Originally Posted Online: Oct. 31, 2012, 5:48 pm
Last Updated: Nov. 01, 2012, 7:49 am

Bloom blasts Banaszek over mailer

Comment on this story

By Eric Timmons, etimmons@qconline.com

Photo: Staff and Submitted
Phil Banaszek, Democrat, Bill Bloom, Republican

Rock Island County Board member Phil Banaszek, D-Moline, has charged his Republican opponent Bill Bloom with being a member of "the Moline Housing Authority Board that misappropriated almost $1 million in Federal HUD Funds"

Mr. Bloom said the accusation, contained in a campaign mailer is "slanderous." The mailer was sent to households in Moline that are part of Rock Island County Board District 9.

Mr. Banaszek's charge relates to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development request in early 2012 that the MHA return $985,000 in federal money that HUD alleged had been improperly spent.

The money was part of a $1.2 million grant awarded in 2009, before Mr. Bloom was appointed to the housing authority board in May, 2011. Decisions about how to spend the money also were made before Mr. Bloom was named to the board.

Asked about Mr. Banaszek's mailer, MHA Executive director John Afoun said "He (Mr. Bloom) was not part of this. This thing happened three years ago before he was appointed to the board."

The grant was awarded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, President Obama's economic stimulus bill.

It was supposed to be used for new projects but MHA officials used some of the money for work that had already been approved. The authority believed it was meeting stimulus guidelines to spend the money on "shovel ready" projects, Mr. Afoun said.

Mr. Afoun said he's still fighting HUD's demand that the grant money be returned and has an appeal before HUD secretary Shaun Donovan.

Mr. Banaszek said he stood over the assertion in the mailer.

Mr. Bloom, he said, worked for U.S. Rep. Bobby Schilling, R-Colona, while he sat on the MHA board, and "As a director for a standing congressman you think he (Mr. Bloom) would have been informed on federal HUD funds being appropriated or misappropriated."

"This compromised, reckless disregard in handling taxpayers dollars cannot be tolerated," Mr. Banaszek's mailer said.

"This is pretty disgusting stuff," Mr. Bloom said of the mailer. "It's a hit job and it's about as low as you go. This is why so many good people stay out of politics."

Mr. Banaszek chairs the county's finance committee and also has announced his intention to run for county board chairman if he's re-elected. The county board will elect a new chairman to replace the outgoing Jim Bohnsack after the November elections.