News Local/State

Lawmakers To Meet Wednesday Over Quinn’s Anti-Violence Program


Former members of Governor Pat Quinn's administration subpoenaed by a bipartisan legislative commission are supposed to testify Wednesday, unless lawmakers call it off.

That's what they've been asked to do by federal prosecutors who are also looking into a troubled anti-violence program. 

A state audit made clear that the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative was poorly managed when it was rolled out, before Quinn's last run for governor. 

But there are deeper questions - like whether politics played a role in which organizations got state grants. Questions to which Sun Times columnist Mark Brown said voters deserve answers.

"Some of the money was rushed out at the time of the November 2010 election, and that's suspicious-looking and we need to find out more about how that came to be," he said.

Brown said the bipartisan commission should go ahead with its investigation, regardless of the feds' request to hold off.

Media and political strategist Tom Bowen said a delay could be good for Quinn, in his tight race against Republican Bruce Rauner.

"Having it out of the headlines for 90 days, you know, could be beneficial for him getting his footing back, because you know most of the public polls in this race have the governor down at the moment," he said.

But Bowen said that would leave the potential of damaging headlines resuming just weeks before the November election, leaving Quinn little time to recover.

Meanwhile, Quinn's administration has released thousands of emails to a panel of lawmakers investigating his troubled anti-violence program.

Senate Republican spokeswoman Patty Schuh says members of the Legislative Audit Commission received an estimated 2,000 emails linked to the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative on Friday and are currently reviewing their contents.

UPDATE:  Gov. Pat Quinn says Illinois will have the "strongest grant oversight'' nationwide after widespread problems were identified with his 2010 anti-violence program.
The Chicago Democrat signed legislation Wednesday that applies federal guidelines to how the state awards grants and strengthens grantee rules. However, some opponents of the legislation have said it doesn't go far enough in stopping possible misuse.  
Quinn's signing of the bill comes as a legislative panel is digging through the details of his Neighborhood Recovery Initiative. Meanwhile, federal and county officials are also investigating the program.  Quinn has said that he addressed problems.
In a Wednesday statement, he says what happened was "unacceptable.''