We've been trying to reach Emil Jones and Todd Stroger for several days now to talk to them about their involvement in some questionable spending at WYCC, the public TV station at the City Colleges of Chicago.
I heard last night from Jones' spokesman, who says he is out of the country for the rest of the week. Hopefully we'll be able to speak with him upon his return, and Stroger before then.
In the meantime, here are some questions we'd like to ask if either of these two gents is kind enough to sit down for an interview:
- What was on the videos? Were they mock television shows? Cinema verite? Campaign commercials?
- Who received the videos? Were they distributed as part of political campaigns? Or merely shared with a couple of friends and family. We're pretty sure that they weren't uploaded to Youtube (talk about a disappointing moment for us!) Did WYCC pay to copy and mail them out?
- How much time was spent producing each video? TV studios are expensive, and our reporting suggests the public was footing the bill on these. How many staffers worked on them?
- Whose idea was this? Did you approach Chancellor Wayne Watson? Or vice versa? If the former, did you have to apply any muscle to get Watson to go along? Did you promise him anything in return?
- Are you concerned that WYCC's role in producing the tapes will lead to a loss of federal funding? What will you say to your constituents if that happens?
- Was there ever any discussion of whether it would be proper to use public funds for this sort of thing? How did you think doing this would benefit taxpayers and the students at the City Colleges of Chicago, whose resources you used?
- It doesn't appear that you disclosed the videos as a gift or in-kind service on your campaign finance and ethics reports. Why didn't you do so? How does this square with your understanding of state disclosure laws?
- Are you worried you may face criminal prosecution for any of this?
Regarding that last point, I traded e-mails yesterday afternoon with Randall Samborn, spokesman for the United States Attorney's Office in Chicago. The office typically declines to reveal the existence of criminal investigations, and they're maintaining a stiff upper lip on this one, too. So no comment from him.
If you're following along at home and receive a subpoena, or notice the feds serving a search warrant at WYCC, please do drop me a line: geoff at chitowndailynews dot org.