The [Monday] Papers
"A clout-heavy Chicago real estate developer is set to land a long-term deal to provide aircraft storage, fueling and maintenance at Gary's government-owned airport," the Better Government Association reports.
"The deal with Elzie Higginbottom Jr.'s East Lake Management & Development comes after Higginbottom put $10,000 into Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson's political fund in September 2011 - the first-term mayor's biggest campaign contribution.
"Higginbottom is a longtime former chairman of the Cook County Housing Authority and was a major campaign fund-raiser for former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley."
Well, it is the Gary-Chicago Airport. We stole it from Indiana.
"The government board that oversees the Gary/Chicago International Airport, which sits along the Indiana Toll Road / Interstate 90 in Gary, gave its preliminary OK last month to bring in Higginbottom's company as the airport's second 'fixed-base operator.' Four of the airport authority's seven board members are appointed by Gary's mayor, and the rest by Indiana county and state officials."
Sure, but who's advising Gary's mayor?
"Higginbottom says he also knew three of Gary's former mayors and has managed property in the city for 25 years. He says he's been trying to get in at the Gary airport since 2003 and says there's no link between the money he gave Freeman-Wilson's campaign and his company's being hired.
"I'm a respectable businessman who works very hard to get what I have," Higginbottom says, adding, "I give money to people that are doing a good job or will do a good job in government."
Then there was the time that George Ryan appointed Higginbottom to the state gaming board.
"In political ties and background, new Illinois Gaming Board Chairman Elzie Higginbottom Jr. cuts a profile far different from his taciturn predecessor," the Tribune reported.
"While the previous chairman, former federal prosecutor Gregory Jones, showed little appetite for political activity, Higginbottom, 60, is a consummate insider whose companies derive millions of dollars in business from Chicago, Cook County and, indirectly, the state.
"In a record of achievement and controversy, Higginbottom has been lauded as an African-American success story, but also derided as a sellout. The inductee to the Chicago Association of Realtors' Hall of Fame has had properties that have drawn attention for building code violations. Critics question some of his business practices, such as a willingness to hire gang members in a Chicago Housing Authority development his company once ran."
Then there was the time Higginbottom was forced out of that job.
"The beleaguered head of the Illinois Gaming Board, Elzie Higginbottom, stepped down from his post Friday just before Gov. Rod Blagojevich was expected to replace him," the Tribune reported.
"Board member Violet Clark is expected to follow Higginbottom's lead, according to sources close to the situation. Her resignation is expected to be made official Monday.
"Their departures follow sharp criticism by Blagojevich and Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan over the board's 4-1 vote in March to site a new Illinois casino in Rosemont despite allegations of mob ties to that northwest suburb and its leaders."
Also, from the Beachwood vault . . .
"An influential black minister who has provided pivotal campaign support for Mayor Daley is a 30 percent managing partner in a pair of lucrative O'Hare Airport concessions awarded by City Hall," the Sun-Times reports.
Elzie Higginbottom: God's special creature.
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Posted on June 17, 2013
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