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Job training program seeks permission to repay $2.5 million to state 10 months after doing so

Thursday, April 24, 2008
Chicago Tribune

From today's print edition:

By Hal Dardick
Tribune reporter

Ten months after repaying the state $2.5 million in job training grant funds because of lax recordkeeping, Cook County officials Wednesday sought approval to make the payment.

“You’re supposed to get permission before the fact,” Commissioner Tony Peraica (R-Riverside) told Karen Crawford, director of the county’s job-training agency, which had to repay the money.

“This is a pretty significant check to have been written without a member of the board knowing,” Commissioner Larry Suffredin (D-Evanston) said. The board approved the payment.

County Comptroller Joseph Fratto said the long delay was “purely an oversight.” The money, officials said, came from leftover funds in an expired bond account.

The President’s Office of Employment and Training is a federally funded program under the County Board president. Since past Board President John Stroger turned evidence of theft over to authorities in mid-2005, four former agency officials and five others have been charged with stealing nearly $1.8 million in loans and federal money.

Crawford, however, said only $100,000 of the $2.5 million paid back to the state, which distributes the federal funds, was owed because of “misallocation.” The rest had to be repaid because the agency could not fully document payments to vendors, which the state discovered after  a multiyear audit, she said.

From the Clout Street blog:

Officials to discuss juvenile center hiring

A federal judge ordered that lawyers for the top administrator at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center, the American Civil Liberties Union and Teamsters Local 714 return to court Thursday after they discuss the administrator’s request to bypass a union contract and hire a temporary security firm to fill 175 vacancies.

 

Detention center employees crowded Judge John Nordberg’s courtroom Wednesday as Earl Dunlap, appointed transitional administrator in August, testified at length to the urgency of temporarily filling vacancies on the night watch with the private firm and moving current, experienced counselors to day shirts.

 

A union attorney said he did not oppose the temporary hiring of the firm but the shifting of current staff.



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