Illinois is broke. No money promised to teacher retirees. But $35 million more for those connected to the Chicago Democratic Machine and their patronage charters.


Rahm and UNO Boss, Juan Rangel.

UNO’s Juan Rangel and Alderman Danny Solis’ patronage army get millions from their charter school scams.

Their latest multi-million dollar “soccer academy” skimmed millions from the state with millions more to come.

If Illinois is broke, here is why.

Reports the Sun-Times:

UNO’s insider contract deals go beyond the Soccer Elementary Academy. Records show the companies that benefitted from the 2009 state grant to UNO have included:

 ◆ D’Escoto Inc., owned by Federico “Fred” d’Escoto, whose brother Miguel d’Escoto holds the second-ranking post with UNO and was the city of Chicago’s transportation commissioner under former Mayor Richard M. Daley. D’Escoto Inc. has been paid more than $1.5 million so far, mainly for overseeing construction management on all of UNO’s state-funded projects. Miguel d’Escoto’s son, Miguel T. d’Escoto, works for d’Escoto Inc.

UNO hired d’Escoto Inc. without seeking other bids, Rangel says, because the firm provided the sort of services that government agencies often contract for based on merit rather than price alone. “I trust that they are looking out for our interests,” he says. “I’ve known the d’Escotos for decades. Fred’s reputation is impeccable.”

 ◆ Reflection Window Co., owned by Rodrigo d’Escoto — another brother of Miguel d’Escoto. It stands to make nearly $10 million for work on all of the UNO schools built with the grant money. Reflection was paid about $6.7 million for work on the Soccer Academy Elementary and Galewood schools, and it has a contract for about $3.1 million for work on the high school that’s under construction.

 ◆ Aguila Security, which was run by Manuel Acevedo and Joe Acevedo — brothers of state lawmaker and longtime UNO ally Edward Acevedo — during the time the company provided “site security” for UNO on the Soccer Academy Elementary project.

 ◆ Toltec Plumbing, owned by Virginia Reyes, whose brother Victor Reyes was a top mayoral aide during the Daley administration and also headed the now-defunct Hispanic Democratic Organization. Victor Reyes was UNO’s lobbyist when it landed the 2009 grant, and his law firm is doing zoning work for UNO that will be paid for out of the state grant money, according to Rangel.

◆ Windy City Electric, which has ties to Ald. Edward Burke (14th) and was banned from working on City Hall contracts after city officials determined that brothers Anthony and John McMahon operated the company in their wives’ names to obtain millions of dollars from city contracts set aside for businesses owned and operated by women. Windy City was paid $1.67 million for work on the Soccer Academy Elementary’s construction.

Anthony McMahon is a top precinct captain for Burke, a longtime UNO backer whose Southwest Side ward is home to five of the charter network’s schools. Burke’s daughter-in-law has worked for UNO since 2009.

In 2010, Rangel endorsed Burke’s brother, state Rep. Daniel Burke (D-Chicago), when he narrowly won a Democratic primary fight against a Hispanic challenger.

 ◆ The law firm of Chico & Nunes, headed by attorney Gery Chico, who has done zoning work for UNO and been paid with money from the state grant.

 ◆ UNO JaMS, a not-for-profit “social enterprise” initiative of UNO that provides janitorial services at its charter schools.

 Democratic and Republican lawmakers alike voted to approve the grant for UNO almost four years ago. Rangel says he was surprised at how much money UNO got from Springfield.

“Did we think we could get $98 million? No,” he says. “But we shoot for the moon. We asked for $100 million.”

Rangel says UNO — which also is getting about $67 million from Chicago Public Schools this year to run its schools — will seek more state money to build new schools.

Though the city is weighing whether to close underused public schools, he notes that UNO’s schools are in neighborhoods on the Southwest Side and Northwest Side where public schools are increasingly crowded because of the fast-growing number of Latino students.

 “What people don’t understand is we’re talking about different communities,” he says. “In our community, there are too many kids and not enough schools. Our parents won’t agree to busing their kids to where [underused] school buildings are.”

 After the new Soccer Academy High School is complete, Rangel says UNO will have $15 million left from the 2009 grant — not enough to build another new school. So UNO is asking Springfield for another $35 million.

5 Replies to “Illinois is broke. No money promised to teacher retirees. But $35 million more for those connected to the Chicago Democratic Machine and their patronage charters.”

  1. This story makes me so sick I can hardly get through it. $35 is pretty much the amount CPS is alleging it will save with 50 school closing, if I’m not mistaken. The hustle here is worthy of a Justice Department investigation.

  2. Juan Rangel’s arrogance was witnessed at a community meeting regarding the Galewood school. He sneered at teachers and community members who asked questions about his labor practices. He knew the school was a done deal for him and that the community had nothing to say about it. He was right.

  3. Bunch of crap and I don’t care who is doing it! This is a perfect example of the potential garbage that goes on with federally funded charter schools, which are just “private schools with federal funding and little govt. oversight”. It takes money out of the non-profit, high accountability, highly educated staff, public school system and puts it into often fly-by-night schools that have little over-sight and lots of business folks finding ways to get rich off of kids, often those who are vulnerable and need even more accountability from teachers and admin. They are the worst thing that has ever happened here. There are some good ones, but there are also lots of good public schools. If folks want private schools, then let them send them to private schools, but pay for it…private colleges are privately funded by alumni and fundraising, etc., so should primary schools!

  4. Amazing. For Profit-Schools is the key, here. The State gives them money hand over fist to build, equip, and staff their for-profit schools. In the meantime, they have been deferring and reducing the per pupil foundation aid to public schools that are already financially strapped and struggling, and threatening to destroy the pensions of the public school teachers and other government workers who have paid into those pension systems their entire careers, because the state has also deferred payments and outright stolen funds from those pension systems for 43 years. Wonder why they have such a large pension liability? Meanwhile, these political favorites are making money hand over fist off of our tax dollars, and putting out a sub-standard product with no accountability.

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