pressed on why it’s taking six weeks and counting to determine whether McCurdy’s time at the district was properly accounted for, Cook said, “Sometimes these personnel investigations take a while.”

    McCurdy could not be reached for comment. A six-year veteran Water Reclamation District police officer, he was assigned to rotating shifts and worked nights at a Stickney plant.

    Chicago’s acting chief procurement officer, Doug Yerkes, has called it “disturbing” that McCurdy was working full-time security for another government agency when he was supposed to be running Honor Guard. Yerkes said it would be “a stretch” to believe McCurdy could find the time to diligently perform both jobs.

    The Sun-Times reported Oct. 22 that Honor Guard’s unarmed employees were abruptly removed from the Jardine and South filtration plants and replaced with city employees serving as watchmen. It happened after in-house surveillance cameras allegedly captured dozens of instances where the company’s guards were either sleeping or absent from posts.

    In a previously undisclosed memo to Honor Guard employees distributed Oct. 25, McCurdy’s wife accused the city’s Department of Water Management of trying to “sabotage” Honor Guard from the get-go. Malingering security guards simply played into the city’s hands, Courtnai McCurdy wrote.

    The memo implores employees to “STAY AWAKE. STAY ON POST AND STAY EMPLOYED.”

  15. Has anyone noticed the odor of our regions tapwater recently? I have noticed that roughly every three months there is an increase in the smell (airborne) of water in all parts of the city and surrounding suburban areas. It resembles (but not entirely) chlorine – which I recognize and understand is used for sterilization benefits. But it (this smell) does not. It is more of a modofoed chlorine/chemical/plastic-like aroma. I smell it in the air, particularly just walking around the Downtown area.

    Am I alone in noticing this? Does anyone else smell it and/or know what it is?

  16. Well thanks alot.
    First of all let me just say that all of the employees who worked for Honor Guard was not unprofessional. I admit that there were a lot of my co-workers who were unprofessional. But there were also officers like me who was very professional. Now due to this story I can’t even put Honor Guard on my resume. It’s bad when everyone has to suffer for someone else’s mistakes. I worked at the Central Park pumping station with a group of the best people you could ever work with. Now due to this situation I had to go find another job. To top it all off I can’t even place on my resume that I have security experience at the water pumping station. Because when I do. I never get a call back. (I wonder why)
    No one ever thought to speak about the guards who was, going to work, day in and day out. Doing what they were suppose to do. Everyone wasn’t doing a bad job. In fact !!! Most of the employees who had the complaints on them was at the Jardine Station.
    Where most of the top officials for the City came to work everyday.
    Now what does that tell you about Management at the Jardine station. That’s just like me hiring a babysitter to watch my children while I’m standing there watching them misbehave and not do nothing about it. If the top officials seen that the security company they hired wasn’t doing there job they should have stepped up to the plate. It should not have took the Sun-Times to bring media attention to the situation.The frist time they seen that the guards at that site wasn’t doing what they were suppose to be doing. They should have had a meeting that day and got them replaced with some other guards who were willing to do what they were hired to do. Now with watchman working sometimes 16hr shifts. The question still is how safe is OUR water. Because reguardless of what you may think Honor Guard Security officers and our kids drink that water too.

  17. I used to work for Honor – Guard Security and believe me it really sucks to work there. The management staff is unprofessional and untrained. I also cannot not put Honor Guard on any type of resume. It sucks that Mr. McCurdy sunk us on his boat right along with him.

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