After three-plus years off the political grid, Juan Rangel is back.

The former CEO of the United Neighborhood Organization is working to launch Mexican-Americans into civic leadership roles, including public office.

The Mexican American Leadership, Policy and Action Committee isn’t focused on politics, just policy, he said.

Rangel modeled the nonprofit after a program started at UNO, which he also founded and which runs charter schools around the city.

“The impetus was last year’s election of (Donald) Trump,” Rangel said of Malpac. “And not just the election, but the reaction.”

Elected officials respond to power, “not marches,” Rangel said in his first interview since his controversial exit from UNO.

Rangel was charged by the Securities and Exchange Commission with misleading investors in a $37.5 million bond issue to build three school facilities for UNO . He paid a $10,000 federal fine, settling the case for having approved and signed a document on behalf of UNO without reading it or confirming its accuracy.

Now he’s back on the civic scene, attending events, meeting with important names and sharing his thoughts on a range of issues. He recently took the stage at a City Club event to discuss immigration with Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia and former Exelon CEO John Rowe.

It’s familiar territory for Rangel, who rubbed shoulders with the state’s top leaders while in charge of UNO. He co-chaired Rahm Emanuel’s first mayoral campaign and raised money for Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and Ald. Edward M. Burke (14th).

Rangel is now enlisting old friends to help elevate Mexican-Americans to civic leadership roles. Burke recently spoke at a Malpac event. Community leaders Martin Cabrera, Juan Ochoa, Jorge Perez and Arabel Rosales are also working behind the scenes on behalf of Malpac.

“We have an opportunity to give the Mexican community a new face and a new voice and help leadership emerge,” he said.

No, Rangel added, he’s not interested in running for office himself.

Rangel’s work at Malpac is part time, and that’s by design — at least for now.

“UNO was 24/7 and I enjoyed every minute of it. I have no regrets,” he said. “I’m still 24/7, but my life is more diversified.”

Rangel also juggles consulting work with his Mastery Consulting business, and he’s returned to drawing and painting. He holds a degree in illustration as well as one in community organization.

Rangel said people are surprised to hear about his watercolor paintings and charcoal drawings. He hopes to have a show later this year.

“Imagining and creating is who I am,” he said.

Are the Lemonis and Tadros teams having coffee?

A lawsuit against reality TV personality Marcus Lemonis can move forward, a judge has ruled.

Marcus Lemonis (left) is looking to buy out Bow Truss founder Phil Tadros.

Marcus Lemonis (left) and Bow Truss founder Phil Tadros. | File photos

Cook County Judge James Snyder denied Lemonis’ motion to dismiss the suit filed by Chicago businessman Phil Tadros, the founder of Bow Truss Coffee Roasters.

Lemonis had signed a letter of intent last year to buy Tadros’ coffee business for $3.25 million. But the deal fell apart in December when Lemonis said Tadros had hid the company’s debt. Tadros countered that he was “transparent” about the company’s state of affairs and, in turn, filed a $26.2 million lawsuit accusing the star of CNBC’s “The Profit” of a fraudulent scheme to devalue Bow Truss.

Last week, the judge granted Lemonis’ request that claims of consumer fraud and fiduciary duty be dismissed. But Snyder also gave a nod to Tadros by denying Lemonis’ request to have the lawsuit dismissed.

Does that mean there’s discussion of a settlement?

Lemonis wouldn’t say. Tadros called the latest court action “a good start.”

Honors for Amy Rule

Chicago first lady Amy Rule seldom accepts recognition for her behind-the-scenes philanthropic work. She leaves the headlines to her husband, Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Amy Rule

Amy Rule | Shia Kapos/For the Sun-Times

Rule is making an exception for a benefit May 24 for City Year Chicago, a nonprofit that mentors teens in hard-hit communities.

Her attendance at the Ripples of Hope dinner is sure to boost buzz at the event. Some 700 guests are expected.

Also being honored is Andrew Hauptman, chairman of the private investment company Andell Holdings and owner of the Chicago Fire Soccer Club.

City Year’s founder is Michael Alter, owner of the WNBA’s Chicago Sky and a friend of the mayor.

Dishing on ‘Meal of Your Life’

Restaurateur Billy Dec

Billy Dec | Provided photo

Restaurateur Billy Dec is debuting a podcast featuring notable names talking about memorable meals.

Guests already lined up for “The Meal of Your Life” include actors David Schwimmer and Ed Asner, restaurateur Nick Kokonas and chef Sarah Grueneberg.

Dec, who is CEO of Rockit Ranch Productions, partnered with the National Restaurant Association Show for the podcast. Episodes will be available via iTunes.

Read more Taking Names at shiakapos.com.