Juan Rangel, longtime leader of the clout-heavy United Neighborhood Organization, is out as UNO’s $250,000-a-year chief executive in the wake of a scandal that cost the group millions in state funding and led to a federal investigation of its bond dealings. UNO operates the largest charter-school network in Illinois.
Juan Rangel’s resignation from his $250,000-a-year job as head of the scandal-scarred United Neighborhood Organization capped a classic Chicago tale of clout won and lost.
Pension reform might happen in Illinois after all. After years of posturing, inertia and debate, the Illinois House and Senate each passed a controversial reform bill in a lightning fast one-two punch Tuesday afternoon. Gov. Quinn says he’ll sign the pension deal once it hits his desk.
THE WATCHDOGS: A wealthy North Shore family with deep ties to Mayor Rahm Emanuel stands to make a fortune over former Mayor Richard M. Daley’s failed Olympic dream. It’s a financial nightmare, though, for Chicago taxpayers, who now owe the Mills family more than $111 million for a 37-acre site along Lake Michigan that was home to Michael Reese Hospital at 29th and Ellis before the city bought it as part of Daley’s plan to lure the 2016 Olympics to Chicago.
Two months ago, the Illinois Medical District Commission picked Jack Higgins, a developer with close ties to former Mayor Richard M. Daley, to develop a $175 million project on the West Side. On Friday, Higgins abruptly walked away from the deal over questions about his personal finances — including $2.5 million he and his wife owe the Internal Revenue Service.
SPRINGFIELD — Last summer, in a little-publicized $311,000 consulting deal with the Illinois State Board of Education, former Chicago schools CEO Paul Vallas offered a financial blueprint to turn around the nearly bankrupt North Chicago school district. Teachers weren’t happy. To avert insolvency in North Chicago Community Unit District 187 by 2015, he recommended closing four schools and laying off 39 percent of the district’s workforce.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Monday shaved a quarter off his 75-cents-a-pack cigarette tax hike to appease black aldermen concerned about street corner sales of loose cigarettes, but buried a $25 million plan to hire hundreds of additional police officers instead of relying so heavily on overtime.
THE WATCHDOGS: The acting director of the state’s child-welfare system says she has begun assembling experts to examine the rising number of abuse and neglect deaths among children who have had involvement with the agency, in response to a Chicago Sun-Times and WBEZ investigation.
Regrets, I’ve had a few. No, it’s not Frank Sinatra or Elvis Presley. It’s Jim Oberweis, kicking off his U.S. Senate campaign. In one of the more unusual campaign announcements in Illinois history, the wealthy dairy magnate released a nearly five-minute on-line video Friday that acknowledges past mistakes in a sort of political mea culpa. “Some people are going to want to talk about my mistakes as a candidate over the last 10 years,” the Sugar Grove Republican says to the camera. “I have made mistakes. I made statements and commercials that I regretted. And I’ve said so.”
With the exception of former U.S. Sen. Peter Fitzgerald, the Illinois Republican who self-financed his campaign and spent one term in Washington — a good number of millionaire statewide candidates who attempted to fund their own campaigns, in whole or in part, have suffered sound defeats.
This summer, the Metra patronage scandal erupted after an allegation that Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan tried getting the rail agency to give a raise to a campaign worker who held a state job. Tempers once again flared after the Sun-Times revealed that the raise request — which Madigan said he later withdrew — came even as that worker, Patrick Ward, was already drawing a pubic pension roughly equal to his $57,000 annual salary. A new bill in Springfield, however, would ban such practices. The new legislation dubbed: “Retirement Means Retirement Act” proposed by state Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo, takes
The same day that Cardinal Francis George released a letter predicting Illinois’ soon-to-be gay marriage law would help undermine the “bedrock” of society, the normally outspoken leader of Chicago Catholics had little to say about three prominent elected leaders — Catholics themselves — who championed the measure.
Condemned for their cost and gleam, new $670,000 copper-clad exterior doors installed at the state Capitol are raising security concerns because they could prevent guards from fully seeing approaching visitors.
A state appellate court panel has reinstated an ACLU lawsuit that aims to force Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration to assign more police officers to black and Hispanic neighborhoods in Chicago.
THE WATCHDOGS: Lawmakers need to address the rising number of children who are dying from abuse and neglect in Illinois and also what more can be done to prevent deaths of children who have come onto the radar of state child-welfare workers, a key legislator said Friday in response to a Chicago Sun-Times and WBEZ investigation.
Paul Vallas served his last two years as superintendent of schools in Bridgeport, Conn., where groups heaped criticism on him for everything from approving no-bid contracts, using school funds to pay his attorney fees to failing to improve test scores, complaining all the while that he shut out parents and teachers from critical decisions.