|BIRDS OF A FEATHER|
From left: Quinn, Rangel, Madigan, and Burke.
The Bond Buyer reports that the Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating the UNO Charter School Network for potential securities violations apparently tied to its October 2011 $37 million bond issue.
The network issued $37 million of mostly tax-exempt new-money and refunding bonds in 2011 to help fund its ongoing expansion. The Illinois Finance Authority issued the bonds on the not-for-profit's behalf. Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc. and Cabrera Capital Markets LLC served as underwriters with Kutak Rock LLP acting as bond counsel.CPS oversees UNO's charter and provides funding support for the organization despite UNO's BBB-minus rating from Standard & Poor's, the lowest possible investment grade level. Standard & Poor's reports noted the state support of $98 million. UNO's school network has a total of about $67 million in debt.
The Sun-Times reports that Gov. Quinn has once again, pulled UNO's state funding. Good move. Although he's withholding only $18 million of their $98 million and he still has UNO egg on his face. Remember, Quinn, under pressure from (Quinn fundraiser) Ald. Eddie Burke, Mike Madigan and Rahm, restored the state funding in early June, saying he was "confident UNO had implemented reforms." Last month, Chicago "businessman" Martin Cabrera Jr. — whose appointment as UNO chairman, replacing Juan Rangel, was cited by Quinn as an important reform — resigned.
Now we'll see if the board will pull UNO's charter or run the risk of being legally complicit.
CHARTER HUSTLERS GOING AFTER PROSSER
Even while feds are all over the UNO charter school scandal, the Noble Street Charter network hopes to pull off a similar scheme, using state money and connections with the Rahm and Rauner to do their real estate deal. They want zoning restrictions changed so they can build a new, expensive building to house a charter school across the street from Prosser Career Academy.
Yesterday, Rahm's hand-picked Chicago Plan Commission, which includes Burke as an ex-officio member and is chaired by none other than Cabrera himself, approved a zoning change that allows the Noble Network to build their new school and to try and recruit students and the money that follows them, away from Prosser.
That’s despite a boisterous protest outside City Council chambers by supporters of Prosser High School — including Ald. Nick Sposato — and of other neighborhood schools in Belmont Cragin whose budgets have undergone deep cuts this year.
The protesters — mostly from the groups Chicago Students Organizing to Save Our Schools, and Communities United for Quality Education — pointed to a projected decline in high school-aged population in the Belmont Cragin area over the next four years, the presence of four CPS high schools within a 1.5 radius of the proposed site, and budget cuts at existing area schools totaling some $6.4 million. -- Sun-Times
“I worry about the impact on Prosser,” he said. “I worry about the safety of children.”As usual, it's the Reader's Ben Joravsky who has the best take on the Noble Street Charter hustle.
With 14 schools and 9,000 students, [Noble founder Mike] Milkie's to charters what Ray Kroc was to fast food. If he keeps it up, he'll have an outlet on every block... But, c’mon, Mayor Emanuel—it's not like we're hard up for vacant lots in which to put your charters. There are hundreds and hundreds all over the city. Why stick a charter across the street from Prosser, which is a perfectly good, high-functioning school?