Anybody looking for outrage over the governor’s Neighborhood Recovery Initiative – the anti-crime program he began shortly before the 2010 election – needed to look only to Room C-1 of the Stratton Office Building across from the Capitol Wednesday. “You’re going to emasculate the appropriations process,” Auditor General William G. Holland told lawmakers in sizing up how the program took shortcuts to give up to $50 million to undeserving vendors and unqualified neighborhoods.
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The commission’s co-chairman, State Sen. Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington), said the administration sent the wrong man – John Cutrone, executive director of the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority – to the witness stand. “The south suburbs of Chicago – Rich, Bloom, Thornton Townships, were not in safety networks but were added to NRI.” Barickman asked. “Any idea how those suburbs were added to NRI?” “I have no personal knowledge,” Cutrone answered.
It went on like that for much of three hours, though Barickman’s co-chairman, State Rep. Frank Mautino (D-Spring Valley), was less exercised over it. “Sixty percent of all the people who appear before the audit commission is a director answering for an audit when he wasn’t there,” said Mautino. Mautino said the commission would likely hear more later about the NRI audit.
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