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You just knew this was gonna happen

Friday, Mar 7, 2014

* 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.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - wordslinger - Friday, Mar 7, 14 @ 11:55 am:

    Yeah, I might be able to produce a negative spot out of this. Of course, an ice cream cake could produce a negative spot out of this.

    Big trouble for Quinn.

  2. - Generation X - Friday, Mar 7, 14 @ 11:57 am:


  3. - shore - Friday, Mar 7, 14 @ 11:58 am:

    Good news for the quinn campaign, his Republican opponent has no money and no interest in competing for suburban voters.

    I hope Paul Vallas is tanned rested and ready to bust a move because they’re going to need every bit of his wonky independent act to assuage suburban voters.

  4. - A guy... - Friday, Mar 7, 14 @ 12:01 pm:

    Snark Alert: Quinn can use this as proof to hike the minimum wage.

  5. - A guy... - Friday, Mar 7, 14 @ 12:02 pm:

    Serious Alert: Unaccounted for public money will always find its way into these circumstances. Sad beyond words.

  6. - OneMan - Friday, Mar 7, 14 @ 12:02 pm:

    Also in reading the e-mails it appears they were more worried about managing the response than the underlying issue…

    Also the URL the one party has after their name, you go to that website you can find some info about their work on/in the program

  7. - OneMan - Friday, Mar 7, 14 @ 12:03 pm:

    A guy, was wondering why they were not paid at least 10 an hour…

    Wonder what the labor cost billed back at.

  8. - Chicago Cynic - Friday, Mar 7, 14 @ 12:03 pm:

    This whole disaster is Rauner’s silver bullet. And whether you’re right Rich that he wasn’t trying to buy the election is irrelevant. Rauner’s ads will make it look precisely like that and destroy one of the two sources of his political strength - the perception of integrity.

  9. - Louis Howe - Friday, Mar 7, 14 @ 12:07 pm:

    “What fool dreamed up that quackery?” Perhaps the same fools that dreamed up ‘Crease Fire,” another flier handout program that was promoted by certain minority legislators and special interests.

  10. - wordslinger - Friday, Mar 7, 14 @ 12:09 pm:

    Lot of big laughs in murders, A Guy.

  11. - Empty Suit - Friday, Mar 7, 14 @ 12:14 pm:

    Resign now Mr Quinn

  12. - Mason born - Friday, Mar 7, 14 @ 12:16 pm:

    Something tells me this si going to hurt. Unfortunately for Quinn he will be facing Rauner, who having more money than God, is going to show PQ talking about how honest Blago is combined with the perception Quinn buys 2010 election. Quinns biggest advantage was while being incompetent he at least seemed to be honestly incompetent. If Rauner paints him as the Corrupt incompetent with enough $ to make it stick that should offset some of Rauners liabilities (like the truth).

    So is it legal to take a bottle of Jack Daniels into the voting booth?? With this match up neither one “deserves” a vote.

  13. - PublicServant - Friday, Mar 7, 14 @ 12:21 pm:

    Mason, I’ll vote for Jack Daniels, if fact, I’d did so, repeatedly, last night.

  14. - 47th Ward - Friday, Mar 7, 14 @ 12:21 pm:

    ===Yes, handing out fliers.

    What fool dreamed up that stupid quackery?===

    I don’t disagree, but I think in fairness, part of the strategy was to get some of these kids jobs, any job, as an alternative to the gang lifestyle. Clearly it didn’t work in this case, and paying kids not to belong to gangs isn’t a sound strategy for the long-term, but you can see why somebody thought this wasn’t the worst idea in the world.

    It’s going to be pretty simple to find out the groups that cashed the state checks. Then it’ll be fairly easy to connect those groups to individuals and then to Alderman, and then play the “follow the money” game until lots of people look very, very bad. And all of this will play out over the next 6 months. It probably doesn’t get too high up to Quinn, but the whole mess will be a cancer on his campaign.

    This is going to drip, drip, drip until November.

  15. - Sir Reel - Friday, Mar 7, 14 @ 12:23 pm:

    Unfortunately in the Quinn administration there’s no shortage of fools, e.g. DNR executive staff. Clueless.

  16. - Cassidy - Friday, Mar 7, 14 @ 12:25 pm:

    What fool dreamed up that stupid quackery?===

    I think it was the former GOMB director and Quinn political pal who dreamed up this program AND administered the money.

  17. - Mason born - Friday, Mar 7, 14 @ 12:26 pm:

    Public Servant

    Maybe we can get Lynchburg to make a new comercial. Something like.

    “Jack Daniels the preffered lubricant for when the vote you really want to cast is NONE OF THE ABOVE”

  18. - Formerly Known As... - Friday, Mar 7, 14 @ 12:28 pm:

    And so it begins.

    Sadly, this one is going to have legs.

  19. - have given up - Friday, Mar 7, 14 @ 12:30 pm:

    There’s so much quackery from this bunch one hoped they’d fly south - alas, in vain.

  20. - dupage dan - Friday, Mar 7, 14 @ 12:32 pm:

    It’s hard to know just where to try to break the cycle of poverty and violence. This has led to many different programs that can be criticized in a variety of ways because no matter where you start, the other issues continue to swarm and overwhelm.

    Having said that, it is hard to say with a straight face that paying someone to hand out leaflets could, in any way, be considered an effective strategy to interrupt the cycle. $50 million bucks spent and it appears the planning and execution was poor. Gonna look bad in the commercials.

  21. - Wumpus - Friday, Mar 7, 14 @ 12:57 pm:

    A for effort. Trying to get these kids a job to keep them off the streets. But handing out fliers is not much a of a skill.

    By handing out fliers they are advocating the killin gof trees!

  22. - VanillaMan - Friday, Mar 7, 14 @ 1:02 pm:

    I thought it was $50,000,000 that was “granted” to his voter base on the South Side a month before an election which showed him behind by over 10 points in the polls.

    It was more?

    And no one really knows what happened to it - officially? No one knows the criteria used to determine who got these millions upon millions of our tax dollars?

    How many votes did Quinn win by?

    Geez, this is so frustrating, isn’t it?
    First we had Kerner.
    Then we got Walker.
    Then the Democrats were out in the wilderness for a generation, but got back in with….

    Uh, Blagojevich - right.
    I was hoping that Quinn would be the first Democratic Illinois governor in my lifetime not to go to jail.

    But it seems that everyone is out $54,000,000 with nothing to show for it, but a few brochures and Pat Quinn’s come-from-behind General Election win from those same $54,000,000 “granted” neighborhoods.

    Are we all supposed to just accept this kind of crap-governance because we’re Illinois, home of the Gubernatorial Felons?

    Frankly I don’t give a fig about the politics - Pat Quinn owes us a freaking explanation here!

  23. - Formerly Known As... - Friday, Mar 7, 14 @ 1:06 pm:

    === handing out fliers ===

    Don’t forget the kids who got paid to march in a parade with Mr. Quinn!

    === The NRI also paid teens from the Better Boys Foundation to march in the 82nd Annual Bud Billiken Parade on August 13, 2011, with Quinn, according to records and video of the parade. ===

  24. - Just Observing - Friday, Mar 7, 14 @ 1:10 pm:

    And does anyone actually believe these two actually handed out fliers versus throwing them in the nearest dumpster and collecting their pay?

  25. - VanillaMan - Friday, Mar 7, 14 @ 1:30 pm:

    I believe that Pat Quinn thinks he is Spencer Tracy in “Boy’s Town” and he just gave $54,000,000 to Mickey Rooney.

    Look closer Governor - that was a black and white movie you saw on Family Classics.

    Oh, and Frazier Thomas’ ghost is going to start haunting you in 5…4…3…2…1…

  26. - I B Strapped - Friday, Mar 7, 14 @ 1:39 pm:

    Apparently those gentlemen had alternative plans to ‘ Handing out fliers’!

  27. - Arthur Andersen - Friday, Mar 7, 14 @ 1:42 pm:

    If I were Mr. Stermer, I wouldn’t be taking the bus any time soon.

  28. - Jake From Elwood - Friday, Mar 7, 14 @ 1:53 pm:

    Someone please show me a study–any study–that proves that written propaganda has any marked correlation towards reducing gang violence.

  29. - Liandro - Friday, Mar 7, 14 @ 2:06 pm:

    I’ll be honest: I had never pegged Quinn for this level of corruption. Sure, I thought he was incompetent, and I wildly disagreed with his policies, penchant for severe pandering, and pettiness. I didn’t think much of either his leadership or his coalition-building. But…I did think his integrity was at least a step up from the past. I’m not talking squeaky clean, but passable.

    I realize now how completely wrong that was. The pressure of a close race got to him, and if he had any decency left he junked it on the alter of doing anything it took to win. He burned the taxpayer’s cash, he allowed it to get into the wrong hands, and he didn’t care. He felt the need to win more than he felt the need to do his job.

    Others will disagree, and that’s fine. But this isn’t partisan; I’ve turned on Republicans for the same junk. I can’t stand stuff like this. I don’t care how often it happens (every time, apparently, as far as recent IL governors are concerned). I hope they get ripped down for it.

  30. - Nieva - Friday, Mar 7, 14 @ 2:06 pm:

    I worked in the prison system for a few years and there is no reforming gang members. 90 percent will go back on the street and get arrested again within a year. Now look into who hired them. I would bet some big salaries were paid to run these programs and I would also bet ward bosses and their family’s were on the receiving end.

  31. - Generation X - Friday, Mar 7, 14 @ 2:08 pm:

    How much disregard must you have for a community that has real problems with real violence and this is the best you come up with? Print a few fliers, hire a few gang members, grease a few pockets and here you go.

    Strike that. Disregard is not the right word, outright contempt is better fitting.

  32. - Demoralized - Friday, Mar 7, 14 @ 2:15 pm:

    @dupage dan:

    I’m eating my crow now.



  33. - Upon Further Review - Friday, Mar 7, 14 @ 2:28 pm:

    This is why the Republican nomination for Governor matters. This scandal has the potential to rival the traffic closings on a certain New Jersey bridge if the anti-violence initiative was more about getting out the vote than stopping the violence.

    Quinn has cut some bad deals to retain his office. To restate the obvious, if this story has legs, it may be enough to result in his ouster.

  34. - Formerly Known As... - Friday, Mar 7, 14 @ 3:01 pm:

    From a prior CNN story:

    “There was discussion regarding the payment for this initiative, as the state is already late on payment of existing bills to community-based agencies with state contracts,” according to the minutes of the Illinois Violence Prevention Authority’s September 30, 2010, meeting, which were obtained by CNN.

    At the meeting, an official from Quinn’s administration assured state officials that the program would have the necessary funds.

    “The governor’s office is committed to allocating some of the funds for this initiative immediately and will allocate the rest after the election,” the official said, according to the meeting’s minutes.

    Murphy called that statement a “smoking gun.” It shows, according to Murphy, “that motivation for this program was to get money out in politically important neighborhoods for Gov. Quinn before … a tight election.”

    “Why on earth would anybody in a government position talk about the timing of an election with the release of public taxpayer dollars if it wasn’t for the political advancement of their boss?” Murphy said, referring to the Quinn staffer’s comments.

  35. - SO IL M - Friday, Mar 7, 14 @ 3:08 pm:

    As bad as this is for Quinn, and how it finally gets people to realize he isn’t just an honest guy who makes mistakes, I don’t think this alone is an election changer. Voters, and especially IL voters, have very short memories. Add that to the ability of the State GOP to shoot itself in the foot and it equals Quinn can not be counted out. Its too long of a time between now and November. The Repub nominee will probably be a guy that many in the party are not enthused about (to put it mildly). Quinn still stands a good shot at reelection.

  36. - Upon Further Review - Friday, Mar 7, 14 @ 3:17 pm:

    I qualified my prior comment by stating “if the story has legs.” It is worth noting that the Auditor General’s report was released almost 3-1/2 years after the 2010 election, which Quinn won by less than one percent.

    Reading the linked materials, it seems as if some of the dollars were in fact directed to specific areas where Quinn needed to generate votes.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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