Where Did the Save-A-Life Money Go?
by Don Bauder, San Diego Reader (print
Foundation founder/president Carol) Spizzirri
was a darling of politicians and bureaucrats,
although it was a matter of record that she had
been convicted twice for shoplifting.
Save-A-Life began raking in money from
government grants...By this time, her foundation
had raised about $8 million from such groups as
the Illinois Department of Public Health and the
United States Centers for Disease Control, and
she had been paid more than $100,000 in some
years. She had gathered support from such
politicians as Democrat Dick Durbin, now a
Senate kingpin, and Norm Coleman, then a
then the chief executive officer of the
Chicago Public Schools, now United States
Secretary of Education, had lauded what the
foundation was doing for the schools and
effused, "Carol [Spizzirri] is one of my
On June 29, 2009, the Save-A-Life Foundation
closed down. And Carol Spizzirri came to San
Marcos. I have confirmed that she and a former
treasurer of Save-A-Life are living at Palomar
Estates West, a mobile home community in San
May 18, 1992 - four months before the fatal
accident - Christina filed for an order of
protection against her mother. A neighbor who
lives four houses away was willing to be
Christina’s primary caretaker. The complaint
stated that Spizzirri had struck Christina “on
several occasions and threatened her on many
occasions.” The order of protection, granted the
same month, barred Spizzirri from seeing her
daughter at several locations such as school and
work. Christina “fears her mother will attempt
to harass her or retaliate,” said the complaint.
Spizzirri asserted, among other things, that she
could use “reasonable force to discipline a
child” who needed medical attention.
Chico Save A Life Foundation Connection: What
Was His Role At Troubled Charity? by
Will Guzzardi, Huffington Post
Chico’s confirmation as state school boss hits
snag by Dave McKinney, Chicago
documents obtained by Huffington Post Chicago,
mayoral candidate Gery Chico appears to have
been closely involved with a scandal-plagued
exact details of Chico's involvement with the
now-shuttered Save A Life Foundation are not
yet known, documents state that he was on the
foundation's board of directors near the
height of its alleged fraudulent activity.
Puzzlingly, in the face of those documents,
the Chico campaign has persistently denied
that he was ever on the board.
...Save A Life lashed out with
defamation lawsuits that ultimately failed,
as did the charity
itself, which shut its doors in the summer
The collapse of the
foundation was politically uncomfortable for a
number of major figures in Illinois, from
President Barack Obama
Secretary Arne Duncan, who were connected to
it in some way.
Chicago mayoral candidate Gery Chico’s
appointment as chairman of the state Board of
Education hit a snag Wednesday amid GOP
questions over his ties to a now-defunct
Committee holds up 2 of Quinn's appointees
by Chris Wetterich, Springfield (IL) State
on issues raised by a Texas blogger, Senate
Republicans put the brakes on Quinn’s
appointment, asking that Chico personally appear
before a Senate panel to explain his
relationship with Save A Life Foundation, a
charity that is undergoing a probe within
Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office.
late Wednesday, Chico said he was not aware of
any wrongdoing by the organization and first
became aware of it as chairman of the Chicago
Public Schools board.
of Gov. Pat Quinn’s appointees were held up in a
Senate committee Wednesday, including his
nomination of Gery Chico to chair the State Board
governor’s office predicted they would have no
problem being confirmed later. Sen. Tim Bivins,
R-Dixon, said he asked that Chico’s appointment be
held so that he could be asked whether he
participated as a board member in the now-defunct
Save A Life Foundation, a charitable organization
that has faced media scrutiny over whether it
trained as many children in first-aid as it said
it did. Chico was an unsuccessful candidate for
Chicago mayor earlier this year.
some indication that he was on the board at some
time. There’s also an indication that he has
denied that. I don’t know. But we need to look at
it further,” Bivins said, emphasizing that he was
not accusing Chico of wrongdoing. “There’s
millions of dollars that went to this foundation
from not only the state, but from federal funds
also...I’d just like a clarification.”
to cut their pay again by Monique
Garcia and Ray Long, Chicago Tribune
Meanwhile, the Senate
held off on confirming Quinn's appointment of
former Chicago mayoral candidate Gery Chico to
lead the State Board of Education.
that the matter be put off until Chico can come to
Springfield to answer questions about his
connections to Save-a-Life, a nonprofit group that
critics contend wasted millions in government
Chico said he has not
had any contact with the defunct nonprofit in more
than a decade and that his only involvement was
trying to ensure Chicago Public Schools students
learned first aid techniques.
"I'm wide open and
look forward to a discussion," Chico said.
Gery Chico Save
A Life Foundation Connection Delays His
Appointment To State Board Of Ed by
Will Guzzardi, Huffington Post
An archived copy of the
foundation's website also listed (Chico) on the
"National Board of Directors" in 2003.
the campaign, Chico's office repeatedly denied to
HuffPost Chicago that he had served with SALF.
"That link you sent is wrong. Gery was not on that
board," spokeswoman Brooke Anderson said at the
time, when presented with a copy of the document.
a similar statement to the Chicago Tribune Wednesday, saying he hadn't
had contact with the foundation in "more than a
true -- that is, if he didn't serve on the board
-- Save A Life could be in some serious trouble.
Maura Possley, deputy press secretary for the
Illinois Attorney General's office, said in
February that misrepresenting the Board of
Directors on an annual report amounts to perjury,
a Class 3 felony.
Save A Life Foundation was founded by Carol
Spizzirri with the stated purpose of preparing
schoolchildren for emergencies. Spizzirri often
repeated that her inspiration to form the
foundation was her daughter, who was killed in a
hit-and-run accident when first responders didn't
know the techniques to stem her bleeding. An investigative report in
that her story about her daughter was false, she
herself wasn't an R.N. as she'd claimed, and her
organization had apparently trained far fewer
students than it had claimed. That investigation
ultimately led to the organization's collapse.
was, by his own admission, a supporter of the
organization in 1999: as president of the Chicago
school board, he signed
a resolution praising
SALF and certifying that it had trained thousands
of CPS students. But he wasn't the only one to
support SALF: politicians as formidable as
close to the group.
questionable uses of state funds by Emily Coleman, Sauk
Save-A-Life Foundation is one of a
couple organizations (Senator) Bivins is looking
at...“Where’s our money going?” Bivins said.
“Where’s our tax dollars going? Where did it
go?...As taxpayers, we have a right to know
where the money’s going.”
Lee County sheriff wants investigations and
audits of these groups, he said.
if there’s probable cause for wrongdoing,
especially if it involves public money, there
ought to be an investigation, sure,” Chico said.
Applications of Illinois Eavesdropping Act still
being debated - A whistleblower’s story
Susan Johnson, Rock River Times (Rockford, IL)
with the Illinois Eavesdropping Act have attracted
the attention of several different groups and
individuals. Peter M. Heimlich is a small business
owner in suburban Atlanta who does original
reporting on his blog, The Sidebar. His research
about the career of his father - the doctor known
for “the Heimlich maneuver” - has resulted in dozens
of media exposés, including an ABC 20/20 report by
Brian Ross. Recently, he became involved in another
case that involves a whistleblower and a