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Teen whose city sticker design was nixed will still get $1,000

Rev. Michael Pfleger (right) says student Herbert Pulgar who wcity sticker design contest but whose design was yanked after questions

Rev. Michael Pfleger (right) says student Herbert Pulgar, who won the city sticker design contest but whose design was yanked after questions arose about whether it contains gang signs, should still get the $1,000 bond offered to the winner of the contest.

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Updated: March 11, 2012 8:47AM

City Clerk Susana Mendoza says she will pay $1,000 from her own pocket to a student who initially won a city sticker contest, but whose design was pulled because of concerns it could contain gang signs.

Mendoza said she will give the $1,000 bond to the student who took second place in the contest, whose design will now be used on the 1.3 million city vehicle stickers.

“I believe that the student who provided the original design should also be recognized for his talent and participation in the contest,” Mendoza said in a statement issued Thursday afternoon. “I want to encourage him to pursue a degree where he can continue to develop his skills.”

She said she has reached out to the student, Herbert Pulgar, and hopes to meet with him.

“I feel terrible about what he’s going through and the media storm he’s had to deal with,” she said. “While he has admittedly had problems in his youth, I do believe that he is trying to turn his life around.”

She said the money will come from her and not taxpayers.

The Pulgar family attorney, Blake Horvitz, said Herbie would not be commenting on Mendoza’s gift. “It’s a nice gesture but he’s not in a good way right now,” Horwitz said.

Mendoza should “give me call” if she wants to meet with the boy, Horwitz said. “We’ll take care of it in due time.”

Mendoza’s decision comes after the Rev. Michael Pfleger said he would give the money to Pulgar, if Mendoza didn’t.

Pfleger, appearing at an event with Mayor Rahm Emanuel, wouldn’t say whether he thinks Mendoza did the right thing in nixing the sticker, even though the winning teen’s mother and art teacher denied the design used gang symbols.

“He should still get the $1,000 bond,” Pfleger said Thursday morning. Pfleger added: “He did his best. ... He won. And we should still honor him. We can disagree on the sticker. We can pull the sticker. We should not dishonor this child.”

Pfleger said it’s “horrible” that Pulgar, a special needs student at Lawrence Hall Youth Services, was so excited to win, only to see all the negative attention around the sticker.

Pfleger wouldn’t go as far to say Mendoza made the wrong decision, saying, “I wouldn’t want someone telling me what to do at St. Sabina.”

Emanuel wouldn’t address the controversy.

“That was yesterday,” he said. “My job is to focus on what is essential to the city.”

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