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Here we go again?

Wednesday, Aug 13, 2014

* Tribune

Republican legislative leaders on Tuesday accused Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn of tapping into a $20 million pot of cash to dangle in front of groups whose support he wants in the fall election, saying the effort “looks and smells” like a new version of the 2010 anti-violence program now under state and federal scrutiny.

The money Republicans highlighted represents a new allocation to the Illinois Department of Labor for social programs similar to those in Quinn’s much-criticized Neighborhood Recovery Initiative. Quinn aides, however, maintained the money is going into job-training programs established even before the 2010 anti-violence initiative began.

Senate Republican leader Christine Radogno contended Quinn “squirreled away” the new funds and already has directed $11.5 million to the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and the Department of Human Services. She wondered whether the money would be misspent, saying it “looks and smells just like” the 2010 program and questioning whether the Quinn administration had learned from previous mistakes. […]

House Republican leader Jim Durkin of Western Springs recounted how GOP lawmakers were stonewalled when they sought explanations from Democratic lawmakers about the purpose of the money when it was inserted into the budget during the end of the spring session. Durkin warned the new dollars come with the same “fingerprints” as Quinn’s flawed 2010 initiative.

The charge carries little weight. This is a legit jobs program being run mainly by DCEO, which has run summer jobs programs for years.

* Greg Hinz

The money is going to a job-training program with “rigorous” standards that involves both DCEO and DHS, the spokesman said. “DCEO has for many years — long before the defunct NRI program began — run several job training programs for youth and young adults that continue today.”

A source with knowledge of the matter said Mr. Quinn did not ask for the money and that it was inserted in the budget at the last minute at the behest of House Speaker Michael Madigan.

Mr. Madigan’s spokesman did not return a call seeking comment.

Appropriating money for one department that ends up being spent by another is not unheard-of in government. But given the NRI experience, the subject is particularly sensitive now, with federal prosecutors confirming they are probing the MRI expenditures.

Greg is absolutely right at the end. Quinn’s botched (or worse) 2010 anti-violence program taints any and all attempts to address the issue this summer and fall.

* From the governor’s office…

The General Assembly allocated $20 million to the Dept. of Labor for “grants to state and local agencies and community providers for at-risk community support programs, after school programs, and youth employment opportunities.”

This program is employing more than 5,000 youth and young adults and we are carrying it with rigorous controls and strict oversight.

The Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) has for many years - long before the defunct NRI program began - run several job training programs for youth and young adults that continue today. These programs are competitively-bid. Inter-governmental agreements allow DCEO and the Department of Human Services to administer these grant programs under strict oversight.

The link to the grant program is here.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

19 Comments
  1. - Anonymoiis - Wednesday, Aug 13, 14 @ 10:05 am:

    ==, with federal prosecutors confirming they are probing the MRI expenditures.==

    Shoulder or knee problem being looked at, or is this some combo scandal of NRI and MSI?


  2. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Aug 13, 14 @ 10:06 am:

    Yeah, Quinn’s a one-man crime wave. He doesn’t even care that the the U.S. Attorney is already looking into NRI.

    The only crime here is that Radogno can’t corral a caucus of 19 out of 59.


  3. - The Captain - Wednesday, Aug 13, 14 @ 10:23 am:

    This comment is admittedly largely cosmetic but when your comment options are:

    a) “DCEO has for many years — long before the defunct NRI program began …”

    or

    b)”DCEO has for many years — long before Pat Quinn ever ran for Governor…”

    why would you offer a comment that explicitly links this jobs program and the troubled one when you are actively trying to distance them? Force your opponents to make that connection, you’re doing their work for them.


  4. - Toure's Latte - Wednesday, Aug 13, 14 @ 10:25 am:

    Didn’t they say a couple weeks ago they would back off the clown act and quit messing up the federal investigation with their shtick?

    Time for IHGOP to come clean how many tax dollars that circus cost taxpayers.


  5. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Aug 13, 14 @ 10:25 am:

    “The Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) has for many years, long before the defunct NRI program began, run several job training programs for youth and young adults that continue today.”

    So that’s the best reason Quinn has for doing this–it’s been done before so we’re going to keep doing it? This program may have strict oversight, but what has it accomplished in the long run beyond providing some short-term summer jobs? It’s a drop in the bucket, sure, but there is ample reason why a lot of people look at this and are suspicious. I am sorry, but when I see describers such as “at-risk community support programs,” I get suspicious. What, exactly, is an “at-risk community support program?”

    The state would do well to simply stop awarding contracts to private social service agencies beyond barebones stuff to ensure such necessities as psychiatric care for the homeless and tutoring for kids who need it. If you can’t come up with a better, more precise definition than “at-risk community support program,” then it should not be publicly funded. In the back of my mind, I have a vision of taxpayer-funded summer camp. Not sure if that’s what this is, but if it is, then we should be spending money on other things.


  6. - Phenomynous - Wednesday, Aug 13, 14 @ 10:48 am:

    “Time for IHGOP to come clean how many tax dollars that circus cost taxpayers.”

    Probably not much. It’s not as though they had to hire new staff to look into program. So, there were some per diem cost for GA members and that’s about it. Pales in comparison to what NRI cost the tax payers.


  7. - walker - Wednesday, Aug 13, 14 @ 11:02 am:

    To associate the two is to whitewash the NRI suspicions.


  8. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Aug 13, 14 @ 11:03 am:

    ==The state would do well to simply stop awarding contracts to private social service agencies==

    Then you better be prepared for a lot of them to close their doors and for the state to have to pick of the slack in providing the services they provide.


  9. - Illiana - Wednesday, Aug 13, 14 @ 11:06 am:

    I could be wrong, but I thought this program was federally paid for under the Workplace Investment Act, which the Internet tells me was a 1998 federal law.


  10. - Illiana - Wednesday, Aug 13, 14 @ 11:07 am:

    Edit: Workforce Investment Act


  11. - Jerome Horwitz - Wednesday, Aug 13, 14 @ 11:13 am:

    Why are these services funded by DCEO and not the Department of Human Services?


  12. - A guy... - Wednesday, Aug 13, 14 @ 12:33 pm:

    This dude’s in doo-doo if every spending initiative is tainted with NRI. That means something stuck and stuck hard.


  13. - Soccermom - Wednesday, Aug 13, 14 @ 1:34 pm:

    No evidence yet that it stuck with anyone beyond the gop leadership.


  14. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Aug 13, 14 @ 1:37 pm:

    –That means something stuck and stuck hard.–

    What would that be? What do you mean?

    It’s just weak election-year partisan spin, not a deep-dive independent audit.

    I don’t know why you’d change the subject from NRI. Don’t they have anyone reading those emails? They can’t spin something out of those better than this?


  15. - "friend of a friend" - Wednesday, Aug 13, 14 @ 1:53 pm:

    Truth be told, the figure is not $20 million but $28 million that the Gov. promised to the Black Caucus AFTER the election. Again he is buying their support to shore up his numbers in the black community. But some black caucus members are still upset with Quinn for breaking previous promises of support, and that’s not including what he did to them with the whole withholding legislative salaries. He messed up a whole lot of elected’s bills and credit reports!!


  16. - "friend of a friend" - Wednesday, Aug 13, 14 @ 1:55 pm:

    The media is on to the scheme now. We just need some guts to be shown by the GOP’ers. Ask the Black Caucus members if this is true or not. What are you scared of??


  17. - Befuddled - Wednesday, Aug 13, 14 @ 2:44 pm:

    A guy is right. It is sticking hard. NRI, that is. It’s part of the reason Quinn is not perceived as the reformer in this election.


  18. - Arthur Andersen - Wednesday, Aug 13, 14 @ 5:09 pm:

    Iliana, I could be wrong as well, but this program appears to be separate and apart from the Fed-funded workforce training grants.
    Seems to me that PQ and Co. should explain why the loot went to Labor instead of DCEO and why they are all Schultz-like about the funds for a program they were spooling up in the early Spring and which obviously needed funding, as it has in prior years.

    Further, $20 million for 5,000 minimum wage summer jobs includes a lot of overhead.

    At best, multiple unforced errors.


  19. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Wednesday, Aug 13, 14 @ 7:17 pm:

    Friend of a Friend:

    That is a pretty serious allegation you are trolling.

    You should talk to the US Attorney if you have any actual evidence or information, instead of mucking up a reputable blog.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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