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Smoking gun? Part 2

Friday, Jan 29, 2010 - Posted by Rich Miller

* ABC7’s Chuck Goudie has a new report

A five-page memo, marked confidential and obtained by the I-Team, reveals that Burr Oak’s chief executive, Slivy Cotton, feared in 2003 that there was a grave selling plot underway.

According to her memo, workers had “discovered bones” and “human remains” and claimed “former owners routinely buried over or cleared out old graves for new business. The memo states executives feared that “old remains were dumped” in a back lot.

There’s a whole lot more in that internal cemetery company memo besides what Goudie reported tonight. I have it as well, but was unable to confirm its authenticity this evening. Click here to read it. It’s mind-boggling.

* What the comptroller’s office didn’t know before or even after that earlier disclosed 2003 meeting with Burr Oak Cemetery CEO Slivy Cotton was that Ms. Cotton already figured the company had some very serious problems on its hands. According to the confidential memo, when cleaning up the back end of their property, the company made a startling discovery…

(W)e discovered the remnants of a corner of a very old casket and some bones that we believe to be human remains. It was believed that these remains had never been buried, however, it was not possible to tell. [emphasis added]

She also reported to the company that on “several occasions” they opened what were supposed to be empty, pre-sold graves “only to discover that there were wood and bone fragments in the graves.” They suspected that the fragments were over 50 years old.

So, they started asking the groundsmen, and one of them spilled the beans…

[The groundsman] had heard that the former owners believed that if a grave was more than 50 years old, they could reuse it. They would often dig up any leftover fragments and dump them in the back.

The bottom line, according to the internal memo, is that Perpetua apparently suspected in 2003 that a grave reselling scheme may have been in operation for years

We believe that the former owners routinely buried over or cleared out old graves for new business. We believe that they sold Pre-Need to families in sections they knew were full with the expectation that people would continue to be double buried in these old graves

Those former owners included John Johnson, the legendary African-American publishing magnate.

The cemetery company had an impending crisis on its hands, because the Illinois Department of Transportation was using Eminent Domain to claim a section of the property in the back, where some remains had allegedly been dumped…

I have held the Department of Transportation off for a while trying to negotiate a higher price for the property they want to claim, but they will want to proceed soon.

That section was apparently part of the property which the company’s CEO told the comptroller’s office a little bit about in 2003.

And the company had another big dilemma. Their outside attorney, Dick Phelan, was close to Hynes, both personally and politically…

Foley and Lardner has chosen to deai only with the facts. I think going any further will pose a Conflict of Interest for them. In addition to working on his Senatorial Campaign, [Dick] Phelan and the Comptroller are personal friends. I am not sure he wants to bring anything to the Comptroller that could be unpleasant.

They were also clearly worried that David Foley at the comptroller’s office would find out what was going on…

If any attorney is to advise us, then they should advise us on how to handle any follow-up questions from David Foley. If Foley doesn’t “dig” into the situation, I believe we still would have to tell him that we suspect that there are other remains in the back. I suppose we could just decide not to use the land in the back, but I think we are exposed if what we suspect is true. If the Department of Transportation doesn’t get our approval, they will sue us to use the land they have claimed.

In other words, this grave-switching scheme allegedly goes back decades, according to the memo. It’s apparently nothing new at all. And the story they gave to the comptroller’s office in 2003? Well, it appears, to me at least, to be an innocent-sounding cover story to avoid any further investigations.

* Back to Goudie, who caught up with Gov. Quinn at an event tonight

“The Burr Oaks Cemetery scandal is the worst scandal…in American history. Grave robbing going on and there was information about that in 2003. Why didn’t the comptroller know about it? He’s in charge of that office and they have a duty, he does, under law to make sure things are done right,” said Quinn.

Quinn says the lack of action by the comptroller’s office in this scandal is a question of competence.


  1. - jack - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 12:07 am:

    how could IDOT not have found out about this when they began to claim the area they needed? was there any report?

  2. - james - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 12:08 am:


    Dart: “Danny, you knew about this in 03? Why didn’t you call me?”

    Hynes: “Tom, I told you, we don’t regulate, we just audit and report our findings.”

    Dart: “Well you sure didn’t report this one. This is right next to the 19th Ward, guy. What’s the matter with you?”

    Hynes: “We don’t get into any kind of regulation. I know our role. I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes.”

    Dart: “My guys are stepping on a lot more than toes out there.”

  3. - Chubs Mahoney - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 12:08 am:

    Oh dang, smells like something worse than incompetence.

  4. - Will County Woman - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 12:11 am:

    “Quinn says the lack of action by the comptroller’s office in this scandal is a question of competence.”

    aha! I guess the 15 minutes and then some that he got off exploiting this issue in the summer and fall were just not enough. It’s bad enough that he cut his first burr oak and and kept it under wraps while he was 20 percentage points up in the polls, and then decided that he needed to use it when his poll numbers hit the skids.

  5. - Chubs Mahoney - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 12:12 am:

    Between Ford’s 1,200 job announcement, the WVON radio debate blowout, a billion-dollar-plus high-speed rail award to Illinois, and now this…

    Quinn campaign: Don’t start gloating — but you guys hit the powerball jackpot this week.

  6. - Bookworm - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 12:13 am:

    And you thought that weird tweet from Tony Peraica was going to suck all the air out of the political world for the next three days…

  7. - jack - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 12:14 am:

    monday is going to be an interesting day. the timing of all this information reminds us how rough illinois politics really is!!

  8. - Anonymous - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 12:22 am:

    Rich, just read the memo and I’m a little confused about the lawyer stuff. It mentions the law firm Foley-Lardner and an attorney (and Hynes’ friend) named David Phelan. Could she have meant Dick Phelan, the old county board president and a partner at Foley-Lardner? I checked the law firm’s website and he’s the only Phelan listed. I guess there could have been a David Phelan there five years ago.

    This is getting too weird.

  9. - DuPage Dan - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 12:34 am:

    It was my understanding that the Comptroller’s office only has regulatory control over pre need funeral accounting and solvency issues, not over the physical grounds of the cemeteries. If this is true, how can Hynes be on the hook for this?

  10. - Chubs Mahoney - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 12:40 am:

    Comptroller Hynes claimed broad regulatory authority over cemeteries when it suited him politically.

    Lately his claims on the authority have narrowed a lot.

  11. - Wizard of Ozzie - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 12:41 am:

    This…is… AWESOME!!!

    Kudos to the Quinn campaign for dropping this nuclear bomb.

    The Quinn campaign has been on their heels for the month but I don’t think Ford, Cliff Kelley, high speed rail, and now this, are a coincidence. We’ll see what happens on Tuesday but all the work they’ve done this week, plus their very strong ads, makes for a very strong finish. I think if there were undecided voters out there Quinn is doing an awful lot to win them over.

    However, Hynes may still have something up his sleeve. It will likely get drowned out by this, but one would think they are planning to close w/ something other than the three kids coloring.

    For a political junkie, this has been some really fun stuff.

  12. - DuPage Dan - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 12:43 am:

    I just had logged on a short time before making my last post. I have read some of the earlier postings by others and realize I am behind in my knowledge of this issue. If Hynes has been claiming he is the cemetery watchdog and encouraging people to file complaints about issues other than financial could this be Quinn’s gotcha moment? Do they eat each other before the primary? Amazing. Louisiana looks cleaner by the day.

  13. - Will County Woman - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 12:43 am:

    I have major problem with the inability to authenticate that four-page memo.

    This all seems fishy to me. the timing of it just happens to coincide with a hotly contested political race. If there is an issue, which I don’t understand why there would be on a matter that is a closed case, then it is the burden of the person making the issue/claim to prove everything!

  14. - Will County Woman - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 12:49 am:

    also anything proof that the quinn camp comes up with needs to be noterized because they do have such talented graphics and visual arts types on their campaign staff.

  15. - Chubs Mahoney - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 12:51 am:

    WCW: Who faked this memo?

  16. - Chubs Mahoney - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 12:53 am:

    And do you think the Quinn camp is so naive as to fabricate a bombshell like this in the waning days of the primary? I know you don’t like them, but give ‘em a little credit.

  17. - Rich Miller - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 12:59 am:

    I didn’t use that memo on my own because it was just too late in the day to authenticate it. Goudie used it, so I followed. I just think there’s no way that it’s a fake. Move along.

  18. - Will County Woman - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 1:04 am:

    That memo has no letterhead, no signature, no nothin’ that can help one to be certain of its authenticity. I wouldn’t say that fabricating something like this is “naive.”

    and what about anonmymous’ question about dick phelan or david pehlan.

    I once had a legal matter and part of the legal matter involved a bogus noterized contract. the notary dated the contract months before the contract was actually drawn. needless to say my attorney caught that and rightly question it and judged raised her eyebrow on that as well. the other party decided not to pursue the matter any further after that. even if this cotton document can be noterized, if I’m dan hynes, I make sure my campaign attorney is present during that. ;)

  19. - 60657 - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 1:11 am:

    “The worst scandal in American history.” What’s more embarrassing: Hynes’s inaction, or Quinn’s hyperbole?

  20. - Wizard of Ozzie - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 1:14 am:

    Sherlock WCW,

    You’re grasping at straws. You really are something special. Your desperation and excuses are a pretty good gauge of how bad this really is for Dan.

  21. - 49thWard4Life - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 1:15 am:

    For everyone to see. The WGN story is like a 3 min Quinn campaign commercial,0,7048035.story

  22. - DDS - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 1:17 am:

    “This all seems fishy to me. the timing of it just happens to coincide with a hotly contested political race.”

    It’s called well timed opposition research. Wow. Nice work by Quinn.

  23. - Will County Woman - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 1:29 am:

    Not grasping at straws, but asking legitmate questions that should be asked.

    well timed opposition research??????? Quinn convened the cemetary task force july 16, 2009. Hynes was running, though not declared officially. task force made its final report on sept 15/16, 2009 and you honestly think this is simply well- timed opposition research?

    in your opinion, why would quinn come forth with this now, as opposed to doing the research when the issue was before the public eye july-sept of 2009? also why did he sit on his burr oak ad?

  24. - Will County Woman - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 1:43 am:

    these questions are for people knowledgeable about media practices…

    when deciding to go with a story on a issue where time has lapsed and that involves old documents, why wouldn’t the reporter independently verify the information before running with it? especially in a situation like this where one party is pushing for media coverage because they stand to potentially gain from it or hope to?

    did chuck goudie indepently verify any of this information? and if so why didn’t he say that in his reporting of the information?

    if the quinn camp did shop this story and no one else took it, why others have taken a pass?

    investigative reporters I would think have to be very careful before proceeding with an investigation/story in case it turns out to be false or someone’s axe to grind.

  25. - Average Joe - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 1:46 am:

    wcw - “in your opinion, why would quinn come forth with this now, … also why did he sit on his burr oak ad?”

    uhhhh, didn’t DDS say “It’s called well timed opposition research.” And besides… Quinn was trying to stay positive. That’s why he “sat” on this ad. What, did you expect him to just start attacking Undertaker Hynes out of the gates? Afterall, when the taskforce convened, Auditor Hynes had not declared.

  26. - Will County Woman - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 2:01 am:

    I go back to something that somebody wrote on this blog when the task force gave its recommendations. I remember the comment pretty vividly.

    It went like this…

    if the race between hynes and quinn gets close, expect quinn to exploit the burr oak issue.

    The reason why I have never forgotten that is because I’ve been impacted by the burr oak issue personally. I have a personal vested interest in the burr oak matter. my response to that post in my head, at least, was…geeze i hope quinn doesn’t resort to something so tacky like that because of the grief and suffering involved.

  27. - Anonymous - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 2:39 am:

    this just confirms to me that quinn’s and his campaign have been the negative ones all along very sneaky and now making all the families of burr oak reminded of something sad. Quinn’s campaign have totally been the ones who has made this whole primary about race, this is my personal opinion and each is entitled to their own, but after hearing about this now I had to speak up. The bottom line is that you have not proved yourself to me that you can help out the state of Illinois and make it a better place for me and especially my family. If PQ wins we are going to have a Republican Gov. and that scares me.

  28. - Will County Woman - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 3:36 am:

    Quinn’s action bespeak of someone who is scared and desperate, and just about all of his devious under-handed actions highlight his cowardice. I feel sorry for Quinn. Not because he is in a heated competition and running for his political life, but for who/what he has allowed himself to become.

    “The worst scandal in American history.”

    i love how he and his camp feign outrage and hurt on the behalf of others e.g., harold washington or the victims of burr oak. he’s a political opportunist of the worst kind. oh but, he goes to military funerals. whatever. no one can say that he’s not consistent in his efforts to exploit the dead for his political purposes.

  29. - Hisgirlfriday - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 3:51 am:

    I wanna know what was in the ellipsis of Quinn’s hyperbole: The worst scandal … in American history.

    The worst scandal (committed by my primary opponent) in American history?

    p.s. Slivy Cotton is an awesome name.

  30. - Quinn T. Sential - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 6:28 am:

    I’ve spent some time looking at all of this, and th related dcouments, as well as the pertinent statutes, and have begun to outline a manifesto that is not yet complete. I am sure many of you can’t wait, LOL, but includes a lot of perspective that has not yet been covered by anyone here yet, which I believe has just scratched the surface of what has actually unfolded on the Burr Oak issue.

    I won’t be voting for either Quinn or Hynes, so I don’t have a dog in the fight per se, other than perhaps wanting the more inept of the two to end up as the nominee.

    One thing I would say though is this; even though page 36 of the report indicates that the Comptroller has wide ranging authority, the report and its conclusions stop shprt of accusing the Comptroller anywhere of dereliction of duty; other than in Dunkin’s testimony.

    The report concludes that there was systemic failure in the design of the regulatory scheme, and that this failure precluded effective regulation and enforcement. Hynes appears to have in effect said the same things, dating back to right after he was elected, almost 10 years before the Burr Oak issue ever surfaced.

    Given what I have seen so far, I have to agree with Hynes on this at this point, but I do question the source and the timing of the release of the internal memo.

    This memo would likely have only come from a source with investigatory or subpeona power, and obviously would not have been leaked by the Hynes campaign, or by someone representing the interests of Burr Oak.

    If I were in the Hynes camp, I would be checking the fax system records for out-bound dialing to chuck Goudie’s operation by the AG’s office.

  31. - DDS - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 7:13 am:

    One thing I would say though is this; even though page 36 of the report indicates that the “Comptroller has wide ranging authority, the report and its conclusions stop shprt of accusing the Comptroller anywhere of dereliction of duty; other than in Dunkin’s testimony.”

    That’s what makes this so disgusting. They never admitted they knew about finding human remains in 2003. It seems pretty fair to say they may have come to a different conclusion if they knew that Hynes’ office had meetings specifically about Perpetua finding bodies at Burr Oak. The point is that this COULD HAVE BEEN AVOIDED. Don’t you think finding that out he may have wanted to contact the Sherriff or the AG for further inspection? Heck, I would have called immediately.

    And as for the source, this has whistle blower allllll over it.

  32. - siu alum - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 7:19 am:

    Wow the Quinnsters are out in force on here. I still don’t think that this will effect the everyday people as much as some here are claiming. This is still about Burr Oak and its an issue that has been used by Quinn already in negative commercials. Translating this to voters as something new will be difficult.

  33. - ILPundit - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 7:40 am:

    If Quinn dropped this bomb, one wonders why he waited until the Friday afternoon before the election. The time for this was about a week ago.

  34. - Wll County Woman - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 7:42 am:

    “One thing I would say though is this; even though page 36 of the report indicates that the Comptroller has wide ranging authority, the report and its conclusions stop shprt of accusing the Comptroller anywhere of dereliction of duty; other than in Dunkin’s testimony.”—- Quinn T. Sential - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 6:28 am:

    That’s interesting because maybe two weeks ago, Chuck Goudie had a story/investigation about the Burr Oak issues, but it didn’t catch fire.

    So i get the sense that the Quinn camp has been pushing hard for a re-opening of the Burr Oak issue by the media.

    to your point, i do find it odd because when task force reported its findings and recommendations, a press conference for them was held. of course one of the first things that the media wanted clarified was, did the comptroller’s office screw up here? the media was well aware of the implications involved due to the fact that hynes and quinn were political opponents. the task force chair patricia brown holmes made it abundantly clear that they had not found the comptroller to have been derelict.

  35. - Burrito Bandit - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 7:44 am:

    Unreal. Did anyone ask Dan Hynes when the first time he learned there were ” piles of bones” above ground at Burr Oak?. He was running for the Senate when this first came up.

  36. - Cemetery Regulator - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 8:08 am:

    Ok, Dan Hynes said the “Comptroller’s office only does the books.” Get on “the google” and you can find this…

    During the next few months, Illinoisans will be encouraged to speak up and tell Comptroller Dan Hynes about any troubles they’ve encountered with the cemetery and funeral home industries. Hynes, who became state comptroller in January, announced Monday that his office is forming a task force and plans to conduct eight regional hearings to listen to people’s concerns and suggestions. The purpose of the hearings is twofold, according to Hynes. They’ll provide a forum for consumers to voice complaints, and they will raise public awareness that the comptroller’s office is the primary regulator of cemeteries. (State Journal Register, 6/15/1999)

  37. - wordslinger - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 8:18 am:

    “The Burr Oaks Cemetery scandal is the worst scandal…in American history.”

    Maybe not so much.

  38. - chitownhv - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 8:27 am:

    Even if Hynes didn’t have the legal responsibility to take action when they discovered that “human remains” had been found, didn’t he have some moral responsibility to do so? He reminds me of the recent story about people who witnessed a rape in progress but did nothing “not my responsibility”. For shame Danny.

  39. - Will County Woman - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 8:30 am:

    Because this is so crazy given all the quinn camp postings here, it may be better for Hynes to just let some or all of this ride. He should certainly continue to make himself accessible to the media if they are interested in talking about this, but i’m not sure so he needs to go on the defensive about any of this.

    it’s all him and his camp.

    quinn camp, do y’all have more documents to share? is quinn planning to hold a press conference about any of this on Monday? if so, will he dropping any(more) bombshells?

  40. - I would say - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 8:32 am:

    Maybe a former comptroller employee at IDOT with some interest in this issue would have a dog in this fight. Or not.

  41. - Louis Howe - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 8:36 am:

    Perhaps, I am being a little dense, but I don’t get the connection between the Comptroller’s Office and the Burr Ridge scandal. And I really don’t get the connection to a $13 billion state fiscal mess that has gotten worse with Quinn running the state for the last year. As much as I personnaly like Quinn, nearly every executive decision he’s made only digs the hole deeper for taxpayers. His recent AFSCME contract settlement is another give up of the state’s right to manage state operations. He’s clueless.

  42. - Cindy Lou - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 8:37 am:

    Jumping around in ILCS to ILCS concerning cemeteries and care acts and skeletal remains act I’m not finding a clear course of direction 2003 should have went. My uneducated guess is under the skeletal remains act with the county coroner with notification within 48 hours at which point the coroner decides if issue warrants further investigation, if not it may be passed on to HPA if remains are of certain age.

    The entire ball appears to have been dropped all around. Burr Oak was misleading why they were asking, Comptrollers Office was correct in sending them to HPA in what was inquired but failed to assure referral was being acted upon. Comp’s Office does the books/funds and general assurance of cemetery upkeep, but if there was indication of open remains at or during any of the cemetery/Comp. meetings/discusions I believe there should have been a legal obligation on the Comptroller Office to assure a proper follow through of the situation. I don’t think anyone should be getting a free pass on this and that includes Quinn who just appoints another committee/task force to look into things.

  43. - wordslinger - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 8:44 am:

    I guess we need a comptroller’s job description something like this: Accountants by day, graverobber hunters by night. It’s sounds like an old Don Knotts movie.

    This might make Quinn’s point against Hynes stronger, but I don’t know if that matters at this late stage. He’s already been making the point for some time. If Burr Oaks is a big issue for you, you’re probably already on board.

  44. - Phineas J. Whoopee - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 9:07 am:

    I’m sure cemetary regulation was stuck with the comptrollers office because there was a weak comptroller and nobody else wanted the responsibility. That doesn’t mean it is not very important to people and should be ignored.

    At least when Quinn drops the ball he admits it.

  45. - dave - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 9:14 am:

    **I don’t get the connection between the Comptroller’s Office and the Burr Ridge scandal.**

    I don’t know anything about the Burr Ridge scandal, but I do know a little about the Burr Oak scandal.

    And you should read though Rich’s two Smoking Gun posts. It is quite clear what the connection is between the Comptroller’s Office and Burr Oak. The main connection is the slightly important fact that the Comptroller has oversight responsibilities for cemeteries.

  46. - jack - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 9:21 am:

    dave- it will be fascinating for this to play out.
    if people believe the task force was correct in their findings that hynes office was not responsible as some have pointed out–then this goes away—-if others see it another way, he will be toast on tuesday

  47. - Responsa - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 9:37 am:

    There is no decent person in this state who is not saddened and appalled by the human tragedy and lack of accountability brought to light by the Burr Oak scandal. That said, for some time I’ve questioned how important this singular issue is to voters below I-80 in the great scheme of things. Perhaps if additional cemeteries all over the state had been found to be corrupt the issue would have gained more traction. But that has not happened. I think rather than to blame one man, normal people are just more inclined to view the Burr Oak fiasco as another prime example of general governmental incompetence; as a blatant failure of government oversight by several Illinois administrations and departments over a period of years. That view helps neither candidate for governor.

  48. - Anonymous - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 9:48 am:

    I’m not suprise that this report came out yesterday,has “Quinn campaign” written all over it. PQ is the one who still has a lot of questions to answer and explain his cover ups when it comes to the Prison Release program or whatever you want to call it (that’s a scandal). His new commercial “you know me” lol i can’t help but giggle everytime I hear it i feel like responsing “yeah i know you the one who tells people what they want to hear to make them happy. the one who everytime speaks all i hear is anger and talking very rude to people, and yeah I know you the one who just keeps spending spending and spending, not what Illinois needs.
    Illinois needs a fresh start get rid of all the blogo people (including PQ) and make Illinois better.

  49. - Cemetery Regulator - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 10:16 am:

    This is unreal. We are talking about the visible remains of dead bodies here people. Did anyone actually ask Dan Hynes if he did or did not know about Burr Oak during 2003/2004. Did he ever hear a complaint? This ends the story right there if it was never brought to his attention. Or the story keeps going if he knew that in 2003/2004 there were huge problems at Burr Oak.

    Look what you find on google about Hynes and Cemetery Regulation…

    Those who visit the cemetery to pay respects to departed family members only to see knee-high weeds will soon have more than a consumer hotline to turn to. State Comptroller Dan Hynes announces Monday to hold hearings across Illinois from July to November to put the focus on problems involving
    the private cemetery and funeral home industry his office helps regulate. Hynes said the move was prompted by the strong response to a
    Memorial Day hot line for cemetery complaints. The complaint line took in more than 200 calls during the holiday weekend and shortly
    thereafter, with callers upset over such matters as graffiti-covered headstones and broken gravemarkers. Hynes said some callers even said
    they were denied cemetery access for staffing, security or other reasons.”Here it’s Memorial Day, a time when people go to lost loved ones, and you’re stopped at the gate,” Hynes said at a Statehouse news conference. “That’s nacceptable.” Among the ideas his regional hearings will consider is legislation to guarantee a person’s right of access to a ceme-tery during reasonable hours. Another major function of the hearings, which are scheduled to start July 15 in Marion, will be to increase public awareness of the comptroller’s role in overseeing the private cemetery and funeral home industries. (Associated Press, 6/15/1999)

  50. - Ellinoyed - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 10:29 am:

    “At least when Quinn drops the ball he admits it.”

    Um, really?

    And this “smoking gun” indicates that anyone who suspected or knew about this issue at Burr Oak in 2003/4 actively worked to keep it from the Comptroller.

  51. - MrJM - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 10:42 am:

    You know what this means — The Dead have RISEN and they’re voting for Quinn!

    – MrJM

  52. - Quinn T. Sential - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 10:57 am:

    The issue at hand here is not what Cotton wanted to tell the Comptrollers office at the upcoming meeting, but rather what they DID tell the Comptroller’s office at the meeting.

    In the confidential internal memo allegedly written November 1, 2003, she expresses that

    1. Phelan and Hynes are friends

    2. Foley & Lardner wants only to deal with the facts at hand, because to do anything further could represent a conflict of interest for them.

    3. That she believes Phelan does not want to bring Hynes anything that is unpleasant.

    In the November 20th inter-office Comptroller’s memo from Lucina Perry, she indicates that they were told they were excavating to construct a mausoleum, and that they came upon some human remains.

    Remember this a 100 year old cemetery; and finding bones would not be suprising in an excavation operation as a result.

    The Comptroller’s inter-office memo does not indicate that the remains were found above ground, nor does it indicate that Cotton was concerned that they had never been buried, or that there was multiple plot burials occuring at the cemetery.

    The important question here is:

    What did Phealan of Foley & Lardner know, and what did he advise Cotton to disclose to the Comptroller’s office about what they found, or how to address follow up questions from the Comptroller’s office.

    Hynes office referred them the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, because they have jurisdiction of human remains issues under (20 ILCS 3440/) Human Skeletal Remains Protection Act.

    Read it here:

    While the sensationalized inflamatory pre-election reporting wants to suggest culapbility on the part of Hynes, based on what is presented, it appears as if they followed the law, and directed Cotton to the right agency to follow up. I am not sure why it took them from November 20th until sometime in February (it was not dated, but a long lag time could suggest a Rosemary Woods sized gap in the tape), but then again they could have just been moving with the speed of government.

    The greater potential liability in my view at this point (although he is not up for elective nomination Tuesday) rests with Phealan, the attorney at Foley & Lardner.

    Given the release of information now; you can bet that he is in the office today scrubbing up that file, making sure everything is nice and tidy and clean.

    A subpoena, and an emergency visit from the ARDC might be in order here for those that may have been harmed by the lack of full disclosure here. Faxed correspondence to Foley & Lardner today, suggesting that they put their professional liability insurer on notice might not be a bad idea either.

  53. - Cindy Lou - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 11:02 am:

    –”And this “smoking gun” indicates that anyone who suspected or knew about this issue at Burr Oak in 2003/4 actively worked to keep it from the Comptroller”–

    Looking at it from that view point than we have a double edged sword that goes two ways between our finger pointers. If Hynes is to blame for Burr Oak because his underlings did or did not do something, then it is reasonable to turn the sword around at Quinn and say Quinn is to blame for early release even though his underlings directly in charge of that area were keeping secrets and not following orders.

    In Quinn’s case, he’s decided to not accept blame, call it a misjudgement by the person/s who do handle the issue (Randle), and spare the director of DOC (which he appointed).

    In Hynes’ case, if his underlings assigned to handle cemetery issues did not alert and/or communicate with the higher up Hynes, and they did indeed know there was unearthed remains, do we strike it up to poor judgement/misjudgement of Deputy Director of CCBT(Lunica)?

    Both Hynes and Quinn need to man up here and take responsibility for what happened under their watch or they need to stop pointing fingers at each other.

  54. - MrJM - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 11:13 am:

    “Damn, I sure wish I could’a fired this Hynes kid.” — Ghost of Harold Washington

  55. - Quinn T. Sential - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 11:16 am:

    Apples and Oranges Cindy Lou,

    Quinn knew about the MGT Push program before hand and has admitted same. Hynes has not indicated that he personally knew anything about Burr Oak in 2003, and we do not know now whether he did, or didn’t.

    What we do know however is that those in his office that did know, followed the law, based on what we know at this point.

    In the IDOC matter, they took the law into their own hands, and made new law, by administratively shortening the criminal sentences of people convicted by the courts.

    Also in the IDOC case, there were consequential victims of crime, who may not have been victimized had the early release not occurred.

    Those who’s families may have been harmed by the subsequent discovery at Burr Oak were similarly situated in 2009 as they were in 2003, but discovery had simply not occurred yet.

    Quinn admitted, but has not accepted his own culpability abnd instead deflected it to others. Hynes on the other hand may well likely not have known a thing about what occureed in 2003 at Burr Oak.

    It is not exactly a news flash when human remains are found in a cemtery. It is news however when violent criminals are released early based on arbitrary administrative discretion.

  56. - Hank - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 11:17 am:

    A pox on both of them. After the events of the past week I have decided to pull a Republican ballot.

  57. - Objective Dem - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 11:22 am:

    When the Burr Oak story first broke I read an article saying it was standard practice, particularly in the African American community, to have a long-term lease for cemetery plots rather than permanent ownership. After so many years it was permissible for the cemetery owner to reuse the same plot. This could be an explanation to why people who regulate cemeteries did not treat this as a major issue until last year when it was clear a lot more was going on. (By the way I’m not saying that Burr Oak management wasn’t scamming, but it is a more complicated issue.)

    While the idea of reusing a cemetery plot sounds horrific, my understanding is it is a long standing practice. For instance European churchyard cemeteries would reuse plots routinely.

  58. - Phineas J. Whoopee - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 11:23 am:

    Hynes’s main problem is that people actually watch Channel 7. I bet he wishes this was a Fox expose.

  59. - True Observer - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 11:32 am:


    Where were the relatives.

    They didn’t care.

    So, why should everyone else get worked up over it.

    It’s in the liberal DNA. They’re not happy unless the government comes to help you.

  60. - Burrito Bandit - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 11:45 am:

    If relatives start speaking out about contacting the Comptroller’s office in 2003 about Burr Oak, Hynes has a real problem that isn’t going away in the next three days.

  61. - jack - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 12:42 pm:

    quinn t sential –you have a valid point about these tragedies. one is worse than the other.
    however, they are both awful. they may cancel each
    other out in their putridness.

  62. - jack - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 1:12 pm:

    where is quinn today? hynes is hiding.

  63. - Bookworm - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 1:14 pm:

    “Where were the relatives.

    They didn’t care.

    So, why should everyone else get worked up over it.”

    Maybe the relatives were dead themselves, or living out of state, or too sick or elderly to visit the gravesites. Or maybe they just don’t make it a habit to visit gravesites. My family never did.

    However, that does NOT mean they didn’t expect their loved ones’ graves to be properly maintained. They trusted the cemetery would do that and had no reason to believe or suspect otherwise. The same goes for the Burr Oak families. No matter how often or rarely they visit, if they paid for a gravesite with a contractual expectation that it would belong to them forever and be perpetually cared for, then the cemetery owes them that.

  64. - principle - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 1:25 pm:

    wouldn’t it be cool if quinn endorsed stroger today just on principle!

  65. - Chubs Mahoney - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 1:30 pm:

    Quinn ain’t hiding. I think he went to Bloomington and the Quad Cities. Maybe Chicago too. Touting job creation accomplishments.

  66. - Little Lebowski Urban Achiever - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 1:32 pm:

    “I think I just misspoke. What I was trying to get across was, not the possibility of finding [the remains], but the inadvertent discovery of them…

    “What I’ve learned throughout the week is that they came to us and they disclosed to us that they were building this mausoleum and when they started excavating they discovered these bones.”

    Quinn TS, your theory would hold weight if not for this comment. Hynes had to retract the statement that bones were found during the normal course of excavation. They were found laying around. That is what was brought to office.

  67. - Chubs Mahoney - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 1:38 pm:

    Quinn’s going to Bloomington and the Quad Cities. Maybe Chicago too. Touting job creation accomplishments.

  68. - jack - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 2:01 pm:

    is hynes mia today?

  69. - anon - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 2:28 pm:

    Hynes isn’t hiding. That’s laughable.

  70. - Wumpus - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 2:40 pm:

    Hynes was too busy standing up to Blago…

    Still ot as bad as Quinnkakis’s prisoner frequent return program. Bad though. I coul dnever get upset at the these are dead people aspect.

  71. - Quinn T. Sential - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 2:45 pm:


    Here are the relevant parts which have been copied and pasted verbatim from the sources provided:

    First from this post above:

    “The conversation you’re talking about was the fact that the cemetery wanted to create a mausoleum and they wanted to know what to do if there was a disruption of remains or burial grounds and we said our office doesn’t regulate the burial grounds.”

    But emails provided by the comptroller’s office late Friday afternoon confirm that they were told human remains had been found at Burr Oak, not that cemetery officials were simply concerned they might be unearthed during future construction.

    * I talked to Hynes tonight about his comments and here’s what he said…

    “I think I just misspoke. What I was trying to get across was, not the possibility of finding [the remains], but the inadvertent discovery of them…

    “What I’ve learned throughout the week is that they came to us and they disclosed to us that they were building this mausoleum and when they started excavating they discovered these bones. And they said ‘What do we do about this?’… We started researching it, and were perplexed by it… It’s consistent with what I’ve said all along, we don’t regulate burial grounds…}

    Now from the internal memo from the Comptroller’s Office from Percy Lucina to Lynn Singer, Allen Mayer, and David Foley: (note that Hynes is not cc’ed on the document)

    {The main problem they are encountering is the discovery of human remains while they were
    in the process of cleaning/excavating a portion of land where the majority of their construction will occur.

    Before they proceed any further, they would like us to enlighten them on their next step in the process.}

    Now, can you show me where it says that the human remains were laying around?

    The memo specifically says that they were found when they were cleaning/excavating land for construction.

    Also, Hynes did not retract his statement as to how and where they were found, but simply clarified that they wer found while clearing and excavating land.

    Unless you were there to know first hand what they were told in the meeting, all we have to go on is the relevant section of the e-mail which is copied and pasteed verbatim above.

    What Hynes clarified in his remarks to Rich is that he discovered through the correspondence that they actually were found, instead of it being speculative as to what to do if they might find them.

    I suspect that he does not get a red alert in the office every time bones are found when someone digs in a cemtery.

    What his staff apparently did when they learned that they were, was make an internal legal referral looking for guidance. What they then did was convey to the cemetery operator, the contact information of the agency responsible for regulating that aspect of the law.

    Unless you have access to information that the rest of us do not; on the bais of the information we have, your speculation appears to be what is without weight.

  72. - Amalia - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 3:02 pm:

    wow, people sure were busy all last night and into the wee hours on this board! I would say that I’m sorry to have missed all the fun, as our house coughed and sneezed the entire night away, but the subject here is even more depressing than I first thought when I saw the Goudie report yesterday. this is so sad.
    the confidential memo is a huge red flag both in 2003 time
    and current time. Was it the job of the Sheriff’s Office to deal
    with the tragedy? Or did Tom Dart just decide that there was
    a horrible problem that needed a solution? why was the Hynes
    operation not able to have the decency to act urgently, both
    on its own and by asking others to help? some comments
    have pointed out the words on the Hynes Comptroller web site
    re their care for cemeteries and their claim of concern, etc. those words ring very hollow when you read the memo, view the
    Goudie report, and read the emails. The Hynes operation failed.

  73. - puzzle pieces - Saturday, Jan 30, 10 @ 5:32 pm:

    Quinn’s director at the Illinois Housing Development Authority is Gloria Matere, the sister of WGN-TV’s newsanchor Micah Materre. She co-anchors the 9p.m. news, so it’s no surprise that WGN ran with Quinn’s shopped story.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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