• Ald. Brendan Reilly (42) continues to reel in a large number of campaign contributions from real estate developers, law firms and restaurant owners. Since our last campaign finance update last week, Ald. Reilly reported receiving more than 50 donations to his campaign committee, Citizens for Alderman Reilly.

    View contributions in spreadsheet

    Notable real estate developers include O’Donnell Investment Company and Magellan Development Group, which donated $10,000 and $1,000 to the North Side alderman, respectively.

    O’Donnell is behind the new office tower currently being constructed on 150 N. Riverside, and Magellan is one of the partners overseeing the apartment tower being constructed in River North on the corner of Superior and LaSalle St, the site of the former Howard Johnson Hotel, as well as the lead developer of the New East Side development between Randolph St. and the Chicago River.

    Ald. Reilly also received contributions from law firm DLA Piper, the legal council for the developers behind the mixed residential and commercial high rise near Merchandise Mart. The City Council’s Zoning Committee approved the zoning change for the project on 215 Hubbard St. at their June meeting. DLA Piper attorney Rich Cloutier testified before the Zoning committee on behalf of the applicant, 215 Hubbard LLC.

    Chicago-based media company Optimus, real estate developer Centrum Partners, and Frasca Hospitality Group–which owns the Kinzie Chophouse and calls itself the city’s largest female-owned restaurant conglomerate–also donated to Ald. Reilly’s campaign committee.

    Ald. Michele Smith (43) reported eight new campaign contributions since last week, most from executives from real estate firms, including AJ Capital PartnersJMB Realty CorporationPrairie Management, and James McHugh Construction Company.

    Other Notable Contributions…

    • Goldrush Amusements Inc., one of the largest distributors of video poker gaming machines in Illinois, donated $10,000 to the 33rd Ward Organization.

    • Ald. Will Burns (4) reported receiving $5,400 from Michael Sacks, the CEO of Grosvenor Capital Management, L.P. He was one of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s largest campaign contributors during the recent mayoral race. He currently serves on the Mayor’s transition team. Ald. Burns also reported a $2,900 contribution from John Rowe, the former CEO and Chairman of Exelon.

    • Ald. Toni Foulkes (16) reported receiving a $4,000 loan from her chief of staff Samuel Rivers.

  • The Council committee that oversees the city’s new independent budget office meets this afternoon to select a vice chair and advance a plan to appoint Ben Winick as the Financial Analyst to oversee the office that will be tasked with evaluating the city’s finances.

    This is the City Council Office of Financial Analysis Oversight Committee’s first meeting since Ald. Carrie Austin (34), Chairman of the Budget Committee, announced in May the committee’s recommendation to appoint former state budget officer Ben Winick to lead the City’s new Office of Financial Analysis (COFA). The City Council still needs to approve the appointment and committee members are expected to formally introduce legislation later this month to make it official.

    Winick currently serves as the Vice President of Policy for Innovation Illinois, a non-partisan, research-based advocacy organization. He also has previous experience working for former Governor Pat Quinn's Office of Management and Budget.

    Other aldermen on the committee include, Finance Chairman Ed Burke (14)Ald. Pat Dowell (3), Ald. Rick Munoz (22), and Ald. Ameya Pawar (47). Ald. Munoz was appointed to the committee last month to replace the vacancy left by former 31st Ward Ald. Ray SuarezCarole Brown, recently appointed city Chief Financial Officer, was on the committee until she received her new position. Charles Smith, an insurance broker, was appointed at last month’s Rules Committee meeting to replace Brown.

    Joseph Pijanowski, with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local 126A, is also a member of the committee.

  • More than one million dollars of so-called Aldermanic menu money went unallocated between fiscal years 2010 and 2014, according to an Aldertrack analysis of the annual appropriation aldermen get for capital improvement projects in their wards. And a significant portion of the unspent pot of public money, $832,291, was left behind in the last fiscal year, ending December 31, 2014. In the 5th Ward there was still $127,709 of menu money left over. In the 4th Ward, $181,107 remained unallocated. And in the 31st Ward, $88,228 was left unused in FY 2014.

  • A $634 million pension payment for Chicago Public Schools means cuts for teachers and central office workers next year. Mayor Rahm Emanuel says Springfield is treating Chicagoans like “second-class citizens,” leading to “unconscionable” cuts to school services and staff numbers. At a press conference Wednesday afternoon, Mayor Emanuel and the head of CPS, Jesse Ruiz, detailed those cuts. Three members of the Committee on Education, Ald. Patrick O’Connor (40), new Chair Ald. Will Burns (4), and Ald. George Cardenas (12) joined the mayor at the podium, but didn’t speak.

    Read Mayor Emanuel’s statement
    See the CPS fact sheet

    The mayor says class sizes won’t go up and the school year will start on time, but CPS will make the following cuts:

    • $17.4 million - network offices and teacher development programs

    • $15.8 million - startup funding for newly approved charter, contract, and alternative learning schools

    • $11.6 million - professional development funding for turnaround schools

    • $11.1 million - reduction in facility repair and maintenance budget

    • $9.2 million - high school classes will start and end 45 minutes later

    • $3.2 million - elementary schools will cut back on sports and stipends for 5,300 coaches

    • $2.3 million - changing transport of magnet students to school

    • Extra reductions - eliminating central office positions, reducing software licensing costs, reducing central office funding for freshman orientation, redistribution of Magnet and 1B funding, reducing attendance grants and funding for academic competitions

    The district is issuing layoff notices to CPS employees. 1,050 workers, most of whom work in the Central Office, will lose their jobs, and 350 vacant positions will be eliminated.

    The mayor offered two proposals to help address CPS pension payments. "Option A" would "create one uniform pension system for all teachers and all taxpayers in the state." “Option B” is what the mayor called a grand bargain. It involves a $175-$200 million dollar property tax increase and for teachers and the state to chip in for pension payments. “I am not asking Springfield to bail out Chicago,” the mayor said, just for the state to “treat us equitably like every other system in the state. Either merge them or do a grand bargain, all-in.”

    Asked what chance these options had in the middle of the stalemate in Springfield, the mayor said he’s been speaking with state lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. He acknowledged State Sen. President John Cullerton’s current plan carries many aspects of his grand bargain, and added that he was open to it as the starting point for negotiations.

  • The Illinois House adjourned without passing a state budget last night, continuing a weeks-long stalemate that’s left state and city grant recipients' futures in limbo. Today, lawmakers are expected to vote on $2.2 billion in funding that will go towards “core services” like Medicaid, corrections, state police and child care. Governor Rauner is expected to veto the measure. At the moment, state funding for non-profit organizations like the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR)is not budgeted for 2016. The group is planning a walkout and rally this morning at the Thompson Center in downtown Chicago to protest.

    ICIRR says 70% of its network organizations will be forced to cut citizenship, translation, and human services for immigrants, many will lay off staff, reduce the number of people they serve, or shut down entirely. In the latest installment of our Chicago Influencer Series, we speak to Fred Tsao, policy director at ICIRR, about how the cuts affect immigrant communities in Chicago and across the state.
  • The election may be over, but Aldertrack is still tracking the money. Today we kick off a new series where we round up notable campaign contributions for the preceding week. This roundup will be a little bit longer than the rest, since we’re going all the way back to April 8, the day after the runoff election.

    Subscribers can review a complete searchable list of aldermanic contributions since April 8. You'll need your login and password.

    Ald. Ed Burke 

    Ald. Burke reported receiving several smaller donations, between $1,000 and $2,000, from companies that operate concession stands in some of the country’s largest airports, including Florida-based Areas USA, New Jersey-based Hudson Group (listed as Hudson New A/P), Virginia-based SSP America, and California-based High Flying Foods. The donations were made to the Burnham Committee, one of three committees Ald. Burke maintains.

    Registered as a political action group, The Burnham Committee does not follow the same regulations as the alderman’s campaign committee, Friends of Edward M. Burke, which received the least amount of donations. The Burnham Committee can receive up to $10,800 from an individual; $21,600 from a corporation, labor organization, political party committee or association; and $53,900 from a political action committee or candidate political committee.

    Ald. Brendan Reilly 

    Another busy fundraiser on the City Council, Ald. Brendan Reilly (42) reported several donations on April 9th and 24th, including $10,500 from Scott Klithj, the CEO of CouponCabin.com, an online coupon company based in Indiana.

    Reilly also reported contributions from several hotel and real estate firms, including $5,000 from each of the following: First Hospitality Group, Inc., a Midwest hotel property management company with headquarters in Chicago; Golub & Company, a Chicago-based commercial and residential retail firm with assets valued at over $8 billion; Prairie Management & Development, Inc., the property management arm of Carroll Properties Inc. an affordable housing provider; and Illinois Hotel-Motel PAC, a political action committee that “supports legislatures that encourage pro business legislation.” The Hotel-Motel PAC is chaired by Marc Gordon, President & CEO of the Illinois Hotel & Lodging Association. A majority of the contributions Ald. Reilly reported on the 9th and 24th were from companies that donated less than $2,000.

    Ald. Will Burns

    South Side Ald. Will Burns has also reported numerous donations to his candidate political committee, Friends of Will Burns, spread out over the weeks since the election. This includes a $5,000 contribution from Smart Hotels/Olympia LLC, a Delaware-based company behind the recently built Hyatt Place Hotel in Hyde Park.

    Other observations

    Conservative Wisconsin businessman Richard Uihlein, the CEO and founder of U-line, a multi-million dollar shipping and packaging company, donated $10,000 to both the 44th Ward GOP and 43rd Ward Republicans. Uihlein and his wife, Elizabeth, were the 5th biggest spenders in the national midterm elections, pouring at least $5 million dollars into conservative PACs.

    Superior Air Ground Ambulance Service, Inc., an emergency medical services provider in the greater Chicagoland Area, donated $5,000 worth of “Bulls tickets and food for suite” to the 12th Ward Regular Democratic Organization.

  • The Committee on Education and Child Development approved Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s appointment of Lisa Morrison Butler as the new commissioner in charge of the Department of Family and Supportive Services (DFSS) and all of the Mayor’s picks for the governing body in charge of the City Colleges of Chicago (CCC). Even though it was the committee’s first meeting since Ald. Will Burns (4) took over retired Ald. Latasha Thomas’ (17) seat as Chairman, and in a week with relatively few committee meetings, quorum was not established.

    Committee Members Present: Chairman Will Burns (4), Ald. Raymond Lopez (15), Ald. Matt O’Shea (19), Ald. Jason Ervin (28), Ald. Nick Sposato (38), Ald. Michele Smith (43)

    Mayor Emanuel announced Butler’s appointment at the beginning of the month, saying she will “help quarterback some of the most critical items on my second term agenda,” from progress on the Mayor’s universal pre-K program to an expansion of youth violence prevention programs. In a brief three minute testimony in front of the Committee, Morrison Butler said she was grateful for a chance to help the city’s most vulnerable populations.

    She also pledged to protect services amid increased state and federal budget cuts. But when Ald. Michele Smith (43) asked if she knew how proposed state budget cuts could impact city services from DFSS, Morrison Butler said she’s not a “budget expert” and is working on briefing with her staff. She said DFSS staff numbers more than double in the summer months–from 340 full-time to roughly 700 full-time and seasonal staff. DFSS delivers educational, homelessness, domestic violence, and workforce development programs to more than 300,000 Chicagoans.

    The committee also approved four new appointments and two reappointments to the Board of Trustees of Community College District No. 508, the governing body that operates and manages the City Colleges of Chicago (CCC). When Mayor Emanuel announced the appointments earlier this month, he said the leadership change was part of CCC’s push to complete its Reinvention Initiative, a long-term plan to improve the school system and fill a skills gap in the city.

    None of the appointees were asked to testify before the committee and their appointments were approved as one item. The two reappointments include Clarisol Duque, Chicago Director and Chief of Staff to U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, and Marisela Lawson, a partner and founder at Sagence Group, a data analytics consulting firm. The four newly appointed trustees to the Board include:

    • Dr. Charles Middleton, who retired as president of Roosevelt University in April, exiting as one of the highest paid college presidents in the country. He succeeds Board Chairman Paula Wolff, an executive at the Illinois Justice Project and former president of Governors State University.

    • Gary Gardner, president and co-founder of the Chicago-based private equity firm PFG LLC. He succeeds Vice Chair Ellen Alberding, president and board member of the Joyce Foundation and founder of Advance Illinois, an advocacy group for public education reform in Illinois.

    • Sandy Goldman, a senior portfolio manager for Front Barnett Associates and a former Commissioner of the Chicago Housing Authority, to succeed Board Secretary Larry Rogers, Sr., a South Side native and founding partner of the Cook County law firm Power Rogers & Smith.

    • Karen Kent, the president of city’s hospitality workers union, UNITE HERE Local 1. UNITE HERE touts more than 15,000 hospitality workers, and gave Mayor Emanuel a TV ad push during the runoff with its “Rahm Love” ads. Kent will succeed Everett Rand, an airport contractor and part-owner of Midway Airport Concessions.

    George Blakemore testified against both items on the agenda.

  • We continue our Chicago Influencer Series with Wendy Katten, Executive Director of Chicago Public School parent advocacy group, Raise Your Hand for Illinois Public Education. Katten's organization has been often straddled the gap between teachers and CPS management while consisently advocating for smaller class sizes and a stronger school system. Katten discusses with us possible outcomes of the CPS and city budget crisis for schools.
  • The Committee on Education and Child Development meets this morning to discuss various mayoral appointments, including Lisa Morrison Butler as the new commissioner in charge of the Department of Family and Supportive Services. Butler currently serves as Executive Director for City Year Chicago, an organization that works with CPS to help at-risk students graduate from high school.

    Mayor Emanuel has also requested that the committee approve four new appointments and two reappointments to the Board of Trustees of Community College District 508, the governing body that operates and manages the City Colleges of Chicago

  • The Committee unanimously approved landmark designation for the Fulton Randolph Market, expansion plans for Hadiya Pendleton Park, construction of a new building for an existing University of Chicago Charter School, and construction of a residential and office high rise in downtown Chicago.

    While there was some community opposition to the park expansion and confusion as to whether Ald. Willie Cochran (20) supported the charter school construction plan in his ward, most ordinances passed with little discussion.

    Committee members present: Chairman Danny Solis (25), Vice Chairman James Cappleman (47), Joe Moreno (1), George Cardenas (12), Matt O’Shea (19), Walter Burnett (27), Deb Mell (33), Brendan Reilly (42), Tom Tunney (44), Ameya Pawar (47)

    Non-members present: Pat Dowell (3), Rick Munoz (22)

    Amended Landmark Designation approved for Fulton Randolph Market (27th Ward)
    Document #O2015-458

    No one from the Fulton Market community signed up to testify against the ordinance, a stark contrast to the public outcry during the Commission on Chicago Landmarks hearing in April. And at the last minute, it was revealed that Ald. Walter Burnett (27)had decided to remove one of the properties from the district’s landmark list: a large condo building at 1001 W. Randolph St.

    Neither the alderman nor any of his staff were present in the chambers when Chairman Solis first brought the ordinance up. Instead, it was Eleanor Gorski, the Director of Historic Preservation for the Department of Planning and Development, who told the Committee about Ald. Burnett’s decision to amend the proposal. Unclear about the new changes to the ordinance, Chairman Solis asked the committee to hold off on voting until Burnett or someone from his office explained the substitute. The committee moved on to other business until a representative from Ald. Burnett’s office, Askia Abdullah, joined the meeting and testified on the alderman’s behalf. He said the exempted property is on the edge of the district. Two people spoke in support of the plan: Ward Miller with Preservation Chicago and Will Tippens with Landmarks Illinois.

    University of Chicago’s Charter School Plan approved (20th Ward)
    Document #O2015-2680 & Document #O2015-2587

    After some confusion as to whether Ald. Willie Cochran supported the University of Chicago’s plan to build a new charter school in the 20th Ward, the committee eventually approved the zoning change. Ald. Cochran wasn’t present at yesterday’s meeting, but his Chief of Staff, Margaret Boyd, told the committee the alderman wouldn’t support the project unless additional on-site parking was added to the plan.

    The University of Chicago wants to build a new three-story school and athletic field for approximately 750 middle and high school students. The plan calls for 25 parking spaces. Boyd said local residents don’t think that’s enough. The new request blindsided representatives from the University, who testified they were under the impression Cochran was already in support of the plan.

    Boyd requested the committee table the item so she could call the alderman. Chairman Solis asked, “Why didn’t you take care of this before we brought [the item] up?” A representative from the Department of Planning and Development interjected, saying the parking satisfied the zoning requirement and any extra spaces would have to be submitted in a separate application.

    The application has been sitting in committee for several months. At the last Zoning meeting, it was deferred back to the Plan Commission, where it was approved last week. Ald. Joe Moreno suggested the committee pass the ordinance but hold off on submitting it to the full council until Ald. Cochran gave the okay. Ald. Ameya Pawar (47) invoked Rule 14 and abstained from the vote. His wife works for the University.

    At the end of the meeting, Chairman Solis said he got word that Ald. Cochran supported the project, which means it will go before the full Council next month.


    Hadiya Pendleton Park Expansion Approved (3rd Ward)
    Document #O2015-3739

    Despite community opposition, aldermen approved Ald. Pat Dowell’s zoning request to expand a South Side park that was recently renamed after a King College Prep High School student killed by two gang members.

    Originally proposed by the Chicago Park District, the Hadiya Pendleton Parkexpansion project would turn the former Buckthorn Park, a small quarter acre playlot, into a two acre park outfitted with a new playground, walking path and fitness stations.

    The vacant land around the park is currently zoned for residential use. Neighbors who testified against the expansion plan said they would rather have additional market-rate housing on the land, because the existing park is a breeding ground for gang violence. There was also concern that a bigger park would create more congestion and parking headaches.

    Ald. Dowell said that while she agrees the old park was an eyesore, she is working on addressing violence, parking and housing issues in the area.


    Downtown Mixed Residential & Office High Rise Approved (42nd Ward)
    Document # O2015-2625

    Developers got the green light from the Zoning Committee to rezone a large plot of land at Hubbard and Wells streets next to the L tracks so they can construct a 152 ft. office tower, 200 ft. residential building with 180 dwelling units, and retail on the ground floor. Rich Cloutier, with the law firm DLA Piper, testified before the committee on behalf of the applicant, 215 Hubbard LLC.

    Alderman Brendan Reilly (42) and James Cappleman (46) were very excited about this development project, because the developers pledged to make two big payment towards the City’s affordable housing and public transportation funds.

    According to the agreement, the development project will make a $1,169,228 contribution to the Transit Infrastructure Improvement Bonus and a $1,461,536 contribution to the Affordable Housing Bonus, commonly referred as the “ARO.”  Ald. Reilly said this project is the reason he introduced the Transit Infrastructure Improvement Bonus, which lets developers add extra square footage to a project if they pay into a fund earmarked for public transportation development. This high rise will be located close to the Merchandise Mart Brown Line stop.

    Ald. Reilly says the bonus money will be used to finish stalled CTA improvement projects around Franklin St. A few years ago, the CTA was in the middle of removing toxic, lead-based paint chips and fixing an “ugly structure” when they ran out of money, says Reilly. He expects money from this project and two other proposed development plans along the same corridor will help the CTA finish the stalled plans.


    Zoning Changes for Amusement Arcades Approved (33rd Ward)
    Document # O2015-4207

    The Committee approved Ald. Deb Mell’s ordinance to amend the Municipal Code to make it easier for internet and console gaming businesses to open. Current zoning law restricts these kinds of businesses to areas zoned for strip malls and taverns. Ald. Mell’s Chief of Staff, Dana Fritz, told Aldertrack the ordinance change is for a business in the 33rd Ward that doesn’t fit the ordinances narrow definition and doesn’t want to serve alcohol since most of its patrons are underage.


    New 22nd Ward Community Center Approved (22nd Ward)
    Document #O2015-4244

    An abandoned residential building in the 22nd Ward got the committee okay to become a community center. Ald. Rick Munoz’s (22) requested to rezone the building on 2653-59 S. Kildare Ave. for a project for Erie Neighborhood House, a community group that provides social services. Erie House will expand the neighboring site near their 25th St. location to add a computer lab, communal space and daycare facility. Ald. Munoz said the plan has widespread support in the community, but said there are no renderings of the proposed site. Ald. Moreno invoked Rule 14 and abstained from the vote, as his wife Celena Roldan, is the executive director of Erie Neighborhood House.


    Site of Former Crispus Attucks Elementary School Rezoned for Commercial Use (3rd Ward)
    Document # O2015-4243

    Ald. Pat Dowell was listed as the alderman sponsoring this ordinance, but when it came up early in the meeting, she expressed confusion and asked that it be deferred so she could confer with the Department of Planning and Development. After speaking with DPD, Ald. Dowell revealed that the property in question is the former site of the Crispus Attucks Elementary School, one of the nearly 50 public schools the Chicago Board of Education closed in 2013. She said the large building is currently split into two zoning categories, and the proposed zoning change would solidify the area into one zoning classification should CPS decide to sell it. “It’s really for planning purposes,” Ald. Dowell said.

    This ordinance struck a personal cord with City Hall fixture George Blakemore, who said, “once upon a time, a long time ago,” he was a teacher at Attucks. He demanded the City reopen the school instead of possibly turning it into a commercial property.


    Rear Coach House Partial Demolition Approved (1st Ward)
    Document # O2015-344

    The Commission on Chicago Landmarks submitted a request to demolish the rear portion of the historic landmark on 1935 W. Shiller St. in Wicker Park. Eleanor Gorski, the Director of Historic Preservation for the Department of Planning and Development, testified on behalf of the property owner. She said the homeowner wants to add a new rear addition and renovate parts of the house. The landmarks commission had already approved the renovations, but since it is a landmark, demolition or renovation of 40% or more of the property needs City Council approval. When Chairman Solis asked Ald. Joe Moreno if he wanted to speak on the record, since the building is in his ward, Ald. Moreno gave the ordinance two thumbs up. “We need some sort of verbal articulate response to this,” Solis joked. Moreno laughed and said it’s an, “excellent use for the ward.”


    Additional Items Approved

    Citywide: [DOCUMENT # O2015-4193] Mayor Emanuel’s proposed compost expansion. This ordinance would expand the list of compostable materials community gardens and urban farms can turn into fertilizer.  The legislation would also create a city-wide registry of community gardens and urban farms. Farms that want to make their own compost would have to pay the city $3,000 for a three year permit. Non-profit farms could apply for a discounted, $300 annual permit.

    36th Ward: Motorcycle Shop [DOCUMENT # O2015-4178] A motorcycle repair company asked for a zoning change at 5800 W. Addison so that it could build a shop at the existing property. The application was filed by an LLC and the attorney on record is Samuel VP Banks. Freshman Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36) submitted a letter of support and it passed without any questions.

    40th Ward: Standard Zoning Changes [DOCUMENT # O2015-3741] Ald. Pat O’Connor’s (40) request to rezone several properties that were added to his ward as a result of redistricting. A representative from his office said the alderman wanted one unified zoning classification to conform to the, “residential feel of the neighborhood.” It passed without any questions.