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Fanning the flames

Thursday, Jul 24, 2014

* The AP rewrites the Sun-Times story from yesterday

Emails turned over to a legislative panel have raised questions about the role of politics in Gov. Pat Quinn’s defunct anti-violence program that’s under federal investigation, according to a published report Wednesday.

Exchanges between former Quinn aides appear to show a suburban Chicago mayoral race factored into determining which service providers got money through the 2010 Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Quinn started the approximately $55 million program to help curb neighborhood violence. Earlier this year, state auditors detailed problems with mismanagement and misspending, and top Republicans claimed it was a political slush fund to help Quinn ahead of a close November 2010 election.

Notice how the AP labels the program as “the 2010 Neighborhood Recovery Initiative.”

But hold on a second. The e-mail exchange actually happened in 2011 - which is, of course, after the 2010 election. You have to read further down in the AP story to see a mention of 2011.

* BND

Just days before the 2010 gubernatorial election, two of Gov. Pat Quinn’s top lieutenants were talking about expanding a controversial anti-crime grant program to East St. Louis. […]

Emails obtained by the News-Democrat show that the former head of the Illinois Violence Prevention Authority, Barbara Shaw, wrote to the head of another state agency about expanding the program to downstate, including East St. Louis.

The email was sent Oct. 25, 2010 — just eight days before the election — to Michelle Saddler, the head of the Illinois Department of Human Services.

“Hi, Michelle. Any further thoughts about taking NRI to Rockford, Decatur and East St. Louis?” Shaw stated in the email. “If we want to do that, it would be great to announce it this week.”

Saddler, as secretary of the Department of Human Services, served on the Violence Prevention Authority’s board.

The expansion never happened. And, as it turned out, those Downstate communities, including ESL, were part of a different anti-violence program. Director Saddler’s response e-mail, if any, and e-mail exchanges leading up to the one Shaw sent weren’t included in the story.

…Adding… The reporter on the ESL story says he couldn’t find any response by Saddler.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


20 Comments
  1. - wordslinger - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 10:21 am:

    I guess if you get saddled with the task of reading all those emails you have to produce something.

    Geez, do a comprehensive story on the audit. There’s a lot of stuff there on your government-at-work.


  2. - A guy... - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 10:26 am:

    As this review goes on, it could turn into an “email of the day” report that keeps this on or near the front pages multiple days per week. OY.


  3. - Chicago Cynic - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 10:26 am:

    More meh. So were people who worked for the government supposed to not work before the election? And is it a shock that someone would want to announce grants before an election? Again, meh.


  4. - walker - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 10:37 am:

    There’s got to be more than this.

    Is this the best they could come up with after reading all the available e-mails? Are the reporters holding the better stories for later?

    The more this easy stuff comes out, the more confident I become there’s nothing in these e-mails of much potential criminal risk.

    We shall see what the Feds come up with via other sources.


  5. - VanillaMan - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 10:38 am:

    A governor has the power of incumbency when running for election. What I want to add to this conversation is the fact that incumbents do what they feel they need to do before an election, and this is the kind of stuff they do.

    When we discuss how we can clean up our elections, we shouldn’t just focus on campaign fundraising or the wealth of a candidate. We need to recognize a need to prevent the use of our money being used in political ways before an election as well.

    I think what we’ll discover isn’t illegal. But it is a bad time for this discussion for Quinn and a bad time to air before voters just how craptastic politics can be, right before this election.

    It is too bad we even have to do this, but we have to. First - it is a hell of a lot of money. Today’s government spends billions at the drop of a hat and when that hat falls into a pit, it makes news. Second - it is political now, because it was political then. Sorry, but you can’t claim to be the reformer governor and have evidence that you did your incumbent best to grant your political base as much money as this. Third - it is important for the opposition party to oppose incumbents. Regardless of party in power - it is what challengers need to do. While you may not like the media or Republicans to air this stuff 90 days before an election, they would not be doing their job - if they didn’t. One day Quinn will be history, and it shouldn’t hurt the Democrats one bit if they question his administration’s moves regarding this. We cannot clean up government if we keep ignoring times when it looks like our elections were adulterated, including when the incumbents pulled those political strings.

    While I do not like the timing, I do appreciate what is being done through the investigation, as should any tax payer.


  6. - Anonymous - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 10:41 am:

    Wait wait wait……so Quinn’s staff discussed expanding this program to other violent neighborhoods. How dare they!!!

    These newspapers better put up or shut up on these emails. Because if this is the best they can do, they need to go beat a different drum.


  7. - A guy... - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 10:46 am:

    Psst…the Feds aren’t here because it’s nothing.


  8. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 10:48 am:

    It’s damaging enough without acknowledging the dates don’t mesh.

    I guess the Feds knew the emails really don’t add up to a hill of beans.


  9. - Precinct Captain - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 10:55 am:

    ==The reporter on the ESL story says he couldn’t find any response by Saddler.==

    What about the “e-mail exchanges leading up to the one Shaw sent”?

    ==We need to recognize a need to prevent the use of our money being used in political ways before an election as well.==

    Do you understand what politics is?

    Here’s a definition from OED: “The activities associated with the governance of a country or other area, especially the debate or conflict among individuals or parties having or hoping to achieve power.”

    Every policy decision is politically-oriented, “before an election” or not.


  10. - Demoralized - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 10:56 am:

    I still haven’t seen anything in this mess that indicates anything criminal. It was a complete cluster, but nothing seems to have been criminal.


  11. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 10:56 am:

    ===I guess the Feds knew the emails really don’t add up to a hill of beans.===

    Ding ding ding. We have a winner.


  12. - Empty Suit - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 11:06 am:

    Bottom line the Gov wasted $100 million (two yrs unaudited) on a program that didn’t work by his own admission.


  13. - Holly - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 11:09 am:

    Oh, gez, there really doesn’t seem to be much for an expose. This story needs to go away. Let the media write about something important.


  14. - VanillaMan - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 11:12 am:

    For those who wish to tell themselves that Quinn’s timing was just coincidental, please remember that in the time his administration formulated and began notifying his supporters of these million dollar grants - he could have done the same thing after the election, even if he had lost.

    The same GA that passed the income tax hike, would have had no problem doing this for their political base on the even of Quinn’s administration, should he have lost.

    The timing is not coincidental.

    Was it illegal - sadly, no.
    Was it unethical - F’n right it was.
    Should we know about this - yes.
    Should we care - definitely.

    Quinn’s actions on this entire gambit exposes him as a man a bit too worried about everyone discovering everything. He has not handled as though he was completely innocent.

    So, there is that as well.


  15. - LincolnLounger - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 11:13 am:

    Only the Quinn crowd could think an ineffective program rife with abuse and incompetence that spent $100 million with little or no oversight and had to finally be scrapped is unimportant and “needs to go away.”

    Guess what? Drip. Drip. Drip. For the next 100 days.


  16. - Dixie Normous - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 11:15 am:

    This and other programs like it are all a complete and utter waste of our tax dollars, that is what’s really criminal. If Quinn did something illegal I hope the Feds act quickly so we can have Sheila Simon as our governor. It would be refreshing to have a female governor who’s also easy on the eyes!


  17. - Birdseed - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 11:40 am:

    === The advice given by the mentors also has been questioned. In one instance, a mentor gave advice to a mother about how to deal with a child who violated curfew.

    “I told her to tell him that night is the prime time that youth get harassed and killed by the police,” the mentor wrote in his report. ===

    That was worth the read. Wow.


  18. - Juvenal - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 4:26 pm:

    Payments were made to organizations in Peoria, Springfield and East St Louis, according to the tax returns of one of the NRI lead agencies.


  19. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Friday, Jul 25, 14 @ 7:08 am:

    Yeah, Birdseed, I caught that one too.

    More explaining to do.

    And now Quinn is going to be forced to pick sides in the debate.

    With an election right here, he has to side with those who have Burge as Exhibit A.

    A nuanced response can express outrage for historic abuse of power without offending law enforcement….because Quinn needs every single vote of every public employee union, including the FOP.

    I am sure Grant Klinzman will hit it out of the ballpark. Team Quinn has known this is coming for some time since they produced the documents, and that is a huge advantage.


  20. - macbook repair schaumburg - Tuesday, Aug 12, 14 @ 1:32 pm:

    Yesterday, while I was at work, my sister stole my iphone and tested to see
    if it can survive a thirty foot drop, just so she can be a
    youtube sensation. My iPad is now destroyed and she has 83 views.

    I know this is completely off topic but I had to share it
    with someone!


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