Illinois Spends $15 Million on 102 State’s Attorney Salaries – Who Don’t Prosecute Public Corruption
December 27, 2021
Illinois is the Super Bowl of corruption. Yet, there are virtually zero prosecutions of public corruption cases from the 102 State’s Attorneys – publicly elected in each county.
In 75 Illinois counties, the elected state’s attorney is a Republican, while the remaining 27 are Democrats. Each swears an oath to uphold the laws of the state – including the anti-corruption statutes.
Yet, the prosecution of public corruption in Illinois is rare. Only the feds seem to bring cases.
It doesn’t have to be this way. However, it is Illinois and it’s complicated – by design.
State’s attorneys prosecute cases brought to them by law enforcement. If no public corruption cases are investigated by law enforcement, then no cases will be prosecuted.
Local law enforcement in Illinois isn’t even trained in how to investigate public corruption. From Kirk Allen of the Edgar County Watchdogs:
“During our investigation of the College of DuPage and the Police Training Acadamy at the College, we were told by the Law Enforcement Training Standards Board that they do not have training curriculum pertaining to public corruption.”
“If the Police are not trained how to identify public corruption it’s no wonder public corruption is alive and well in Illinois."
So, public corruption in Illinois flourishes: State’s attorneys don’t prosecute the cases, because law enforcement doesn’t bring them cases. Law enforcement doesn’t investigate the cases, because they are not even trained on investigating public corruption.
And the corrupt cycle continues in the Land of Lincoln, year after year!
In fact, the Republican state’s attorney in downstate Sangamon County, which encompasses the state capitol building in Springfield, could prosecute any crimes committed in the county by any official including the governor, attorney general, secretary of state, speaker of the house, president of the senate, etc.
Therefore, local law enforcement and the state police must not be investigating public crimes at the state capitol. However, the feds have shown it’s a target rich environment. In a recent period, four of the last nine governors spent time in the federal penitentiary and in 2013, two governors were in prison at the same time.
State’s Attorneys do have powers to build criminal cases including the power to convene grand juries and issue subpoenas. Quite obviously, they aren’t being proactive.
The average state’s attorney in 2019 made about $149,000, according to data compiled by our auditors at OpenTheBooks.com. In total, therefore, taxpayers paid out approximately $15,000,000 in annual compensation.
Cook County, which includes Chicago, has one of the largest State’s Attorneys offices in the country with a budget of $176 million. Headed by Kim Foxx, who made $198,000 in 2019, the office has come under fire recently for its lack of prosecution of even the most violent crimes, as well as its mishandling of the Jussie Smollett case.
State’s attorneys in downstate Illinois make considerably less with some making $133,000 per year. In DuPage County, SA Bob Berlin earned $177,461 and so did the Sangamon County prosecutor.
Chicago consistently ranks as the most corrupt city in the nation, and Illinois is the second most corrupt state in America.
This raises the questions: Where are all the Illinois State’s Attorneys?
Connecticut Loses Control Over $60 Million in COVID-19 Relief Funds
December 28, 2021
In 2020, the United States federal government passed the CARES Act, which allocated funding to states to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The money was supposed to be used to help local governments cover emergency costs related to the pandemic.
Where did the money go in Connecticut? It seems nobody knows for sure.
Look up how much your hometown received in American Rescue Act funds passed in March 2021 on our interactive mapping platform at OpenTheBooks.com, here.
Allegations of fraud and misuse have led the state to hire CohnReznick, a Hartford accounting firm, to audit every municipality in Connecticut.
One town that has been under scrutiny is West Haven. In 2020, it was allocated $1.1 million to cover expenses related to the pandemic.
On October 20th, 2020, the FBI arrested Michael DiMassa, a West Haven employee and former Democratic state lawmaker, for allegedly funneling $636,000 in CARES Act funds to a shell company he owned, according to the Hartford Courant. The company, named Compass Investment Group, allegedly provided no services to West Haven, and the money was instead allegedly used to buy gambling chips at the Mohegan Sun Casino.
Initially, state policy was to have municipalities make their COVID-19 expenditures, and then ask for reimbursement. However, an updated policy gave each municipality a lump sum payment based on population and the immediate reporting requirements were dropped.
With the policy change, municipalities had a blank check with little oversight. Some smaller towns claimed the change was necessary because they couldn’t cover the expenses and wait for reimbursement.
Yet that change opened the door to taxpayer abuse.
States like Connecticut have an obligation to make sure taxpayer money is being used in a transparent and ethical way and need to provide more oversight.
Thankfully, a forensic audit will now enforce some accountability.
Harvard Spent $75,000 in Taxpayer Money to Blow Lizards Off Trees with Leaf Blowers
December 29, 2021
In 2020, National Science Foundation funded a study to examine how well different types of lizards could hang on to trees. They were concerned about increasing frequency of hurricanes and high-speed winds due to climate change – especially their effects on the anole lizard population.
So they decided to test how long anole lizards could hang onto trees in these onerous conditions.
To study this, they spent over $75,000 to blow leaf blowers at lizards on trees, according to the Office of Senator Rand Paul (R-KY). Dr. Colin M. Donihue, then a researcher at Harvard University, conducted the research with funding from the National Science Foundation.
Why is Harvard receiving a $75,000 grant when it has a $53.2 billion endowment – up $10 billion year-over-year?
The researchers wanted to determine if long limbed lizards fared better in high-speed winds than short-limbed lizards when holding onto trees. Would this have a natural selection effect on the lizard population?
In 2017, a study of the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria found this to be true. After the hurricanes, the remaining lizards had longer toe-pads and longer fore legs, compared to the pre-hurricane population, which gave them a better grip with which to hold onto trees.
However, for some reason, the National Science Foundation wanted to study it even further. They gathered 47 anole lizards, put them on a wooden pole, and used leaf blowers to blow “hurricane force winds” at them at speeds up to 108 mph. Apparently, the lizards were resilient at 102 mph, but faltered at 108 mph.
If you are wondering why this research is necessary, you won’t find any answers from your government. There is no official grant description for this research from the National Science Foundation.
In 1976, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Went $67 Billion Over Budget
December 30, 2021
Mismanagement at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was so bad in 1976 that it was responsible for cost overruns of 178 projects that totaled $14 billion — $67 billion in 2021 dollars.
That year, Sen. William Proxmire, a Democrat from Wisconsin, gave the Corps a Golden Fleece Award for wasteful and nonsensical spending.
With 178 major projects underway, 83 of them, or 47 percent, had cost overruns of 100 percent or more, Proxmire said in giving out the award.
Those 178 projects were initially slated to cost $12.7 billion but increased costs led to a new price tag of $26.7 billion, a $14 billion (or 110 percent) increase.
A flood control project at Caesar Creek Lake in Ohio cost 243 percent of its original price; flood control in Cooper Lake, Texas was up 325 percent; Fire Island Inlet, New York also increased 325 percent; Sacramento River Bank increased 356 percent; and hurricane protection in New Orleans, Louisiana was up 1,027 percent.
“While occasionally the Defense Department or the Department of Transportation may have high figures on specific programs, the scope and consistency of the Corps’ excesses are breathtaking,” Proxmire said.
He said the out-of-control costs can’t be blamed on inflation, as the General Accounting Office analyzed the costs and found at least half were for changes in engineering, estimating and the scope of the project, what he called “avoidable changes” if planning on the projects had been proper and thorough.
“It seems to be a good time for the Executive Department to rethink the mission of the Corps of Engineers,” Proxmire said. “Perhaps the Crops should be reoriented to reclaiming polluted waterways, building municipal waste treatment facilities and other desperately needed capital programs where Corps resources could be efficiently used.”
California School District Spends Almost $32 million Per Year on Insurance Subsidies for Retired Teachers
December 31, 2021
Just another way taxpayers get fleeced in San Francisco.
The San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) in California spends $31.9 million each year on "Other Post-Employment Benefits," which includes insurance subsidies for retired employees. For participants over the age of 65, the school district subsidizes 85% of premium costs, while the average California school district only covers 68%.
This is on top of employees’ generous pension, which is a lifetime benefit that employees can claim at only 50 years old, and after just 5 years of California Public Employees’ Retirement System pensionable service credits.
Why does it cost so much to subsidize insurance for former employees?
Because the SFUSD is one of the few districts – even in California -- to subsidize retirees already on Medicare. They also do not take advantage of federal and state subsidies available under Obamacare for employees under the age of 65. Therefore, instead of using existing programs to provide affordable health coverage for former employees, the school district subsidizes a subsidy.
Employees over the age of 65 have access to Medicare, the federal program that provides affordable health insurance to retirees. Employees under the age of 65 have access to the Covered California program, which provides similarly affordable health insurance plans subsidized by the state of California.
The duplicity and wastefulness of this program hurts not only the taxpayer, but also the students in San Francisco public schools.
Every dollar spent on unnecessary healthcare benefits for retirees is a dollar that isn’t educating students in the classroom.
The $31.9 million could be used for educational materials, more teachers, or student resources, but instead is used to subsidize a subsidy for retirees as young as age 50.
The #WasteOfTheDay is presented by the forensic auditors at OpenTheBooks.com.