WBEZ | UNO http://www.wbez.org/tags/uno Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Embattled UNO charter school leader steps aside, stops short of resigning http://www.wbez.org/news/embattled-uno-charter-school-leader-steps-aside-stops-short-resigning-107403 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/uno web LL 130528.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The leader of one of Chicago&rsquo;s largest charter school networks issued a mea culpa Tuesday and announced he is stepping away from some decision-making positions, but stopped short of resigning his $250,000-a-year position. &nbsp;</p><p>Juan Rangel, CEO of the United Neighborhood Organization, commonly known as UNO, stood in the multipurpose room of a new UNO charter school on the Southwest Side and said this:</p><p>&ldquo;I have failed. Failed to exercise proper oversight. Failed to hold UNO to the highest operational standards. Failed to manage UNO in a way that kept pace with its growth, and failed to ensure proper checks and balances in our procurement process. For these failures, I am sorry, and I take full responsibility.&rdquo;</p><p>With UNO <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/19166036-761/state-investigating-98-million-grant-for-uno-charter-schools.html">under state investigation for giving construction contracts to insiders</a>, Rangel announced he is stepping down from the board of the charter school network and also from the board of UNO, the community organization.</p><p>But saying he still has much to contribute, Rangel will remain CEO of UNO, which includes the day-to-day management of the schools. He insisted that an overhauled board with new, independent members will keep him accountable. UNO named Martin Cabrera, Jr., founder and CEO of Cabrera Capital Markets, as the new chairman of the community organization&rsquo;s board. It did not name anyone to head its charter school network board. Both boards will have UNO charter school parents on them.</p><p>Rangel says UNO will stick to tougher ethics and procurement rules, and the new board will have expanded oversight. He said <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/news/education/20303875-418/ex-judge-charter-school-operator-uno-needs-robust-policy-against-conflicts.html">UNO will implement every recommendation made by a retired federal judge</a> the group hired to review its governance and ethics policies.</p><p>Rangel has led the UNO charter school network since its first school opened 15 years ago. He said checks and balances didn&rsquo;t keep pace with UNO&rsquo;s rapid expansion. The charter network now educates 6,500 CPS students at 13 campuses and is slated to open two additional schools this fall. Rangel said the group had gone from a $2 million-a-year operation to one with a $100 million budget. Most of the group&rsquo;s income comes from Chicago Public Schools&rsquo; payments to UNO to educate students in its schools.</p><p>Rangel is also resigning from the city&rsquo;s Public Building Commission, which oversees public construction projects, including schools. Rangel was named to the commission by Mayor Rahm Emanuel after he won election.</p><p>Both Emanuel and former Mayor Richard M. Daley have been big supporters of UNO charter schools. Rangel co-chaired Emanuel&rsquo;s mayoral election campaign.</p><p>Rangel spoke in a multipurpose room at the recently constructed UNO Soccer Academy Elementary charter school. The Chicago Sun-Times first reported that <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/17920483-761/for-insiders-community-group-unos-charter-schools-pay.html">the school&rsquo;s floor-to-ceiling windows and sleek metal exterior were put in thanks to a $4.4 million contract given to the brother</a> of an UNO director at the time, Miguel d&rsquo;Escoto. Another brother had a contract to manage construction.</p><p>&ldquo;The questions that have been raised are legitimate and they are reasonable,&rdquo; Rangel told reporters before making his apology. &ldquo;For UNO to get into business relationships with family members is simply not appropriate. It smacks of nepotism. Such practices have no place at an organization like UNO.&rdquo;</p><p>Across from the elementary school, UNO&rsquo;s Soccer Academy High School sits half finished, with construction halted. <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/news/education/19711841-418/state-cuts-off-money-to-uno-charter-schools-over-insider-deals.html">The state froze UNO&rsquo;s&rsquo; grant money</a> as it investigates spending.</p><p>Rangel said today UNO is immediately relinquishing control over construction of the school and will hire the nonprofit Illinois Facilities Fund to complete the project. &nbsp;Rangel says unless the state money is flowing again by June 1, &nbsp;UNO won&rsquo;t be able to open the school in the fall. It says 600 students in grades 6-9 are already enrolled.</p><p>Outside, parent Margarita Portales looked over at the unfinished high school her son is supposed to attend in August.</p><p>&ldquo;I hope it&rsquo;s finished soon, honestly, because we need this school,&rdquo; said Portales in Spanish. Her older daughter travels to Lane Tech on the North Side every day. &ldquo;We have to travel far to get to high school. It&rsquo;s not fair. We need schools nearby that are strong academically so our children can continue and get to college.&rdquo;</p><p>A spokeswoman from Illinois&rsquo; Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity says the state is reviewing the governance shake-ups announced by UNO.</p><p>New UNO (community organization) board members and their affiliations:</p><ul dir="ltr"><li>Martin Cabrera, Jr. (chairman), Founder and CEO, Cabrera Capital Markets</li><li>Joseph de Lopez, former Winnetka police superintendent and VP of Voorhees Associates</li><li>Pastor Freddy Santiago, Iglesia Rebano Church</li><li>Prof. Peter Skerry, Boston College and Brookings Institution</li><li>Rodolfo Benitez, UNO charter school parent</li><li>Mariana Chavez, UNO charter school parent</li></ul><p>New UNO Charter School Network board members and their affiliations:</p><ul dir="ltr"><li>Vincent Allocco, El Valor</li><li>Fr. Chris Devron, Christ the King school</li><li>Richard Rodriguez, Lend Lease and former CTA president</li><li>Gilbert Munoz, Chicago Fire</li><li>Silverio Nodal, UNO charter school parent</li><li>Jenni Jimenez, UNO charter school parent</li></ul><p><em>Linda Lutton is an education reporter at WBEZ. Follow her <a href="http://www.twitter.com/WBEZeducation">@WBEZeducation</a></em></p></p> Tue, 28 May 2013 17:57:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/embattled-uno-charter-school-leader-steps-aside-stops-short-resigning-107403 UNO allows teachers to choose to unionize http://www.wbez.org/news/uno-allows-teachers-choose-unionize-105988 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/uno_leebey.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>One of Chicago&rsquo;s largest charter school networks is allowing its teachers and staff to choose whether to unionize.</p><p>United Neighborhood Organization, or UNO, says its teachers can decide without retaliation.</p><p>Brian Harris is the president of the charter union, Chicago Alliance of Charter School Teachers and Staff, or ACTS. He says the agreement with UNO is important because teachers from other charters have been pressured not to unionize in the past.&nbsp;Charter schools aren&rsquo;t held to the same district regulations that a normal public school is, and they&rsquo;re rarely unionized.</p><p>&quot;If the UNO teachers unionize, people will notice that all of the scary stories that people come up with what a union will do to a charter school, which I think are incredibly false. People will notice that unions and charters can work together just fine,&quot; he said.</p><p>Harris says UNO teachers are only considering the move, and no decision is close yet.</p><p>In a statement, UNO says the agreement to allow teachers to choose to unionize is about collaboration and cooperation.</p><p>UNO has 13 schools in Chicago and about 6,500 students.&nbsp;</p><p>ACTS has about 300 charter school teachers in its union.</p></p> Fri, 08 Mar 2013 17:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/uno-allows-teachers-choose-unionize-105988 The proportion of privately run Chicago public schools to increase http://www.wbez.org/news/proportion-privately-run-chicago-public-schools-increase-104303 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/uno%20galewood-lee%20bey.jpg" style="height: 296px; width: 740px;" title="(Lee Bey/WBEZ) A brand new UNO charter school opens in Galewood earlier this year." /></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F70756283" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>At the same time Chicago Public Schools says it needs to close down schools, maybe as many as 100, it&rsquo;s planning to open brand new ones.</p><p>In a promotional video for a new high school called Intrinsic, illustrations of the city&rsquo;s skyline and the EL tracks swirl around cartoon students. The students tout their teachers&rsquo; credentials and brag about the projects they&rsquo;re working on.</p><p>&ldquo;The teachers at Intrinsic are great,&rdquo; says the cartoon boy. &ldquo;They&rsquo;ve worked at schools like Walter Payton and Whitney Young.&rdquo;</p><p>Intrinsic is not open yet. It&rsquo;s one of at least 17 new schools the district wants to open next fall. Fourteen charter and contract schools, run by outside groups and three district-run high schools. (See complete list at the end of this article.)</p><p>CPS leaders say 136 schools are half empty. Most of those schools are on the south and west sides of the city. School officials argue it doesn&rsquo;t make sense to keep running those schools, because it costs money to keep the lights on and school resources get spread too thin.</p><p>They say if they consolidate, or &ldquo;right-size,&rdquo; they can spend more money on the buildings they do keep open&mdash;adding air-conditioning, art and music, all the things people say are missing right now.</p><p>But why would the district open schools when it says it has too many already?</p><p>&ldquo;We also need to be strategic and ensure that we are doing everything we can to immediately expand access to high quality school options for parents in every community,&rdquo; said CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll.</p><p>Carroll also points to areas of the city where classrooms are overcrowded&mdash;the heavily Latino north and west sides of the city. She says CPS may need to build or open new schools in those areas.</p><p>Phyllis Lockett echoed Carroll&rsquo;s point about quality. She runs New Schools for Chicago, which has raised more than $30 million to help CPS gradually open charter schools every year for the past decade.</p><p>&ldquo;Saving dollars cannot be the only solution, you&rsquo;ve got to focus on quality,&rdquo; Lockett said.</p><p>While Lockett equates new schools with quality, the fact is, the new schools the city has created over the last decade have <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/charter-schools-failing-grades-still-featured-quality-schools-fair-104271">had mixed success</a>.</p><p>Some people have said that closing traditional schools and opening charter schools is actually about privatizing education&mdash;not about quality or enrollment or anything else.</p><p>It&rsquo;s true that if CPS closes dozens of traditional schools and then opens charters, the proportion of public schools run by private entities jumps significantly.</p><p>Think about the math. Right now, 14 percent of CPS&rsquo;s 681 schools are privately run charter and contract schools.</p><p>If the district closes 100 schools, and then opens 60 new charters in the next five years, the percentage of privately run schools could jump up to 27 percent. In a grant application to the Gates Foundation, CPS leaders said they planned to open 100 new schools in the next five years, 60 of them charters. Carroll has said that number was just an estimate based on past growth.</p><p>Still, a number of charter leaders have big expansion plans.</p><p>&ldquo;I think that number ought to grow,&rdquo; said Juan Rangel. He runs the United Neighborhood Organization, which operates one of the city&rsquo;s largest charter school networks.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve been at this for 15 years now, and if anybody told me we would be in the place we are today back in 1997, I wouldn&rsquo;t have believed it,&rdquo; Rangel said. &ldquo;But here we are, and so I&rsquo;m really hopeful that in five years the school district will look very different than it does today.&rdquo;</p><p>UNO has more aggressive expansion plans. Rangel said he hopes to open five new schools a year for the next five years, bringing UNO&rsquo;s total to more than 30 schools.</p><p>But he&rsquo;s not alone. The district&rsquo;s biggest high school charter network, the Noble Network of Charter Schools, wants to open two new high schools a year for the next four years, bringing its total to right around 20.&nbsp;</p><p>And at least four national operators&mdash;Rocketship Education, Basis Schools, Concept Schools, and Charter Schools USA-- applied to open schools here next fall, according to Illinois Network of Charter Schools executive director Andrew Broy.&nbsp;</p><p>The new schools that have opened in the last decade draw students away from their home schools, even though overall public school enrollment has dropped just 6 percent. The Chicago Teachers Union has said that&rsquo;s contributed to the problem of &ldquo;underutilization&rdquo; in so many CPS schools.</p><p>It&rsquo;s unclear how the district will prevent home schools from becoming under-enrolled as they plan to open more new schools.</p><p>&ldquo;Part of what Chicago is really suffering from is they don&rsquo;t have a long range plan,&rdquo; said Mary Filardo, the executive director of the 21st Century Schools Fund, a non-profit that studies how school districts manage their real estate.</p><p>CPS&rsquo;s Carroll says school leaders plan to sell off the empty buildings, which Filardo warns could be a shortsighted move.</p><p>&ldquo;Chicago could find itself in really a pickle, if it does not retain some of its public infrastructure,&rdquo; Filardo said. &ldquo;You don&rsquo;t have age-level enrollment projections, population projections, you don&rsquo;t have a master plan. Do you want 75 percent to be neighborhood Chicago public school based and 25 percent private? Do you want it 50-50? I mean where are you going?&rdquo;</p><p>If CPS does not put together a plan to address those questions, Filardo says, it could find itself in a similar situation five years from now, even if enrollment holds steady:&nbsp; With too many schools&mdash;and a big fight on its hands.&nbsp;</p><p>Schools slated to open Fall 2013:<br /> <style type="text/css"> table.tableizer-table { border: 1px solid #CCC; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; } .tableizer-table td { padding: 4px; margin: 3px; border: 1px solid #ccc; } .tableizer-table th { background-color: #104E8B; color: #FFF; font-weight: bold; }</style> </p><table class="tableizer-table"><tbody><tr class="tableizer-firstrow"><th>New School</th><th>Grades served</th><th>Approved or Pending</th></tr><tr><td>Chicago Collegiate Charter School</td><td>4-12</td><td>pending&nbsp;</td></tr><tr><td>The Orange School</td><td>K-8</td><td>pending&nbsp;</td></tr><tr><td>Foundations College Prep</td><td>6-12</td><td>pending&nbsp;</td></tr><tr><td>Intrinsic Schools</td><td>6-12</td><td>pending&nbsp;</td></tr><tr><td>Camelot&nbsp;</td><td>alternative students</td><td>pending&nbsp;</td></tr><tr><td>Crane (Medical) HS</td><td>9-12</td><td>approved</td></tr><tr><td>Back of the Yards HS</td><td>9-12</td><td>approved</td></tr><tr><td>Disney II HS</td><td>9-12</td><td>pending&nbsp;</td></tr><tr><td>Marine Military Academy (expansion)</td><td>7-8</td><td>pending&nbsp;</td></tr><tr><td>Rickover Naval Academy (expansion)</td><td>7-8</td><td>pending&nbsp;</td></tr><tr><td>UNO Soccer Academy HS</td><td>9-12</td><td>approved</td></tr><tr><td>UNO elementary campus</td><td>K-8</td><td>approved</td></tr><tr><td>UNO elementary campus</td><td>K-8</td><td>approved</td></tr><tr><td>UNO elementary campus</td><td>K-8</td><td>approved</td></tr><tr><td>Noble - Orange campus</td><td>9-12</td><td>approved</td></tr><tr><td>Noble - Crimson campus</td><td>9-12</td><td>approved</td></tr><tr><td>Christopher House</td><td>PK-8</td><td>approved</td></tr><tr><td>LEARN-7th campus</td><td>K-8</td><td>approved</td></tr><tr><td>LEARN-8th campus</td><td>K-8</td><td>approved</td></tr></tbody></table><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 11 Dec 2012 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/proportion-privately-run-chicago-public-schools-increase-104303 'A' for architecture: Design of UNO's newest charter school deserves praise http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2012-09/architecture-design-unos-newest-charter-school-deserves-praise-102764 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/P9299735.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 461px; " title="" /><br /><div class="image-insert-image ">Some of the best-looking Chicago schools these days have been the charter campuses built--with surprising frequency, as of late &mdash; by the United Neighborhood Organization.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The group&#39;s newest facility, the UNO Galewood Charter School, which opened late last month is no exception. Tucked away at 2050 N. Natchez on a residential street in the city&#39;s Galewood community, the three-story school leaps from its surroundings. Most notable is the remarkable sloped roof on the southern end of the school. The roof surface has small slit-like windows to let in natural light while glass walls enclose the space beneath, creating a two-story, multiuse space topped by a third floor library.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Like a good neighbor, the school greets the street well, with an open glassy entrance and warmly-colored siding.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/P9299781.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 331px;" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The main entrance allows views straight through the school&#39;s first floor:</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div></div></div><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/P9299755.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 384px;" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">A concert of concrete, metal and glass:</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/P9299794.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 418px;" title="" /></div></div><p>The $21 million school has 18 classrooms and was designed by<a href="http://www.urbanworksarchitecture.com/index.html"> UrbanWorks Ltd</a>, a Chicago architecture firm with impressive credits that include the recent revamp of the Benito Juarez high school campus at 21st and Laflin and the UNO Veteran&#39;s Memorial School campus at 4248 W. 47th St., in the Archer Heights neighborhood.</p><p>UNO operates 13 charter schools. A year ago, the group opened the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/lee-bey/2011-09-19/new-school-numero-uno-example-great-design-92138">UNO Soccer Academy</a>, a serpentine, stainless steel clad school that made more than a few architectural &quot;best of&quot; lists in 2011.</p></p> Wed, 03 Oct 2012 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2012-09/architecture-design-unos-newest-charter-school-deserves-praise-102764 Nearly 300,000 Chicago students head back to school http://www.wbez.org/story/nearly-300000-chicago-students-head-back-school-91534 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-September/2011-09-06/UNO_Panorama1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>About 300,000 Chicago kids head back to school today.</p><p>Some are heading into completely new school buildings or programs.</p><p>In just 10 months, a shiny metal-and-glass, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/chicago/united-neighborhood-organization-begins-work-soccer-academy" target="_blank">super-modern school</a> has emerged from vacant industrial land on the Southwest Side.&nbsp; It’s an UNO charter school, where Juan Rangel is CEO.</p><p>"Many people have described it as a spaceship that has landed. I like to think of it as a something that’s about to take off. It’s a community that’s about to take off and reach its full potential," said Rangel.</p><p>UNO is opening another charter campus in Humboldt Park. The grammar schools are among four new charters opening in the district this year. One is <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/news/education/digital-world-re-shapes-learning-84750" target="_blank">digital learning school</a>, where classes and curriculum will be based on "<a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/reimagining-learning-85596" target="_blank">gaming</a>."</p><p>And there are new magnet options, including an arts program at Senn High School.</p><p>"This was a community dream for a couple of years that has now come to fruition," said Senn principal Susan Lofton. "The School of the Art Institute’s involved, theaters such as Lookingglass and Raven Theatre."</p><p>The school will start out offering intensive, hands-on study in visual arts and theater, with plans to add music and dance as the program grows. Lofton said the magnet school-within-a-school will emphasize the creation of art, but will also expose students to the business side of art.</p><p>About three dozen Chicago schools will begin transitioning this year to new, tougher standards. Illinois adopted the Common Core Standards in June 2010. Many suburban school districts have already started transitioning to the new standards, which the state describes as clearer and higher.</p><p>And just Friday, teachers at three Chicago schools voted to <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/teachers-union-says-cps-used-bribes-and-coercion-get-longer-day-3-schools-91497" target="_blank">waive their contract rights and add 90 minutes</a> to the day. Two of those schools start with the longer schedule this month; the third will begin in January.</p></p> Tue, 06 Sep 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/nearly-300000-chicago-students-head-back-school-91534 Already? Charter school students head back to school http://www.wbez.org/story/already-charter-school-students-head-back-school-89946 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-August/2011-08-02/thumb.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Children pushed new yellow pencils into sharpeners, and a few kindergartners shed tears after their parents left them Monday, the first day of school for more than 5,000 charter school students in Chicago.</p><p>School officials used the early return to school at the charters to again call for a longer school year throughout Chicago Public Schools.</p><p>Schools chief Jean-Claude Brizard rang a ceremonial bell this morning at UNO’s Veterans Memorial Campus to launch the school year there. UNO’s school year is 20 days longer than the school year in traditional Chicago Public Schools.</p><p>“So 190 days! Hopefully very soon we’ll be able to benchmark what you are doing here at UNO,” Brizard told parents and students.</p><p>Brizard said he hopes negotiations slated to begin Monday afternoon with unions will lead to a longer school year districtwide.</p><p>“Today we’re actually having a pretty long discussion with the CTU about how to operationalize this…. We’ve made it no secret that the school year we have is way too short, the school day that we have is way too short, so we’re going to make this happen as quickly as we can.”</p><p>UNO is adding more days to its school calendar this year by converting teacher professional development days to normal class days. Administrators say teachers will be given real-time mentoring and professional development as they teach.</p><p>Parent Laura Aguilar dropped two of her children off at UNO this morning. Aguilar said they were excited to go back. “For them, four weeks of vacation—that was enough.”</p><p>By her side was her nine-year-old daughter, who attends a Chicago public school for gifted students. She still has another month off school.</p><p>“Three days a week she’s in a library program,” said her mom. “We’ll see—four more weeks.”</p><p>LEARN charter schools also began classes Monday. Their school year is 197 days, 27 days longer than district-run schools.</p><p>A <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/news/education/wbez-analysis-renaissance2010-schools" target="_blank">WBEZ analysis</a> of 2010 test scores showed longer school days and longer school years common at charter schools do not necessarily guarantee better test scores. The Chicago News Cooperative found charter schools' test score gains on the most recent round of state ISAT tests were <a href="http://www.chicagonewscoop.org/charter-schools-trail-in-state-test-results/" target="_blank">not as large</a> on average as gains made by traditional neighborhood schools.</p><p>Nearly 250 Chicago public schools on the “Track E” calendar start their new school year next Monday. Those traditional schools are trying to combat summer learning loss by beginning earlier, but there are no additional school days in their year. Instead, breaks are scattered throughout the year.</p></p> Mon, 01 Aug 2011 22:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/already-charter-school-students-head-back-school-89946 Chicago Democrats clash over Illinois House seat http://www.wbez.org/story/chicago-democrats-clash-over-illinois-house-seat-87408 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-June/2011-06-03/MendozaCityHallcrop.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A top Chicago official is criticizing the way her party is filling her former Illinois House seat.<br> <br> Susana Mendoza resigned as District 1 representative last month to become city clerk. To replace her, the district’s Democratic ward committeemen chose Chicago police Sgt. Dena Carli.<br> <br> Party insiders say the plan is for Carli to exit the seat this summer, once a long-term replacement establishes residency in the district, which spans parts of several Southwest Side neighborhoods, including Little Village, Brighton Park and Gage Park.<br> <br> The sources say Carli’s replacement will be Silvana Tabares, a former editor of the bilingual weekly newspaper Extra. Tabares graduated last year from the leadership academy of the United Neighborhood Organization, a clout-heavy Latino group.<br> <br> UNO chief Juan Rangel says he doesn’t know anything about the plan but praises Tabares. “She would be, by far, the best candidate to fill the seat,” Rangel says.<br> <br> Mendoza doesn’t think so. She pushed for her replacement to be Evelyn Rodríguez, an aide to U.S. Rep. Luis Gutiérrez, D-Illinois.<br> <br> “Neither Carli nor Tabares is qualified,” Mendoza says. “The citizens and the residents of the First District were completely shortchanged in this process.”<br> <br> The Illinois constitution requires state lawmakers to live in their district for two years before their election or appointment.<br> <br> Tabares, listed at 4335 S. Spaulding Ave., says she’s lived in the district for “about two years” but claims she can’t remember the month she moved in.<br> <br> Tabares says she’s eager to serve in the seat but says she knows nothing about the plan for her to take it. She referred WBEZ questions about the plan to two of the committeemen: Chicago Ald. Ed Burke, Ward 14, and State Sen. Tony Muñoz, District 1.<br> <br> Burke and Muñoz didn’t return the station’s calls about the seat. Neither did Carli.</p></p> Fri, 03 Jun 2011 21:18:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/chicago-democrats-clash-over-illinois-house-seat-87408 Praise and frustration after Illinois Dems release legislative maps http://www.wbez.org/story/praise-and-frustration-after-illinois-dems-release-legislative-maps-86881 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-May/2011-05-22/photo 1.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois Democrats are defending the new boundaries they've proposed for state legislative districts.&nbsp;Two hearings on the maps were held over the weekend in Chicago.</p><p>Democrats hold the governor's office and both chambers of the legislature, putting them in control of the mapmaking. The lines are redrawn every ten years using new Census data.</p><p>House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie, D-Chicago, acknowledges the boundaries were drawn in ways that could help her party.</p><p>"While we believe this plan is politically fair, we don't deny that partisan concerns from time to time played a role," Currrie said at a Sunday hearing of the House Redistricting Committee, which she chairs.</p><p>State Rep. Mike Fortner of West Chicago, the top Republican on the committee, asked Currie for evidence that the map is, as she described it, "competitive" and "fair."</p><p>"Is there a general principal that you used or a particular standard in the data that you used?" Fortner asked.</p><p>"I don't have a standard to enable me to answer that question specifically," Currie replied. "But just looking at the map and looking at how the populations have shifted, and how the districts have shifted, my own sense is that it is a politically competitive map."</p><p>Meanwhile, some minority groups are split over whether to support the proposed boundaries. Martin Torres with the Latino Policy Forum told the committee that the Democratic map does not do enough to reflect his community's population growth.</p><p>"Our analysis indicates that Latino residents have been short-changed by the current proposal," Torres said.</p><p>Another Latino group is pleased with the plan.&nbsp;Juan Rangel heads UNO, the United Neighborhood Organization. He said the map strikes a balance among minority groups.</p><p>"It may be possible to draw even more Latino districts," Rangel testified. "However, we believe that that would come at the expense of African-American districts."</p><p>The state House committee, and its Senate counterpart, held more than two dozen public hearings around the state in recent weeks. After the draft maps were released late last week, three other hearings were scheduled - two this weekend in Chicago and a third on Tuesday, in Springfield.</p><p>Some people testifying on Sunday asked that a final vote on the maps be delayed. They noted that the proposed boundaries for U.S. House districts had not yet been made public. In a sharply worded statement to the committee, Whitney Woodward from the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform called that "inexcusable."</p><p>"In the spirit of transparency that this committee has said it seeks to embrace, ICPR asks...this committee and the General Assembly to release a draft of those districts and summary language, and hold another set of regional public hearings at least a week after the posting of that information," Woodward said.</p><p>A delay that long is unlikely, though, as top Democrats want the maps approved before May 31st. After that, the proposal would need Republican votes in order to pass.</p></p> Sun, 22 May 2011 22:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/praise-and-frustration-after-illinois-dems-release-legislative-maps-86881