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February 24, 2024

Ghost grant-rolling – Real project, or back scratching?

By Kirk Allen & John Kraft

On June 4, 2015

DuPage Co. (ECWd)

Thomas Glaser, College of DuPage Treasure, was the middle man for what appears to be a ghost-grant project that put $22,500 in the pocket of James O’Rourke, an attorney in Chicago.  As of this publication we have yet to hear back from either COD or O’rourke regarding a copy of the work that was suppose to be performed.   COD can’t find a copy and the attorney is not returning the email request.  (Click here for previous article)

For those that forget, Thomas Glaser held several positions within the Cook County machine. Chief Financial Officer starting in 1995 then in 2007 moving to CFO for the county’s Bureau of Health Services before becoming the Treasure at the College of DuPage.

Does anyone else find it odd that this Chicago based foundation comes to Thomas Glaser for a Cook County project?  Is there a connection?

What could you do for the Cook County Judicial system if you had “over” $100 Million Dollars?  According to a Cook County resolution adopted in 2003, James O’Rourke started working on a wide variety of issues affecting Cook County’s judicial system. “Challenges such as jail crowding, the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center crowding, unfunded mandates, and coordination of the largest court system in American were successfully addressed during his tenure.” (Click here for Cook County Resolution on James ORourke)

If that resolution holds any truth regarding successfully addressing those named issues, then why would the M.R. Bauer Foundation need to spend money to offer a solution to facilitate processing at the Cook County Jail and expedite the release from the jail a great number of those incarcerated.  It appears the goals of the Foundation have parallels what $100 million dollars was already spent on.

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The most important goal, according to the Foundation document is to “serve as a catalyst to foster a renewed sense of cooperation and trust amongst key officials in the Cook County Justice System.” 

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Note that they do not name these “key” officials that need to have their cooperation and trust renewed.  Can anyone explain how providing funds to the former Executive Director of the Cook County Judicial Advisory Council is going to renew cooperation, let alone trust?

What I found odd in this whole process, besides the fact there is not a shred of documentation being provided to support any actual project work was performed, is the fact James O’Rourke, as referenced above, was the former Executive Director of the Cook County Judicial Advisory Council in 1989.   $100 Million dollars later he needs more money to build trust and cooperation?  Yes, several years have past but we are talking about $100 Million dollars that was already spent for the Cook County Court System under his watch, and all his projects mentioned “were successfully addressed”.

Prior to that Executive Director position, he was was appointed as the Supervisor in the Public Defender’s Office, and prior to that his career began in the Cook County Circuit Clerk’s office.  How interesting to see these county positions held. Interesting becuase the time line puts Glaser and ORourke basically together in Cook County government.

Make no mistake, Mr. O’Rourke has a long history in the Cook County Judicial system and although he may have accomplished a lot of things, this particular grant issue is troubling as it appears this is another pay to play or back scratching operation that so many of our taxpayers have come to see as the normal way of doing business in our public organizations.

I pray this is not the case with this one, as I know We The People, sooner than later, need to have our trust renewed in our public officials and only after that is obtained will we ever find cooperation.

If neither Glaser nor O’Rourke are able to produce the required documents on this project how can we as a society ever gain trust in our elected officials?

The answer is to start prosecuting those offenses that violate the law, regardless of the cost.  Only through aggressive prosecutions will a deterrent the corruption in our public bodies become effective.  There needs to be a zero tolerance policy for no less than 5 years to ensure the message is sent.  Break the law and we will prosecute.



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