Possible suicide may be casualty of UMC kickback investigation

Former University Medical Center CEO Lacy Thomas is under investigation, but a Chicago man linked to him is no longer a factor in the police inquiry.

Orlando Jones, tied to the Thomas investigation in published reports, was found dead Wednesday night on a beach in Union Pier, Mich., of what police in that town are calling a possible self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Jones, 52, was a controversial lobbyist who earned a substantial six-figure salary for providing referrals to the financial firm William Blair & Co., according to a Chicago Sun-Times article. The story also noted Jones’ relationship with Thomas.

Thomas is suspected of steering no-bid contracts to friends and business associates from Chicago. He’s also believed to have ordered UMC staff to make contract payments to those favored companies a priority at the county hospital at a time it was running tens of millions of dollars in the red.

Jones was the godson of former Cook County Board President John Stroger.

GOODMAN CASE: Mayor Oscar Goodman is a hall-of-fame gloater, and he appears to be taking genuine pleasure in reminding the media of his victory this week at the Supreme Court affirming District Judge Mark Denton’s decision to void a decision by the State Ethics Commission.

Goodman was accused of unethically assisting his son, attorney Ross Goodman, in arranging a cocktail party meet-and-greet at a national mayor’s conference in Washington, D.C. Ross Goodman and former City Councilman Michael Mack were promoting a fledgling business idea called iPolitix. The district judge and the high court agreed that the gathering didn’t rise to the level of even an incidental ethics violation.

I’ll speculate that if the issue hadn’t involved his son, a local lawyer rising through the ranks, Goodman might have written off the wrist slap instead of fighting it.

Whatever became of iPolitix, anyway?

MMA FIGHT: So Tommy Lee and Kid Rock, former husbands of Pamela Anderson, now find their names on police reports following their scuffle after Sunday’s MTV Video Music Awards. Anderson no longer wears their rings, but perhaps they should have settled their differences in the ring.

My first thought is, “You mean to tell me there isn’t enough of Pam Anderson to go around?”

Secondly, “Does this mean Lee and Rock got caught practicing mixed-marital arts?”

OZZIE’S ODYSSEY: Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen just renewed his contract through the 2012 season despite the team’s fizzling season. Has it really been 23 years since Guillen was the cocky kid who dazzled local baseball fans at shortstop for the 1984 Las Vegas Stars?

He was a gifted player, but he sure didn’t seem like the management type.

DOUBLE DOWN: Here’s the real deal. The 11th annual Hotel Sahara casino employees’ reunion — which includes former employees who worked at the hotel from 1952 through 1982 — is set for Sept. 20 starting at 3 p.m. at Palace Station. In case you’re wondering, 1982 marked the end of the Del Webb era of ownership at the resort.

Such reunions are reminders that a lot of dedicated working stiffs were the real spirit to the Strip’s legendary palaces.

TJ AND LV: Los Angeles Times writer Christopher Reynolds’ article this week compares the tequila-blinded border city to another formerly notorious party destination.

He writes, “And welcome to the search for the Tijuana of the ’20s and ’30s — the city that was Vegas before Vegas was Vegas, the city that some Tijuanenses pine for and others treat like incriminating evidence.”

So, who among the casino developer crowd will dare create a Tijuana-themed Strip resort?

Don’t everyone raise their hands at once.

ON THE BOULEVARD: Retired Chicago dentist Dr. Pat Spilotro, older brother of the late Tony and Michael, tells me he’s continued to monitor the Operation Family Secrets trial, which resulted with sweeping convictions against five defendants this week. It was Spilotro’s dedication that helped the FBI solve the 1986 murders of the dentist’s brothers. … Is NBC reality TV really ready for a show featuring wild man “Buffalo Jim” Barrier? If “The Chopper” can become a television celebrity, surely “Buffalo Jim” has a shot at stardom. … Word is the state personnel office is quietly addressing the issues raised by welfare department whistle-blowers whose complaints were published in this column but ridiculed by department heads.

Have an item for the Bard of the Boulevard? E-mail comments and contributions to Smith@reviewjournal.com or call 383-0295.

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