Monday, April 07, 2008

Illinois House panel criticizes deputy governor in hearing on $1 million grant to school

Deputy Gov. Louanner Peters on Wednesday spent more than an hour dodging questions from an Illinois House committee investigating a $1 million grant that wound up going to a troubled private school instead of a church because of what Gov. Rod Blagojevich has called a "bureaucratic mistake."
The hearing to probe the grant came after the Blagojevich administration steered $1 million to the private Loop Lab School to make good on the governor's pledge to help Pilgrim Baptist Church rebuild after a fire. Instead of giving to the church, the money went to the school, which rented space from the church.

The grant came as state and federal authorities were trying to collect thousands of dollars in unpaid taxes from the school, the Tribune reported Wednesday. Other potential roadblocks also were cleared to make the grant possible: The governor gave a rare and swift pardon to the school's director, a convicted felon; the school registered as a charitable organization for the first time in its 25-year history; and the school filed three years' worth of required state tax documents in one day.

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