Friday, September 20, 2013

What value did the taxpayers get for $15,707,800 grant monies allocated to Partnership for a Connected Illinois for expanding broadband by DCEO?

In a FOIA just obtained by Corruption Busters from DCEO, it was disclosed that on behalf of Partnership for A Connected Illinois, Drew Clark & Charles Benton submitted an application to Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity (DCEO) requesting "Funding to create innovative projects that will deliver broadband to underserved and underserved areas to spur job creation and stimulate economic growth and bridge the gap of the broadband divide by delivering access to the citizens of Illinois"

The project dates are 10/1/2010-10/31/2012.

Here are the recipient companies and the allocation of the grant:

We previously published information related to the failure of MyWay Village (aka Connected Living) to create jobs. Their application to US Dept of Commerce NTIA BTOP promised "over 100 jobs". The actual number of jobs created was between 30-40 and it is now evident that those jobs were not sustainable. In addition, they promised to get "over 3000" seniors and disabled folks in public housing sustainable broadband adoption. The actual number is closer to 400, and that number is dubious at best.

Don Samuelson claims that he directly worked to obtain State of Illinois funds for this project. His son was employed by Connected Living during the grant period.

In a press release dated 9/13/2010 entitled "Governor Quinn Announces Illinois to Receive Nearly $100 million in New High-Tech Investment Four More Projects will Create Hundreds of Jobs Across State" it announces "MyWay Village, will use its $4.7 million federal award matched with $1.2 million in state capital funds leveraged with $890,000 in private investment to engage thousands of senior citizens and people with disabilities in 23 public housing communities to learn the basics of e-mail, Web access and other practical computer skills. MyWay
Village has partnered with local Workforce Investment Act organizations to help seniors who develop their digital literacy skills to find part time work." further "A longtime advocate of broadband-based opportunities in Illinois, Governor Quinn made sure funding for technology projects was included in the Illinois Jobs Now! public works plan."

It is apparent that these monies were provided without proper due diligence and DCEO failed to ensure oversight of these projects during the grant period.

We call upon DCEO to provide a detailed accounting to taxpayers on the use of these funds and the results of these projects to "spur job creation" and "expand broadband" to the citizens of Illinois.

It is also incumbent upon Mr. Clark & Mr. Benton, who facilitated the application and allocated funding, to be held accountable for the use of these taxpayer funds. All funds that were improperly abused and resulted in personal gain should be returned to the taxpayers. 

We call upon the Illinois Attorney General's office to investigate allegations of fraud and waste of taxpayer funds by the recipient agencies.

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