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Bivins wants audit of Chicago LGBT center

Senator questions use of state money

Published: Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT
State Sen. Tim Bivins, R-Dixon

SPRINGFIELD – State Sen. Tim Bivins, R-Dixon, wants the state to look into the propriety of some events at a Chicago community center that might have been “sexual in nature.”

Bivins, now assistant Republican leader of the Senate, asked the Legislative Audit Commission to investigate events at the Center on Halsted and to audit all of the center’s state funds received for fiscal years 2013, 2014 and 2015, he said in an news release Wednesday.

Many of the center’s events are consistent with a community center, he said, but other events there are questionable.

“It has been brought to my attention that some activities that are sexual in nature have been presented at the Center on Halsted – the 2013 Grabbys Awards, which highlights ‘top talent and performance in the gay erotic film industry’ as well as an annual international men’s rubber fetish event,” Bivins said in the release. 

“I believe the taxpayers of Illinois have a right to fully understand exactly how state funds are being spent by this organization and what public benefit Illinois taxpayers have actually realized by these expenditures for these specific events.”

The center received about $2.5 million from the state between 2012 and 2014, he said.

According to the center’s website, it offers programs to advance Chicago’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and allied community, including yoga, volleyball, job placement, HIV testing and group therapy. More than 1,000 people visit the center daily.

The center rents meeting rooms and recreational spaces. Rates range from $25 an hour for small meeting rooms to $800 an hour for its computer center.

According to an audit on the center’s website, it had about $4.4 million in revenue in fiscal 2013, with about $2 million coming from government funds and about $500,000 coming from rental income.

The Legislative Audit Commission has been reviewing Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn’s Neighborhood Recovery Initiative and will question several former Quinn aides about that in October.

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