* From Dave McKinney and Frank Main at the Sun-Times…
Both Jermalle Brown and Douglas Bufford were gang members hired to play a small role in helping combat violence on the South Side through a program hatched by Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration.
Paid $8.50 an hour with taxpayer funds to hand out anti-violence pamphlets in their South Shore neighborhood, the two low-income teens were part-time foot soldiers in the governor’s $54.5 million Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, a program he once described as “a comprehensive and concerted effort to keep our young people safe, off the streets and in school.”
Quinn launched that program a month before his 2010 election as an answer to gun carnage in the city — even though murders that year, Chicago Police would later disclose, dipped to a nearly 50-year low.
But instead of embodying a bold new way to fight bloodshed on the South Side, Bufford is now dead, and Brown is charged with his murder, putting a dramatic and deadly new blemish on the one-time Quinn showpiece, which was pilloried last week in a report by Auditor General William Holland.
At the same time they were on the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative payroll, Brown, then 19, and Bufford, 16, allegedly broke into a Grand Crossing home in July 2012 with one other man and announced a robbery in what Chicago Police believe was a gang-related crime.
It’s not clear, based on court and police records, what happened next. But Bufford was fatally shot in the back of the head with a shotgun, and Brown and an associate now face murder charges tied to the shooting.
* I was on the phone with someone close to Quinn yesterday who pointed out that nowhere in the Auditor General’s blistering report on the governor’s anti-violence initiative was there any evidence that gangs or other notorious types had received grant money. The implication was that the program was much better run than portrayed.
Well, so far we don’t know of any gangs getting grants, but we do know of at least one completely botched attempt to turn a gang member’s life around by having him hand out anti-violence fliers.
Yes, handing out fliers.
What fool dreamed up that stupid quackery?
Go read the whole thing.