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Quinn: No more grant money for UNO until questions answered, problems resolved

Friday, Apr 26, 2013

* Uh-oh

Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration has cut off funding to the state’s largest charter-school operator, the politically influential United Neighborhood Organization, over insider deals it says violated terms of a $98 million state grant, according to a letter obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times.

The deals involved millions of dollars in state funds that went to companies owned by two brothers of a high-ranking UNO executive, Miguel d’Escoto, that were hired as contractors on state-funded school construction projects in Chicago, according to the letter, which was sent to the organization Thursday from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

The state agency began investigating UNO in response to reports in the Sun-Times that revealed that d’Escoto Inc. and Reflection Window Co. have been paid a total of $8.5 million out of the state grant. D’Escoto Inc. is owned by Federico “Fred” d’Escoto. Reflection Window is owned by Rodrigo d’Escoto.

The two men are brothers of Miguel d’Escoto, a city transportation commissioner in former Mayor Richard M. Daley’s administration who resigned Feb. 12 from his $200,000-a-year position as UNO’s No. 2 executive following the Sun-Times reports.

State officials said UNO should have notified them it was using the companies owned by the d’Escoto family members.

The DCEO letter is here.

* Gov. Quinn emphasized today that the grant funding suspension was “temporary” until the state can “get to the bottom” of what’s going on. Unless the group “straightens things out,” Quinn said, “they won’t get any money.”

Listen…

* Meanwhile

Federal prosecutors raised the prospect on Friday in court of having their experts examine former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. if his lawyers plan to raise his bipolar disorder as a mitigating factor in trying to reduce his prison sentence.

U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson made no decision after prosecutor Matt Graves said he wanted to “alert” her to the possible issue in advance of the sentencing July 1 of Jackson and his wife, former Ald. Sandi Jackson. […]

Graves said the government is “entitled” to have Jackson checked “by our own experts” if Jackson’s lawyers decide to argue Jackson’s mental health should be taken into consideration by the judge when she sentences him.

Defense attorney Reid Weingarten told Judge Jackson that the former congressman’s bipolar disorder is well known and “not controversial.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

8 Comments
  1. - wordslinger - Friday, Apr 26, 13 @ 1:26 pm:

    The whole charter schools system could use a nice bright spotlight. If they can’t document that they’re delivering significantly better results, what’s the point of giving them taxpayer dollars?

    Other than insider contracts.


  2. - L.S. - Friday, Apr 26, 13 @ 2:14 pm:

    One again Pat Quinn is talking reform while playing typical political games. This has more to do with roughing up a strong ally of the Madigans thank any genuine transparency effort.


  3. - Davey Boy Smithe - Friday, Apr 26, 13 @ 2:28 pm:

    Man, Steve Rhodes on the Beachwood reporter links Juan Rangel still getting money thru Chicago’s Public Building Commission because Rahm appointed him to that board. I know Rhodes can get “out there” sometimes, but it’s a worthy read http://beachwoodreporter.com/


  4. - Small Town Liberal - Friday, Apr 26, 13 @ 3:31 pm:

    - One again Pat Quinn is talking reform while playing typical political games. -

    What are you talking about? There have been some significant red flags raised, what’s wrong with stepping back and assessing the situation?


  5. - walkinfool - Friday, Apr 26, 13 @ 3:46 pm:

    Good that UNO’s in the anti-corruption spotlight. Overdue.


  6. - Independent - Friday, Apr 26, 13 @ 4:14 pm:

    The UNO has appeared to pick up right where the disgraced HDO left off. Quinn’s cutting off of funding is actually a temporary freeze. With Quinn needing every vote he can get next year the hurdles for reinstating UNO funding will doubtless be low.


  7. - Just The Way It Is One - Friday, Apr 26, 13 @ 4:33 pm:

    Wise, excellent, and NECessary move by Pat Quinn, given the brilliant Expose brought out by the Chicago SUN-TIOMES on the matter…that nearly $100 MILLION dollars doled out as a GIFT, BELONGS TO the Taxpayers after all, and especially during these tough times in Illinois, ANY such Organizations receiving such funding must be held STRICTLY accountable for it to be spent properly. Others can call it as political as they want, but dag nab it, ANY Governor is responsible to the People to thoroughly investigate any balderdash going on, and if he was a Republican Gov. and DIDN’T do the same, I’d be infuriated as well…!


  8. - Just The Way It Is One - Friday, Apr 26, 13 @ 4:34 pm:

    ..that was, of course, the “Chicago SUN-TIMES”…! (Haven’t heard yet where the TIOMES is published)!!!


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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