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She stole $54 million from her city. Then something unexpected happened.



Burke, Mayor of Dixon at the time of Crundwell’s theft, later suggested that the Comptroller may have intended to pay off the city first. But somewhere along the way – after the first million? after the first 10 million dollars? — it must have seemed impractical. Frank Langholf, a Lutheran pastor who visited her while she was in county jail, told me that their conversations led him to believe she was addicted, although he did not elaborate for privacy reasons. Crundwell never told her story publicly, despite numerous requests: her brother Richard Humphrey once asked Pope, an accounting professor and documentarian, to pay restitution to Crundwell plus additional living expenses as a condition of the interview. Restitution amounted to $53.7 million – the amount Crandwell stole – and Pope refused. (My own attempts to contact her through Humphrey, other relatives, and her lawyer were unsuccessful; the lawyer said he would advise her not to talk to me.)

The reasons why Krundwell eluded detection for so long are easier to diagnose.

Dixon had its own built-in weakness: a commission form of government that combines executive and legislative functions in a city council that makes ordinances and administers municipal departments. Galveston, Texas, pioneered this model to help the city recover from a hurricane, believing it could simplify policy development and implementation and prevent one mayor from becoming too powerful by dividing executive power among multiple elected officials. The commission form flourished in the 20th century before largely disappearing as cities found better ways to govern. It is not found in any major city in the United States now, except for Portland, Oregon, and even among small cities it is rare.

This structure had two major flaws relevant to the Crundwell case. First, it lacked the typical systems of checks and balances institutionalized in other cities, where one group of people makes laws and another, separate group, enforces them. Second, because the commissioners had day jobs and only handled city affairs part-time, the system was vulnerable to both obvious conflicts of interest and leadership inexperience. Mayor Burke, for example, ran a real estate firm, leading to accusations that he made economic development decisions in the interests of his own business. Council member Considine, who made a career in the beauty industry, was in charge of the fire department and public safety. Another board member, Roy Bridgman, who served as Commissioner of Finance, taught typing at the Dixon School, including Rita Cranwell.

The irony is that the system, designed in part to prevent elected officials from accumulating too much power, made it possible for an unelected official to seize most of his own power. Crundwell’s transformation into a controller position began shortly after high school graduation and lasted 20 years. through five city councils, three mayors and three finance commissioners. She developed a city accounting system that was inaccessible to almost all city authorities except her, and everyone seemed to be happy with it. As detailed by Brian Smith in Magazines of Chicago case profile, checks, deposits, financial statements and requests for Dixon’s funding were in the hands of one man: Krundwell. She didn’t just operate the system What system.

In an accidentally prophetic line that would later prove irresistible to journalists and a judge, Bridgman, resigning from city council in 2011, praised Crundwell: “She takes care of every dollar as if it were her own,” according to the brief. his remarks in the minutes of the meeting.


Trump City Hall reveals its plan for a second term: Breaking even more norms



In little more than an hour, Donald J. Trump invited the United States to default on its debt for the first time in history, cast doubt on the country’s commitment to defending Ukraine from a Russian invasion, secured pardons for most of the Capitol rioters convicted of crimes. , and declined to say that he would abide by the results of the next presidential election.

The vision for a second term, which Trump outlined at a CNN City Hall event on Wednesday, represents a stark departure from the core American values ​​that have been the foundation of the nation for decades: its credibility, its credibility among international allies. and his commitment to the rule of law at home.

Trump’s provocations are hardly shocking. His tenure has often been defined by his “rules don’t apply to me” approach to governance and lack of interest in maintaining national security order since World War II, and at 76, he doesn’t have much to change.

But his performance nonetheless signaled an escalation in his drive to bend the government to his will as he runs for the White House again, only this time with more control of the GOP’s pressure points and plan. destroy the federal bureaucracy.

The TV event made it clear that a version of Mr. Trump who could return to power in 2025 with the promise of being a vehicle of “retribution” is likely to reign as he did in 2020. In the final year of his presidency, Mr. Trump removed people deemed disloyal and promoted those who fully indulged his instincts — something he did not always do during the first three years of his administration, when his establishment advisers often discouraged him from radical policy changes.

“From my point of view, Donald Trump has evolved over four years, and I think 2020 has been the most dramatic example of his present,” said Mark T. Esper, who served as Trump’s defense secretary. “And I suspect that would be his starting point if he won his post in 2024.”

In a statement, Jason Miller, Trump’s senior adviser, dismissed criticism of the former president, who said he spoke directly to Americans suffering from Biden’s decline and President Trump’s commitment to security and economic prosperity on day one. He added: “It is clear that this vision is not shared by the failed warmongers, political misfits and professional bureaucrats – many of whom he fired or defeated – who created all of America’s problems.”

At the town hall event, Mr. Trump almost unceremoniously floated ideas that would change the country’s position in the world, pledging to end the war in Ukraine within 24 hours and refusing to support the country, an American ally that relied on billions of dollars. dollars in aid to hold back the onslaught of the Russians.

“Do you want Ukraine to win this war?” CNN’s Caitlan Collins insisted.

Mr Trump has been evacuated.

“I don’t think about winning and losing,” he replied, adding that he was focused on curtailing the conflict. “I think in terms of the settlement that we stop killing all these people.” He did not mention that the assassination was initiated by Russia.

Delaware Sen. Chris Koons, a Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee and close to President Biden, said the international community fears Trump’s return.

“His speech last night only reinforced what many of our allies and partners have told me about their fears over the past two years — that Trump’s return to the White House will be a return to chaos,” he said.

Some elected Republican officials who are skeptical of US aid to Ukraine have praised Mr. Trump’s actions. Senator J.D. Vance of Ohio called his Ukraine response “real statesmanship.”

Mr. Miller argued that Mr. Trump had “an entire term without new wars and is ready to do it again.”

In New Hampshire, Republican audiences reveled in Mr. Trump’s wisecracks and many insults—at Ms. Collins (“an unpleasant person,” he chuckled, echoing his old attacks on Hillary Clinton), at former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, E. Jean Carroll, the woman who was convicted by a jury this week of Mr. Trump of sexual assault and defamation. And the crowd did not dissent when he again tried to rewrite history on January 6, 2021, when his supporters stormed the Capitol in an attempt to undo his electoral defeat.

“It was a beautiful day,” Trump said.

If he becomes president again, he said, he will “most likely” pardon “most” of his supporters who were convicted for their actions on January 6. “They were there with love in their hearts,” he said of the crowd he radiated was “the biggest” of his career.

“You see what you get: a presidency not tied to truth and constitutional order,” said Utah Senator Mitt Romney, Trump’s most prominent GOP critic remaining on Capitol Hill. “The idea that all people convicted of crimes will be pardoned, or for the most part pardoned, is a departure from the principles of the Constitution and our party.”

Mr. Trump has also embraced the possibility of a default in the showdown between President Biden and Congressional Republicans over a debt ceiling that economists say could spell disaster for the global economy.

“You can do it now because you will do it later because we have to save this country,” Trump said. “Our country is dying.”

Former Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, a Republican who is running a long-term presidential campaign in 2024, said Mr Trump’s potential return to the White House poses a “huge” risk to the nation.

“He has shown such disrespect for our public institutions, which are critical to our democracy,” Mr. Hutchinson said, adding that he was particularly unnerved by talk of default. “He spoke as if the United States could default on debt. And it’s like using his past business practices of using bankruptcy as a tool and applying them to the government.“.

Despite such warnings from old-guard Republicans, the cheering from the conservative crowd in New Hampshire during the CNN event was an audible reminder that Mr Trump significant advantage in Republican primary polls.

Karl Rove, author of George W. Bush’s two presidential victories, said in an interview that “for true believers and ardent supporters, it was Mr. Trump’s performance as a clown.” But he said other Republicans would now be forced to answer for “the big pile of poisonous stuff on the doorstep.”

“Do other Republicans think that the rioters who attacked the police, broke into the Capitol on January 6 and in some cases tried to overthrow the government should be pardoned?” Mr. Rove asked. “Do other Republicans agree that it doesn’t matter if the United States government doesn’t do its duty? Do other Republicans care who wins in Ukraine?”

One of the most controversial policies of Mr. Trump’s presidency was the forced separation of migrant parents from their children at the southern border, which Mr. Trump abandoned in June 2018 after a huge backlash.

But during the town hall on Wednesday, Mr. Trump offered to revive it. “Well, when you have such a policy, people don’t come,” he said. “If the family finds out that they are going to be separated, they love their family, they won’t come.”

Casual observers may be tempted, as some did in 2016, to accept Mr. Trump’s most extreme statements, such as his casual desire to allow the country to default, seriously but not literally.

But beneath Mr. Trump’s vague chatter lie detailed plans to destroy the federal civil service. These proposals have been brewing for more than two years in a network of well-funded Trump-linked outside groups.

In the last chaotic weeks of the 2020 election, Mr. Trump’s lawyers, after creating a new legal theory in strict secrecy, issued an executive order known as Graph F it was intended to destroy much of the employment protection against layoffs for tens of thousands of federal employees.

Mr. Trump did not have enough time to implement this plan. But a constellation of conservative groups is preparing to renew efforts if he becomes president again in 2025.

Under pressure from Ms Collins, Mr Trump did not say he was ready to accept the 2024 results.

Former Rep. Liz Cheney, who lost the Republican primary bid for re-election after helping lead the Jan. 6 House investigation, said of Trump’s mayor’s office, “Virtually everything Donald Trump says strengthens the case against him.”

“Donald Trump has made it clear once again that he fully intended to corruptly obstruct Congress’s official electoral vote counting process in order to cancel the 2020 election,” said Ms. Cheney, who has made opposing Trump’s return to power her top political priority ever since. since. her defeat last year. “He says what happened on January 6 was justified and he glorifies those who attacked our Capitol.”

On Wednesday, Mr. Trump also denounced his former Vice President Mike Pence for supporting the 2020 election results and brushed off suggestion that Mr. Pence was in danger on Jan. 6 even though the Secret Service tried to evacuate him from the Capitol. .

“I don’t think he was in any danger,” Trump said.

Mark Short, who was with Mr. Pence that day as his chief of staff, cited Mr. Trump’s double standards in defending violence by his supporters, while saying he was generally in favor of law and order.

“Many of us have called for the prosecution of the BLM rioters as they disrupted private business,” Short said, referring to Black Lives Matter supporters. “It’s hard to see how there’s another threshold where rioters violate law enforcement, threaten government officials, and loot the Capitol.”

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George Santos confesses to stealing in Brazil to drop charges: NPR



US Rep. George Santos, NY, speaks to the media in front of the federal courthouse in Central Islip, NY, on Wednesday. The next day, he actually appeared before a Brazilian court, where separate charges were brought against him.

Seth Little/AP

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Seth Little/AP

US Rep. George Santos, NY, speaks to the media in front of the federal courthouse in Central Islip, NY, on Wednesday. The next day, he actually appeared before a Brazilian court, where separate charges were brought against him.

Seth Little/AP

RIO DE JANEIRO. US Congressman George Santos has likely settled at least one of his court cases, this time in Brazil.

In 2008, a Republican from New York was charged with stealing checks to buy clothes and other goods in a suburb of Rio de Janeiro.

On Thursday, Santos signed an agreement with Brazilian prosecutors that he confesses and agrees to pay nearly $5,000 in fines and restitution in exchange for the charges being dropped. New York Times informed.

Just a day after Santos pleaded not guilty to separate U.S. charges, he appeared remotely in a criminal court in the Brazilian suburb of Niteroi.

Brazilian prosecutors said he used a false name and a stolen checkbook to buy goods, including tennis shoes, from a shop in Niteroi. He was formally charged in 2011, but authorities lost sight of Santos until he became a US congressman in 2022.

The charges in Brazil were dropped after the deal with the congressman, and no further cases have been filed against him, Santos’ attorney told NPR.

On Wednesday, the 34-year-old freshman to Congress stood trial in New York and pleaded not guilty to 13 criminal charges in a separate case against him.

The US charges include a wide range of financial crimes, including lying and theft, and misappropriation of donor money for personal gain. He is also accused of illegally receiving unemployment benefits.

He has been released from U.S. federal custody on $500,000 bail while the trial continues.

Controversy has followed Santos since he was elected in November. New York Times showed that he was misleading people about his education and personal experience. During his campaign, he variously identified himself as the grandson of a Holocaust survivor, a Wall Street financier, and a volleyball star.

Santos called the allegations against him in New York a “witch hunt”, telling reporters he would fight to clear his name and continue to run for re-election.

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Federal court asks to resume payments on student loans suspended due to COVID-19



The nonprofit research and education organization has filed a federal court petition to resume student loan payments that were suspended since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, saying the suspension is detrimental to its recruitment and retention.

In a lawsuit filed last month, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy asked federal court to stop the Department of Education’s ongoing student loan hiatus. The group this week requested an injunction to lift the pause while the lawsuit continues.

The Mackinac Center, a conservative Michigan-based think tank specializing in free markets and limited government, said it benefits from a public service loan forgiveness program that allows you to forgive a portion of student loans for eligible jobs such as nonprofits.

The ongoing pause is costing US taxpayers $5 billion each month and reduces incentives for borrowers to work for nonprofits, the group claims in a lawsuit filed in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.

When the pandemic hit the US in March 2020, the Trump administration suspended student loan payments for six months. The federal government has repeatedly extended the pause, citing the economic difficulties of borrowers.

“This illegal ongoing pause in student loan repayments is in line with a familiar pattern that has already played out in the context of the federal eviction moratorium. First, Congress passes a temporary economic relief program, then an administrative agency extends that program indefinitely, and finally, the courts intervene to stop the illegal scheme,” said Shen Li, a New Civil Liberties Alliance lawyer representing the Mackinac Center. .

Other programs, such as a moratorium on evictions, were carried out by the courts. Other programs are still in limbo.

The Supreme Court recently heard arguments in a case challenging President Biden’s plan to write off a certain amount of debt for every student loan borrower, which was based on the economic hardship caused by COVID-19.

Judges are expected to rule on the legality of the president’s plan by the end of June. The lower courts ruled for forgiveness.

The Mackinac Center isn’t the only group opposing the payment suspension. SoFi Bank also wants the pause to come to an end, arguing in federal court that it was worth millions of dollars in profits.

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