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47th Ward Ald. Pawar to Investigate Ravenswood Community Council

By Jordan Graham | Thursday, November 10, 2011

Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th). Official city photo.

Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th) said his office would be investigating allegations of cronyism and city contract mismanagement against north side nonprofit and city delegate agency the Ravenswood Community Council in response to yesterday’s Center Square Journal article.

The November 9 article accused the RCC, which received over $500,000 in city and property tax funding in 2011, of providing services redundant to both itself and other local chambers of commerce, having high administrative costs, setting vague measurements to report contract fulfillment and using the influence of former 47th Ward Ald. Eugene Schulter to get city contracts for an organization headed by his political operatives.

“My office will be investigating all allegations put forward by this article,” Pawar said. “The allegations from this article are deeply troubling and I can assure you that my office takes this very seriously. Anytime there’s a credible allegation of misuse of tax dollars, my office and the relevant City of Chicago department will investigate and take action. I’m not going to allow any tax dollars to be wasted on my watch.”

Ravenswood Investigation Series
Ravenswood Council: $500k for Little Work

Frm. Ald. Schulter’s Response

Current Ald. Pawar’s Response

Ravenswood Chamber Financial Problems

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Pawar said that during the City of Chicago’s recent budget hearings, he made a recommendation to Budget Director Alex Holt to start conducting programmatic audits on all city delegate organizations, so that the City can measure contract performance in addition to the currently-required financial audits.

“Typically what a programmatic audit does is look at what was put forward in a financial audit, what was put forward in a proposal when you’re receiving funding, and measures performance against what the benchmarks are,” Pawar said. “So, for example, if you were supposed to serve 30 people and you served 24, you have to be able to provide the auditor with information on why you were not able to serve the six people. You are required to hit that benchmark.”

“You would be amazed the level of scrutiny and the level of detail that has to be provided,” he continued. “We’re talking about getting down to the penny, to the paperclip. And this is the sort of information that a nonprofit would have to provide to the City of Chicago. So the cost isn’t so great.”

In yesterday’s article, RCC Executive Director Chris Shickles said that some of the blame for delegate agencies’ poor contract reporting fell on the City of Chicago, because it approved program measurement criteria. He also said that increasing reporting standards might raise the agencies’ administrative costs, as employees would have to spend time filling out additional paperwork.

Susan Massel, spokesperson for the Chicago Department of Housing and Economic Development, said she would not provide a comment in response to yesterday’s article or explain why the city contract overseers had not acted on a 2009 city panel that unanimously voted to discontinue city funding to RCC.

The Chicago City Council has yet to pass the City’s 2012 budget but will likely to do in the next few weeks.

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