State grant programs are where waste goes to hide

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State grants are the soft underbelly of Illinois government.

This is where the bodies are buried — along with the money to pay them. This is where government waste goes to hide.

Everybody knows it, but nobody seems to be able to do much about it — until the dirt comes out in the wash.

It’s little wonder, therefore, that we had more damning information coming to light this past week about a state anti-violence grant program just as a federal jury in Springfield was convicting a south suburban woman for her role in abusing a state job-training grant.

The revelation by the Sun-Times’ Dave McKinney that the husband of Cook County Circuit Clerk Dorothy Brown collected more than $146,000 in compensation through the state’s Neighborhood Recovery Initiative may be the best evidence yet of something hinky in the rollout of that anti-violence program.

Brown’s office remains an important repository of patronage jobs for the Democratic Party, which raises legitimate questions about who might have helped her husband land one of the better-paying positions in the state program.

The Neighborhood Recovery Initiative had already come under scathing criticism from state Auditor General William Holland for its slipshod spending and management practices, although not nearly as scathing as what Republicans had to say while telegraphing they will make this a key issue to be used against Gov. Pat Quinn in the fall campaign.

If we roll back the pages of the calendar, though, it’s easy to find many other state grants that have caused problems.


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