UNO “spending spree” revisited: An Illinois Blues moment


Mihalopoulos of Sun-Times back at it about the charter network with the mostest clout — an Illinois Blues moment.

Even as they ran a network of charter schools for thousands of students in low-income neighborhoods across Chicago, United Neighborhood Organization leader Juan Rangel and other UNO officials were piling up big bills at fancy restaurants and for travel on the taxpayers’ dime, records obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times show.

The records:

Despite being almost entirely government-funded, UNO leaders fought to keep the spending records secret, arguing that they didn’t have to comply with the state’s Freedom of Information Act because UNO is a private organization.

But they ultimately released the records in a recent legal settlement with the Sun-Times.

It’s an Illinois Blues moment in that UNO came up in a July, 2013 town hall meeting in Oak Park. Sen. Don Harmon was asked about UNO.

. . . with reference to a sizeable public-money grant for a charter school in Galewood in 2009. There had been much spending on a post-announcement celebration — all of it widely reported, especially in detailed Sun-Times accounts.

Harmon responded carefully: “I have no knowledge of money being wasted.” This in the face of major news stories, suspension of UNO funding, buck stopping at UNO’s top man (he was to resign later), and the rest, about which he apparently had not felt prompted to inquire.

He pleaded ignorance, said no more. No one questioned him further on the point.

It’s reported in my new book Illinois Blues: How the Ruling Party Talks to VotersThe beat goes on.

Source: THE WATCHDOGS: UNO’s secret spending spree | Chicago Sun-Times


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