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The other white meat

Wednesday, Jun 28, 2006

The Tribune has a long story today on a different sort of political pork.

In a new kind of political pork, state officials awarded $12 million to more than 100 non-profit groups, businesses, schools and churches for after-school programs that, in some cases, served few students or failed to deliver on their promises, the Tribune has found.

The sister of a state senator got $25,000 to run a drama program that had only four students.

A Chicago woman and her son received $30,000 to teach a hip-hop exercise class for 12 to 20 students at a shopping mall.

A religious group was given $30,000 to run an arts program at an elementary school, but never did. Instead, two group members patrolled the lunchroom and counseled some students about behavior problems.

And $5,180 of the after-school money went to pay off debts–including an old tuition bill–that recipients owed the state.

Read the whole thing. Fascinating.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Gregor - Wednesday, Jun 28, 06 @ 8:06 am:

    There is no oversight because as far as this administration is concerned, these were all Baksheesh to make friends with the pols that advanced these programs, in exchange for support on passing the budget.

  2. - Pickney - Wednesday, Jun 28, 06 @ 8:16 am:

    “A religious group was given $30,000 to run an arts
    program….and [instead] counseled some students about behavior problems”

    Counseled them in the ways of Jeeeeessuuuussssss?

  3. - Anon - Wednesday, Jun 28, 06 @ 8:40 am:

    This is great reporting! All I can say is unbelievable!!! Herndon must be a pretty popular guy.I bet he just walks around saying “I can get you some money for that” Isn’t he the one who’s had some financial troubles? Also could you imagine what the $12 million could have done for some smaller schools down south. I am wondering why these at-risk youth aren’t enrolled in Maggie Daley’s program, sounds like if they were it could be more jobs for Chicago’s connected!

    Another example of ouur current governors leadership!

  4. - Cassandra - Wednesday, Jun 28, 06 @ 8:53 am:

    $12 million isn’t much in a $50 billion dollar budget. Sure, it’s annoying, but it’s also legal. We have the power to change it, but we haven’t.

    I’d like to see a list of state reps and senators and how much money they were able to get for their respective jurisdictions. Perhaps that information should be included in our evaluation of their future candidacies. After all, we have few ways of evaluating them and under Blago, getting some of the goodies (the Dems, anyway) for their constituents should be
    a job expectation.

  5. - Truthful James - Wednesday, Jun 28, 06 @ 9:02 am:

    This is part of the extra money which Blago, Jones, and Madigan knew was coming but did not formally put in their balanced budget.

    The State, like all states, continue to benefot from the Bush tax cuts, which generate additional State income tax and sales tax moneys.

    When the Madigan Flying Budget circus went around the state all the worthy NGOs who had requested money were told that the Budget had no room. They were lying of course, because their statistics showed no increase in revenues year after year, but every economic forfecast and year to date numbers showed increases in the above of more than 12% in every state.

    Now the Blago boys can — closer to the election than before — act like the Lords of the Manor, distributing largesse — or crumbs, depending on your point of view.

  6. - Anani Mouse - Wednesday, Jun 28, 06 @ 9:04 am:

    This really IS good reporting, allowing some overdue sunshine to be cast upon this portion of the state’s budget. And yet the sad fact is that this funny biz will have a bad-apple-spoiling-the-lot effect upon the dozens and dozens of really worthy and effective after-school programs that are so necessary to helping troubled kids stay off the streets, get some tutoring time, etc. I know some providers of said programs who are stretched to the limit in trying to keep their doors open and quality programs running. Ultimately, kids suffer when we (a) allow precious state dollars to be spent unwisely in ways that don’t really help kids and (b) allow a backlash effect to strain decent programs even further.

  7. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jun 28, 06 @ 9:14 am:

    I like the part about how grant recipients filled out the applications after the appropriations were made. That’s classy. Blago should streamline this process and do away with the applications altogether. What’s the point? Let’s just distribute debit cards to these sham organizations. Seriously, we shouod be insulted that somewhere in Springfiled some poor sap has to collect these applications and process them. They’re probably written in crayon.

  8. - Anon - Wednesday, Jun 28, 06 @ 9:33 am:

    I’m not sure why, other than mindless anti-Blago sentiment, that the venom on this issue is directed at the Governor rather than the legislature, where it belongs. After slipping these things into the budget, the legislators make it pretty damn clear to the agencies that there is to be NO oversight of who gets what for what. Criticize the Gov for going along, I suppose, but this is really legislative hubris and corruption, not executive.

  9. - Common Sense in Illinois - Wednesday, Jun 28, 06 @ 9:53 am:

    Anon 9:33 — Are you kidding? Do you really believe what you just wrote? If the Governor were so innocent and the big bad legislature is the real culprit, why didn’t the Governor pull out the item veto? Didn’t know what was in the budget…legislators snuck stuff in…that’s not just unacceptable, it’s unbelievable.

  10. - Louis G. Atsaves - Wednesday, Jun 28, 06 @ 10:52 am:

    Please no sniping at Republican comments now. Republicans had absolutely nothing to do with the last two budgets Illinois passed. What everyone is complaining of or commenting about is all Democrat inspired.

    Louis G. Atsaves

  11. - OneMan - Wednesday, Jun 28, 06 @ 10:55 am:

    Anon - Wednesday, Jun 28, 06 @ 9:33 am:

    Because the governor agrees to it. Look at the MOUs one of the two signatories is almost always an administration offical.

    Also can you line item veto an MOU or the funding involved?

  12. - Budget Watcher - Wednesday, Jun 28, 06 @ 11:07 am:

    Anon 9:33,

    I agree with you on only one point - the anti-Blago bashing is over-the-top too often. But the rest of your post is simply not accurate. Those MOU deals are just that - deals that the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget agree to fund. As part of the deal, the GOMB is expected to do due diligence in asking what kind of projects are being funded and the relative merit of these projects. The GOMB doesn’t exist to “go along” with these questionable requests, they’re there to manage the budget - hence the Management in their name.

  13. - Leroy - Wednesday, Jun 28, 06 @ 11:19 am:

    Louis - your comment is senseless.

    I invoke Illinois political justification argument #1:

    “It is ok for political party X to participate in questionable behavior Y because politcal party Z has historically participated in questionable behavior Y”

    See? Now everything is OK!

  14. - anon - Wednesday, Jun 28, 06 @ 1:32 pm:

    if the governor had a problem with it, he wouldn’t be directing staff to hold “surrogate events” around the state with these people touting his committment to afterschool and the programs. if there was a real committment, they’d be in the real budget and going to programs where we can see a success. he doesn’t give two toots about afterschool, just the press he can get afterward.

  15. - Beowulf - Wednesday, Jun 28, 06 @ 3:20 pm:

    Outrageous. What else can you say? But then again, Illinois is one of the more fiscally sound states in the country so we can certainly afford this waste. And there are still a few people out there saying they want 4 more years of Blagojevich? What about his “Drunken Sailor” speach? Is the Governor bellying up to the bar with Midshipman Emil Jones and the others now? They remind me of that commercial about the credit card thieves who have been charging away on “our” stolen credit card.

  16. - Save a Horse Ride a Harley - Wednesday, Jun 28, 06 @ 4:04 pm:

    How is this any different than the people who bilked FEMA out of billions? FRAUD IS FRAUD! Where is the outrage and when can we expect the Atty. General to start prosecuting these people?

  17. - Truthful James - Wednesday, Jun 28, 06 @ 4:25 pm:

    To Save a Horse Ride a Harley

    Look up in the air, sir. If you see a pig flying tell the AG to prosecute.

    About the same time as you see a Frigidaire in an igloo.

    And about the same time the Cook County States Attorney enforces the Election Interference Act

  18. - Louis G. Atsaves - Wednesday, Jun 28, 06 @ 10:23 pm:

    Leroy, what is so senseless about stating that Republicans had absolutely nothing to do with the state budget the past two years? Is that truthful statement too painful for some to digest? It sure seems that way.

    Nothing is being justified. When the finger of accusation about pork spending on pork projects is pointed, make sure it is pointed at those who passed the budget containing all the nonsense the Tribune highlighted today. Point it directly at the Democrats in Springfield. No one else. Just the Democrats.

    They created it all by themselves. They voted for it using their control of all three branches of Springfield government. They passed it. They are now doling it out.

    All this of course, was supposed to end under the good government Blagojevich administration. Wasn’t it?

    Louis G. Atsaves

  19. - Cat - Wednesday, Jun 28, 06 @ 11:24 pm:

    Maybe Steve Schnorf or one of the other budget gurus on this blog can answer a question for me:
    Don’t commitments of $250,000 or more require signatures of 3 Agency executives? So can Tim Martin really commit to some of the large expenditures, without legal and fiscal co-signers? I understand these are agreements, not contracts, but I thought Hynes was requiring 3 signatories for agreements too…..

  20. - Budget Watcher - Thursday, Jun 29, 06 @ 2:38 am:

    MOUs aren’t legally binding.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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