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Clerk Will Pay Prize Equivalent To Teen Whose City Sticker Design Was Pulled

UPDATED 02/10/12 6:20 a.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The 15-year-old boy whose Chicago city sticker design was scrapped at the last second will get a $1,000 savings bond after all.

But as WBBM Newsradio's Bob Roberts reports, it won't be at taxpayer expense.

A representative of City Clerk Susana Mendoza said she will purchase the $1,000 bond "with her own personal money" for Herbie Pulgar, whose designed was pulled when allegations surfaced on a blog popular with Chicago Police officers that some of the symbols on the artwork could be construed as paying tribute to the Maniac Latin Disciples street gang.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio's Bob Roberts reports


WALTER'S PERSPECTIVE: Cop Blog Created Controversy Over City Sticker

Susana Mendoza, Chicago City Clerk
City Clerk Susana Mendoza (CBS)

"I have reached out to Herbie and hope to meet with him," Mendoza said in a statement. "I feel terrible about what he's going through."

A Mendoza representative said there is nothing for Herbie or his mother to return. The city's $1,000 savings bond had not been issued. That savings bond will go instead to the runner-up in the design competition, whose design will be used.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel Thursday refused to address the controversy.

"That was yesterday. Those that dealt with that issue as it relates to the sticker made their decision," Emanuel said. "My job is to focus on what I think is essential for the city: stronger schools, safer streets, stable finances, creating a quality of life for all of our city and all of our residents. and that's what I'm focused on."

Asked about the issue again later in the news conference, Emanuel said "I've answered that," and took another question.

Mendoza said she wants to help Herbie, who is a child with special needs.

"I want to encourage him to pursue a degree where he can continue to develop his skills," she said. "I do believe that he is trying to turn his life around."

The Mendoza representative stressed that clerk is paying for the bond personally, not through her political fund or with taxpayer money.

Pulgar, a student at Lawrence Hall Youth Services, has vehemently denied claims that his sticker design references gang symbols.

"That's not true … not true at all. I'm trying to show love to our first responders," Pulgar told CBS 2's Kristyn Hartman earlier this week. "This picture is clean."

Pulgar said his inspiration to honor first responders came from an incident when he was 4 years old.

"I was burnt from my stomach all the way up to my belly button, and they saved my life," he said.

Mendoza's decision comes after the Rev. Michael Pfleger said he would give the money to Pulgar, if Mendoza didn't.

Pfleger, appearing at an event with Mayor Emanuel, wouldn't say whether he thinks Mendoza did the right thing in nixing the sticker, even though the winning teen's mother and art teacher denied the design used gang symbols.

"He should still get the $1,000 bond," Pfleger said Thursday morning. Pfleger added: "He did his best. ... He won. And we should still honor him. We can disagree on the sticker. We can pull the sticker. We should not dishonor this child."

Pfleger said it's "horrible" that Pulgar, a special needs student at Lawrence Hall Youth Services, was so excited to win, only to see all the negative attention around the sticker.

Pfleger wouldn't go as far to say Mendoza made the wrong decision, saying, "I wouldn't want someone telling me what to do at St. Sabina."

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2012. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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