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Why did they get the money in the first place?

Wednesday, Jun 25, 2014

* The whole idea of having “lead agencies” in the governor’s anti-violence initiative oversee grants was because these established, local not-for-profits knew the area well, knew the terrain, knew the needs and knew the providers. So, what the heck happened here?

Thousands of state anti-violence grant dollars from Gov. Pat Quinn’s scandal-tainted Neighborhood Recovery Initiative went to a south suburban nonprofit to help re-integrate freed teen and young adult prison inmates back into society.

It was a noble idea except for one thing.

The nonprofit that the state paid with anti-violence grant money to handle re-entry services in Thornton Township actually was operating out of a day care center in south suburban Dixmoor.

On top of that, it was later learned, there was really no re-entry program at all — nor any proof that the organization, Project Hope, Inc., did anything for the $15,770 it received from Quinn’s administration to perform re-entry services, state records show.

It took three months for the Healthcare Consortium of Illinois, the larger nonprofit that the Quinn administration put in charge of NRI spending in Thornton Township, to figure out the scheme and to begin the process of turning off the spigot of taxpayer dollars, state records show.

Sheesh.

They never should’ve received that grant in the first place. A daycare center? Are you kidding me?

It appears from the story that one person at the local lead agency, Jaclin Davis, raised numerous red flags. Good for her. But Davis’ higher-ups at HCI really, truly messed up by handing out the grant in the first place.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


35 Comments
  1. - A guy... - Wednesday, Jun 25, 14 @ 10:11 am:

    Poorly conceived, poorly executed, poor results. Poor Pat.


  2. - Spliff - Wednesday, Jun 25, 14 @ 10:19 am:

    HMMMM, Thornton Twp. Wonder who there has the juice to make a little money off the state and get a grant?


  3. - Abraham Froman - Wednesday, Jun 25, 14 @ 10:19 am:

    Poor oversight. However a daycare center could be a helpful re-entry program as former inmates start looking for work or take jobs and don’t have family support to watch the child.


  4. - John A Logan - Wednesday, Jun 25, 14 @ 10:25 am:

    This might move a few independents toward Rauner.


  5. - Commander Norton - Wednesday, Jun 25, 14 @ 10:25 am:

    This is one of these stories that challenges the usual narrative. Jaclin Davis is the wife of Rep. Will Davis, yet it appears she did everything she could to make sure her bosses knew in no uncertain terms that she believed Project Hope had committed fraud. Good for the Sun Times for pointing out both of those facts and not just going for the lazy, “people who knew people got money and misused it” line.


  6. - Amalia - Wednesday, Jun 25, 14 @ 10:25 am:

    it’s always about how you monitor a project. You can make course corrections, but unless you closely monitor, even a good plan can go bad. and a bad plan can be made better. Or in this case, not.
    sad.


  7. - Soccermom - Wednesday, Jun 25, 14 @ 10:26 am:

    I like and respect Dave McKinney, but I thought this was unfair:

    “Davis is the wife of state Rep. Will Davis, D-Homewood. The Sun-Times reported in April that she received more than $137,000 in state-subsidized salary and benefits over two years to oversee NRI programming in Thornton Township on behalf of her employer, Healthcare Consortium of Illinois. BUT Jaclin Davis appeared to be among those most actively raising the red flag over Project Hope.”

    From these e-mails, it sounds like they put the right person in charge. She was raising red flags fro the beginning, and she wasn’t shy about using the word “fraud.”

    Matt Murphy owes her an apology: “A top Republican in the Illinois Senate, who has been a leading critic of Quinn’s Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, said Ms. Davis’ involvement in the program is hard to justify. “The more that people dig into this program and find out what was really done, the more the whole thing just stinks,” said Sen. Matt Murphy, R-Palatine. “I think people are very cynical about those in politics benefiting themselves,” he continued. “And the perception is going to be that’s what was done here again.”


  8. - Plutocrat03 - Wednesday, Jun 25, 14 @ 10:29 am:

    Seems to me that this is a window into how public monies are transferred to the elite who ostensively promise to do a public good. Unfortunately the reality is that the promised good never materializes, the disadvantage do not get their needed services and the public is fleeced once again.

    However magically the politicians get to crow about the good they are doing while enriching the ’special’ people of the State.

    Is it a wonder that the public is getting tired of this kind of charade?


  9. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jun 25, 14 @ 10:30 am:

    If you want to funnel State money to your friends, do it in amounts and ways you don’t think anyone will question. “We’ll call it an anti-violence initiative, everyone’s against violence! We’ll give it to a day care center, everyone supports more money to help kids!”


  10. - walker - Wednesday, Jun 25, 14 @ 10:31 am:

    They probably turned in a fraudulent grant application. Thousands of applications are received annually. Many are misleading or bad in some way.

    It’s like small business or mortgage lending for a bank — how much due diligence (e.g. visiting the site, verifying information, checking out the people thru third parties) is necessary before sending a check?

    You cannot just rely on the RE Agent or Mortgage Broker to tell you everything’s just fine.

    At least they followed up, and stopped it.

    If there was clout, or local political connection, different story.


  11. - Black Ivy - Wednesday, Jun 25, 14 @ 10:42 am:

    Thornton Township was identified as a “lead agency” charged with dispursing the Neighborhood Recovery Initaitive funds? Will wonders ever cease? #shamefulanddispicable


  12. - LincolnLounger - Wednesday, Jun 25, 14 @ 10:49 am:

    Drip, drip, drip, drip.

    The only difference is that Rauner has the means to make sure this message gets out there.

    I state this without enthusiasm; however, the Quinn administration is finally going to get called on its incompetence. Finally, a “Republican” with the means to drill this, every other scandal, and the parade of 5th Amendment-pleading Quinnsters to come into a theme with enough points to blanket all the airwaves with a coherent message.

    The question is, will Illinois voters care?


  13. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jun 25, 14 @ 10:57 am:

    Hmmm…
    Some familiar names on the HCI executive team: http://www.hcionline.org/executive-team/


  14. - CirularFiringSquad - Wednesday, Jun 25, 14 @ 10:57 am:

    Who the heck is so sloppy that Matt Murphy is called a “top Republican” No wonder we never win — tee hee
    Thank goodness we never had these problems with the literacy grants! We did but one ever looked because we do no wrong. Can you spell MSI?
    Fire, Aim, Ready!


  15. - Becasue I say so... - Wednesday, Jun 25, 14 @ 11:14 am:

    So where did the money go? Ms Davis raised red flags but did she take the salary and benefits and not do any work?


  16. - Soccermom - Wednesday, Jun 25, 14 @ 11:22 am:

    Because I say so — oh, for heaven’s sake. Ms. Davis was hired to make sure the grantees were doing what they were supposed to do. Within three months of the contract signing, she saw that they were not performing the services they were required to do. She followed up, notified her bosses about the problems and cut off their funds within weeks.

    That was her job. And it looks like she did it right.


  17. - Responsa - Wednesday, Jun 25, 14 @ 11:22 am:

    The apology that is due is one from Pat Quinn to the people of Illinois who pay taxes. This is an important story (thank you Dave McKinney). It appears that Jaclin may have seen the problem and did try to report it, as the story makes pretty clear. But sorry– she doesn’t get a pass and an A for effort in reporting it to her superiors at HCI where it just got buried. There were other avenues she might have taken.


  18. - Both Sides Now - Wednesday, Jun 25, 14 @ 11:26 am:

    The State funnels billions of dollars (both federal and state) to grantees each year, which often in turn give it to sub-grantees. It’s up to the grantee (in this case, Healthcare Consortium) to determine if the sub-grantee (Project Hope) meets the grant requirements and then to monitor them for compliance. Based on the story above, it sounds like that’s just what they did!
    Inevitably, there are going to be those who try to scam the system and monies that could have been put to better use - heck the legislators award their “initiative” dollars to all kinds of questionable projects in their districts! However, it doesn’t mean that the Governor had anything to do with who got the grant award or even knew who got it, much less had anything to do with the poor choices they made.
    In my opinion, the grantee did their job in shutting down the sub-grantee and there really isn’t that big of a story here. We’re making a mountain out of a molehill because it’s an election year!


  19. - Becasue I say so... - Wednesday, Jun 25, 14 @ 11:33 am:

    @ Soccermom…”The Sun-Times reported in April that she received more than $137,000 in state-subsidized salary and benefits over two years to oversee NRI programming in Thornton Township on behalf of her employer, Healthcare Consortium of Illinois.”

    The story says “over two years.” I’m not implying she didn’t do her best to call attention to the problem. But the way I read the story, it doesn’t come across that way.


  20. - Befuddled - Wednesday, Jun 25, 14 @ 11:33 am:

    CFS,
    I don’t think your literacy grants excuse is getting any traction.

    Seems like there are still a lot of questions here to be answered about how this program went so horribly wrong. Which makes it all the more troubling that Madigan’s Audit Commission members are trying to end the audit review process before those questions can be answered.


  21. - fed up - Wednesday, Jun 25, 14 @ 11:37 am:

    A Day care facility recieved monies ment for a so called anti violence program. No we arent making a mountain out a mole hill, thats fraud people go to jail for that, someone lied on the application and then someone handed out monies without checking the application, or they handed out the money knowing full well the money wasnt going to anti violence.


  22. - Soccermom - Wednesday, Jun 25, 14 @ 11:40 am:

    Because (or becasue) I Say So — Geez. The Healthcare Consortium had more than one grant to monitor. This one grant did not represent her entire job.

    Here’s a news flash — Sometimes people who are married to legislators actually, you know, show up at work and do a good job.


  23. - MikeMacD - Wednesday, Jun 25, 14 @ 11:45 am:

    $15,770.

    That’s the total amount were talking about in this case?


  24. - fed up - Wednesday, Jun 25, 14 @ 11:48 am:

    I wonder how much state money this day care center has recieved from the state over the past. One would have to wonder if they lied about doing re entry work what else might they be lying about, You know how Pinnochio Pat didn’t just lie about raising taxes he lied about many things


  25. - fed up - Wednesday, Jun 25, 14 @ 11:50 am:

    MikeMac D

    Thats well over the amount needed for felony theft.


  26. - Befuddled - Wednesday, Jun 25, 14 @ 12:07 pm:

    MikeMacD,
    Ask Derrick Smith if that’s chump change.


  27. - Because I say so... - Wednesday, Jun 25, 14 @ 12:19 pm:

    Apparently I have hit a nerve Soccermom. I am simply asking questions. I didn’t imply Ms Davis did anything wrong or didn’t show up for work and do a good job. As I stated, the article still leaves a lot of unanswered questions. Lighten up.


  28. - Formerly Known As... - Wednesday, Jun 25, 14 @ 12:25 pm:

    Waiting to see if HCI will face any additional scrutiny or consequences from authorities.

    A few paragraphs of bad press hardly seems like just recompense.


  29. - Formerly Known As... - Wednesday, Jun 25, 14 @ 12:31 pm:

    == Unfortunately the reality is that the promised good never materializes ==

    I’ll take “The Bobby Rush Technology Center” for $100, Alex.


  30. - Soccermom - Wednesday, Jun 25, 14 @ 1:46 pm:

    Yes you hit a nerve. I get very upset when people’s reputations are impugned unfairly.


  31. - Cassandra - Wednesday, Jun 25, 14 @ 2:47 pm:

    “They probably turned in a fraudulent grant application. Thousands of applications are received annually. Many are misleading or bad in some way.”

    And that’s exactly what we taxpayers should be attending to when these stories come out, not the sordid details of particular incidents. Billions of dollars in contracts and grants are given out state of Illinois door every year. It’s not Quinn’s money. It’s our money. Of course, there will be fraudulent applications; there are always crooks standing around a huge pile of money like the state piggy bank. The crooks should be punished, not just required to give back the money. And the executives in charge of disbursing that money should be reminded forcefully of what their job is. I notice we have heard no apologies from Shaw, Weems, et al.


  32. - Arizona Bob - Wednesday, Jun 25, 14 @ 4:38 pm:

    @soccermom
    =Here’s a news flash — Sometimes people who are married to legislators actually, you know, show up at work and do a good job.=

    Some examples, please (if there are any!)

    Maybe you’re referring to Michelle Obama who got a $300K+ per year job as a “Diversity Director” at U of Chicago, IIRC, just AFTER her husband was elected to the Senate? Funny thing. I understand that the job was SOOOOOOO important that it was terminated after Ms Obama moved on.

    Do you mean like CC recorder of deeds Dorothy Brown’s hubby who I believe is having some legal problems associated with feeding at this program’s trough as well?

    There may be an alderman or state rep or Senator’s spouse who’s doing a good job without using the position for patronage or cronyism and who didn’t get the job through “clout”, but I just can’t seem to recall any at the time.

    Please educate me as to who meets those criteria, soccermom.


  33. - Soccermom - Wednesday, Jun 25, 14 @ 5:37 pm:

    AB — You just insulted thousands and thousands of honest, hard-working men and women throughout Illinois — spouses of village trustees, of library board members, of board of education members, of park district members, and — yes — state legislators and members of our DC delegation. Well done.


  34. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jun 25, 14 @ 5:54 pm:

    –Which makes it all the more troubling that Madigan’s Audit Commission members are trying to end the audit review process before those questions can be answered.–

    By issuing subpoenas to compel testimony? That’s a funny way short-circuit the review process.


  35. - Precinct Captain - Thursday, Jun 26, 14 @ 4:20 am:

    ==By issuing subpoenas to compel testimony? That’s a funny way short-circuit the review process.==

    All part of The Great Almighty Madigan’s grand plan. Next, it’s Lisa 2018.


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