Get sick, get well
Hang around a ink well
Ring bell, hard to tell
If anything is goin' to sell
-- Bob Dylan

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Who's making out on the great DePaul Basketball land swindle?

Just in case you thought Rahm's DePaul Arena land grab was about basketball -- it ain't. Rather it's nothing less than one of the great taxpayer rip-offs in Chicago history. The deal enriches a web of the mayor's clouted friends using millions in TIF funds that should have gone to bail out a bankrupt school system. It is the culmination of massive kickbacks and political contributions from investors, bankers, and lakefront property owners to Gov. Quinn, Ald. Burke, Mayors Daley and Emanuel.

While everyone has lately had their eye on the penny-ante shenanigans of the Chicago machine boys, like Boss Madigan's hiring of his pals and relatives over at the RTA, Tribune writers Kathy Bergen and Bill Ruthhart were documenting the major league stuff in last Sunday's business section. 

Best and funniest quotes:
"This isn't some clout project," McPier CEO Jim Reilly said. "That isn't how we do business."
Emanuel spokesman Tom Alexander said the mayor's chief lobbyist, Matt Hynes, also has recused himself in any negotiations connected to the project because of his father's involvement with DePaul but said "there would have been no conflict or rules violation" had Hynes chosen to work on such a deal.
"The city has one interest and one interest only when it comes to negotiations — to find the best deal for taxpayers."
 Like Reilly, the mayor has no concerns about potential conflicts of interest, and Alexander said "the notion of any conflict is preposterous."
In a statement, [Gov.]Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson said, "The governor has zero tolerance for any conflicts of interest," but she did not elaborate on whether the Democratic governor had concerns that any such conflicts could exist with the McPier project.
"He expects board members to fulfill their fiduciary duty and make these decisions based on the best interest of taxpayers," Anderson said of McPier's land acquisitions. "The process should be open and transparent."
[Lakeside Bank Pres. Vincent] Cacciatore said his record as a donor to DePaul is irrelevant. 
"God knows how many thousands of donors there are," he said. "Does that mean that no property owners who are donors to DePaul — that the city couldn't buy their properties?"
[CenterPoint co-founder John S. Gates] said he recused himself and left the room whenever the legal proceedings came up for discussion. "It's not that I had to — I had no financial interest," he said. "But there could have been an appearance of conflict of interest because CenterPoint is a company I was involved with for a long time."
I'll stop now. I'm laughing too hard. 

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