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Miller: Quinn’s practices very questionable

Published: Monday, March 10, 2014 9:08 p.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, March 10, 2014 9:20 p.m. CDT

“There was no money allocated at all before the election of 2010,” Gov. Pat Quinn told Chicago TV reporter Charles Thomas about allegations the governor had spent millions in state anti-violence grants to boost his flagging election campaign. Quinn used this opportunity to defend himself against growing criticism about a devastating state audit of the anti-violence grants.

But what the governor said in his own defense was not true.

According to Illinois auditor general Bill Holland, Quinn’s administration signed contracts with 23 local groups Oct. 15, about three weeks before 2010’s election day. Each of the groups, hand-picked by Chicago aldermen, were promised about $300,000 for a total of around $7 million.

“That is allocating money,” auditor general Holland emphatically said last week about the awarding of those state contracts.

As you probably already know, Holland’s audit uncovered massive problems with the grants, finding “pervasive deficiencies” in the “planning, implementation, and management” of the grants doled out via the Governor’s Neighborhood Recovery Initiative. The program was “hastily implemented,” expenses were not adequately monitored, and a third of Chicago’s “most violent Chicago communities” weren’t included in the program.

Five days after the meeting with ministers in the Roseland community, the Illinois Violence Prevention Authority was informed by the governor’s office that Quinn wanted to establish a $20 million crime reduction program. Less than two months after the initial meeting, the governor upped the grant program to $50 million for Chicago communities alone. Chicago aldermen were asked to submit lists of groups that would receive the money and that list alone was used to solicit Requests for Proposals from the groups. Contracts were signed Oct. 15.

There’s no doubt, however, that this grant program went far beyond normally accepted practices, to the point of throwing them out.

• Rich Miller also publishes Capitol Fax, a daily political newsletter, and CapitolFax.com.

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