Saturday, February 21, 2009

Taxpayers Spend Millions to Staff Phantom Cook County Jail

Taxpayers have spent over three million dollars a year - for ten years - to pay for non-existant staff at a long-abandoned jail. In this report on CBS 2 (see video below) Jay Levine interviewed David Noveselski, who is a "civic bounty hunter" of sorts:

Noveselski: "We went through it with a court order a month ago. It's rat-infested, it's full of water, the paint is peeling, the electrical service is out."
Levine: "Nobody's working there."
Noveselski: "Nobody at all."
Levine: "No prisoners there."
Noveselski: "No."
Who's responsible? Is it the Democrat controlled Cook County Board? Well, no, according to Jay Levine of CBS 2 Chicago. He says,
"It was a classic bait and switch. Saying you needed the money for one thing, but using it for whatever you want, duping a County board that once spent money like water . . ."
Ah. So county board was "duped", poor things. It isn't as though the county board is responsible, even though they "once spent money like water" (what on earth are they spending like now?) and even though they had been told for 10 years that $3.2 million was going into that building, according to Noveselski. He said, "There's no paper trail for where that money went."

So, who said they "needed the money"? And to whom did they say it? The answers to those questions are not in Levine's report. And who got the money? Nothing in the report about that, either, but Levine does tell us this:
"But examining budget documents, we found dozens of guards and officers were assigned to that abandoned building for years -- to the tune of more than $3 million a year.
Budgeting staff for this empty building ended when Tom Dart became sheriff two years ago. But by that time, tens of millions of dollars had been spent on 60 people the board thought were needed to staff a cellblock which had been abandoned."*
So we don't know who "said they needed the money". We don't know who heard them say it, or who they said it to. We don't know who got the money, and we don't know who's responsible. (Thank God for investigative reporting.) "They" did it. Nobody knows a thing.
"Nothing surprises me," board member Mike Quigley said. "If they deliberately lied, then they're defrauding the public, if not criminally, then at least ethically."*
"If they deliberately lied." Yes, lets not jump to conclusions. They could have accidentally lied. And maybe "they" accidentally cashed those paychecks, too, and in the next election, maybe they'll accidentally vote themselves some status (quid pro) quo.

As if we didn't know, the report does tell us that "this may be the tip of the iceberg". And the county board gets a word of advice from Lawrence Msall of the Civic Federation:
"You cannot be assigning people in a budget to work that doesn't exist in buildings that are not being occupied."*
Oh, really? This is Democrat-controlled Cook County, where "they" did it, "somebody" got money, there's no paper trail, and absolutely nobody knew. So actually, Mr. Msall, yes they can.

*Emphasis added.

(H/T James Bregenzer)


Leo Pusateri said...

Great post!

Why doesn't this surprise me?

One thing I don't miss about living in Crook County.. the corruption.

One thing I do miss is Italian Beef & Sausage... oh yeah, a dog rolled in the garden.. (Okay--two things)

El Rider said...

That Quigley guy sounds like the sort of bright congressman needed for the IL 5.

Post a Comment

We love to hear your thoughts! However, comments containing profuse profanity, inane insults (unless they're entertaining), or anything else that makes us cranky may disappear.

Related Posts with Thumbnails