Report: Chicago official involved in real estate deal

August 7, 2009 4:26:39 PM PDT
Mayor Daley did not answer questions Friday about Chicago School Board President and Chicago 2016 Olympic Committee Member Michael Scott, following a Chicago Tribune report that Scott is developing city-owned land near a site that would be used for the Summer Games.The report comes as Michael Scott faces a subpoena by federal investigators looking into the admissions process at Chicago's magnet schools.

From a local standpoint, this is possibly the worst kind of story that Chicago's 2016 Olympics effort could have happen: an allegation that a Daley administration insider is involved in real estate deals that could profit the insider if the city wins the Games.

The land in question borders or is near Douglas Park on Chicago's West Side. The park, at various times, has been discussed as a possible venue for 2016 Olympic swimming and/or cycling.

A front-page investigation in Friday morning's Tribune revealed that Scott, a long-time ally of Mayor Richard M. Daley, has been involved in land acquisition near the park. Scott also was one of the first people appointed to be a member of the mayor's Olympic committee that has worked the past three years to attract the Games here.

"Is it going to be the same story that we've seen in Chicago before where insiders who are in with the mayor get all the contracts and everybody else in the city is left out in the cold?" said Bob Quellos of No Games Chicago.

Scott told reporters Friday day he was merely helping ministers from the West Side and had no personal financial stake in the deal.

"The only involvement I have is one of commitment to a community where I was raised and have worked to improve for the last 30 years," said Scott.

Last week, he confirmed that he had been subpoenaed in a separate investigation into the use of political clout to gain entry into the district's elite magnet schools.

Friday morning, Mayor Daley, who appointed Scott to both the Olympic committee and the school board, refused to comment on either situation.

"There will always be headline. There'll be another headline Monday, another Wednesday on something else, but that is not my job to fulfill your headlines," Daley said during a press conference.

It's widely accepted that if an Olympic venue is built in Douglas Park, surrounding property values would increase. Published reports indicate that, at this point, the group involving Scott has not closed any deal to obtain the lots from the city. A Chicago 2016 spokesman said Friday that the committee would investigate.

"I talked to Michael. In fact, we're working to have him come in and talk to us about some of the issues the article raises. Obviously, its just one article," said Chicago 2016's Kurt Summers.

When a Tribune reporter pressed Daley on when he might comment on Scott, the mayor reacted this way.

"Never insult me with that question. You're insulting me because I'm here every day, and you're never here," he said. "And don't print that. So, I know you will."

The decision on the site of 2016 Olympic Games will be made on October 2.


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