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More audits, more bad news

Friday, May 25, 2007 - Posted by Rich Miller

* First up, CMS

For a second straight year, Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s administration has failed to renew hundreds of leases and keep up with rent and utility payments for private office space used by the state, a new audit showed Thursday.

Auditor General William Holland’s review of the controversial office-management agency, the Department of Central Management Services, found the department’s failure to promptly deal with billings from landlords and utilities resulted in eviction notices and disconnection notices for some state agencies.

* From the same story, Orlando Jones appears once again…

Meanwhile, a separate state audit of the Illinois State Board of Investment showed that Orlando Jones, the godson of former Cook County Board President John Stroger and a well-connected political insider, collected more than $471,000 in marketing fees from William Blair & Co. to promote the investment firm before the board. The state investment board is the oversight panel for state pension systems for lawmakers, judges and state workers.

Jones also has had business ties to Antoin “Tony” Rezko, a top fundraiser and adviser to Blagojevich who was indicted last fall on federal corruption charges. Jones was previously a vice president of Rezko’s real estate development firm.

* And then there’s Chicago State University, Senate President Emil Jones’ pet project. Maybe they have too much money there…

Even as Chicago State University faced budget pressures, the university’s president spent public funds to attend two extended “leadership seminars” aboard cruise ships in the Caribbean and Mediterranean, bringing five family members along on one, state officials said Thursday.

* More from the AP

University president Elnora Daniel attended the cruises and on at least one, the room rate was 3,000 for the nine-day affair when $1,499 rooms were available, according to the report by Auditor General William Holland.

Five family members attended one or both cruises at state expense, a perk allowed by Daniel’s contract, which allows for $10,000 in travel for family members.

Thirteen charges to the university’s credit card totaled $3,932 for “various theatrical events,” including “The Lion King” and the Lyric Opera, but included no details or reasons for the spending, the audit found. Employees slept in hotel rooms whose rates exceeded the state limit; stayed past the end of conferences they attended; and were reimbursed for movies, gifts and alcohol.

* And check out the university’s laughable defense

Robyn Wheeler, spokeswoman for the 6,600-student school, refused to answer specific questions about Daniel’s travel, the audit, or the $10,000 in family travel perks.

‘’The substance of the transactions represent valid university business,'’ Wheeler said.

* You can find all the above audits at this link.

       

21 Comments
  1. - The Rod and Todd Show - Friday, May 25, 07 @ 9:55 am:

    It never ends, just think of all the things we aren’t privy too.
    Mindblowing coruption……..


  2. - Honest Abe - Friday, May 25, 07 @ 9:59 am:

    This is really bad as it fosters the perception that minority politicians and administrators are really abusing their positions for personal gain. Chicago State University serves a primarily African American student population. When its administrators waste funds on cruises and the like it serves to reinforce negative stereotypes. Todd Stroger has managed to do much the same thing. If Chicago State would have a legitimate need for additional funds in the future, it would make it easier for the General Assembly to reject the request out of hand.


  3. - 105th Blues - Friday, May 25, 07 @ 10:08 am:

    And the other day we had people attacking my comments as “burn down the capitol ideas” When I suggested that we need to slash education funding. well folks, here’s more evidence that there isn’t a need to raise taxes on the rest of us as the answer. Legislators need to start looking to make budget cuts and live within their means instead of using fear tactics and complaining about a budget “crisis”.


  4. - zatoichi - Friday, May 25, 07 @ 10:35 am:

    Wheeler translation: We had to check out the Lion King and Lyric Opera to see if that was the type of entertainment we should bring to campus for our student’s benefit.


  5. - Gene Parmesan - Friday, May 25, 07 @ 10:44 am:

    105th Blues: I think you just need to clarify what kind of cuts to higher ed. Cutting stuff like this would be great. But, particularly at our better institutions like UIUC and UIC, we need to spend more. The technology and workers produced at these universities is absolutely essential to the Illinois and US economies. And even within these schools there are cuts to be made, I think you just fired a lot of people up with the generalization of cutting higher ed.


  6. - 105th Blues - Friday, May 25, 07 @ 10:52 am:

    Obviously cuts would need to be targeted (not across the board), but I’m not an expert and haven’t seen the specific line item allocations to higher education funding. I find it hard to believe it would be the “end of the world” if a State University didn’t receive as much this year as last year.


  7. - Papa Legba - Friday, May 25, 07 @ 10:59 am:

    Another day, another round of corruption uncovered.

    What is it? Is the administration tying to desensitize us to corruption in state government so we begin to ignore it? Geez!


  8. Pingback Real’s World » Blog Archive » Oooh… Sunshine! - Friday, May 25, 07 @ 11:42 am:

    […] More audits, more bad news For a second straight year, Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s administration has failed to renew hundreds of leases and keep up with rent and utility payments for private office space used by the state, a new audit showed Thursday. […]


  9. - Lake Michigan Rapture - Friday, May 25, 07 @ 11:44 am:

    And they want to raise our taxes. Give me a break!
    Do you like the private sector does, do more with less. And don’t eliminate vacant state positions, cut real heads, cut pork spending.


  10. - one of the 35 - Friday, May 25, 07 @ 11:49 am:

    Clearly, the AG audit of CMS must be mistaken because we have been repeatedly assured by our Governor that his administration will no longer tolerate business as usual and that they “do things the right way”.


  11. - Drew - Friday, May 25, 07 @ 12:02 pm:

    Chicago State is located within the Senate President’s district and has seen much larger increases in their appropriations than any other State university in recent years. All they need to do to wiggle their way out of this is to erect another tribute to Emil Jones somewhere on campus.


  12. - Fire Ron Guenther - Friday, May 25, 07 @ 12:10 pm:

    Right on Drew! While Emil spent his time scalping Chief Illiniwek, the hacks at his favorite state university spent tax dollars like there was no tomorrow.


  13. - Levois - Friday, May 25, 07 @ 1:43 pm:

    It’ll be sad that Chicago State may not make any more improvements because of the improprieties of the administration.


  14. - Captain America - Friday, May 25, 07 @ 2:36 pm:

    The ineptitude of CMS on seemingly routine administrative matters is really hard to understand.

    Orlando Jones appears to be the African American equivalent of Stu Levine,Jeremiah Joyce,Tim Degnan, William Cellini, and other pinstripe patronage power brokers in the bipartisan combine, whoever they are. This observation does not imply that OJ has doen anything illegal.


  15. - Heads must roll - Friday, May 25, 07 @ 3:18 pm:

    Ineptitude starts at the very top!
    Cut its head(s) off, then we will be on the road to recovery.


  16. - disappointed supporter - Friday, May 25, 07 @ 3:28 pm:

    “Five family members attended one or both cruises at state expense, a perk allowed by Daniel’s contract, which allows for $10,000 in travel for family members.”

    Is it $10,000 per fiscal year? This should not be a ‘perk’ allowed by ANY state contract. When individuals are hired for a position they should be hired for their experience and abilities, not so they can take family members on cruises. Were the family members allowed to get a ‘per diem’ allowance also? I’m sure that this individual makes more than enough to pay for his family to accompany him on business trips. This is totally disgusting.


  17. - Tip if the Iceberg - Friday, May 25, 07 @ 4:22 pm:

    This activity has been going on for the past 4+ years. Just wait, you ain’t seen nothing yet!


  18. - student - Friday, May 25, 07 @ 5:45 pm:

    I am now convinced that Emil has completely lost it, both personally and as a legislative leader.

    He has to go as leader, not only for his own good but for the good of the Democratic Party. Hello, John Cullerton? Or, if it has to be a minority, than hello Donne Trotter?

    Rod we are stuck with, at least until the Feds nab him. The Democratic Party is in danger of looking like the gang that couldn’t shoot straight. The only remedy for this is a change, starting with the leader of the state Senate.


  19. - Huh? - Friday, May 25, 07 @ 6:16 pm:

    I was listening to NPR on the way home tonight and heard that as part of the gambling bill, Chicago State was to directly benefit from the bill.

    So now there is a story in the news that money was wasted on cruises, booze and 1st class airline tickets and the school is going to get even more money?

    It was noted in the NPR story that Emil Jones had an honorary doctor degree from Chicago State.

    Please tell me that there isn’t a quid pro quo.

    Regarding the CMS mess - I think that it is indicative of what political hiring has done to a single department in state government. The most telling part of the article was having to move employees around to different budgetary line items just so they could be paid. Here is a quote from the article: “… But the inability of one bureau within the department to process funds from other state agencies last fiscal year caused cash-flow problems so severe that the bureau temporarily had difficulty meeting its own payroll. As a result, auditors said, that bureau transferred 300 workers on six occasions to different internal financial accounts to make sure they got paid.

    The payments, totaling more than $4.4 million, circumvented the legislature’s appropriation process and “violates the State Finance Act,” Holland’s auditors said.

    Department officials, however, contended the agency had the authority to transfer the employee costs to the different budget accounting lines. …”

    Secondly CMS is on the hook to the Feds for billing for money it didn’t need. This time it was the Feds that found the over billing. Here is the quote “… Auditors also said the agency may owe the federal government more than $13 million the Department of Central Management Services charged but did not need for administering various federal grants to the state. The situation was brought to the agency’s attention by federal auditors, Holland said. …”

    Please don’t pile onto the career state employee. As an ex-IDOT employee, the career employees are dedicated to providing service to the people of the State. It is likely that the political hacks were the cause of the mess.


  20. - Decatur Dave - Friday, May 25, 07 @ 6:27 pm:

    State agency staff are stuck in offices with leaky roofs, non-functioning toilets, poor heating and air conditioning, due to the innovations of CMS. This really stinks, all thanks to Blago and his crew. Perhaps if we could all work in a privately-funded office near our home and go jogging during the day, we could be more productive?!?


  21. - Huh? - Friday, May 25, 07 @ 6:34 pm:

    P.S.

    From a Crain’s story - “… It also would give all casinos hundreds more gaming positions, tax casinos to provide aid for horse racing tracks and pump millions more dollars into education, construction projects and Chicago State University — a favorite of Senate President Emil Jones. …”

    http://www.chicagobusiness.com/cgi-bin/news.pl?post_date=2007-05-25&id=25140


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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