Friday, May 09, 2014

Easy Money If You Can Make It

There's another example of one of the many benefits bestowed upon those holding public office in this country coming out of Chicago. A long-time campaign contributor to Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown, Narendra Patel, owned some real estate that had a building on it that was somewhat of an eyesore to the neighborhood and there was a $29,000 lien on the property. Rather than sell the property he no longer wanted, Patel just gave the property to Brown's husband, Benton Cook III, who added Brown's name to the property a few months later. The couple later transferred ownership of the land to a private company that Brown had formed. About a year later, Brown and Cook sold the property for a nice profit to a neighboring property owner for $100,000, who had tried unsuccessfully to purchase the property from Patel for years. That's just one item local prosecutors are investigating.

It also appears that Cook was a major benefactor of an anti-violence program that Gov. Pat Quinn used to funnel millions of dollars to a Chicago area local non-profit organization shortly before his gubernatorial campaign four years ago that he narrowly won over his Republican challenger, State Sen. Bill Brady. Quinn became governor after former Gov. Rod Blagojevich was impeached by the Illinois House of Representatives and convicted by the Senate for trying to sell the Senate seat formerly head by Barack Obama, among other things. The Chicago Area Project, which had been hired by Quinn's administration to help dole out millions of grant dollars for anti-violence programs, paid Cook more than $166,000. It turns out that Brown was listed as fiscal manager for a group called Dream Catchers Community Development Corp., which has been approved to receive a $10,000 grant from the Chicago Area Project.

Brown defended her husband when questioned about his business dealings by the Chicago Tribune. She says her husband is a clinical psychologist and youth counselor who had been hired by the Chicago Area Project. The Tribune found 1996 court records in Davidson County, Tennessee showing that Cook had been convicted of felony charges for passing several thousand dollars in bad checks. Brown defended her work for Dream Catchers as that of strictly a volunteer. The state anti-violence grant program, which was heavily criticized by the state's inspector general, is the subject of a larger criminal probe that some say could threaten Quinn's re-election bid. It appears that the crime grant money was simply being doled out to Chicago's black and Latino communities to aid Quinn's election four years ago, which is pretty much the sole purpose of the millions of dollars in crime prevention grant money the Ballard administration has doled out here in Indianapolis since he became mayor. That's more money that could have been spent to hire cops that got wasted elsewhere for political purposes.

No comments: