Despite sharp criticisms, center director refuses to blame Mendoza
Wednesday, Mar 15, 2017
* As we discussed yesterday, the Well’s Center in Jacksonville is on the verge of shutting down. The center has been providing drug treatment for almost 50 years and the Rauner administration says Comptroller Mendoza is to blame for the crisis because she hasn’t released state money owed to the organization.
Mendoza traveled to Jacksonville yesterday to meet with the center’s director and then spoke to the media. Here’s WCIA TV…
For a Downstate TV station, it’s actually a pretty darned good story, so go read the whole thing.
* The governor’s office released its own statement…
* One thing I didn’t see covered, however, is what the center’s leadership says. So, I called executive director Bruce Carter this morning.
Carter said quite a bit of money owed to him by the state has already been covered by the Vendor Assistance Program - which is basically a cash advance program of 90 percent of what the state owes a provider. Much of the $131,000 that the comptroller paid the center last week, in fact, was already received by the organization via the VAP. Carter said about $342,000 in invoices are still sitting at the comptroller’s office, but much of that may not yet be eligible for the VAP because the invoices may not yet be 3 months old. The governor’s office (this one and most past ones) often sits on vouchers to make the “official” bill backlog look lower than it really is.
* I told Carter that I hated to put him on the spot, but I wondered if he blamed Mendoza for the center’s current crisis.
“No, I don’t blame her,” Carter said. “The comptroller has twelve and a half billion dollars in outstanding bills she’s aware of and half a billion dollars to pay it.”
Carter said he’s hoping any money he can get from the comptroller’s office in the coming days will “allow us to buy enough time to partner with someone else” and keep the center open.