Monday, June 2, 2008

What Would Chicago Be Without the Graft?

On the front page of yesterday's Chicago Tribune is a humdinger of an investigative piece of reportage on some eyebrow-raising real estate deals involving the wife of the city's 40th Ward Alderman, Patrick O'Connor, one of King Richard the Younger's "most important [city] council allies" (read: yes-men):


He zones. She sells. And it's legal.

Alderman OKd zoning for developers who retained his wife as sales agent. She sold homes worth $22 million.

By Robert Becker and Dan Mihalopoulos | Tribune reporters
June 1, 2008

It's hard to miss Barbara O'Connor's face on a drive through North Side neighborhoods, where her real estate signs beckon buyers to "find your way home."

In the last decade she has built a thriving business selling houses and condos, many of which couldn't have been built without zoning changes the developers sought from the 40th Ward alderman—her husband, Patrick O'Connor.

Barbara O'Connor has sold more than $22 million worth of houses and condos in the O'Connors' home ward after the projects first got a thumbs up from her husband. And she has sold homes worth millions of dollars in other parts of the city for developers who at one time or another have come to her husband for help.

Then comes the money graph:

It's a situation unique to Chicago, where neighborhood projects live or die on the word of the local alderman, and decisions made long before any public meetings are ultimately rubber-stamped by the City Council.

Then there's this sentence, which is self-evidently comical:

Patrick O'Connor said his wife's success has nothing to do with developers' dependence on his approval.

Read the whole thing.

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