The [Monday] Papers
Docu-series or docu-wank? See what Tuffy and the Angry Aussie think on Cracking The Chicagoland Code.
See also: Previous Podcasts.
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My comment on a Facebook post over the weekend:
"Being TV is no excuse for allowing a public official to mislead without providing fact-checking - especially for a purported news network. Apparently CNN couldn't be bothered to, for example, catalog the lies Rahm and CPS told about the school closings, as exposed repeatedly by Catalyst, WBEZ and others. Had they then used their access to challenge Rahm on those falsities, it would have been gripping TV instead of an hour-long faux movie trailer."
"In 2011 and 2012, the West Side neighborhood got more than $2.1 million from Gov. Pat Quinn's administration through his Neighborhood Recovery Initiative anti-violence program, state records show.
"But instead of all that public money going toward quelling the shooting and other violence there, a substantial chunk of it - almost 7 percent - appears to have gone into the pocket of the husband of Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown.
"Benton Cook, Brown's spouse, was paid more than $146,401 in salary and fringe benefits from state grant funds to serve as the program coordinator with the Chicago Area Project, the agency the Quinn administration put in charge of doling out anti-violence funding to West Garfield Park, state records show."
That seems like a lot for a program that should've been bent on delivering as much of that money to the problem - instead of administrators - as possible. But maybe Cook has an explanation.
"While Cook didn't deny receiving the anti-violence grant money, he told the Sun-Times on Sunday he did not remember exactly how much he banked working for the Chicago Area Project. Cook insisted he didn't make anywhere close to that kind of money.
"It wasn't nearly $145,000," Cook said, telling a reporter at his front door to "check your records."
Done and done.
"State records obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times show that in 2011 Cook received $67,526 in salary and fringe benefits. Those documents, submitted to the Illinois Violence Prevention Authority, even bear Cook's own signature attesting to his salary and benefits as well as five other Chicago Area Project workers paid with Neighborhood Recovery Initiative funds.
"In 2012, the organization told the Illinois Violence Prevention Authority Cook received $78,875 in salary and fringe benefits. State records spelling out that year's totals for Cook and three other employees did not have Cook's endorsement, as was the case in 2011, but they bore the signature of Howard Lathan, the Chicago Area Project's associate executive director."
I am a little confused. Do those totals include the salaries of Cook and the five (and then three) other employees?
I'd also like to know how Cook got the gig - did he have experience in this area? And what did Cook deliver exactly in this position?
I'm sure neither answer is satisfying - the whole thing stinks.
"Lathan did not return multiple messages for him left at the organization's office . . . The Chicago Area Project, which itself got $1.1 million through the program during that two-year window, did not respond to repeated messages left at its offices Friday. The Quinn administration also did not respond to questions about Cook's involvement in the anti-violence program."
Seems no one wants to talk about Cook. Perhaps this is why:
"On Friday, the Chicago Sun-Times reported [link mine] how the program employed two gang members on the South Side, who were paid $8.50 an hour to hand out anti-violence literature. One of those teens is now dead, shot in the head with a shotgun, and his colleague is charged with the youth's murder."
Meanwhile . . .
"A Brown aide would not facilitate an interview with her Friday about her husband's Neighborhood Recovery Initiative involvement nor offer any details about what exactly he did with the program to merit a six-figure income.
"This has nothing to do with the clerk's office," Brown spokeswoman Jalyne Strong-Shaw told the Chicago Sun-Times.
"Beyond his pay and benefits, a not-for-profit corporation he founded received another $3,333 in West Garfield Park's Neighborhood Recovery Initiative allotment. That entity, Dream Catchers Community Development Corp., is based in the home Cook shares with his wife."
"Separately, Cook is at the center of a newly opened investigation by Cook County's inspector general into a June 2011 deal in which he was given land on the South Side for free by a campaign donor to his wife.
"A Better Government Association/Fox 32 investigation published in the Sun-Times found that Cook, once he'd obtained the land, added his wife's name to the property's deed, conveyed it to a corporation they both own, then sold it for $100,000. Brown never disclosed the transaction on her county economic interest statement."
Frankly, I'm surprised Brown has lasted this long. She's long been atop our leaderboard of county officials most likely to be indicted.
The program that arguably pushed Quinn over the top in 2010 could derail him this time around.
Quinn's honeypot of a bungled anti-violence initiative is reminiscent in reverse of Ceasefire under Rod Blagojevich - in reverse in that Blago actually cut off state funds to Ceasefire in part because it couldn't show where the money was spent.
Koschman Cover-Up Con't
"Alvarez - who was feeling heat over her office's handling of the case - got the Illinois State Police to take it. Less than two weeks later, though, the state agency abruptly backed out.
"Newly obtained documents show why: In the interim, the incoming Illinois State Police director hand-delivered a letter to Gov. Pat Quinn saying he had conflicts of interest involving the Koschman investigation and recommending the case be turned over to the FBI."
That's what we would call a no-brainer. As widely reported at the time, the incoming ISP director was Hiram Grau. Consider:
"At the time of Koschman's death in 2004, Grau was the police department's deputy superintendent of the Bureau of Investigative Services, which had oversight of the case involving Daley nephew Richard J. 'R.J.' Vanecko. After leaving the department, Grau became Alvarez's deputy chief of investigations - the job he was leaving to run the state police."
Nice try, Anita!
Englewood vs. Rahm
See also: Lincoln Park vs. Rahm.
Observation: Richard M. Daley, rightly or wrongly, was perceived as the embodiment of Chicago; he was Chicago. Rahm Emanuel is perceived as someone who hates - or at least, dislikes - Chicago (or at least many of its people). Rahm is above Chicago. I don't think that works here.
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Posted on March 10, 2014
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