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Quinn goes there

Wednesday, Jan 6, 2010

* When Dan Hynes started running a negative ad slamming Gov. Pat Quinn over the botched early prisoner release program, I figured that Quinn would return the favor by dredging up the Burr Oak Cemetery tragedy. It happened this morning. You can probably safely bet that this issue will wind up in a TV ad.

From a press release…

The Quinn for Illinois campaign is calling on Comptroller Dan Hynes to give honest answers to consumers about the Illinois Funeral Directors Association Pre-Need Trust Fund – a Madoff-style Ponzi scheme that flourished for almost a decade under the Comptroller’s direct supervision.

“When Dan Hynes claims in his TV ads to be a good fiscal manager, Illinois voters need to take it with a $100 million grain of salt,” said Quinn campaign spokeswoman Elizabeth Austin.

The basic issue is simple: In 2001, Dan Hynes learned that the IFDA’s pre- need trust fund was losing money. In just one year, the fund balance had dropped from an $18 million surplus to a troubling deficit.

Yet, according to legal filings and newspaper accounts, Comptroller Hynes waited eight long years before taking action to protect consumers. As a result, an estimated $100 million in consumer dollars vanished from the fund, and hundreds of family-owned funeral homes throughout Illinois are facing serious financial losses – even bankruptcy.

“We all know that Dan Hynes waited far too long to act on disturbing reports about conditions at the Burr Oak Cemetery,” Austin said. “The IFDA scandal shows that Comptroller Hynes has a decade-long history of ignoring serious problems – with disastrous consequences for 50,000 Illinois consumers.”

Austin noted that Hynes has refused to provide documents requested by Bruce Rushton, a reporter for the Springfield State Journal-Register, that might shed light on the Comptroller’s delay in acting to end the fraud and protect consumers.

“When well-respected journalists file legitimate requests for information from his own office, Comptroller Hynes loses his enthusiasm for transparency, accountability, and the public’s right to know,” Austin said.

There’s more, and you can read it all here.

* Meanwhile, a second early release program has been suspended

Gov. Pat Quinn on Tuesday suspended a second early prison release program, this one for nearly 1,000 nonviolent offenders, amid growing questions about the administration’s attempt to ease the state’s cash crunch by cutting costs in the Department of Corrections.

About 170 prisoners had been released so far under the program Quinn announced in September, according to the prison agency.

Asked why the program was suspended, representatives for the prison department and Quinn’s office would only say it was pending a review of all early release programs to be done when the governor appoints someone to the new position of chief public safety officer in the corrections agency.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


18 Comments
  1. - How Ironic - Wednesday, Jan 6, 10 @ 9:56 am:

    Well, I think it’s safe to say that ‘the gloves are off’. This could be quite a show.


  2. - Moving to Oklahoma - Wednesday, Jan 6, 10 @ 9:58 am:

    == “When well-respected journalists file legitimate requests for information from his own office, Comptroller Hynes loses his enthusiasm for transparency, accountability, and the public’s right to know,” Austin said. ==

    Talk about a slap in the face. Obviously its no longer play time.


  3. - HUH - Wednesday, Jan 6, 10 @ 10:00 am:

    I hear Governor Quinn has moved Shaun Vink over to corrections to keep an eye on the director!


  4. - cassandra - Wednesday, Jan 6, 10 @ 10:09 am:

    So, the chief public safety officer, as yet unappointed, will essentially be making the decisions at DOC while the director is a figurehead? If I were Randle, I’d say no way.
    It’s public humiliation.

    The new de facto head of DOC is as likely as not to be another of the Democratic hacks that Quinn is so fond of hiring (and keeping) in state government. But if he surprises us and hires somebody with real creds, that’s a problem too, because the trends in the corrections field are towards less not more incarceration. Is Illinois going to buck that trend? If so, it’ll be expensive, and it’s unlikely to reduce recidivism because nearly everybody gets out someday.


  5. - OneMan - Wednesday, Jan 6, 10 @ 10:13 am:

    Yes, that’s it….

    About time some state dems went to GOP marksmanship school…


  6. - soccermom - Wednesday, Jan 6, 10 @ 10:17 am:

    This doesn’t seem to be about Burr Oaks. It’s a completely different issue.


  7. - Big Policy Nerd - Wednesday, Jan 6, 10 @ 10:19 am:

    It’s an easy question. Did the IFDA submit annual reports and did anyone at the Comptroller’s office read them? If not, while the fund continued to tank, did the Comptroller’s office conduct an annual audit? Hynes is speaking at the City Club today. Let the good times roll!


  8. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jan 6, 10 @ 10:28 am:

    Given what’s been going on at IDOC and the long sandbagging at Charleytown, Quinn beating the transparency and FOIA drums are a wee bit hypocritical.

    A bit off topic, but when did newspapers resort to running campaign press releases verbatim, without giving the subject of an attack a chance to respond? The Decatur Tribune isn’t The Wall Street Journal, but come on.


  9. - siu alum - Wednesday, Jan 6, 10 @ 10:37 am:

    This has been an ongoing story that Bruce Rushton from the SJ-R has been working on for the last six months. If there was something there I’m sure he would of uncovered it. This press realease is only coming out because Quinn is in full panic mode, as he should be.


  10. - Cubs2010 - Wednesday, Jan 6, 10 @ 10:42 am:

    Who will you pick: The guy oversaw the release of thousands of prisoners or the guy who oversaw the robbing of thousands of graves. This will be an interesting month.


  11. - Sam - Wednesday, Jan 6, 10 @ 10:43 am:

    This whole IFDA scandal was caused by Roland Burris! The original story, which was carelessly miss-cited throughout the Quinn press release, blames Burris. He was the guy that approved the change in rules, he approved the contract in the early 1980’s, he’s the guy who ended up getting tons of money from cemetery lobbyists and he ended up lobbying for them.

    It’s absolutely ridiculous to try to blame Hynes for this without mentioning the real culprit, who was mentioned numerous times in the original article.

    This certainly is an issue in this campaign, but Hynes was the comptroller who STOPPED the problem. Comptrollers before him let it happen. The original article also CORRECTLY mentions that the comptroller doesn’t have authority to audit the financial management of this type of contract. And who is to blame for allowing this type of contract to not be auditable by the Comptroller? Roland Burris!


  12. - Burrito Bandit - Wednesday, Jan 6, 10 @ 10:59 am:

    If you follow the SJR stories Rushton is making the same point Quinn’s people are making…. Hynes isn’t releasing documents that will tell us if he was tracking the funds losses or not. What Rushton wants to know is if anyone in Hynes’ office was keeping track of a fund that people put money in to pay for their funeral services. Hynes isn’t giving Rushton the answers. If you want to bring Burris into it, fine, he might have created the policy change, but he wasn’t the one who was supposed to make sure people’s funeral funds weren’t being mismanaged. Conspiracy theorists can go nuts if they want to claim that Burris the funeral industry lobbyist told Hynes not to worry about the funds.


  13. - Responsa - Wednesday, Jan 6, 10 @ 11:03 am:

    I met Pat Quinn only once–at a function related to supporting families of fallen and injured soldiers. His public image on this issue I firmly believe is fully grounded in his genuine concern. Yet, it feels oddly incompatible with his seeming lack of awareness and respect for the suffering of the former victims of violent crimes and drunk drivers–and their families–at the hands of some of the early release prisoners which were secretly returned to the streets of Illinois on his watch. This, for many voters is just one more chapter in the “Who is Pat Quinn, really?” mystery book.

    This evolving mess for Gov. Quinn will weigh much more heavily on voters minds than the (also) unfortunate cemetery and funeral trust fund scandal he is raising with respect to his Dem primary opponent.


  14. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jan 6, 10 @ 11:35 am:

    Wow, the dems sure do seem to have a problem with competent candidates. The GOP has a golden opportunity here. I have a problem in that the GOP front runner, Jim Ryan, seems to have the same level of credibility as these 2. Name recognition seems to be his forte. Used to be a liability. What a difference a few years makes.


  15. - dupage dan - Wednesday, Jan 6, 10 @ 11:37 am:

    Somehow that last post didn’t have my nom de guerre attached. I certainly wouldn’t want to be told to not use “Anonymous” by the real Anonymous.


  16. - KeepSmiling - Wednesday, Jan 6, 10 @ 11:43 am:

    Quinn’s approval rating will continue to tank with women and no cemetery fund scandal can stop it. This business about putting criminals back onto the street strikes at the innate concern so many women have for their own safety and for that of their children. All Hynes needs to do is run an ad with a playground of a few kids, a mom/young woman reading her book alone on a bench nearby, and a creepy man with a GPS thingy on him walking by checking out the scene — with a voice over question of “How much is YOUR safety worth to Pat Quinn?”


  17. - Illinoise - Wednesday, Jan 6, 10 @ 12:04 pm:

    Hynes really dropped the ball with this whole thing. Likening Burr Oak to Madoff is pretty harsh and has got to hurt Hynes. How does this guy expect to handle all the responsibilities of being governor when he cant even competently handle his one job as comptroller? Hynes is done.


  18. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Jan 6, 10 @ 12:20 pm:

    Is Quinn suggesting that Hynes cannot handle the cemeteries that Quinn’s Early Release fiasco is filling?


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