« Chicago Parking Signs for the "Good Neighborhoods" | Main | Chicago Homeless Update »

Todd Lighty and laurie Cohen Hit 11th Ward Goldmine

Remember if you continue to investigate the 11th Ward Corruption and insider deals, you will find Mayor Daley's pals cleaning up on the Taxpayer's dime. A Chicago boat-ride turned a mighty profit for Daley's pals. Read this article, this is real reporting. Patrick McDonough

TRIBUNE INVESTIGATION

For insider, park a gold mine
City buys contaminated riverfront property from prominent Daley ally, who pockets more than $1 million in sale
By Laurie Cohen and Todd Lighty | Tribune staff reporters
Mayor Richard Daley took an hourlong boat ride on the Chicago River in fall 1997 and came back with a vision of improving the riverfront in the city's neighborhoods.

Just about that time, Thomas DiPiazza, an ally of Daley's, also took an interest in the riverfront, buying a highly contaminated piece of land that was slated to become a public park under the mayor's plan.

DiPiazza and a partner bought the vacant, odd-shaped property in Daley's native Bridgeport neighborhood for $50,000 in 1998. Six years later, the city paid them $1.2 million for the land.

The investors benefited from ever-escalating appraisals. The final one tripled the land's estimated value after the city broke from its usual practice of valuing land at its current zoning.

DiPiazza's good fortune is a familiar tale of how insiders profit from even the most public-minded projects undertaken by the Daley administration, from wrought-iron fencing to blue-bag recycling.

DiPiazza is a prominent Bridgeport developer whose company sits in the shadows of the White Sox ballpark. He has known Timothy Degnan, a political adviser to the mayor, for 40 years, and the two have teamed up on real estate projects.

It is unclear how or when DiPiazza learned that the land was being eyed by the city for a park.

City officials said they did not tip off DiPiazza about their plans. The Daley administration refused to make city officials available for interviews and insisted that the Tribune submit all questions in writing.

DiPiazza declined to discuss the park. His lawyer, Michael Kralovec, said DiPiazza profited from rising real estate prices in Bridgeport and that the city paid a fair price for the land. Kralovec said it is "silliness" to suggest that DiPiazza was helped by his political connections.

DiPiazza's ties to the Daley administration have come under increasing scrutiny since early this year, when another developer disclosed in a federal lawsuit that DiPiazza was a $1.3 million consultant to the Bridgeport Village housing development. In the suit, Thomas Snitzer alleged that he was punished by City Hall for refusing DiPiazza's demands for more money.

DiPiazza, 58, is a former city sewer worker who now owns a late-model Bentley and a Ferrari convertible. He has done real estate deals with Daley's friend Fred Barbara, who has made millions hauling garbage for the city. Barbara is a nephew of the late 1st Ward Ald. Fred Roti, long reputed to be organized crime's representative in the City Council. DiPiazza and business partner Richard Ferro are related to the Roti family by marriage.

DiPiazza and Ferro have been frequent contributors to Daley. In February's municipal elections, they pitched in $25,000 to a political fund created by some of the mayor's closest allies to help pro-Daley aldermen.

Though the Bridgeport park is not expected to be ready for visitors for at least two years, the idea originated a decade ago with Daley's boat ride.

After the trip, Daley ordered his staff to come up with a sweeping plan for riverfront improvements. By April 1998, city planners were telling neighbors that the property was destined to be a park.

By then, DiPiazza and Ferro were already working to buy the land. They began negotiating with the packaging company Jefferson Smurfit at the end of 1997, according to Kralovec. They closed the $50,000 deal in May 1998, acquiring the property as an investment.

Snitzer charged in his lawsuit that DiPiazza was tipped off by Degnan, but Kralovec denied the allegation, and a lawyer for Degnan declined to comment.

A month after DiPiazza and Ferro acquired the property, the city asked for a state grant to help buy the land. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources approved the park plan, which included a playground, fishing access and a pedestrian bridge across the river to Canal Origins Park, at the site of the historic starting point of the Illinois & Michigan Canal.

The park property is a 1.8-acre triangular plot located at the mouth of one of the river's most notoriously polluted sections. Bubbly Creek still bubbles because of decaying livestock waste dumped by the long-gone Union Stockyards.
The land also had well-known environmental problems. For years the plot and neighboring properties housed a plant that turned coal into gas used to light and heat Chicago homes.

The Daley administration did not buy the land until June 2004, after Peoples Gas agreed to clean up the site. Peoples already has dug down as deep as 30 feet to remove contaminated soil but might have to do more work on the property under a recent agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

In the meantime, City Hall hired four appraisers to determine how much it should pay for the land. The first, in 1999, turned in an estimate of $220,000. In 2002 another appraisal report put the value at $520,000.

Two other appraisers reviewed and approved the $520,000 estimate, including Francis Lorenz Jr., who told the city in July 2003 that he agreed with the figure. DiPiazza and Ferro said they would sell their land for $520,000 at that time, but the city did not respond to the offer, Kralovec said.

Eight months later, in March 2004, Lorenz submitted another estimate, tripling the value to $1.6 million.

Unlike all of the previous appraisals, which had assumed that the property would continue to be zoned for industrial use, Lorenz's report said the land would be more valuable if it were used for homes. In an interview, Lorenz said city officials directed him to take a second look at the property and base his new appraisal on residential zoning.

Lorenz is a longtime city contractor whose father was a key figure in the Cook County Democratic Organization under the late Mayor Richard J. Daley, the current mayor's father. But Lorenz said he was not pressured to change the appraisal. He said the city's request made sense because of the boom in residential development along the river.

The city had decided to buy the land for $1.2 million even before it saw Lorenz's appraisal, said Constance Buscemi, a spokeswoman for the city. The new appraisal was required because the original one was more than six months old, she said.

City Hall decided to use the higher-valued residential zoning for the park appraisal even though it typically tells appraisers to base estimates on current zoning.

The city adhered to that policy in 2000 when it was selling city-owned industrial land cheaply to a favored developer. In that case the land sale involved the Bridgeport Village housing project, where DiPiazza was a consultant.

City buys neighboring parcel

By the time the city bought the DiPiazza property, it had decided to expand the proposed park to include a bigger, neighboring parcel used since the 1960s by Speedway Wrecking. The family-owned company, which demolished the old Comiskey Park to make way for the Sox's current home at U.S. Cellular Field, employed about 15 people and operated its offices and garages on the site.

Speedway did not want to move but had little choice because the city said it would go to court and seize the land, said owner Irving Kolko.

The city also valued the Speedway property using residential zoning. Still, Kolko and his brother received less for their land than DiPiazza got for his, even though appraisers thought Speedway was worth more.

The city paid him and his brother $1.15 million for their 2.3-acre parcel -- about a half-acre larger than DiPiazza's plot -- and added another $500,000 to cover the costs of moving their business papers, cranes and trucks, records show.

Told that DiPiazza and Ferro received $1.2 million for their smaller property, Kolko said: "They got more than we did. They must have fought a little harder than we did. They did very well."

lcohen@tribune.com

tlighty@tribune.com

Comments

How about investigating Vi Daley?

Talk about a seller's market How did developers get such a sweet deal? I wonder . . .

October 25, 2007
BY MARK BROWN Sun-Times Columnist
I wish I had somebody like Bridgeport developers Thomas DiPiazza and Richard Ferro to advise me on real estate matters. Then again, maybe I need the person who advises them.

DiPiazza and Ferro are the guys who paid $50,000 for a heavily polluted, essentially vacant parcel of land along the Chicago River in 1998 -- at almost exactly the same time that somebody at City Hall came to the conclusion the site would make a swell location for a city park.

Immediately thereafter, the city began taking steps to acquire the property, never quite getting the job done until six years later, when it paid the two men $1.2 million to take this same heavily polluted, vacant parcel off their hands.

I don't know about you, but I never do as well with my real estate investments.

My wife and I always joke that we buy high and sell low, which isn't entirely true, but our timing does tend to be a little off. We'll see an opportunity, but we don't take the chance until the price is out of reach, or we'll sell a house just before the market shoots sky high.

That's why I'm in awe of guys like DiPiazza and Ferro, who could do their own infomercials if they weren't camera shy, as Bridgeport businessmen tend to be.

Insider deal?
DiPiazza is definitely an interesting character. He used to be a city sewer department worker before he got in a jam in the late 1980s for being at the racetrack on city time. He seems to have quite an interest in racehorses. Until just a few years ago, he owned a horse named Medlin Road in partnership with Nick "The Stick" LoCoco, the mob bookie who ran the city's Hired Truck program in the Department of Transportation before he was charged in the federal probe.

As most of you recall, LoCoco never stood trial because he tragically died in December 2004 when, as fate would have it, he fell off a horse in what authorities said was a riding accident.

DiPiazza and Ferro may have known a little bit about the Hired Truck program themselves, as some of the trucking companies in the program rented space from them to park their trucks.

But mostly, they have proved their expertise in real estate, becoming prominent players in Bridgeport during Mayor Daley's nearly two decades in office.

Their influence was perhaps not widely known, however, until another developer, Thomas Snitzer, filed a lawsuit earlier this year alleging that Tim Degnan, Daley's former patronage chief and longtime friend, tried to force Snitzer to take on his pal DiPiazza as a partner -- as the price of doing business in Bridgeport. Instead, Snitzer gave DiPiazza a $1.3 million consulting contract.

It was in that same suit that Snitzer alleged DiPiazza was acting on inside information in 1998 when he and Ferro bought the land at the mouth of Bubbly Creek, which the city later purchased from them.

Coincidence?
City officials scoff at the suggestion of insider dealings, noting that the decision to locate a park at the site -- actually an expansion of the new Canal Origins Park on the other side of Bubbly Creek -- grew out of a public planning process for the Chicago River undertaken in late 1997 and published in April 1998.

I don't see the one ruling out the other, and if I had subpoena power, I'd want to call in some people to answer questions.

One of the things to focus on is how the city decided to pay so much for a property for which it originally received an appraisal of $220,000 in 1998.

Even four years later, city planning officials thought they would obtain the land at the relative bargain of $520,000 because of the pollution problems.

As Planning's Kathleen Dickhut wrote in a Dec. 12, 2002, letter to the state Department of Natural Resources (which committed $385,900 to the project):

"Due to the condition of the property, we are optimistic that the owners will be willing to sell the property without the need for condemnation. A private entity purchasing the property will not have the advantage of working with Peoples Gas on the cleanup and therefore not likely be in a position to offer the owners fair market value for their properties."

Instead, the city arranged to force Peoples Gas to clean up the site, then paid DiPiazza and Ferro a higher value of $1.2 million as if the land was already suitable for residential development.

If they do get DiPiazza under oath, I wonder if the feds could ask him a question for me: What does he think about real estate values in the U.P.? Or would that be outside his area of expertise?

October 30, 2007 at 11:02:42

Obama Be Bold: Break with Backer on Torture

by laura flanders Page 1 of 1 page(s)

http://www.opednews.com

Senator Obama told the New York Times this week that he wants to stand out on the campaign trail. How about standing up against torturers and those who cover up for them, not just in Gitmo -- but in his hometown of Chicago?

Former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge and officers serving under him stand accused of torturing some 200 mostly African-American men in custody in the '70s and '80s. In 2002, after a criminal investigation, four who had been sentenced to death and spent over a total of 70 years behind bars on false confessions extracted through torture were pardoned, Governor Ryan issued a moratorium on executions and a package of reforms was passed. Running for US Senate, Obama was rightly proud of SB15, his piece of that reform package, which required the videotaping of interrogations. When asked by an interviewer in 2004 why African Americans in particular should support his campaign, Obama pointed to his "track record of effectively working on behalf of the issues that they care about... I come out of a legislative session where I sent twenty-five pieces of legislation to the Governor's desk, including landmark videotaping legislation of interrogations and confessions, the first in the nation.”

The Senator's work in the area of detainees rights and policing is a piece of his record he'd like the media to consider when they're accusing him of lack of expertise, but there's plenty more to be done. By the time SB 15 passed, the electric-shocks to-the-genitals, bags-over-head treatment had stopped, but justice has never been served. To this day, Burge (who was finally fired in 1992) is drawing a pension in Florida. He and the others have never been prosecuted. In 2006, a four-year, investigation costing Chicago tax-payers $17 million confirmed the allegations but declared it too late to act. Now Chicago's Mayor Richard M. Daley stands accused of running out the clock on the statute of limitations.


Daley – who abandoned his tradition of neutrality to back Obama in this year's Democratic primary -- has been involved in this story from the start. In 1982, he was Cook County's top prosecutor (the presiding state's attorney) when evidence linking Burge to torture was first brought to him by the superintendent of police. For eight years thereafter, he collaborated in prosecutions of Burge's victims -- and took credit for a high conviction rate -- without taking action to investigate. Now Daley is Mayor, his former assistant, Richard Devine, is Cook County state's attorney, and his brother, Bill Daley, is a senior adviser to Senator Obama.

Chicago justice-seekers have never given up. Not long ago, they testified in Geneva before the UN Committee against Torture. The Committee demanded action and the global scrutiny could count conceivable count against Chicago's 2016 Olympic bid. Independent prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald announced a federal investigation this September, not only to examine the torture, but also to review what looks a whole lot like a conspiracy to cover up (on which the statue of limitations wouldn't apply.) Most recently, on October 17, local Congressman, Bobby Rush (D-Il) wrote to committee chairman John Conyers (D-Il) requesting a Judiciary Committee hearing in the House.

I was just in Chicago, where this is the issue among would-be Obama supporters is ho. “[Obama’s] been very silent on this issue here. We haven’t really pressed him on it because he’s been involved in what he’s been involved in. We also realize he’s playing the politics of it all and Daley is a major, major actor in all of this. And he has to keep his fences mended,” said Flint Taylor of the People’s Law Office who has represented victims of torture in Chicago for the last twenty years.

But if Obama wants to show courage, confronting one of his own hometown cronies could do it. Obama knows this issue and he knows what's right. A Senate investigation anyone?

Next: tackle homophobia.


www.lauraflanders.com

Laura Flanders is the host of RadioNation on Air America Radio and the author, most recently, of BLUE GRIT: True Democrats Take Back Politics from the Politicians. You can find out more at www.lauraflanders.com.

Barack’s Betrayal
Tuesday, February 13th, 2007


Barack Obama, displaying his peerless skills as a courtier in Rich Daley’s racist court, endorsed the Mayor in his bid against a qualified, competent, and honest opponent: Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown. “I had made a determination well before the exploration of my presidential candidacy that this was the right thing to do. I am a Chicagoan. I care about the city. This is where I live. This is where my wife works. This is where my kids go to school, and I want to continue to see the city make the progress it has made.” By turning his back, he shows his true colors to anybody intelligent enough to see the import of this endorsement for what it is: a betrayal of justice and a betrayal of the black community.

The politically astute could see this coming because the Mayor’s brotha Bill Daley, a former Clinton Commerce Secretary, was added to the Obama campaign payroll in an “advisory” capacity. Obama really believes what the pundits breathlessly write about him and was duty bound to return the corrupt favor to the Daley regime.

Some of you might say, “It’s just politics,” or “He has to cut deals to get to the next level.” To that, I would ask, who does he step on to elevate himself to the Presidency? And by what right does he spend political capital to endorse Rich Daley and spit in the face of the black community? These questions are best answered by examining the political culture of Chicago and by revealing in explicit detail the victims of Daley’s regime and Obama’s ambition.

CHICAGO’S POLITICAL CULTURE OF WHITE SUPREMACY & CORRUPTION

During Harold Washington’s historic campaign for Mayor of Chicago in 1983, he was introduced at an event by a preacher as, “an amalgamation of all the good qualities of past mayors. There were no good qualities to be had, Washington said upon taking the podium, Daley included: “He was a racist to the core, head to toe, hip to hip, there’s no ding or doubt about it. He eschewed and fought and oppressed black people to the point that some thought that was the way they were supposed to live, just like some slaves on the plantation thought that that was the way they were supposed to live. I give no hosannas to a racist, nor did I appreciate or respect his son. If his name were anything other than Daley, his campaign would be a joke.”

The general election campaign against Harold Washington in 1983 was hands down the most racist in Chicago history. Cook County Democratic Party Chairman Ed Vrdolyak succinctly put the naked hostility and public revulsion expressed by the white community at the prospect of having a black mayor by saying, “It’s a racial thing. Don’t kid yourself. I’m calling on you to save your city, to save your precinct. We’re fighting to keep the city the way it is.” (Controlled by white ethnics)

Washington defeated Incumbent Mayor Jane Byrne andCook County State’s Attorney Richard M. Daley, son of the legendary mayor in the Democratic primary.After the primary, neither lifted a finger for Harold Washington. Their white supporters and the Democratic machine outside of black precincts defected en masse to the Republican challenger, Bernard Epton.

From Gary Rivlin’s book “Fire on the Prairie,” “Whites attending Epton rallies startled reporters with their frank comments about not wanting a nigger mayor. They held up signs calling Washington a “crook” and took to wearing a variety of political buttons decidedly racial in appeal: one showed a watermelon with a black slash through it, another was simply all white. VOTE WHITE, VOTE RIGHT one popular T-shirt boldly proclaimed.”…They passed out literature saying, “You will be robbed or killed. White women will be raped. With a black police chief there will be absolute chaos in the city.”

Washington’s first three years as Mayor were marked by a bitter and protracted battle with a white cabal of Alderman for political primacy.Stung by their loss of access to the power of the Mayor’s office and the political patronage that serves as the lifeblood of a ward heeler, they reacted like spoiled children and became obstructionists hell bent on crippling Washington’s authority. They hurled racist insults and taunts dripping with homophobic invective toward the Mayor. Moreover, they conspired with a compliant media in a racially motivated PR campaign to stoke white fears in an effort to stymie Administration initiatives.

The swirling cauldron of white racial animosity towards the black community shaped the politics of Chicago then and still shapes it today. Two years ago, the Daley machine that seized power after the death of Harold Washington wouldn’t give Barack Obama the time of day during his run for the Senate.

In keeping with the tenants of racial preferences and political nepotism for their own, they endorsed Dan Hynes, the son of Tom Hynes, an acolyte of the Daleys and pinstripe bigot who challenged Mayor Washington’s re-election by running against him as an independent. Now, when Obama’s star shines brightly enough to put the lights out on Daley’s re-election as Mayor, they endorse him for President. How convenient.

CHICAGO POLICE DEPARTMENT: KLANSMEN IN UNIFORM

July of last year saw the release of a whitewash report by Special Prosecutor Edward Egan, which was the culmination of four years of investigation and $7 million in taxpayer funds. The report acknowledges, according to a new standard news report, “clear proof that torture took place at Area Two, a 60 square mile police district on the city’s south side,” during the 70’s and 80’s.

Kari Lydersen, a staff writer for New Standard News wrote, “Significantly the report lacked any mention of the racial component which some critics saw as the most important facet of the case. Almost all of the 60-plus men who claimed to have been tortured by [Jon]Burge and other officers are black; the officers were all white. Alleged widespread racism on the part of officers was just part of an overall racist justice system; in the 1970s Chicago prosecutors were known to compete in a game called “niggers by the pound” to see who could convict the most black defendants.

From the website of the University of Chicago’s Police Torture Archive: Between the years of 1972 and 1991, approximately [192] African American Men and women were arrested and tortured at the hands of former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge and officers under his command at Area 2 police headquarters. Some of these victims were as young as thirteen years old. Various court cases have established that the methods of torture used in the interrogation of suspects included electric shock to the ears and genitalia, mock executions, suffocation, and burning. While Jon Burge was ultimately fired by the Chicago Police Department, not a single perpetrator of the tortures has ever been criminally prosecuted. Ten of those tortured were sent to death row.

According to the Chicago Reader, “More than 50 men alleged that they were tortured by Burge and his detectives during Daley’s term asCook County state’s attorney, from 1981 to 1989. He was put on notice several times, most dramatically in the case of Andrew Wilson. Photographs of Wilson’s stitches, burns, and alligator- clip wounds made compelling evidence in court, underlined by [DA]Hyman’s failure to ask if Wilson had given his statement voluntarily. Received copy of letter from Dr. John Raba, who as medical director of Cermak Hospital examined Wilson’s injuries, urging police superintendent Richard Brzeczek to investigate. Brzeczek told Daley he had promised to investigate all cases of police brutality but did not want to jeopardize Wilson’s prosecution and asked for guidance. Daley sent no reply.”

Daley’s tenure as prosecutor is stained by his craven capitulation to an electorate and a power structure in thrall to an ideology of white supremacist hate. Prosecuting police officers for their sadistic torturing of black criminal suspects, and their prosecutor enablers on his staff would have permanently put an end to his political support in the white ethnic wards of Chicago that still had fond memories of the brutal repression of anti-Vietnam political dissent at the 1968 Democratic National Convention ordered by Daddy Daley. Ultimately, Daley’s power rests on a foundation of deliberate indifference.

I don’t care how many handkerchief head Nigras Daley surrounds himself with. I don’t care how many Negroes people his Administration. I don’t care how many Negroes show up to his re-election press conference to create an illusion of inclusion. I don’t care that Michelle Obama worked for Daley and treated her well. What he has done cannot and will never atone for this. Dorothy Brown finally realized that and has asked U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald to investigateand prosecute the Klansmen in uniform responsible for these crimes.

On the Senate floor, Barack Obama opposed the Military Commissions Act because it gave short shrift to the rights of foreign terror suspects. He said, “…the fundamental human rights of the accused, should be bigger than politics. This is serious and this is somber…” If he really meant that, he would be defending those same rights here at home, not endorsing a man who repeatedly turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to the screams of scores of black men tortured by those sworn to protect and serve white supremacy in a south side Abu Ghraib.

From important quarters in the black community, we’ve heard a cacophony of uncritical praise. Jesse Jackson and the black press are simply delusional, and the black Chicago political establishment has clearly been corrupted. Nothing else explains their cavalier attitude regarding Obama turning his back on Dorothy Brown, black victims of torture, the black community, and quite frankly, himself.

Debra Dickerson claims that Barack Obama’s heritage is not African American. Born the child of a Kenyan and a white woman, he lacks the cultural legacy of a descendant of slaves. Moreover, she believes that because his upbringing was managed by white relatives that we have nothing in common. It is my contention that the sistah is mistaken. Barack Obama is an indentured servant to the Daley machine and a slave to his own ambition. In the new millennium, becoming a willing tool and psychological servant to a corrupt white power structure is very African American.

I expect better from a former community organizer, constitutional law professor, and civil rights attorney than the politics of expediency.

As for Hilary's people, masquerading as 'skeptical brutha', thanks for reminding us how full of shit 'regular' Dumbocrats are.

With your mirror-image brothers and sisters in the 'regular' Retardican party, you knuckleheads have really f***ed up our country.

Personality Politics, along with the Love of Money, are the root causes.

HAVE NO DOUBT, VOTE INCUMBENTS OUT

is the beginning of a solution.


Here is how to get it done:


1) REGISTER TO VOTE


2) Make a list of every INCUMBENT, (leaving those few incumbents who you are CERTAIN deserve to be reelected off of your list)


3) BRING this list with you when you go to vote


4) DO NOT vote for ANYONE on your list


5) If the INCUMBENT has only one CHALLENGER, vote for that CHALLENGER, no matter who it may be


6) If the INCUMBENT has 2 or more challengers, then:

If the INCUMBENT'S name is listed FIRST, then vote for the CHALLENGER who's name is LISTED LAST

or

If the INCUMBENT'S name is NOT LISTED FIRST, then vote for the CHALLENGER who's name IS LISTED FIRST

(This will concentrate the most votes for a SINGLE CHALLENGER, thus providing the greatest possibility of the incumbent losing)


7) whenever you have the choice to RETAIN or NOT RETAIN an elected official, vote to NOT RETAIN


8) Vote for whomever you choose, for whatever your reasons, it's your vote and you can cast it for whomever you please, but, remember, the INCUMBENTS are the people who have been, are, and will continue to be, the one's responsible for all of our current troubles.


Cast your votes with the sole purpose in mind of ousting practically all those currently holding, and abusing, the power and authority they've been entrusted with.

This strategy, if applied, will guarantee that the incumbents will lose, every time.

Primaries are the perfect opportunity for honest individuals, of either major party, to challenge the corrupt, old-school hacks infesting their parties.

Whether one considers oneself essentially a 'liberal', 'conservative', a Democrat or Republican, or a mixture of both, one must acknowledge that the entrenched members of BOTH parties have been, and currently are, responsible for fucking up the lives of the 'common citizens'.

Independent-minded Democrats AND Republicans should flood their respective primaries with challengers and vote according to the HAVE NO DOUBT, VOTE INCUMBENTS OUT protocols, which will replace each party's respective incumbent hacks with anyone BUT the incumbent hack.

In the general election, both Democrats and Republicans can have the opportunity to elect a candidate who is not a hack, not a part of the old-school hack machine, and may well be a person more authentically committed to the ideals of true democracy.

Those citizens who are sick and tired of the ways in which BOTH Democrats and Republicans have fucked up our city, county, state and country, can also apply this voting strategy in the general election, (should any incumbent hacks survive their respective primaries), to ensure that practically ALL incumbents are ousted.

In addition, this will also open up the general election for any and all independent candidates to have a chance of successfully challenging the major party candidates.

GET REGISTERED TO VOTE

VOTE IN EVERY ELECTION, (be it a Primary or a General Election.)

USE THE POWER OF YOUR VOTE TO COMPEL CHANGE


Simple

Effective

Easy

S.E.E.?

Just Do It.

If Mr. Obama actually gets the nomination for President or Vice President the "swiftboaters" will have a field day bringing all sorts of not so pretty aspects of his career to light--the connection to Rezko, the backing of Daley and neither of the qualified African American candidates who ran against Daley in 2007, his forgetfulness about his work as a lawyer on real estate deals, etc, etc. I think he should have gotten at least one term of being a Senator under his belt before trying to become President but I guess his origins as part of the Illinois Political Combine influenced his decision to run so he could take advantage of the politcal climate and raise an enormous/obscene amount of campaign cash. Sad to say our government has become the best government money can buy and that, dear reader, is NOT good for democracy.

"....the backing of Daley and neither of the qualified African American candidates who ran against Daley in 2007...."

What qualified African American candidates?

You can't mean the two shills Daley's machine put up, for the only purpose of splitting whatever number of dissatisfied votes they feared might actually show up and be cast against Daley, can you?

What were the total number of votes cast for these two qualified shills?

And what number of voters might have cast their votes for an authentically qualified candidate?

Especially if the mayoral race was a one-on-one?

And how many African-American voters might have voted for that mythical, 'qualified' African American candidate?

Feds eye City Hall's sway in Bridgeport
Property owners say officials leaned on them to sell
By Todd Lighty and Laurie Cohen | Tribune staff reporters
November 8, 2007
Federal authorities are investigating allegations that Mayor Richard Daley's administration pressured property owners in the mayor's native Bridgeport to sell to developers favored by City Hall.

Three industrial landowners in the South Side neighborhood told the Tribune that they were contacted by the FBI -- two as recently as last week. They contend that building inspectors harassed them, the city threatened to condemn their property or they were hit with unfavorable zoning after refusing to sell to political insiders for housing projects.

The focus on Bridgeport development appears to be a new front in federal authorities' investigation of alleged corruption in Daley's administration. City Hall has already been shaken by convictions of Daley aides for taking bribes from contractors in the Hired Truck Program and for illegally rigging hiring to reward the mayor's allies with jobs.


FBI officials declined to comment.

Jim Mazzochi, who owns a company that refinishes chrome car bumpers, said Wednesday that an FBI agent called him last week. Mazzochi, who referred the agent's call to his lawyer, says the city bullied him to give up his land.

"I think they want this for homes. I'm in their way," said Mazzochi, who has run Chicago Plating in Bridgeport since the 1970s.

Mazzochi and another landowner -- who declined to be identified -- were contacted by federal agents in late October, days after the Tribune detailed how a politically connected Bridgeport developer made a windfall profit by selling contaminated riverfront land to the city for a park.

A third property owner, who also declined to be named, said he talked to the FBI several months ago.

Complaints that Bridgeport businessmen were being muscled by City Hall have been brewing since 1999, with the start of the upscale Bridgeport Village housing development in the 11th Ward along the Chicago River. The project involved political heavy-hitters with close ties to the mayor.

The project's developers built 115 homes and had plans to acquire neighboring industrial land so they could construct hundreds more.

The Tribune previously reported that Paul Levy, who owns a parking lot next to Bridgeport Village, said in a sworn court statement that he was threatened by a consultant for the project when he refused to sell his land. Levy said that consultant, Thomas DiPiazza, told him his property might be condemned by the city if he didn't change his mind.

Soon after, Levy got a letter from the city saying it intended to condemn his land and that inspectors found 169 building code violations at a nearby warehouse owned by Levy. The city ultimately withdrew its condemnation plan and did not fine Levy for the violations.

DiPiazza is a longtime friend and business associate of Timothy Degnan, a former top aide to Daley. DiPiazza has declined to discuss Bridgeport Village.

Mazzochi said DiPiazza also met with a real estate agent marketing the Chicago Plating property, but Mazzochi turned down the offer from Bridgeport Village developers.

He says he then felt pressure from City Hall, which sent him a letter saying it might seize his property. He also said he has been targeted by city inspectors, including a team from various departments who recently arrived together in a van. An inspector who visited his property in 2002 with a police officer threatened to have Mazzochi thrown in jail, according to sworn testimony.

The Tribune reported last month that DiPiazza and a partner bought a small piece of polluted land along the river for $50,000 in May 1998, a month before the city applied for a state grant to turn the property into a park. The two sold the land to the city in 2004 for $1.2 million, but the park has not opened.

DiPiazza's alleged role in acquiring property around Bridgeport Village was detailed earlier this year in a federal lawsuit filed by partner Thomas Snitzer against the city. Snitzer alleged that the city orchestrated his removal as manager because he refused to make additional payments to DiPiazza and to steer clear of property that 11th Ward power brokers had intended for others.

City officials have said they helped persuade a state court to oust Snitzer because of numerous building code violations at the project.

Bridgeport Village has since filed for bankruptcy protection and is selling off industrial property that it owns to pay creditors.

Snitzer has alleged in Bankruptcy Court that the city might be blocking zoning changes on that property to force him to drop his federal lawsuit. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Jacqueline Cox was so concerned about the charges that she ordered city officials to respond under oath.

In sworn testimony last month, Ald. James Balcer (11th) denied that he had linked rezoning to Snitzer's suit or that he ever based zoning decisions on political connections. "My concern is my community and the effect it will have on my community," Balcer said.

We can only hope........

Daley says he's unaware of allegations
By Mickey Ciokajlo | Tribune staff reporter
November 9, 2007
Mayor Richard Daley said Thursday that he knew nothing about allegations his administration pressured business owners to sell property in Bridgeport to clout-heavy residential developers.

Daley also said he was not aware the FBI is now investigating the matter.

"I never heard of that," Daley said of the allegation.

Related links
Feds eye City Hall's sway in Bridgeport
Daley's comments followed a Tribune report Thursday that federal authorities are looking into whether property owners in the mayor's native Bridgeport neighborhood who refused to sell were targeted for city inspections and condemnation threats.

Three industrial landowners who claim to have been muscled by City Hall said they were contacted by the FBI -- two as recently as last week.

Federal authorities apparently have taken an interest in development in the South Side neighborhood following the well-publicized problems of Bridgeport Village, a high-end project with players close to Daley. The city has said the homes have severe structural problems and need to be reinforced with steel braces to protect against high winds.

The project also is the subject of a ongoing federal civil lawsuit in which a partner in the development, Thomas Snitzer, alleged City Hall orchestrated his removal as project manager.

Snitzer alleged this occurred after he refused to continue making payments to project consultant Thomas DiPiazza, a longtime friend and business associate of former top Daley aide Timothy Degnan.

Daley on Thursday downplayed the notion that federal authorities are looking into another aspect of his administration, highlighting the falling out between business partners and noting allegations often are made in civil suits.

"Everybody files lawsuits. They file lawsuits everyday," Daley said.

mciokajlo@tribune.com

The memory, it gets fuzzy in the heat
John Kass
November 9, 2007

Fedzheimer's -- the terrible malady that saps the memories of politicians when the feds begin snooping around -- claimed another victim on Thursday:

Mayor Richard Daley.

I think he needs a nice Marco Island vacation -- Tommy D. style.

"I've never heard of that," the mayor said when asked by reporters about a front page Tribune exclusive that the FBI was investigating allegations that city inspectors were used to pressure property owners in Daley's 11th Ward to sell their land to politically connected developers.

Reporters: Are you aware of the investigation?

"No," Daley said.

It's not the first time he's been pixilated by Fedzheimer's. He usually recovers, until some underling gets indicted, then it flares up again. But this case seems especially severe.

The Daley family runs the 11th Ward. If inspectors were used to muscle local property for his friends, you could bet the inspectors pensions' the Daleys would know.

One of the developers reportedly involved is his loyal political supporter, and second favorite developer, Thomas DiPiazza. Tommy D., as he's known on Rush Street, is no chumbolone -- Bridgeport slang for idiot or fool.

No chumbolone could buy a polluted lot for $50,000 and sell it to Daley's administration a few years later for $1.2 million.

Tommy D. is a friend and business associate of Daley's top political brain, Tim Degnan. And, as I reported a few weeks ago, Tommy D. was also in business with a top convicted Outfit bookie from the 11th Ward, Raymond John Tominello, known as Rayjo.

Tommy D. is also close to Fred Bruno Barbara, the renowned trucking boss and mayoral fashionista. They own the pricey real estate under the famous Tavern on Rush, in the city's Viagra Triangle. But the mayor wasn't asked about Tavern on Rush. He was asked about Thursday's Tribune story by reporters Laurie Cohen and Todd Lighty.

"I've never heard of that at all," said the mayor.

Fedzheimer's is heartbreaking. If the FBI keeps asking questions about DiPiazza, Degnan, and the alleged use of city inspectors to threaten property owners on deals backed by Tommy D. and Degnan, the Fedzheimer's might increase.

Daley might forget he's the mayor. And Tim Degnan might forget how to count.

So, as an amateur psychiatrist, I'd like to write a prescription. Let the FBI do its work, establishing what could someday turn into a racketeering case against somebody, and I'll prescribe a remedy for Daley and Degnan.

Degnan should go on a golf vacation, say to Ireland, and take the mayor's brother Michael and the mayor's former law partner and zoning lawyer Jack George along, to relax while smashing a little white ball.

I'll send the mayor to take the Tommy D. cure, in Florida, at Tommy D.'s gorgeous penthouses on Marco Island.

According to Florida real estate records, DiPiazza spent $5 million to purchase Penthouse 201 at the lush Madeira on Marco Island development on Sept. 18, 2006. That same day, Fred Bruno Barbara purchased Penthouse 202 at Madeira, for $5.5 million. Barbara didn't take any loans to buy the property, at least none leveraged against the penthouse. The penthouses were estimated between 7,000 and 9,000 square feet.

Also on Sept. 18, 2006, another DiPiazza/Barbara buddy and 11th Warder, city worker Charles Scalfaro, purchased Unit 1504 at Madeira, for $1.9 million. Scalfaro makes around $60,000 a year overseeing paving for the city's Department of Transportation. Collier County real estate records show that no loans were taken out to purchase Scalfaro's condo.

Living on about $60,000 a year, no loan, Scalfaro must be a good saver.

One month later, the records show that Barbara and Scalfaro sold their Marco properties to a Tommy D. company. The records don't show how much was paid. A few days later, Tommy D. leveraged them, and another home he owned, for a $6.6 million loan from Cole Taylor Bank, records show.

It sure seems to be prudent investing. But, if the FBI wants to poke around in Florida, hey, it's a free country. I hope they take some sunscreen.

Marco Island is a nice place. My parents bought a retirement home there years ago, back when I covered City Hall and the mayor liked me. In those days, he was under stress, too, telling us how he was reforming the city, and I became worried for him. So I offered him the use of my folks' place, with a boat and pool, so he could rest.

Take the boat out, fish, catch some snook, drink beer, relax, I said. I wasn't taking. I was giving, to a reformer. He thought about it for a few days then politely declined. A few years later, my dad died and it was sold.

Today, any amateur shrink can see the Fedzheimer's gripping the mayor. He can't remember. He doesn't know.

Some quality time with Tommy D., and Freddie B., on Marco Island, reflecting on life's many mysteries might be just the thing.

There's a very thin line between a person exercising their right to remain silent, (to not be compelled to act or say anything that might be used to possibly incriminate themselves), and the criminal act of obstructing justice.

For Daley to state that he does NOT know something that is later proven to HAVE been known by him, is not the same as exercising his 5th Amendment rights.

Should the knowledge he is proven to have known, and which he has previously denied knowing, be such that his denial can be shown to have obstructed, interfered with or impeded the pursuit of justice, he could very well be prosecuted, under state or federal criminal statutes, for the felony of obstruction of justice.

Remaining silent, as in invoking one's 5th Amendment right, cannot be construed to be obstruction of justice.

Denying having knowledge that later one is proven to have had, should said denial have the effect of impeding an investigation of possible criminal acts, may very well be sufficient to support an indictment on obstruction of justice charges.

What are the odds that Daley has the mental chops to walk this very thin line and avoid crossing it?

Or avoid one of his buddies shoving him over it?

Maybe the feds are waiting until the Primaries are over, before they drop the hammers on the Chicago, Cook County and State of Illinois Democratic political machines.

This would, obviously, be a calculated political move by the Republicans, to disrupt and inhibit the Democrats of this city, county and state in the approaching Presidential Election.

As in many areas of life, timing is everything.

My guess is that the Republicans are hoping that, with the help of the Democratic machine, Obama will win the nomination, giving the Republicans a decent shot at retaining the Presidency.

With Obama as the Democratic nominee, the Republican controlled DOJ then drops the hammer on the many crooks infesting the governments of the city of Chicago, the County of Cook, and the State of Illinois, thus crippling the Obama campaign, here in Illinois.

Machavelli would be proud.

(Response) It would be one of the smarter things Republicans have done in a while. Remember in Illinois both parties are in bed together. Illinois has a one party political system, it is called money.

Illinois may seem to have a one party system, until opportunity knocks, said opportunity being for either party to dominate.

The only hope the common citizens have is to reject BOTH parties, choosing, whenever the opportunity presents itself, to elect anyone BUT a Democrat or Republican.

That would take guts, on the part of the voting public, guts and commitment, both qualities sorely lacking in most of the electorate.

Maybe people are doomed to seek the lowest level of behavior, doomed to submit to being ruled, by whoever is in power.

After all, people in general, rarely choose to embrace personal responsibility and accountability in most other areas of their lives, why should they be any different when it comes to disregarding their Right to Vote?

The ratio of Sadists, (control freaks), to Masochists, (submission addicts), is always lop-sided.

Ask Dictator Daley.

Ensuring proper building in our city
Thomas More Leinenweber, Attorney

Febuary 19, 2008

This is in response to "A curious tale of two properties; One parcel was owned by friends of Mayor Daley; One wasn't; Guess which rezoning request was OKd?" part of the occasional series "Tribune investigation: Neighborhoods for sale" (Page 1, Feb. 10), by Tribune reporters Todd Lighty and Laurie Cohen.

I represent Ald. James Balcer (11th) in various matters, including one mentioned in this article.

The main thrust of the article was that developer Thomas Snitzer could not get a zoning change on a property because he was "a critic of the Daley administration." As a consequence, the value of his property was diminished by about $4 million. Nothing could be further from the truth.

As Balcer testified in a recent deposition, neither Snitzer nor anyone acting on his behalf ever presented him with a formal plan to develop this property. Needless to say, in Chicago, submission of a development plan is a prerequisite to any action that seeks to change an existing zoning ordinance.

The reporters of this article fail to mention this fact.

Moreover the property sits on the west side of the Chicago River and the alderman has repeatedly and consistently stated that property on the east side of the river should be developed first as development on the east side is nearly complete.

Further the article brushes over the multitude of problems that occurred on Snitzer's watch when he developed Bridgeport Village. As has been documented in the Circuit Court of Cook County and the United States Bankruptcy Court, more than 78 stop-work orders were issued against Snitzer, most for work performed on Bridgeport Village, contrary to what was allowed under the permits issued by the city.

The city also cited numerous building code violations in homes developed by Snitzer, including the fact that many lacked any means of egress from the third floor, garage rooftop decks had been constructed without permits or verification that they were structurally adequate and neither Snitzer nor the project's construction manager had obtained a general contractor's license or bond.

The article aptly points out that Balcer takes no campaign contributions from lawyers, landowners or developers, but remarkably considers this to be a strike against his integrity. This proposition is wholly inconsistent with the Tribune's previous articles in the zoning series, which portrayed aldermanic decisions on zoning being influenced by the campaign contributions of the lawyers, landowners or developers involved.

I would think the Tribune, which often bemoans the state of campaign financing, would congratulate the alderman for not taking contributions from this group rather than implicitly criticizing him for not doing so.

I would also expect the Tribune would hold the notion that developers who are not properly licensed and insured, and who have had a history of problems with their developments, should not be allowed to continue building our homes in our city.

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)