By John Byrne and Monique Garcia
2:36 PM EDT, May 28, 2013
Embattled United Neighborhood Organization boss Juan Rangel will stay on as CEO but step down from the charter school operator's board of directors as the group tries to make changes to get state funding restored after allegations of nepotism and conficts of interest in how contracts were awarded.
Rangel, a key supporter of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, also said he will step down from his seat on the city's Public Building Commission because he wants to avoid the appearance of conflicts of interest there.
"I am here today to apologize to you, the members of our community, and to the people of Illinois for not running our organization with the appropriate professionalism," Rangel said at a news conference at the UNO Soccer Academy school in the Gage Park neighborhood. "Over the past few months, it has become clear to me that in many key aspects of my roles at UNO, I have failed."
The state froze the remaining $14 million in payments to UNO to build a new high school building at the Soccer Academy complex amid revelations that contracts were awarded to relatives of UNO officials.
Rangel said it will be up to state officials to decide whether UNO has done enough to justify restoring its funding. Construction on the new high school will need to get going again before next week if the school is to open on time in the fall, when about 600 students are planning to enroll.
Martin Cabrera Jr., founder and CEO of Cabrera Capital Markets LLC, will take over as chair of the UNO board of directors. Cabrera said he will implement all the recommendations by retired federal judge Wayne Andersen, who was hired by the organization to find ways to clean up its contract procurement standards and improve transparency.
A spokeswoman for Gov. Pat Quinn said the changes are under review.
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