Exclusive: Quinn defends anti-violence program

Governor Pat Quinn is defending his anti-violence program. Earlier this week, Republicans attacked the program after a state audit said it had wasted millions of dollars.
February 28, 2014 4:26:49 PM PST
In an Eyewitness News exclusive, Governor Pat Quinn is defending his anti-violence program. Earlier this week, Republicans attacked the program after a state audit said it had wasted millions of dollars.

The program set up in 2010 during a heated election campaign has come back to haunt the governor as he seeks re-election four years later.

"Folks in the community, ministers, local elected officials everybody demanded action," said Gov. Quinn.

The governor had no regrets about setting up the $55 million anti-violence program in response to the bloody spring and summer of 2010. Hundreds died in city and Cook County gun violence, including three Chicago police officers in a two month period.

"Over 1,000 young people, school age people, shot. 216 people, kids were killed," said Gov. Quinn. "As Governor I thought we should do something and do it right now."

But the 200-page Auditor General's report said Quinn's Illinois violence prevention authority-- which used city aldermen, community organizations and the parents of victims in its effort-- had not accounted for all the money.

"What we have found today is criminal activity," said Rep. Dwight Kay, R- Glen Carbon.

This week, Republican lawmakers called for an investigation, accusing the governor, who campaigned for election that summer, with using the grants to curry political favor.

"A governor who's really putting people first doesn't take tens of millions of taxpayer dollars for his own political slush fund," said State Sen. Matt Murphy, R-Palatine.

"There was no money allocated at all before the election of 2010. That didn't happen until after the election," said Gov. Quinn.

The governor says his administration caught what he called "paperwork problems" two years ago. It then abolished the IVPA to let the Illinois Justice Information Authority oversee the anti-violence program.

"Everything that was in that audit, we were accomplishing two years ago," said Quinn.

Meanwhile, the governor is also taking heat from fellow Democrats. Some legislative black caucus members are disappointed that aldermen and neighborhood residents steered the anti-violence grants. Senator Donne Trotter said of the governor: "He thought he would do better with his city friends. Instead of working with his traditional partners-- state lawmakers-- he tried something new and it backfired in his face."

"I just don't agree with that approach. I think when you fight violence you have to have a bubble up approach," said Gov. Quinn. "The bottom line is, I listened to the parents who had lost their sons and daughters more than anything."

Quinn says the anti-violence program is now overseen by another state agency called the Illinois Justice Information Authority. But the controversy is far from over, certainly not during this election year.


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