Monday, February 06, 2006

Taken for Granted

According to today's Chicago Tribune, the state is fighting to get back a grant of over seven hundred thousand dollars made to the National Jockey Club by the Ryan administration during his last days in office. At the time, the state did not know that the racing complex was about to close its doors. The NJC has made nearly four hundred thousand dollars in political contributions over the past twelve years. (Like many businesses, they are equal opportunity donors: roughly equal amounts when to Democrats and Republicans, with about fifteen thousand for Ryan. The Trib goes on to say that:

Kathy Bruns, who reviewed the $750,000 grant as associate general counsel at the state Department of Commerce and Community Affairs, is quoted in the transcript of a November hearing as saying that "nothing, absolutely nothing" in the contract indicated the state would not benefit from the dual track as a tourist destination.

The grant from DECCA(now DECEO) was to, ostensibly, provide housing for race track workers. One of Ryan's budget aides later said that it was designed to keep the enterprise afloat, though an NJC representative said the state had been told that racing there would not continue.

In some ways, the state's bid to recoup the grant funds seems perfectly legitimate: seven hundred thousand dollars for a business run by a campaign contributor, and most often associated with vice? In other ways, this may be the Blago administration's way of taking a carefully timed pot shot at his predecessor(though it is worth noting that NJC has also cut a few checks to the current Governor's campaign). The fact that it can be done under the guise of parsimony makes it all the better.. With Ryan quite literally on trial-and both parties facing the jury of the public-this may be exactly what the state needs:a trip back in time to a administration just as corrupt as the present one.

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