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Gov slams Brown, spouse for Neighborhood Recovery Initiative

Gov. PQuinn  |  Sun-Times files

Gov. Pat Quinn | Sun-Times files

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Updated: June 8, 2014 6:27AM

SPRINGFIELD — A legislative panel moved overwhelmingly Tuesday to arm itself with subpoena power to probe Gov. Pat Quinn’s troubled Neighborhood Recovery Initiative program, but the governor dismissed the move as a political shot at him.

The Legislative Audit Commission voted 10-1 to grant a subcommittee subpoena authority as the panel deliberates a damning February audit by Auditor General William Holland of the now-disbanded, $54.5 million program, which is also under investigation by federal investigators in Springfield and Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez.

“We have to get to the bottom of this,” said Sen. Jason Barickman, R-Champaign, who pushed for the unusual authority to compel witnesses involved in the anti-violence program to testify before the audit commission. “We have a statutory duty to get to the bottom of this.”

Barickman, a co-chairman of the 12-member, bi-partisan Legislative Audit Commission, said Holland’s audit would be discussed by the panel at some point during the summer.

The lone “no” vote for Barickman’s measure was state Rep. Frank Mautino, D-Spring Valley, who is the audit commission’s other co-chairman and member of Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan’s leadership team.

“My concern is though we may do this, to what end?” he asked. “That’s a concern because this body going forward has done some tremendous things, but this motion does change the structure and the abilities of this commission to function as it always has.”

As the panel was deliberating Tuesday morning, Quinn dismissed Barickman’s push.

“Well, politics as usual,” the governor said when asked about arming the panel with subpoena authority. “It’s a political time of year.”

Speaking after paying tribute to fallen firefighters at the Capitol, Quinn went on to say how his abolished the Illinois Violence Prevention Authority, the agency that was administering the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, when it was clear the massive grant program was overrun with problems in 2012.

“We shut the program down. That’s the bottom line. We did it two years ago. And I think that’s what you really have to do anytime you’re in public or private life. If a particular operation is not going in the right direction, the proper thing to do is act, shut it down, stop it cold, don’t sweep anything under the rug. Don’t run away,” the governor said. “I never run away. I always do what’s right for the public.”

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