Wednesday, May 17, 2006

So Whose Idea Was That S.K.I.P Program?

Heathergate is the gift that just keeps on giving. The Star's Michele McNeil adds to the continuing saga surrounding the awarding of a $417,000 grant to Michael McKenna, a family friend of the ousted executive director of the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute. It turns out that McKenna may have stolen the idea down to the name from a local charitable group which has had its own S.K.I.P. program to aid the children of incarcerated parents for years. What's even more intriguing is what McNeil dug up on how McKenna acquired it. McNeil writes today:

The consultant who landed a $417,000 criminal justice grant that later was canceled amid a state investigation copied a local program and pitched it as his own, organizers of a similar program say.

"That's our program," said the Rev. Charles Harrison, president of the Indianapolis Ten Point Coalition and a senior pastor at Barnes United Methodist Church.

He said investigators from the inspector general's office, which is examining the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute and its top officials, interviewed Ten Point Coalition members about their ongoing Saving Kids of Incarcerated Parents program.

That's the name of the program pitched by Michael McKenna, who is a family friend of former CJI executive director Heather Bolejack's. Bolejack, who is accused of mishandling the grant and failing to disclose the potential conflict of interest, has been fired.

Now this is where it gets really interesting. Indianapolis City-County Councilor Isaac Randolph, a former coalition employee, was asked by Bolejack last fall to meet with McKenna to discuss the S.K.I.P. according to McNeil. McKenna says he intended to partner with Randolph, but Randolph withdrew from participation when Sen. Murray Clark announced his resignation and Randolph launched his unsuccessful bid to replace Clark. Randolph has a much different version of events. McNeil writes:

Randolph said he met with McKenna at the request of Bolejack, offered to work with McKenna to develop a similar program and e-mailed him details about Ten Point's SKIP program.

Randolph said he never heard from McKenna again, despite repeated calls.

He assumed McKenna dropped the idea -- until he learned from inspector general investigators that McKenna's SKIP program was to receive an original award of $417,000.

So it looks like Randolph handed McKenna the blueprints for the S.K.I.P. program, which may not endear him to his former Ten Points coalition employer, and then McKenna cut him out of the deal. McNeil reports that "the Ten Point Coalition will meet Thursday and would decide whether it should try to take any action against McKenna, who received $80,000 of the grant before it was canceled."


Anonymous said...

The Star article was poorly investigated and designed to please the Governor who is intent on hanging Heather out there to keep folks off the real story.

This program (with same name) lives in other states...can we get a 'fact check' in aisle 7 please?

Anonymous said...

Randolph never finishes anything he starts. He vanished just as he always does. All talk no walk.

Anonymous said...

Randolph's been spotted lately up in the CJI offices. Looking for ???