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When will the Flowers madness come to an end?

Monday, June 15, 2009
by SouthtownStar editorial staff

F ighting corruption makes for great campaigns. But actually stopping it once it's in progress? Apparently, this state's law enforcement officials can't be bothered.

Last week, the state's top auditor called for a criminal probe of the Suburban Cook County Regional Office of Education, releasing details our readers have known for months about the spending orgy taking place under Regional Supt. Charles Flowers.

As far as we can tell, however, there's little appetite for such a move.

Despite several weeks of reporting on this shocking breach of public trust and waste of public dollars, neither Attorney General Lisa Madigan nor Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez have moved in to stop this madness.

And madness it is.

Flowers, who was elected with a history of questionable financial dealings from his days as board president at west suburban Maywood-Melrose Park District 89, has brought the office's debt to nearly $1 million since taking office in 2007.

He put friends and family on the payroll, spent thousands on limousines, plane tickets, upscale restaurants and a hair salon.

Meanwhile, the office has struggled to make payroll, issuing paychecks to employees days after they were due, even after a $190,000 loan from Cook County that Flowers engineered last year with Cook County Board President Todd Stroger's help.

One local Southland official seems to be paying some attention.

Cook County Commissioner Elizabeth Doody Gorman (R-Orland Park) will introduce a resolution tomorrow calling for a no confidence vote on Flowers, requesting Madigan and Alvarez launch a criminal investigation into his office.

We'd like to report we have confidence such a probe will happen.

We'd like to say we have confidence someone in charge will protect your interests and stop this looting.

But we're not. While we hope Gorman can convince authorities to act, we remain skeptical, at best.

Because we've checked the calendar and know it's not campaign time.

Corruption in the suburbs? Check back later, when there's an election to win.

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