The [Tuesday] Papers
Luis Gutierrez is on the griddle.
"The FBI has interviewed City Hall employees and Chicago aldermen about U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez's ties to a corrupt developer, according to records and interviews that raise new questions about the congressman amid an ongoing federal investigation," the Tribune reports.
"A former alderman convicted in the investigation told FBI agents that Gutierrez boasted of helping his longtime political supporter Calvin Boender obtain a lucrative zoning change for a development on the city's West Side. Another alderman told agents this year she thought Gutierrez was going to buy a home in the development.
"And several city planners told investigators they were stunned by the highly unusual intervention of a congressman in a local zoning matter."
The Tribune story follows a Sun-Times report that Gutierrez is now also the subject of an investigation by the city's inspector general in another foul-smelling deal.
On that one, Mark Brown put it best:
"Congressman Luis Gutierrez was calm and composed when he returned my call Monday, which is not what I would have once expected on a day the Sun-Times carried a story zinging him over a real estate deal involving his daughter.
"Gutierrez didn't think it should have been a story, didn't want to see his daughter put through the news media grinder.
"But when an alderman who happens to be the congressman's political protege free-lances his own off-the-books affordable housing program and one of the reduced-cost units winds up in the hands of the congressman's daughter, who flips it a year later for a nice profit, well, that's a story."
And as Brown goes on to note, that isn't even the topic of his column; the fact that Gutierrez no longer lives in his congressional district is.
Gutierrez didn't do himself any favors when he explained why to Brown.
"He said he felt they deserved their choice after years of living in homes based on his political needs."
Sorry you were held hostage to your constituents all these years, Luis.
"I wanted them to be safe," Gutierrez also told Brown, though Brown writes that "Gutierrez said he didn't mean to suggest that he couldn't find a safe place to live in his district."
I'm not sure what else it could mean.
Gutierrez says his daughter received no preferential treatment. But his daughter referred questions from the Sun-Times to her father. "My father knows all about that," she said.
So her father arranged the deal.
Former Ald. Billy Ocasio, now in the Quinn administration, was also involved.
"'I've known Omaira since she was 6 years old,' said Ocasio, who hired her to work part-time in his aldermanic office about 10 years ago. 'She got no preferential treatment.'"
So Gutierrez and Ocasio intervened for everyone who came into their office asking about affordable housing?
"Ocasio said he doesn't know exactly how many affordable homes were created under the 26th Ward program, in part because his staff destroyed many of its records when he shut down his aldermanic office."
I wonder what gave his staff the idea to do that . . .
It turns out the best thing that's happened to Gutierrez in the last few days is that he got arrested. It may not be the last time.
The Trib does note that "Although Daley's administration has the power to simply approve Wal-Marts in properly zoned areas, it has not done so, with Daley saying he wants a solid majority of the City Council to approve."
So the reality is that no one is standing in Walmart's way but Daley.
The president will use reconciliation to pass health care reform but the mayor won't approve a Walmart without a solid majority of the city council.
Perceived political imperatives - not policy - drive both.
Free for seniors, though.
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Posted on May 4, 2010
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