SUBSCRIBE to Capitol Fax      Advertise Here      Mobile Version     Exclusive Subscriber Content     Updated Posts    Contact
CapitolFax.com
To subscribe to Capitol Fax, click here.
A call to action

Thursday, Mar 13, 2014

* Mark Brown writes, correctly, that state grants are the “soft underbelly of Illinois government”

This is where the bodies are buried — along with the money to pay them. This is where government waste goes to hide.

Everybody knows it, but nobody seems to be able to do much about it — until the dirt comes out in the wash. […]

Last week, federal prosecutors in Springfield won a conviction against Jeri Wright, the daughter of President Obama’s former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, who played a small role in a $1.25 million grant fraud scheme involving Country Club Hills Police Chief Regina Evans and her husband, a Chicago police officer. Evans and her husband had already pleaded guilty to spending most of the money on themselves. […]

All told, the Sun-Times Chris Fusco reported last year, the U.S. Attorney’s office in Springfield has charged 13 people in recent years in connection with grant fraud schemes involving at least $16 million. […]

What are the common denominators in these cases?

Usually a lack of oversight from the state agency dispensing the money, and often some connection to Illinois politics. […]

Funny thing about state grants: the money is almost always earmarked on the surface for some valid altruistic purpose — AIDS prevention, saving a neighborhood cultural anchor, steering young men away from illegal activities that breed violence.

But time after time, we find that the grants that go bad were paid to political allies in recognition of past or future support.

The General Assembly has to get some control over this mess. The governor and legislators cannot continue to hand out these grants without any proof that the agencies are doing any good. There are some very good groups that do very good work, but there’s just way too much local politics involved with the granting process.

How many people have to go to prison before this is reformed?

- Posted by Rich Miller        


34 Comments
  1. - B.C. - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 9:24 am:

    The Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority is a pretty good model for how grants should be vetted. The guv appoints the director and the board membership is made up of automatic statatory appointments from public safety agencies, like the Atty General, Cook County State’s Atty, and a mix of downstate criminal justice officials, etc. They have a professional staff that evaluates applications and makes recommendations to the board. The grant isn’t made unless a majority of the board votes yes.

    It’s not a perfect set up, but the Violence Prevention Program controversy wouldn’t exists if those grants were filtered through this group.


  2. - Downstater - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 9:25 am:

    These grants are the mothers milk of garnering votes. Don’t look for the system to be changed soon. Remember. It’s only wasteful, if it is someone else’s district.


  3. - Anonymous - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 9:28 am:

    Honest pol’s (they are easy to count) have known this to be a dirty fact of political life for a loooonng time, yet nearly all refused to speak up for fear of backlash from other pols with their snout in this slush tank. Those that do speak out (sen. Fitzgerald?) didn’t last long. It’s a well known but little acted upon corruption within the system. “for the People”, really means, ” for my Re-Election.”


  4. - RonOglesby - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 9:29 am:

    “The General Assembly has to get some control over this mess. ”

    Yup. But they are in on it. it buys votes and once in office all these folks care about is staying in office and spreading some altruistic frosting over vote buying.


  5. - liandro - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 9:29 am:

    My two cents: politics in general has a huge culture of “to the winner goes the spoils”. Illinois in particular has embraced a culture that this sort of corruption is how you win seats, how you keep seats, and how you duly reward those involved.

    I suspect a big part of the problem has to be solved in the activist circles. As long as large swathes of “activists” are willing to look away as long as they get their cut, or their “valid” concern addressed, it will continue. As long as we prize winning and protecting our own financial interests over honest leadership…

    Anyway, to answer your question: it doesn’t matter how many people go to prison, as long as there is a market it will continue.

    It reminds me of drug dealing: it rarely ends well in the long run, but there is such short term gain that there are always people who just can’t resist. You have to change the whole system, and you have to change the leadership.


  6. - Anyone Remember - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 9:30 am:

    B.C. - excellent point. My concern is when grants are awarded, usually (but not always) there is only one entity that can “do the work.” Further, many of the grantees are “not-for-profits” without administrative staff capable of preparing the type of bid / proposal called for by the Procurement Code. And do we want provision of human service assistance held up by a bid protest?


  7. - Past the Rule of 85 - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 9:31 am:

    A strong case can be made the General Assembly has too much control with grants through member initiatives and clout to steer “competitive” grants to the right people. The grant recipients don’t think normal rules apply to them because of this.


  8. - Give Me A Break - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 9:32 am:

    Easy to blame the gov and state departments but a whole lot of this driven by the GA and their pushing for their pet projects to get grants.


  9. - Kakistocracy Kid - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 9:34 am:

    What about Quinshaunta Golden at IDPH? She embezzled over $400k for her personal use. A lot of her court papers are sealed, why?


  10. - Irish - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 9:34 am:

    The irritating part of these grants is to be in an agency where the buildings at your facility are falling apart and you can’t get the money to fix them but you watch the Gov. hand out $50 million in grants to park districts to repair their buildings to make those Parks look good.


  11. - Former State Senator - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 9:40 am:

    “Member Initiatives” started under George Ryan and mushroomed out of control so that legislators could play Santa Claus. They’re part of the State’s spending problem.


  12. - Rufus - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 9:43 am:

    I agree with PTRo85, there are numerous examples of state employees that bring up questionable expenditures of a Provider’s grant.

    Time and time again state employees are told by the governors office, legistrative offices or one of the 3000 appointees. “It is not your job to question these expenditures, don’t bring this up again”.

    What’s worse is that the corruption has risen since two governors went to jail.


  13. - Sir Reel - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 9:45 am:

    For the most part, the problem is member initiative grants. They’re usually 100% upfront sole source grants. Agencies administering them have few rules and regulations to control the funds or grantees.

    Every State budget should be closely inspected for these giveaways. There’s rarely any evaluation of the effectiveness of them because that would expose their true nature.

    As long as the GA continues this charade, their argument that the State can’t afford its pension obligations rings hollow.


  14. - Anonymous - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 9:56 am:

    B.C.- while I mostly agree with you- they are who are directly involved with the Violence Prevention Program because IVPA was merged with their office last year and they had to respond to the audit. There are still major issues currently. Also you must keep in mind that those who are on the board have political capital. When you get to those levels, you must have been vetted by someone.

    It’s not just grants. It’s the entire POS system. Any agency that relies on government for it’s livelihood to provide services is directly affected by this. Those agencies that are successful have significant political capital. I don’t believe Illinois to be unique in this by any means.
    Every private agency that I have worked for has significant political relationships. That’s how they are able to get the contracts they maintain, how they get on the “expedited” pay list, how they get the County(working with banks) to forgive several hundred thousand dollars in mortgages on properties, and how they get earmarked capital improvement money.
    Am I saying that some of those agencies don’t provide excellent services? No- but it’s difficult to discern who’s who. That would be like shooting darts in the dark.


  15. - Cassidy - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 10:01 am:

    The General Assembly has an entire unit at DCEO just to handle legislator’s individual grants within their districts and its overseen by the DCEO director’s office.


  16. - Palm Tree - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 10:10 am:

    The legislature took care of this. It’s called Budgeting for Results. Now, state programs are only funded by the legislature if they are proven effective and worthy of receiving state dollars. Otherwise the diligent legislators won’t appropriate funds for the program.

    SNARK.


  17. - Jen - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 10:26 am:

    If an agency wants to get the appropriation authority and funds to provide services they must get the votes from legislators - when an appropriation bill comes through with a member initiative included - 1) the other legislators voted for it and 2) if we want to pay the agencies to deliver the services we follow our approps and pay the bills - some of the member initiatives are very well deserved though.


  18. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 10:31 am:

    ===The General Assembly has to get some control over this mess. The governor and legislators cannot continue to hand out these grants without any proof that the agencies are doing any good. There are some very good groups that do very good work, but there’s just way too much local politics involved with the granting process.

    How many people have to go to prison before this is reformed?===

    *Like*


  19. - BW - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 10:51 am:

    Welcome to Illinois where the grant applications are scored, but the points don’t matter.


  20. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 10:56 am:

    My advice:

    Believe it or not, state agencies do not require nonprofits be registered with the AG’s office in order to receive a grant or contract. In fact, if you are 100 percent dependent on govt contracts for revenue, you are exempt from registration requirement. Foolhardy!

    By the same token, the AG’s office is charged with policing nonprofits. They need more resources and a deeper commitment.

    In addition, no nonprofit should be receiving a contract unless they meet the minimal requirements set out by the Better Business Bureau for transparency, governance and financial management.

    That said: lawmakers are way to involved in the contract/grant process. Moving to a multi-year budget and contract process and making agency director terms concurrent with governors terms will help. But lawmakers need to exercise some personal restraint.

    Also, current reimbursement rates are such that it is very difficult for legit nonprofits to deliver real results, opening up the field to shady characters promising the sky and delivering little. Kinda like a healthy lawn, our infrastructure of human services needs to be well-maintained, or you end up with a lot of weeds and dying grass.

    One last thing: human services are exempt from the procurement code, for some good reasons I think, but we would be well-served by an independent agency similar to the procurement board that purchases human services on behalf of DHS, Aging, board of Ed, Veterans, etc…


  21. - Norseman - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 10:59 am:

    Former State Senator, with all due respect, the term “Member Initiatives” may have come in vogue during the Ryan administration and relates to a easier process used at the time. Political pork grants have been around for ages, or at least the 35 years I’ve been around Springfield.


  22. - dupage dan - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 11:03 am:

    It’s not so long ago that we saw what it took to expose the scandal involving legislators using scholarships to Illinois universities as a hand out perk. The amounts involved there pale in comparison to the 50 million smackers involved in the most recent mess. This could be far more important than any term limit actions. I can’t see any effort to rein it in to have any legs. Just like re-maps, we have to get the folks who benefit DIRECTLY to end a program. That this involves allowing them to garner support using someone else’s money is particularly galling.

    $50 million - that’s some big money. Lot’s of screaming gonna happen if an honest effort to screen these payouts more effectively gets rolling. The pols are gonna hope this goes away quietly and quickly.


  23. - Norseman - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 11:05 am:

    === How many people have to go to prison before this is reformed? ===

    The question should probably read, “how many legislators and political appointees have to go to prison before this is reformed?”

    Agency shortcomings in handling all kinds of grants are numerous and inexcusable, but political grant sponsors also apply pressure if not implemented the way they want.


  24. - Give Me A Break - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 11:17 am:

    Not all human services are exempt from the procurement code. That being said, how about someone ask some appropriation committee members about the number of times they have taken the axe to agency administrative lines because they view those line as nothing but paper pushers. Guess what, those paper pushers are the people who monitor grants and contracts for compliance. You can blame all the “agency shortcomings” you want, but how many of you would advocate for hiring more “white collar paper pushers”? I suspect there would be great outrage from many. Agency budget and contract staffs have been cut to the bone.


  25. - liandro - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 11:18 am:

    Yellow Dog Democrat is making solid points concerning the system side of it.


  26. - Soccermom - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 11:34 am:

    YDD– good advice.


  27. - Mouthy - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 11:55 am:

    When you get done with grants move on to consultants, and when you get done with consultants move on to…..


  28. - Nieva - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 12:44 pm:

    How about stopping these grants? I know the local fire departments need new trucks and the schools need new building’s but maybe we just need to take a couple of years off and let this dry up. When federal revenue sharing stopped everyone survived. Lets pay off the huge backlog of unpaid bills before we spend on a bike trail that has more possum traffic on it than human.


  29. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 12:49 pm:

    ===the local fire departments need new trucks===

    Totally different program. We’re talking programmatic grants here.


  30. - Eugene - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 1:14 pm:

    It won’t be reformed short of some kind of revolution because grants (along with contracts) are the new patronage. Many elected officials would fight like hell against anything that would really clean up this situation. Also, state agencies have lost the personnel they need to oversee contracts, and there are plenty of people who are perfectly happy with that.


  31. - Nieva - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 3:00 pm:

    They may not be programmatic grant but Pat has been down here passing them out like candy at a parade. Sorry I got the two confused.


  32. - Precinct Captain - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 3:01 pm:

    ==- B.C. - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 9:24 am:==

    It sounds set up well, but it also sounds like a bastion of the status quo where new ideas and innovation are stifled to protect those already in power.


  33. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 3:31 pm:

    Thanks Liandro and Soccermom.

    I know there was some snark hidden away up there, but Budgeting for Results ought to address much of this in the long run.

    There is another issue.

    Just as we could all benefit from some consolidation of school districts, some consolidation of nonprofits would be useful in the social services sector.

    This is harder than it sounds in the nonprofit sector, as we all saw with the collapse of Hull House.

    Foundations could help facilitate the consolidation of state providers, reducing overhead and streamlining service delivery by funding some “buyouts” of CEO’s and other senior staff and facilitating the merger of boards and their egos.


  34. - Norseman - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 4:02 pm:

    === I know there was some snark hidden away up there, but Budgeting for Results ought to address much of this in the long run. ===

    YDD, I agree that it ought to, but it won’t. Budgeting for Results wins are going to demonstrated by proponents using low-hanging fruit. Having coordinated performance review activities for an agency I wish that was not the case. There are too many politically popular programs and grants that will be protected regardless of whether they meet meaningful performance objectives or not. Program protection is not strictly the fault of lawmakers, the governor and agency staff are also guilty.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


* Shimkus loses out on plum post
* Moody's says Rauner veto is just one of many problems facing CPS
* *** UPDATED x2 *** Lawsuit filed over legislator pay
* The "green energy" side of the Exelon bill
* Caption contest!
* How is this "breaking our agreement"?
* Positioning, practicalities and politics weigh heavily against a House override
* Report: A decade to reach solvency, if leaders cooperate on tough plan
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Rauner goes into the lion's den
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
* Yesterday's blog posts

Support CapitolFax.com
Visit our advertisers...

...............

...............

...............

...............

...............
<


Search This Blog...

Search the 98th General Assembly By Bill Number
(example: HB0001)

Search the 98th General Assembly By Keyword

  
* [TA Deals] Get started with Linux at a steep discount
* Beddit 3 knows if you’ve been sleeping. It knows if you’re awake.
* Holiday Gift Guide 2016: Best Android tablets
* Study finds 99 percent of counterfeit Apple chargers bought online fail ‘basic’ safety tests
* The best apps, games, and movies of 2016 according to Google
* No dual rear camera for Samsung Galaxy S8 after all, Weibo tipster foretells
* Mobvoi Ticwatch 2 review

* White Sox plans could clear up at Meetings
* Garcia among White Sox non-tender options
* White Sox plans could clear up at Meetings
* Peace & glove: Owners, players reach CBA deal
* Peace & glove: Owners, players reach CBA deal
* In-market deals? Chicago clubs address report
* Garcia among White Sox non-tender options

...............


Main Menu
Home
Illinois
YouTube
Pundit rankings
Obama
Subscriber Content
Durbin
Burris
Blagojevich Trial
Advertising
Updated Posts
Polls

Archives
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004

Blog*Spot Archives
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005

Syndication

RSS Feed 2.0
Comments RSS 2.0
WordPress

Loading


* Democrats sue Illinois comptroller Leslie Munge.....
* State legislators sue comptroller for holding u.....
* Health insurance costs could double for SIU emp.....
* Illinois House lacks votes to override Chicago .....
* Democratic lawmakers sue comptroller to end pay.....
* John Cullerton stumbles, and Bruce Rauner pounc.....
* Illinois House lacks votes to override Chicago .....
* Group of Illinois legislators sues state over n.....
* Illinois Legislators Sue to Stop Coercive Raune.....


* Illinois lawmakers sue to get paid despite state budget mess
* Illinois school districts increasingly rely on tax funding
* Illinois House lacks votes to override Chicago school veto
* Victim dies 9 years after beating, charge upgraded to murder
* Police: Rockford drug bust may be largest in city history
* 3 dead after wrong-way crash on I-88 in suburban Chicago
* Early Jewish residents in Quincy were successful merchants
* Illinois National Guard to mark anniversaries with cake
* Electronic road signs are dark near Effingham due to budget
* Index that tracks Illinois economy drops in November

* Electronic road signs are dark near Effingham due to budget
* State lawmakers vote to spare 2 nuclear plants
* Legislature OKs Exelon subsidy plan, goes to Rauner
* Rauner: No more stopgap budgets without property tax freeze, term limits
* Illinois shutters nation's last prison roundhouse
* Clinton nuclear plant has history of cost, job uncertainty
* AFSCME files lawsuit over labor contract
* Rauner to Dems: No budget without term limits, property tax freeze
* AFSCME files suit over labor contract
* Rauner, leaders meet again, but still no progress

* John Wilson, founder of art expo that began Navy Pier's revival, dies at 82
* Trump voter lost her home to new Treasury secretary
* CEO shuffle at Presence Health
* DRW's Don Wilson takes the witness stand with career on the line
* Is PrivateBancorp's sale doomed?


* Jonathan Toews to miss fifth straight game with back injury
* Fantasy Fool: Week 13 Starters and Benchwarmers
* PODCAST: Should the Bears tank Sunday?
* Second prostitution arrest in past 7 months at Batavia spa
* Complaint filed against judge who let former law clerk hear cases
* Complaint filed against judge who let former law clerk hear cases
* Rahm Emanuel creates $1 million legal fund to assist immigrants
* Man seriously hurt in Chatham shooting
* Group of Illinois legislators sue state over not getting paid
* Linda Chavez: Keeping an open mind about Trump’s puzzling style


* Democratic lawmakers sue comptroller to end paycheck delay during budget impasse
* No initial signs of foul play after body recovered from Sylvan Lake near Mundelein
* Riverwalk architect learned environmental lessons early, in Peace Corps
* 3 dead after driver hits car going wrong way on I-88: 'Is this for real?'
* Cook County judge who let clerk hear cases is deemed 'mentally unable' to do job
* LINDA C. BLACK HOROSCOPES for 12/2/16
* Convicted Aurora murderer wants 105-year sentence thrown out
* Residents line up to see wildfire-ravaged city; 13 dead
* Ex-Bears pull no punches in criticizing team, but no friction like Rams have
* Joe McKnight shooting: Suspect released, police still investigating


The widget AQL4JYGHIY powered by Feed Informer does not exist.


* Electronic road signs are dark near Effingham due to budget
* State lawmakers vote to spare 2 nuclear plants
* Legislature OKs Exelon subsidy plan, goes to Rauner
* Our View: This Week’s Thumbs up/Thumbs Down
* Rauner: No more stopgap budgets without property tax freeze, term limits
* Illinois shutters nation's last prison roundhouse
* Clinton nuclear plant has history of cost, job uncertainty
* AFSCME files lawsuit over labor contract
* Rauner to Dems: No budget without term limits, property tax freeze
* AFSCME files suit over labor contract


* Volunteers needed for Christmas bird count
* Livestock producers seek new nutrient sources in time of low prices
* Carbondale Lights Fantastic Parade set for Saturday; city announces road closures
* 12-02-16 Jim Turpin with Jim Nowlan on Illinois politics
* Noon update: Foot of snow possible in Hawaii, some in Q-C
* As a community, Peoria braced for war even before Pearl Harbor
* 12-02-16 Jim Turpin with Marian Wyatt and the Centennial Expressions @char_gers
* 12-02-16 Penny for Your Thoughts
* UPDATE: Adult treated as a result of Champaign home fire
* Illinois House lacks votes to override Chicago school veto


* Marine recruiter believed to be among 3 dead in wrong-way crash on I-88 in Naperville
* Police: Body found in lake near Mundelein
* Bach: 'Rational arguments' favor NHL going to Pyeongchang
* Bills WR Watkins expected to play vs. Oakland
* Seven ways to upgrade your gym bag

* House lawmakers overcome hurdle on key tra...
* Rodney Davis talks funding with Bloomingto...
* The agency that fought Illiana gets a new ...
* Rep. Dold takes educational cruise down Ch...
* Lawmakers decry high turnover rate of VA h...
* CBD Oil, and politics
* Simon considering state Senate bid
* Killer Congressman Tom MacArthur trying to...
* Shutdown? State may not notice
* Rep. Bob Dold

* Senators drafting bill to limit Trump-era ......
* Dick Durbin Says Goodbye To Mark Kirk - FO......

* Dick Durbin Says Goodbye To Mark Kirk - FO......

* Not enough votes for democracy in the Illinois legislature.
* Tony at the Red Line Tap.
* Patrick T. Stanton appointed to 3rd Subcircuit vacancy
* Where's Weyermuller? At Black Friday Protest on Chicago's Mag Mile
* Exelon bailout passes Illinois House and Senate
* Kelly’s advice for Trump: ‘Rise above it’
* Morning Minute: U.S. economy adds jobs, unemployment rate falls to nine-year low
* Strike at O’Hare.
* Zombies in Washington (an art project).
* Thorner: All-star Heartland panel discuss importance of breaking the Democratic Super House Majority (Part 2)


* Thanksgiving Holiday Travel Brings Lowest Fatality Rate In Six Years
* Stateville Correctional Center’s F House Officially Closed
* Governor Takes Bill Action
* IEMA Highlights Safety during the Holidays - Encourages holiday shoppers to give preparedness gifts this year
* Statement on the Future Energy Jobs Bill




      Hosted by MCS SUBSCRIBE to Capitol Fax Advertise Here Mobile Version Contact Rich Miller