* The Sun-Times tries to connect the dots between a handful of contributions to Speaker Madigan and his support for the United Neighborhood Organization’s charter school explosion…
With support from Springfield and City Hall, UNO has grown in less than a decade from what was primarily a Latino activist organization into one of the largest charter-school operators in the city. In 2005, it had one school. Now, it has 13 locations with about 6,500 students.
UNO’s close ties to Mayor Rahm Emanuel, whose campaign he co-chaired, and former Mayor Richard M. Daley are well known. But Madigan quietly has provided the group with perhaps its most valuable assistance.
Madigan introduced the amendment that yielded the $98 million grant to UNO in 2009. That’s believed to be the largest government investment in charter schools anywhere in the country. The Madigan breakfast fund-raiser took place shortly before the state legislative elections in November, at Petterino’s Restaurant in downtown Chicago. In addition to Rangel and Reyes, its hosts included Federico “Fred” d’Escoto, president of d’Escoto Inc. and Miguel d’Escoto’s brother.
The Sun-Times reported Feb. 4 that d’Escoto Inc. and a company owned by another d’Escoto brother were among the contractors UNO paid with money from the state grant. Six days after the story was published, d’Escoto Inc. was suspended from getting any work from UNO pending an internal review of the organization’s contracting process. Two days later, on Feb. 12, Miguel d’Escoto resigned as UNO’s senior vice president of operations and chief of staff.
The October 30th fundraiser raised $24,000 for Madigan’s various committees, the Sun-Times reported.
That’s only about ten percent of the money MJM’s three committees raised from October 27 through November 1st last year.
It’s not necessarily the money they’ve raised. It’s the precinct workers they’ve supplied to Madigan’s operation. And they’ve supplied a lot of those.
* And this probably doesn’t hurt, either…
The United Neighborhood Organization, which operates 13 charter schools in Chicago, wants to build two new schools in Bedford Park, records show.
But it isn’t looking to extend its growing network of charter schools beyond the city’s borders. Instead, the influential group has approached Bedford Park officials with plans to get property in the southwest suburb annexed into the city of Chicago’s 13th Ward. That’s the power base of UNO’s angel in the Illinois Legislature — House Speaker and state Democratic Party leader Michael Madigan, who helped UNO get a $98 million state school-construction grant four years ago. […]
Juan Rangel, UNO’s chief executive, has told Bedford Park officials the group wants to buy 30 acres of vacant industrial property at 6401 W. 65th St. […]
The 13rd Ward sits just across 65th Street from where the new schools would rise. Madigan and Marty Quinn, who won election as 13th Ward alderman with the speaker’s backing, have been involved in the discussions about the UNO plan, according to Bedford Park Village President David Brady.
* The hat is a nice touch…