Daley administration gave manpower, city contract to wife’s charity

After School Matters (ASM), a non-profit organization developed by Maggie Daley to provide enrichment for Chicago’s at-risk youth, received a contract granting $6.5 million in city dollars, as reported by Crain’s Chicago Business.

Despite Chicago’s economic woes, it’s not the sum that’s causing an uproar. In a statement, which did not address the contract specifically, ASM said that the city has been funding them since 2004, with a “constant level of city funding” since 2007.

So what caught the public’s eye? The contract was awarded a mere four days before Richard M. Daley retired from office after a 22 year legacy.

News of the contract coincides with another exchange between the Daley administration and ASM: the appointment of Daley’s former Chief of Staff, Ray Orozco, to the newly created position of CEO at After School Matters.

And, as Crain’s Greg Hinz pointed out in his article – timing is everything.

“What matters is that this year’s contract has now been signed,” Hinz wrote, “preventing the new mayor from reviewing it and perhaps cutting it” as part of his budget balancing plans.

The creation of the CEO position, ASM has maintained, is part of a larger restructuring of the charity to “prepare [it] for sustainable growth.”

In a prepared statement, the charity cited Mr. Orozco’s experience with “organizational structuring and implementing cost-effective strategies” during his time as Daley’s chief of staff as their reason for appointing him to the position.

It is worth noting in light of the recent job cuts that in creating Orozco’s position, After School Matters effectively took its original Executive Director position, chaired by David Sinski, and cleaved it into two jobs with two salaries. Whereas Sinski was the head of the charity in general as Executive Director there are now two people running the organization.

According to their statement, Sinski has been appointed the newly created Chief Officer of Innovation and Strategy, where he will be in charge of program development, and Orozco as CEO is in charge of everything.

After School Matters has also been a landing pad for another ex-Daley employee: his former acting commissioner for the Department of Cultural Affairs Katherine LaMantia.

According to After School Matters, she has been appointed to the (also newly created) position of Chief Financial Officer, an appointment, ASM said in their statement, was appropriate thanks to LaMantia’s years of experience and her work in Daley’s administration, “where she managed a $37 million budget.”

Public records show that ASM has received money from the city in amounts ranging from $500,00 to $8.3 million since 2004.

Requests for comment from the mayor’s office on both of these matters went unanswered.