* The Chicago Tribune editorial board got all angry today at the University of Illinois for not giving them more information about college-bound kids whose parents or others asked legislators to make a call on their behalf…
(T)he U. of I. continues its long effort to keep secret its data on 800 applicants who got special treatment from 2005 to 2009. That secrecy keeps Tribune reporters from exploring connections between politicians and clouted applicants.
The university claims that federal privacy laws are an issue. The Tribune disagrees and is suing.
This has been a very contentious issue. Parents who struggle to get their kids into the U of I were not happy to learn that legislators and others may have “clouted” kids in ahead of them.
But here is the Tribune’s big example today of what it calls a “protection racket”…
Among the politicians involved: Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago. He made eight admission requests from 2005 to 2009; at least seven of the applicants were accepted. In one case, Cullerton asked about a relative of a real estate broker and lawyer who has attended Cullerton political fundraisers and is his former legal client.
The article quoted U. of I. official Terry McLennand asking then-Chancellor Richard Herman to help: “The (Senate) President thought this students scores seemed a little high for wait list and asked if we could intervene and admit the student at this time rather then waiting for the April decision date.” The student was admitted in April.
Um, huh? This is the big, unholy, outrageous, egregious politics-riddled, influence peddling violation?
1) Cullerton makes a call for a friend to see if a kid really has to be wait-listed.
2) The kid remains on the waiting list.
3) Tribune editorial board screams about a “protection racket”
* And in case you weren’t suitably outraged about this horrible non-scandal, the Trib tossed in some diversionary red meat…
Cullerton, recall, is a chronic protector of the tuition waiver program under which legislators have awarded free rides at state universities to children of their cronies and contributors. That program needs to end.
* This, however, could be a big problem…
The state’s controversial “legislative scholarship” program carries a simple rule for Illinois lawmakers: They may award tuition waivers for state-sponsored schools only to students who reside in the lawmaker’s respective districts.
But since 1999, state Rep. Monique Davis (D-Chicago) has awarded taxpayer-funded scholarships to at least 10 students who records show lived outside of her Far South Side district at the time they received free tuition, the Better Government Association has found.
State law says: “Each member of the General Assembly may nominate annually 2 persons of school age and otherwise eligible, from his district . . .”
Matt Vanover, spokesman for the Illinois State Board of Education, which administers the scholarships, said “the statute is pretty clear . . . students nominated must be from the [lawmaker’s] district.”
That program really does need to end.