Monday, October 06, 2014

Quinn NRI scandal: Groups return job-training cash to state

Four years ago Illinois Governor Pat Quinn was facing a tough reelection, as he is this year. But that time, Quinn created the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, which is now under federal investigation. It's becoming clear that NRI was nothing more than political slush fund to drive up voter turnout in heavily Democratic areas. Quinn, although he didn't crack the 50 percent threshold, defeated his Republican challenger by only 30,000 votes.

The Chicago Tribune has the latest on the Quinn NRI scandal:
Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn spent nearly $5 million on special job training grants as part of a sweeping anti-violence program he quickly launched during his 2010 campaign, but about a third of the community groups that received money had to give some of it back.

A Humboldt Park group returned nearly $115,000 earmarked for computer training, a Near West Side group owes nearly $50,000 designated for teaching ex-offenders culinary and maintenance skills, and another group refunded more than $20,000 set aside to prepare Chicago's disabled population for food service and hospitality jobs.

In all, eight of 25 community groups getting Quinn's Training for Tomorrow grants fell short of the program's goals and have returned money or plan to reimburse the state about $220,000. Most of the repayments came in after the Tribune inquired about the grants in early August.

In addition, some of the groups inappropriately tapped grant money for rent and utilities or didn't properly keep records, according to a University of Illinois review of the program.

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