A history of Flowers' alleged spending practices
Friday, January 15, 2010
HEY, BIG SPENDER
A n investigation by the SouthtownStar as well as an audit of the
Suburban Cook County Regional Office of Education last year revealed
numerous questionable spending practices by Supt. Charles Flowers.
Flowers charged more than $3,000 in food and meal purchases on his
regional credit card, sometimes as many as four times in one week and
many times at upscale Oak Brook restaurants. He also increased his
credit card limit from $5,000 to $20,000 during his time in the office.
Credit card statements reveal Flowers bought plane tickets to Mississippi for family members on the credit card.
Flowers approved $15,000 salary advances for his executive
assistant, Barbara Flowers - who is also his sister - and another
employee, who was Flowers' girlfriend.
On at least one occasion, his nephew - employed as an office floater - was paid to eat lunch, according to the state audit.
The regional office was $413,000 in debt when Flowers took power. It is now around $1 million in the red.
Other charges that showed up on his credit card include those for limos, a hair salon, hotels and rental cars.
Two assistant superintendents each collected their $80,000-plus
paychecks along with $12,000 and $9,400 in grants for "consulting
services" they did during normal working hours, according to the audit.
The Cook County state's attorney's office said Thursday no consulting
services were ever performed.
Numerous flat-screen TVs were reported to have been delivered to the
office shortly after he arrived, but no one can seem to find them.
There's also the case of the missing car and furniture. Flowers said
the nearly $7,000 he took out in cash advances in Illinois and
Mississippi on his credit card were for an office car and furniture,
but auditors could not find the vehicle or the furniture. They also
were unable to verify his claims that he repaid the money.
Many of the problems at the regional office echo Flowers' troubles
as school board president in Maywood-Melrose District 89. In 2002 and
2003, Flowers came under fire for hiring friends who were paid more
than their predecessors and for authorizing frivolous spending on
laptops and cell phones for board members in a district that, at the
time, was saddled with a $3 million deficit.