The Airport's Flush Fund

Brill claims that he tried on several occasions to privately tell Dade County officials the reason he was unable to compete for the contract. But each time, he says, he was ignored. He claims he left messages for both Hamill and Gary Dellapa, the aviation director, but neither returned his calls. Dellapa was out of town last week and could not be reached for comment. "I don't know anything about [the alleged threats], and as I've said, I don't recall ever speaking to Mr. Brill," Hamill says. "I don't recall ever getting any messages from Mr. Brill." He quickly adds that when Bella Bagno's contract ends in 1999, the county would certainly entertain other offers. "If there are other people who can compete, we are always interested," Hamill says.

Once Brill was eliminated as a possible competitor in 1994, Bella Bagno emerged as the only company in the United States that could provide the equipment and services. County officials were thus able to waive their normal bidding requirements and hand the contract to the well-connected Skokie firm.

The county commission approved the decision on November 7, 1995, with little fanfare. Indeed, it is likely that most commissioners did not even know what they were voting on, since the item on the agenda read: "Resolution authorizing waiver of formal bid procedures and the provision of administrative order 3-2, for the purchase of items and services."

There was no mention that the total contract was for $5.1 million or that, when itemized per toilet, it came out to $8219 a head. No word yet on whether the county plans to seek bids on a new and even more expensive hammer.

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