Get sick, get well
Hang around a ink well
Ring bell, hard to tell
If anything is goin' to sell
-- Bob Dylan

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

What happened to the feds' probe of Chicago Public Ed Fund? Where'd everybody go?

Rahm and Griffin.
Back in April, 2015, we heard that the feds were in town, supposedly looking into the Chicago Public Education Fund (CPEF) and its involvement in the Barbara Byrd-Bennett/SUPES no-bid contract scandal. Remember? Subpoenas were flying and the names of some of the biggest players in corporate school reform were being dropped to the press.  Among those names were CPEF's billionaire board members, Bruce Rauner, Penny Pritzker,  Susan CrownMellody Hobson (wife of George Lucas), and the state's richest man, Ken Griffin

While the Fund wasn't the target of the investigation, and no-bid contracts with kickbacks are usually no big deal in Rahmville, it was reported that its board had given SUPES a $380,000 contract to train area network chiefs and their deputies. But when things started getting hot, they quietly discontinued their funding. 

Ace Catalyst reporter Sarah Karp, now with the BGA, made the point then, that if the Fund had been more transparent about its de-funding of SUPES, "taxpayers might have saved the $12 million of the more than $20 million SUPES was paid before its contract was cancelled".  But transparency is a no-no around CPEF's fancy downtown headquarters (nice view of the lake).  

As Karp puts it:
No one outside The Fund’s staff and board of directors knows how it decides which programs to support, what the results have been and how or whether the results are communicated to CPS.
So since April, there's not been a word in the media about CPEF or the investigation. Where'd everyone go? 

Griffin just sold his condo for $16M.
Rauner, now the governor, was at one time the CPEF board president. He denied any culpability in the SUPES affair, telling the feds that it was his pal Rahm Emanuel and not him, who brought SUPES, Gary Solomon, and Byrd-Bennett into town. 

Pritzker's off playing Obama's Sec. of Commerce, leaving Rahm holding the bag on school closings. She was a member of the school board that approved them along with the SUPES deal. 

And hedge-funder Griffin? (among Rahm/Rauner's largest campaign contributors). He took a bit of a hit when wife Ann divorced him. But he's still in the game, bigger than ever.

His most recent deal... Crain's reports that Griffin just sold his Chicago condo at the Waldorf Astoria for a mere $16M, the same price he bought it for 17 months earlier. The sale was the second-highest home sale in the Chicago area during 2015, after an $18.75M purchase at the Park Tower by an associate of Lucas and Hobson.

I'm sure this is all on the up-and-up, but it turns out that Griffin originally bought the place from ("an entity connected with") himself and then sold it to ("an entity connected with") himself. 

Sounds like a win-win. It always is for these guys. 

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