SPRINGFIELD-Against the wishes of Ald. Edward M. Burke (14th), Gov. Pat Quinn announced Thursday that funding for the United Neighborhood Organization's Southwest Side charter school would remain halted due to insider dealings until the group meets Quinn's ethical standards.
"It's up to the organization called UNO to resolve their ethical problems," Quinn told reporters after a ceremony in Springfield honoring Illinois firefighters. "If they don't resolve their ethical problems, they won't get any money. Simple as that."
Burke is concerned about the stalled funding because some of the money was to be used in his district to build a new school - the half-completed UNO Soccer Academy High School at 51st and St. Louis. The school was scheduled to open in August, but its fate became uncertain when contractors abandoned the job last week.
"I want to see those children have a school they can go to, but right now what's holding that back is an organization that has some conflict of interest challenges that must be resolved," Quinn said
Quinn, who has received a sizeable chunk of campaign funds from Burke, put a stop to UNO's $98 million state school construction grant last month after the Sun-Times reported $8.5 million of the state money went to businesses owned by two brothers of Miguel d'Escoto, a top UNO executive who resigned following the reports.
Quinn has supported UNO in the past and has called for the organization to be audited before it can resume spending the grant money. Without saying exactly what kind of ethical threshold the organization would have to meet, the governor made it clear the ball is in UNO's court.
"The standards are making sure there are no conflicts of interest," he said. "If such conflicts exist and they deal with public money, they must be resolved. And [UNO] know[s] very well what the rules are."