The Trib reports that among those in attendance at the epic Plan Commission meeting Thursday were Children’s Museum “proponents” bused in by the Woodlawn Organization, which is led by plan commission member Leon Finney Jr.

You and I and every other taxpayer in the state helped finance the organizational efforts and transportation costs needed to get the Woodlawn cheerleaders downtown.

Here’s how: the Woodlawn Organization is a tax-exempt, 501c3 nonprofit organization, and according to its most recent filings with the IRS, the vast majority–more than 80 percent–of its annual revenues come from government grants, most of it federal money handed out by the state and city. That amounted to $4.6 million in taxpayer money in 2006, the most recent year available.

In fairness, the organization did bring in a little more cash through “real estate management and development fees.” And it raised $69,000 at a “golf gala”—though about $40,000 of that went toward expenses for the event. 

When it’s not busing people to political showdowns the Woodlawn Organization uses its public money on a range of social programs, including Head Start and Chicago Housing Authority services.

Incidentally, Finney was paid $161,989 to run the group in 2006. His wife, Georgette Greenlee-Finney, earned another $60,000 as a marketing specialist.

Also on the payroll was former CHA chief Vincent Lane, who was forced to resign that job amid allegations of mismanagement. He was later convicted [PDF] of fraud and sentenced to two and a half years in federal prison. In 2006 the Woodlawn Organization paid Lane $66,781 for consulting work.