Monday, December 23, 2013

Reporter pulls up a rock and finds a charter school rat's nest

Salim Ucan (second from left),Vice-president of Concept Schools speaks to at the Illinois Network of Charter School's conference in Chicago. | Michael R. Schmidt-For Sun-Times Media
Ace Sun-Times investigative reporter Dan Mihalopoulos turns over the rock on Concept Charter Schools and shows exactly how the grand charter school hustle plays out here in Chicago. Under the rock we find everyone from Boss Madigan and son Adrew, his aide and travelling companion Liz Brown-Reeves, and Ald. Joe Moore to retired Caterpillar Inc. Chairman Glen Barton, and a host of other politicians and corporate guys, all receiving free trips (Moore went twice) to Turkey and other goodies from the shady Turkish billionaire Fethullah Gulen, in exchange for authorizing more of his Chicago charter schools.
He’s a politically powerful Muslim cleric from Turkey who moved to this country in 1999 shortly before being implicated in a plot to overthrow Turkey’s secular rulers and install an Islamic government — charges that were later dropped.
This even as the schools's expansion scheme was being nixed by CPS for low student performance.

Gulen didn't care. He appealed directly to the State Board, headed by Rahm's Democratic Party nemesis Gery Chico, who then turned it over to his rump Charter Commission head Jeanne Nowaczewski. No problem Mr. Gulen, sir. How many charters did you say you wanted?

Boss Madigan gets a trip to Turkey
It seems that since Fethullah has gone into the charter school business, Turkey has become a destination of choice for Illinois pols.
State records show Madigan’s visits were among 32 trips lawmakers took to Turkey from 2008 through 2012. The speaker and members of his House Democratic caucus took 29 of those trips, which they described as “educational missions.” Turkey was the destination of 74 percent of all foreign trips Illinois legislators reported.
It seems like everyone makes out on this deal except the kids.
The school’s current board president, Edip Pektas, was treasurer at the time and recused himself from the bond-deal votes. School records show New Plan Learning paid $100,000 to Pektas as a financial adviser.
[Petkas' lawyer] Adelson is with Chico & Nunes PC, former Chicago Board of Education president Gery Chico’s law firm, which was paid more than $67,000 by CMSA. Chico’s wife, schools consultant Sunny Penedo-Chico, was on the school’s board from its foundation in 2003 until 2007.
There should be more than enough here to indict some folks and reverse the charter expansion. Maybe even disband the commission. Wouldn't you think? Oh wait. I almost forgot. Boss Madigan's daughter Lisa, is the Attorney General.

Is this why she's didn't run for governor?

I hope Mihalopoulos doesn't end it here. There's so much more possibly crawling around under that rock. Why did Rahm's crew turn down Gulen in the first place? Was it just a response to community pressure or is there more here in terms of inter-machine rivalry? 

What about a possible Ohio connection with Rahm's former comptroller Amer Ahmad who was indicted for taking bribes in exchange for business when he was Ohio’s deputy state treasurer. Concept runs some charters in Ohio. 

Just askin'.

1 comment:

  1. Joe Moore his wife and two of their friends (exec dir of Chicago's Low Income Housing Trust Fund and her husband) were taken on a several week trip to Turkey courtesy of Salim Ucan, whose Math and Science Academy is in the 49th Ward, and Joe's wife got a job promoting Turkey tourism from him. Thus began Joe's love affair with charters.


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