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This warrants a closer look

Tuesday, Mar 4, 2014

* Sun-Times

State Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, R-Lemont, on Monday called for a federal inquiry into Gov. Pat Quinn’s $54 million neighborhood crime program that was slammed by the state’s auditor general last week and likened to a “political slush fund,” by one Republican. […]

“Those comments are ridiculous and irresponsible,” said Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson. “As we’ve made clear repeatedly, these issues were resolved more than a year ago.”

Anderson said it was an investigation by the governor’s office that unearthed issues when they came to light in 2012. After that, Quinn immediately moved to abolish the Illinois Violence Prevention Authority, which was created before him, Anderson said. The program still exists and Anderson said as far as the political accusations — not one dollar was awarded until after the 2010 election. […]

“I think there are significant questions. We are actually going to be asking the auditor to forward his findings to the inspector general as well as to the federal prosecutors to take a look at it,” Radogno said after speaking to the City Club of Chicago. “I think there is plenty of reason to think there may have been actual crimes committed, but I don’t know that at this point … I think it’s premature to use the I-word. I think that we need to look further into it.”

When asked if she had reason to believe the line was crossed by intermediaries or the governor himself, Radogno responded: “Probably all of the above.”

As subscribers already know, the claims about no money being expended before the election are technically true. However, lots and lots of contracts were signed before the election. Those groups knew a pile of state cash was heading their way well before election day.

And, frankly, it doesn’t matter when the issues were “resolved.” What matters is if anyone associated with this program broke the law. I don’t think a further investigation would hurt.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


46 Comments
  1. - Chicago Cynic - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 11:07 am:

    This is a damning story that will have serious legs. If Holland is correct and Quinn folks established this right before the election, it’s hard to ignore the obvious political motivations. Shame on them.


  2. - anon - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 11:12 am:

    I think this is somewhat of a gift to PQ. Im not dumb enough to believe that controversy is good, but, in order to win, PQ will need to run up the score with his core constituencies. Rauner is clearly riling up labor, and this will rile up the African American community! PQ will be able to stand with the community and say “there is a crime problem in your community, and I used my executive authority to help — immediately. While there may have been technical problems with the implementation of the program, I couldn’t sit by and allow more african american children die while the beurocrats and legislators debated how the program should look. Mistakes were made, but i would do it again if it kept kids in our most violent neighborhoods safe!” I would say this could seal the deal for PQ’s reelection.


  3. - Chicago Cynic - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 11:16 am:

    anon 1112 am - Rich, you may want to check that IP address. What a ridiculous, absurd spin.


  4. - Formerly Known As... - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 11:24 am:

    This absolutely warrants a deeper look. Not by some local entity, either.

    Do what we did when similar concerns emerged regarding the 2008 summer jobs program that was also started under the same premise.

    Lisa Madigan should refer this case to the Feds, just as she did after the audit of the 2008 program was completed.


  5. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 11:27 am:

    After Ryan and Blagojevich, are we just supposed to pretend that Illinois isn’t Illinois all of a sudden?

    Of course we’re supposed to investigate what laws were broken, who broke them, how they were broken and why they were broken.

    We ain’t Nebraska.


  6. - Plutocrat03 - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 11:28 am:

    I hope this reveals more about public funds being used by organizations whose main job is to show up and demonstrate or the make it seem that many people are behind an issue when in reality it is a slush fund.


  7. - Bored Chairman - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 11:36 am:

    Suburban moderates have just been handed their excuse to vote for Rauner. Quinn gets elected because he is viewed as clean. This story knocks Quinn off the white horse.


  8. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 11:38 am:

    State granting processes are, and have been politically influenced since they began….what is rare is that we may have an opportunity to scrutunize this deal, and hopefully turn the lights on the process generally


  9. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 11:45 am:

    Let the chips fall where they may. Somebody cashed those checks.

    A helpful reminder: Don’t lie to a federales. You can lie to a cop, but not a fed. Don’t even have to swear an oath. That’s a crime.

    And remember, when the federales ask you a question, they most likely already know the answer. That’s how they get you.


  10. - dupage dan - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 11:46 am:

    So, we’re supposed to be satisfied with an internal investigation into this? Really?


  11. - Logic not emotion - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 11:46 am:

    It certainly has the appearance of using public funds to buy the votes that helped him win the election.

    Anon 11:12: He could try that spin and it would work in some circles. In others, not so much.


  12. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 11:52 am:

    Rumor was that the feds were looking into certain west side organizations that received various state grants and produced little in the way of deliverables. Not sure where that investigation is at the moment, but this looks eerily similar.

    Hard to defend the geniuses who thought this was a good idea. Lie down with dogs, wake up with fleas. Lie down with aldermen, wake up with the feds all over you.


  13. - anon - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 11:53 am:

    Im not mixing politics with policy here. I get it that from a policy perspective, this looks bad at worst, poorly implemented at best. The politics will work for the governor. The more a politician gets persecuted for helping the african american community, the more beloved said politician becomes in the african american community. Makes sense, right? Drive up turnout in the african american community with this issue, and you more than offset the potential losses to rauner in the burbs.


  14. - OneMan - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 12:17 pm:

    Well besides for giving this thread a RaunerNumber(TM) of 2… Nice considering it has nothing to do with him.

    Anon - It might have helped Quinn, if then someone would be able to point out that some high crime areas were ignored and lower crime areas targeted. That isn’t going to play well….

    This whole thing does Quinn no favors…


  15. - A guy... - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 12:18 pm:

    I’m wondering if I can hold my breath until January of 2015.


  16. - Chicago Cynic - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 12:26 pm:

    Anon, it might have helped him win the last election, but it will also help him lose this one, now that the chickens have come home to roost. Anon, you’re badly misreading the politics on this. This is a disaster of epic, election-changing proportions.


  17. - Generation X - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 12:33 pm:

    It will be much worse if they trace some of those missing funds back to people with gang affiliations. The very people that the funds were supposed to thwart.

    It is a rarity when millions of dollars goes missing and some form of organized crimes isn’t involved


  18. - anon - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 12:47 pm:

    With a name like “chicago cynic,” i expect you to be critical of my opinion. You’re a cynic for crying out loud!


  19. - Bogart - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 12:54 pm:

    Is this why Lavin left? Does anyone know where he landed?


  20. - fed up - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 12:55 pm:

    well, Quinn Bought the 2010 (allegedly) election with 50 million in taxpayer money, interesting in that Quinn being gov. insured that the Dems were able to gerrymander the district maps so that they have complete control for 10 more years. Not a bad investment if your a Dem in Illinois. Im guessing Lisa ignores this completly. Time for her to go after another nursing home headline or maybe a payday loan store, great job Lisa.


  21. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 12:57 pm:

    ===Quinn Bought the 2010 (allegedly) election ===

    Meh.

    It helped, no doubt.

    But Personal PAC and organized labor helped as much or even lots more.


  22. - fed up - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 1:18 pm:

    Rich it was a very close election Quinn got the votes he needed from the south side and south burbs to make up for his terrible performance in the rest of the state. This was a targeted program that did what was intended and no it didnt stop the violence.


  23. - fed up - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 1:20 pm:

    But Personal PAC and organized labor helped as much or even lots more.

    You mean Labor helped after they bought Quinns pledge to not lay off for a 50k donation. that seemed real honest also. he is more corrupt then Blago


  24. - carbaby - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 1:20 pm:

    This will not bode well for Quinn any way you look at it. There are so many political ties at the lead agencies that took the money- one of whom employs the wife of a state rep- and she made that known - along with a host of other known entities.
    There are so many embedded issues in this that are really difficult to separate out. Where do you separate out the Lead agency’s responsibilities to also monitor the funds, complete the required reports and ensure the agencies they give the money to are actually providing the services?
    Yes the IDVPA was required to essentially be the regulatory body over these funds and be the enforcer of rules- and those were definitely lacking. However, I don’t know if what has occurred equates to misfeasance or malfeasance- those take some deliberate actions. There may have been more of that at the Lead agencies and the agencies who were to be providing direct services.


  25. - Lost generation - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 1:56 pm:

    Illegal to try and save a generation being lost to violence.
    Illegal to try and instill hope where there is little left.
    GOP better pass some law to suppress voters who think that isn’t illegal, but needed and expected.
    No doubt this could have been done better from what I hear - but don’t lose or look past the true issue here. That is inner city violence, and the loss of hope and of a generation.
    I hope leaders in the community and legislature chime in on this.


  26. - SO IL M - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 1:59 pm:

    I don’t see this as an election changer this year, unless a criminal investigation does take place and indictments are handed down in September or October. Voters have a very short memory and its a long time til November.


  27. - anon - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 2:06 pm:

    To add to SO IL’s point, Blago was reelected after a long investigation, “Public Official A” reports, and the ultimate indictment of Tony Rezko. If you think that this in any way compares, you are smoking something.


  28. - Cassandra - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 2:07 pm:

    If this money went astray, either through poorly constructed programs or actual malfeasance, the residents it was supposed to help lose the most.
    In fact, the residents should be clamoring for an accounting.


  29. - Soccermom - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 2:07 pm:

    Anon — It doesn’t help the Governor with African-American Chicago voters if they don’t view him as fully committed to the community. $50 million four years ago, out of an annual budget of $62 billion? Won’t help him now.


  30. - fed up - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 2:08 pm:

    Lost generation
    “Illegal to try and save a generation being lost to violence.
    Illegal to try and instill hope where there is little left”

    Maybe mom & Dad could do that. Instaed of expecting the state to raise the kids for them.

    What is illegal and easy to believe happened here is taking state money for a so called violence prevention plan and enriching yourself or using that state money that you “forgot” to keep records for as street money to help the guy who gave you the money get elected.


  31. - Soccermom - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 2:13 pm:

    Somebody once explained to me how Karl Rove succeeds: He takes the thing you’re proudest of - your spotless reputation, your policy expertise, your personal charm — and he shreds it, right in front of your eyes. He takes your “win set” and he turns it into a liability.

    And while he’s doing it, you’re crumpled up in pain at the very idea that someone could try to destroy you with your own strongest weapon.

    That’s the problem with an issue like this one: It goes to the heart of the Governor’s wheelhouse, and it will require an incredibly strong counterattack. “Just paperwork” will not do it. Heads have to roll.

    The Governor has to prove that his reputation for clean government is fully deserved. And now would be a really good time to take action, before this one sprouts wings.

    And I will never ever ever mention Rove again.


  32. - anon - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 2:22 pm:

    Soccermom, wait until the republicans and the media start to really try to pin quinn to the wall on this. think politically for just one moment, please. when he’s getting crucified for trying to help, while rauner is promising to eviscerate any funding to programs important to the community, african americans will come to his defense — big time. its only logical.


  33. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 2:26 pm:

    ===while rauner is promising to eviscerate any funding to programs important to the community, african americans will come to his defense===

    That assumes positions that are not in evidence.


  34. - Soccermom - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 2:29 pm:

    Um, anon, I thought I was thinking politically. Sorry.


  35. - Soccermom - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 2:30 pm:

    Maybe this will help, anon.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Rove


  36. - anon - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 2:30 pm:

    You’re right, Rich. Rauner has not given details on anything he will do. He has used plenty of code words though.


  37. - Walter Mitty - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 2:36 pm:

    With our last two Governors in or spending time in Club Fed, there needs to be a bipartisan call for a federal investigation. Anything less, nobody including the press and dems can be trusted. Having this as a Republican talking point may help their chances…But we deserve more than that.


  38. - fed up - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 2:36 pm:

    “The Governor has to prove that his reputation for clean government”

    In 2006 Quinn came out calling Blago Honest
    In 2010 Quinn Lies to the whole state about the tax increase.
    In 2010 Quinn lies to whole state before eection about supporting death penalty
    In 2010 Quinn takes 50k and an endoresment then makes a no layoff promise to state union.
    In 2013 Quinn Illegally strips state sens and Reps of pay raises gets slapped down by courts leaving state on hook for legal costs,
    Quinn has engaged in lengthy battles with down state Univ boards over trying to steer contracts

    Quinn is not Honest or good government


  39. - Jack Handy - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 2:39 pm:

    I can here it now, just as the NFL season is beginning …

    “Pat Quinn took your taxpayer dollars and instead of using it to reduce crime, he used it to get himself reelected for four more years. Then tried to cover it up by not keeping records.”

    Oh I miss football.


  40. - Formerly Known As... - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 3:45 pm:

    === but don’t lose or look past the true issue here ===

    Exactly.

    The “true issue” here is that it appears individuals given taxpayer money to help save lives by reducing violence actually took that money and gave it to _____ instead.

    No one knows.

    We also don’t know how many young lives could have been saved if those funds went to their intended purpose instead of to _____.

    What we do know is that the details revealed thus far smell downright fishy.

    That’s not the scent of “good government” we detect wafting through the air.


  41. - Formerly Known As... - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 3:47 pm:

    We always knew Raunerbots existed.

    Apparently Quinnbots exist as well.


  42. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 5:39 pm:

    @Formerly Known As….

    No one is denying the program was poorly managed at the outset. Quinn has admitted it as well.

    As for $50 million to reduce violence smelling “fishy,” I guess I’d say it smells about 1/3 as fishy as $150 million in tax breaks to Sears.

    Which is really just another way of saying that whether or not something smells “fishy” is subjective.

    As I said before, investigate away, it is just premature to be accusing Quinn of corruption and talking about impeachment. You can’t accuse Quinn of failing to run a program based on objective outcome measures when you are throwing around accusations without actual evidence.


  43. - Walker - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 5:59 pm:

    Soccermom: Your comment about Rove attacking an opponent right at their biggest apparent strength, was on point. This issue especially hurts Quinn right where he has previously gained a lot of voter support.

    A corollary tactic that Rove trumpeted, taught in workshops, and frequently used, was writing down your own candidate’s biggest specific weakness, and immediately claiming that the opponent has it worse.

    No evidence needed, just the loud claim. The opponent sounds lame in replying with the truth. Best case it helps you. Worst case it minimizes damage. Voters will come to believe it’s just campaigns slinging mud at each other and discount all of it.


  44. - Skirmisher - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 6:01 pm:

    That’s our boy Pat! When his hands are caught in the cookie jar he can always claim incompetence and everyone will accept that defense and give him a pass. Personally, I don’t think Quinn really is capable from distinguishing right from wrong when it comes to political chicanery and the incompetence factor is just icing on the cake.


  45. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Tuesday, Mar 4, 14 @ 11:19 pm:

    @Skirmisher-

    Ironically, Zorn’s column demonstrates violent crime went down under Quinn. Unfortunately, it also demonstrates that crime was already going down in 2010 when the program started.

    Frankly, rather than debate whether or not the program was well evaluated, I am surprised no one has simply asked the criminal justice information authority for the data for the communities where the program was implemented. It should not be that difficult to figure out if crime went down in the targeted populations.

    Or hey, run the analysis in reverse: you know the names of the program participants: find out if they were less likely to commit a crime compared to peers.


  46. - Anon. - Wednesday, Mar 5, 14 @ 8:44 am:

    ==Or hey, run the analysis in reverse: you know the names of the program participants: find out if they were less likely to commit a crime compared to peers.==

    When you don’t know how or where the money was spent, how can you possibly know who the “participants” were?


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