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Another media slam on Quinn’s anti-violence program

Monday, Aug 25, 2014

* Look, there are no magic solutions for all of Chicago’s violence problems. If there were, then the violence would’ve already stopped. So pointing out one failure may be politically fun, but what we really need to find out is if Gov. Quinn’s 2010 program made any inroads at all

When Gov. Pat Quinn invested millions of state dollars into his now-tainted Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, one aim was to steer kids away from crime while putting a little spending money in their pockets.

Shaquille Wilson allegedly didn’t get that money the way Quinn’s administration envisioned when rolling out the 2010 anti-violence program with a promise of “economic opportunity” for young people in the city’s most violent neighborhoods.

During the program’s first full year in 2011, Wilson underwent NRI-funded mentoring through a West Side legal advocacy organization, the Lawndale Christian Legal Center, and was given a state-funded, part-time job to tout a message of anti-violence in North Lawndale, state records show.

But in December of that year, Wilson, then 17 and a student at Westside Holistic Leadership Academy, was arrested and accused of being part of a burglary ring that hit six homes in Riverside and North Riverside, state and court records show.

His lawyer says he’s innocent and has completed high school and managed to find work.

* This could be problematic if the lawyer isn’t telling the truth, however

After being charged with four burglaries, Wilson was shifted into Lawndale Christian Legal Center’s NRI-funded re-entry program and has been represented in Cook County Circuit Court by the organization, records show.

The group received nearly $86,000 in NRI funding from Quinn’s administration, though Wilson’s lawyer said that none of that money has been used in his defense.

* Rauner’s response

“Quinn said it was all about fighting violence and fighting criminal behavior,” Rauner said. “But it looks like some of his NRI program money was given to a criminal and some of that money was used to defend that criminal — it looks like.”

Not to get too into the semantics weeds here, but burglary isn’t necessarily a violent crime.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


26 Comments
  1. - Anonymous - Monday, Aug 25, 14 @ 9:21 am:

    What population should a program like this target, kids that aren’t at risk of engaging in criminal behavior? Of course it won’t work for every case.

    McKinney’s angle here leaves a bad taste in my mouth. He seems anxious to portray these young people as thugs.


  2. - Anonymous - Monday, Aug 25, 14 @ 9:27 am:

    So he isn’t convicted? And now Rauner’s old rag plays jury and puts him on the front page. Good luck ever getting a job kid. The bright one indeed.


  3. - Justicia - Monday, Aug 25, 14 @ 9:29 am:

    So he isn’t convicted? And now Rauner’s old rag plays jury and puts him on the front page. Good luck ever getting a job kid. The bright one indeed.


  4. - Frank - Monday, Aug 25, 14 @ 9:32 am:

    Plenty legit things to pound Quinn over on this topic…this ain’t one of them. Of course some of these kids are going to get in trouble….most are “troubled” kids to begin with.


  5. - Justicia - Monday, Aug 25, 14 @ 9:38 am:

    Sorry ’bout the double post - not enough coffee to remember my name.


  6. - wordslinger - Monday, Aug 25, 14 @ 9:39 am:

    The article doesn’t make any sense. Of course some money targeted at-risk youth. Where should it have gone, to choir boys?


  7. - Formerly Known As... - Monday, Aug 25, 14 @ 9:41 am:

    == He seems anxious to portray these young people as thugs ==

    You don’t know Mr. McKinney or his work very well, do you?

    Rich is correct. The takeaway here could eventually be very problematic if this young man is found guilty.

    If guilty, that means he was being paid with tax dollars while burglarizing taxpaying citizens. It may also wind up that their tax dollars were being used to defend the individual who burglarized them.


  8. - Formerly Known As... - Monday, Aug 25, 14 @ 9:51 am:

    Right or wrong, there is also a sense that NRI symbolizes the manner in which Illinois government is being run.

    A lack of standardized application and review process for these grants, poor due diligence before awarding these funds, failed oversight once the funds were awarded and little accountability so far for those who misused the public funds and abused the process.

    What started off as a decent idea was quickly undermined by general incompetence, possibly worse.


  9. - Anonymous - Monday, Aug 25, 14 @ 9:55 am:

    “Not to get too into the semantics weeds here, but burglary isn’t necessarily a violent crime.”….but it is a forcible felony in Illinois, just sayin’.


  10. - Responsa - Monday, Aug 25, 14 @ 10:00 am:

    For the readers of either party who by nature rebel against government pouring money down a drain without even bothering to stay to watch it swirl down, this story continues to resonate and damage Quinn. Some people clearly believe Quinn was attempting to *ahem*” drum up votes and so they question the timing of and reason for the anti-violence funds being released as they were just before the last election. Each new revelation about this troubled program reinforces that belief.

    Many other people who see the value in outreach to minority youth– and did have hopes for NRI– now have ample evidence that the Quinn admin botched it royally. Even if the intention was initially good, the incompetence and nonchalance in execution and lack of monitoring it is glaring. This issue has defined Quinn for many voters. And not in a good way.


  11. - Amalia - Monday, Aug 25, 14 @ 10:04 am:

    cue the information flow on those who benefitted from the program touted in the Rauner commercials by the man who says he benefitted from the program.


  12. - Chris - Monday, Aug 25, 14 @ 10:06 am:

    “Not to get too into the semantics weeds here, but burglary isn’t necessarily a violent crime.”

    True, but it is an Index Crime, which is the headline crime rate stat, after homicides.


  13. - Bemused - Monday, Aug 25, 14 @ 10:14 am:

    From my experience with state government and the grant process, FKA @ 9:51 is dead on. Oversight and accountability seem to be after thoughts, practiced when the media starts to howl at the gates. This is an issue in more than a few state agencies.
    I would suggest also that part of the problem is a small number of people are adept in the art of receiving grants and tend to be close knit. Those who learn the grant process while at the state move to the private sector, while those in the private sector who climb to higher levels come back to run the grant programs. It becomes a question of who’s looking out for who’s back.


  14. - robert lincoln - Monday, Aug 25, 14 @ 10:47 am:

    Pursuant to the criminal code, burglary is defined as a “forcible felony”. 720 ILCS 5/2-8 Although in practicality, force to a person is not required.


  15. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Monday, Aug 25, 14 @ 10:56 am:

    Lawmakers from both parties and both sides of the aisle supported phasing in performance metrics over several years under the Budgeting for Results statute enacted late in 2010, so there is plenty of blame to go around.

    Rich’s point is correct, however, that Director Shaw declined the offer to implement a free study of the outcomes. You can criticize that move, but keep in mind that the program was established without any measurable goals. It is kind of tough to measure performance when you have no measurable goals.

    Or SMART goals as we like to call them.


  16. - Amalia - Monday, Aug 25, 14 @ 10:59 am:

    drug use….not dealing…is one thing to diminish. (and get help for those who need it.) but I’ve noticed a trend in the news, not just here, to diminish theft, robbery and burglary. I think that is wrong. Often those crimes lead to bigger crimes and violence. Besides, why should anyone be the victim of someone taking something from them and not have it be taken seriously?


  17. - Precinct Captain - Monday, Aug 25, 14 @ 11:30 am:

    ==McKinney’s angle here leaves a bad taste in my mouth. He seems anxious to portray these young people as thugs.==

    Welcome to Media Portrayals of Black American Youth 101, 1619-Present.

    ==If guilty, that means he was being paid with tax dollars while burglarizing taxpaying citizens. It may also wind up that their tax dollars were being used to defend the individual who burglarized them.==

    Where did you find out these people burglarized were paying taxes? Did you crosscheck property tax payers with police reports? Income tax records?


  18. - Responsa - Monday, Aug 25, 14 @ 11:40 am:

    ==Where did you find out these people burglarized were paying taxes? Did you crosscheck property tax payers with police reports? Income tax records?==

    Geez PC, really, is that your best comeback? Talk about squirrels!


  19. - Formerly Known As... - Monday, Aug 25, 14 @ 11:46 am:

    == Where did you find out these people burglarized were paying taxes? ==

    To the best of my knowledge, every human being purchases at least clothing, food, drink, fuel or train-bus tickets, and so on during the course of their year. Even those receiving benefits or on fixed incomes.

    Everyone pays some sort of taxes with “their” money, and it need not strictly be in the form of income taxes or property taxes.


  20. - Formerly Known As... - Monday, Aug 25, 14 @ 11:56 am:

    == He seems anxious to portray these young people as thugs ==

    == Welcome to Media Portrayals of Black American Youth ==

    Implying that Dave McKinney is somehow biased against people of any race is ignorant and reckless.

    His stellar 30 year track record proves otherwise, and at least two commenters so far today owe him an apology.


  21. - votecounter - Monday, Aug 25, 14 @ 11:59 am:

    I gotta disagree with you Rich there is one solution to the violence in the city. JOBS! Jobs!
    Allowing employers to pay people the national minimum wage (or lower for teens). To get people ready for work and show them that there is work for them you would see the shootings drop rapidly. People would be sleeping at 3 in the morning etc…


  22. - logic not emotion - Monday, Aug 25, 14 @ 12:09 pm:

    I think the same Shaquille Wilson has been charged in a slaying (a search will find it).

    Regarding the funds, I think funds need to be spent in trying to ensure youth don’t go down the wrong road so I do support programs of that type (it should be cheaper to keep them from going down the road to incarceration); but… I am also convinced that this particular effort was simply a get out the vote program to benefit Quinn with the election and not a real anti-violence effort.


  23. - Lobo Y Olla - Monday, Aug 25, 14 @ 12:34 pm:

    but burglary isn’t necessarily a violent crime.

    It’s not necessairly a peaceful one either. In fact it’s codified as a “forcible felony.”


  24. - liandro - Monday, Aug 25, 14 @ 12:35 pm:

    Well, this particular kid seems to have had a job, so I’m not sure that was the issue. Then again, how much of a “real” job it was is a valid question. Every time I read about this program it just bothers me immensely. Getting support for at-risk kids is one thing; using the money for criminal defense?

    As Rich alluded to–what, if any, parts of it were effective at preventing violence? Was there any way to measure/manage that?


  25. - Anonymous - Monday, Aug 25, 14 @ 1:21 pm:

    One could say that burglary may be the handmaiden of violence. Like, if the owner of the tool chest catches you in the act


  26. - Demoralized - Monday, Aug 25, 14 @ 2:13 pm:

    You’d think that if the program was successful they would be blasting info on all of that success out there. Instead we get next to nothing.


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