A panel of lawmakers reviewing Gov. Pat Quinn’s botched $55 million anti-violence program delivered yet another political blow to the re-election seeking Democrat, voting Monday to subpoena seven former state officials who helped create and run the now-defunct Neighborhood Recovery Initiative.
The move initially was aimed at forcing Barbara Shaw, the former director of the program, to testify before the Legislative Audit Commission next month. But Democrats seeking to prevent a summer-long embarrassment for Quinn pushed to expand the scope of the subpoenas, arguing lawmakers should hear from those involved at once instead of over the course of several months.
Republicans eventually agreed to go along, though Sen. Jason Barickman of Bloomington argued Democrats were trying to orchestrate a “rush job.”
Lawmakers are peeling apart a stinging February report by Auditor General William Holland that said Quinn’s anti-violence program was hastily implemented and had inadequate oversight. The program also has attracted the attention of Cook County and federal authorities.
* The iist besides Shaw…
Also on the subpoena list: former Chief of Staff Jack Lavin, who is now a lobbyist; Toni Irving, former deputy chief of staff; Malcolm Weems, head of the Central Management Systems under Quinn; Warren Ribley, former director of the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity; Andy Ross, top aide to Ribley; and senior adviser Bill Ocasio.
* But as the Sun-Times reports, there may be precious little said at the hearings…
Shaw’s attorney, John Theis, said late Monday he had not yet seen the subpoena.
“We’re certainly going to review the subpoena,” he said, adding that her testimony is “the likely result, that’s still true.”
Theis, however, was cautious.
“We’ve got these other investigations going on out there. I have to make sure that whatever happens is the right thing not only for the audit commission but for my client,” he said. “We know that there is an investigation going on because of actions they have taken.” Theis would not comment on whether Shaw had been subpoenaed or had spoken to authorities.
* The political angle, from WLS Radio…
Democrats on the commission are pushing to get it all over sooner than later, what with the election coming.
But downstate Republican David Reis countered with this. “Some are saying we’re being political here. It’s just as political saying we don’t want to get all the answers. We’re not gonna sweep this under the rug. This is almost Blagojevich-esque.”
So now we have the name of the imprisoned former Governor Rod Blagojevich being tossed around in this scandal. Don’t look for it all to end before the election.
The rare move — the Legislative Audit Commission last issued subpoenas in the early 1980s — would mean that the former state officials would be compelled to turn in documents and testify next month over two days about the 2010 Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, which was blasted in a state audit earlier this year for mismanagement and misspending. The subpoenas still required a sign off from state Rep. Frank Mautino, a Democratic co-chair of the commission that reviews state audits.
The subcommittee was initially going to take up one subpoena for Barbara Shaw, former director of an agency that was responsible for running the $55 million anti-violence program. But Democrats said they wanted a more complete list to speed up the process.
“It’s about trying to put closure to this,” said state Rep. Bob Rita, a Blue Island Democrat. “What we could do is end these two day hearings, not drag this out.”
* Mark Brown has more…
The truth is Republicans don’t like any anti-violence program that doesn’t involve having more police arresting more people and putting them in prison. They particularly don’t like programs that involve hiring young minorities in Chicago to do busywork to keep them from selling drugs and killing each other. They don’t see the point.
That’s why it was particularly foolish for Quinn to sloppily rush out his Neighborhood Recovery Initiative in the fall of 2010 in the guts of his election campaign. These programs serve a useful purpose, which is why it’s important to do them right.
Quinn insists the big rush was solely for the purpose of addressing the violence that had alarmed Chicagoans that summer.
Republicans don’t believe him, and neither do I. While I’m sure the governor was concerned by the violence, I also think he saw it as a good way to make some friends at election time.
Even at the press conference announcing the program, U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush stood with Quinn and a group of ministers and said he didn’t know about the rest of them, but that he was going to “Stand pat with Pat” in the election. Sounds political to me.
And Quinn might have even gotten away with it if Illinois Auditor General William Holland hadn’t issued a scathing audit earlier this year about what a mess the program was.
* Chicago TV clips helpfully compiled by the Rauner campaign…
* WBBM (CBS) - 6.23.14 - 7 people subpoenaed in connection to Quinn’s troubled Anti-Violence Program
* WMAQ (NBC) - Lawmakers vote to subpoena anti-violence director & former Quinn chief of staff
* WGN - 6.23.14 - Lawmakers vote to subpoena Illinois anti-violence director and others
* WLS (ABC) - 6.23.14. - Lawmakers vote to subpoena Illinois anti-violence director and others