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Lacking business license, Flowers' new site closed

Thursday, November 12, 2009
by Duaa Eldeib

Just when Regional Schools Supt. Charles Flowers should have been getting comfortable in his new space, officials have closed it.

Facing eviction for not paying $10,000 in back rent on office space in Westchester, Flowers moved into a Broadview building a little more than a week ago.

On Tuesday, however, Broadview officials shuttered the Suburban Cook County Regional Office of Education for a number of violations, village attorney Phil Fornaro confirmed.

"It was closed down," he said.

In addition, sources close to the office said, employees - who should have been paid Nov. 6 - have yet to receive their paychecks.

The closure is unrelated to a Cook County state's attorney's office criminal investigation that resulted in a raid of the Westchester office and Flowers' home, or a lawsuit alleging he engaged in a scheme to defraud Cook County and avoid officials after defaulting on a $190,000 loan.

Instead, it's about paperwork.

"They didn't apply for a business license, which would require an inspection," Fornaro said. "No certificate of occupancy was issued."

That process can take up to a month, Fornaro added.

"If you are going to operate a business in a town, you have to find out what that town requires," he said.

Earlier this week, the regional office's Web site indicated the office would be closed on Wednesday in observance of Veterans Day. On Wednesday, the site said that observance would continue through Friday.

It's a concern any time an office is closed, even temporarily, Illinois State Board of Education spokesman Matt Vanover said.

However, after the SouthtownStar first reported the alleged financial and ethical misconduct at the office that is nearly $1 million in debt, neighboring regional offices have stepped in to pick up the slack.

In July, ISBE began the process to revoke Flowers' professional certificates, which would make him ineligible to serve. A hearing is expected to take place either this month or next.

"We're taking the steps that we can," Vanover said. "He's an elected official, much like a state representative or a mayor. ISBE doesn't have the authority to go in and remove a mayor from office."

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