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July 20, 2014

State investigation pauses but questions do not

State lawmakers investigating Gov. Pat Quinn's discredited Neighborhood Recovery Initiative hit the pause button this week after federal prosecutors requested a 90-day delay to conduct their own investigation. How's that for irony -- a criminal probe of an anti-crime program.

The program was thrown together just weeks before the 2010 gubernatorial election. It cost taxpayers $55 million but was so poorly organized it accomplished nothing other than to waste $55 million.

It turns out Quinn's people considered expanding the program to East St. Louis and other cities. We can't wait to hear how the administration tries to explain away a damning email just eight days before the election.

Barbara Shaw, the head of the Illinois Crime Prevention Authority, wrote to the director of the state Department of Human Services: "Any further thoughts about taking NRI to Rockford, Decatur and East St. Louis? If we want to do that, it would be great to announce it this week." Yeah, Quinn would have loved holding that press conference days before ballots were cast.

The program never was extended to East St. Louis or elsewhere. Maybe once the election passed, the administration lost interest. That supports the theory that the program was never about quelling crime but rather pandering to voters.

When former Gov. Rod Blagojevich was running for re-election, there was an ongoing criminal probe of his administration, but voters didn't pay much heed. Maybe it will be different this time. That 90-day pause will end in October -- just in time for another gubernatorial election.

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