Sun-Times claims credit for PURE’s state complaint against UNO charter network



Well, I’ll have to admit that it’s flattering for a major metropolitan newspaper to take credit for our work.

But the actual reason the state is investigating UNO’s $98 million charter school construction grant is not the Sun-Times’s reporting, as their front page story suggested Saturday, but the complaint PURE and LSC members from Pilsen Elementary filed with the state Office of the Executive Inspector General on January 17.

In fact, the Sun-Times failed to report that story despite having gotten our press release.

Catalyst, the only media outlet that showed up to our 1/17 press conference at the EIG’s office, never ran a story, either, and on Monday, they reiterated the Sun-Times claim that the investigation came “in the wake of” the newspaper report.

The initial lack of coverage reflects how out on a limb we were at the time.

It wasn’t until a week later, on January 23, that the Tribune referenced our complaint in another story about UNO, and Crain’s piled on, too (link to Crain’s story doesn’t seem to be working today).

This is not to diminish the great work the Sun-Times Watch Dogs have been doing to expose UNO’s shady dealings with millions of taxpayer dollars. Because we were informed that the EIG “will be unable to provide you with the status or outcome of any investigation we may undertake,” (see letter below), we are especially pleased that the Sun-Times was able to uncover the important news that an investigation of UNO by the EIG is indeed underway.

Still, the S-T didn’t start printing anything about UNO’s questionable use $98 million in state funds until well after we had asked for an investigation. 

I e-mailed S-T reporter Dan Mihalopolous (you try it!) about this but have not gotten a response.

Here’s the January 18, 2013, letter from EIG Ricardo Meza, acknowledging our complaint:


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About the PURE Thoughts blogger
Julie Woestehoff is PURE's executive director. Julie's work has earned her a Ford Foundation award and recognition as one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Chicago.