At the Chicago Board of Elections yesterday, Commissioner Langdon Neal dodged Objectors’ Motion for Recusal by not attending the hearing in 15-EB-ALD-144, Leah Fried and Daniel Sheehan v. Patrick O’Connor.
Yesterday’sÂ hearingÂ wasÂ continued fromÂ the first scheduled hearing on December 29, 2014 because onlyÂ two Commissioners attended then, Commissioners Neal and Hernandez.Â One week ago theyÂ set aside the motion requesting Neal to recuse himself due to self-dealing on the TIF 077 projectÂ in Mr. O’Connor’s wardÂ in whichÂ Mr. Neal was paid $230,000 in legal fees.
Yesterday Commissioners Hernandez and Cowen rendered the Motion for Recusal “moot” because Langdon Neal did not attend a hearing he scheduled.
According to Andrew Finko, an attorney representing Objectors Leah Fried and Daniel Sheehan,Â “The Board went out of its way to help the incumbent alderman remain on the ballot. The election code is clear – the statement of candidacy must be true when signed. And the law is clear, an alderman cannot have debts owed to the City.Â The Board overstepped its authority and created facts in order to reach the desired conclusion.”
Objector Leah Fried, a 40th Ward registered voter, added that, “Today’s hearing exposed how political power is retained.Â First,Â Chairman Neal did not show up to a hearing he scheduled because he didn’t want to talk about O’Connor approving a condo development in TIF 077 that resulted in nearly a quarter of a million dollarsÂ in legal fees for Neal.Â Second, O’Connor didn’t pay city fines onÂ work done in a condominiumÂ built with TIF dollars, where he owns a unit,Â and where his wife is theÂ dominant real estate agent,” said Fried.Â “I’m tired of Chicago being a bad joke about corruption with O’Connor as the punch line.Â That’s why I support his challenger,Â Dianne Daleiden, for 40th Ward Alderman.”
Dan Sheehan, the second Objector in this case, was “disappointed by the election board’s vote.Â It is clear to many 40th Ward voters like me that Alderman O’Connor engages in self-dealing whereÂ TIFs areÂ concerned.Â He is taking money from our schools, libraries and parks for his own personal gain.Â Voters need to ask themselves, why would any condo builder need to receive incentives to build lucrative condos during the housing boom in 2003?Â Why is our tax money being spent in that way? A few below-market rate condos doesn’t justify starving our public services of much needed revenue.”
“Langdon Neal dodged a bullet. I was prepared to talk about the TIF-077 public funds that went to Neal & Leroy, a total of $230,000, but also the local chambers of commerce that were used as PR tools for the incumbent.Â Those chambersÂ both donate to Mr. O’Connor’s political campaignÂ and regularly promote his agenda. It would have beenÂ awkward, but the Chairman’s absence speaks volumes,”Â said Finko, who added that he was disappointed because “I was just scratching the surface, just getting started.”