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August 4, 2014

Quinn too quick to end story

"If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story."

-- Orson Welles

Gov. Pat Quinn wanted to stop his story about the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative in 2010, when he announced days before the gubernatorial election that the state would spend millions of dollars to make the streets of Chicago safer. Quinn considered that a happy ending.

Fast forward four years, and Quinn's administration is being investigated by federal prosecutors for the haphazard, rushed, political way the money was handed out, and the lack of results.

Now U.S. Rep. John Shimkus wants an investigation of how Hurricane Ike disaster funds were misspent on this anti-crime initiative. State leaders ignored warning signs and gave some of the $3.7 million in disaster relief to an organization that had previously been found to have mishandled grant funds. Well, surprise, the organization failed to produce again and its contract was canceled almost a year later. Still, the state allowed the organization to keep $150,000 because hey, the people involved tried really hard.

Politicians are great at taking credit when they hand out taxpayer dollars, but do a poor job of ensuring that the money is spent effectively. Part of the reason is they already had their photo op and would just as soon not know what follows. The details might get messy or even criminal.

They don't want to do anything that would risk their happy ending turning into a sad one.

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