Ex-School Board Presidents’ Spending Questionable: Probe

Fran Spielman and Rosalind Rossi, Chicago Sun-Times, January 21, 2010

Former Chicago School Board President Michael Scott and his predecessor, Rufus Williams, decorated their offices with expensive artwork and drank and dined at upscale restaurants–all on the taxpayers’ tab, sources say a new investigation into questionable spending has found.

The probe also uncovered evidence that Williams charged the board more than $1,000 for a private limousine that squired him around the heralded Harlem Children’s Zone and New York City during a one-day visit there, the Sun-Times has learned.

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Shortly after his death, it was revealed Scott had charged some $3,000 in airfare, hotel and meal expenses to the Chicago Board of Education during his October trip to Copenhagen for the International Olympic Committee’s final vote on the 2016 Summer Games. Scott, a member of Chicago’s Olympic bid committee, had started paying that money back before he died, Chicago Public School officials have said.

A new report by Sullivan reveals that Scott and Williams each used a board credit card to purchase artwork, costing some $3,000 per piece at Chicago’s Gallery Guichard for display in their board offices, one source said. Many board offices and hallways are decorated with far less expensive student artwork or photographs of students.

Sullivan also uncovered evidence that Williams billed the board for an expensive piece of clothing purchased on Michigan Avenue and then repaid the board after investigators questioned him, one source said.

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Both presidents charged the board for meals and liquor at upscale restaurants, sources say the Sullivan investigation found. At the time, each already received a monthly stipend to cover such in-town expenses.

The report also targets credit card charges made by Steve Washington, William’s former chief of staff, who resigned from the board earlier this month, sources said.

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spending

School board president Michael Scott (right) and his predecessor, Rufus Williams (left).

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