(CBS) — Illinois lawmakers grilled representatives of Governor Quinn’s $55 million controversial anti-violence program during a hearing Wednesday morning.
Senator Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington), the chairman of the committee reviewing an audit critical of the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, says lawmakers still don’t know much about the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative.
“We don’t know whether this thing even works even though we are about to go next door and vote on a budget that includes the same type of money in it as this waste, shameful, useless piece of taxpayer dollars that is hidden in a notion of violence prevention,” said Barickman.
Jack Cutrone, executive director of the Criminal Justice Information Authority, which has taken over anti-violence programs, was left to defend the NRI and explain that older studies helped determine which communities got grant money, even if it left out some of the most violent neighborhoods.
Auditor General Bill Holland says those disbursing the grant money didn’t check for conflicts to protect the program from allegations that it was a political slush fund designed to help Quinn win support ahead of the 2010 elections.
“There was a failure of planning, implementation and management throughout the entire program,” said Holland.
Spokeswoman Brooke Anderson says Governor Quinn takes the allegations seriously and has been working to pass tighter grant controls, in addition to ditching the program, the agency and the people that ran it.
Some lawmakers question if it’s just been moved and given a different name.