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Ald. Burnett Takes on the CTA, Sort Of

By Kevin Robinson in News on Feb 18, 2008 6:10PM

2008_2_cta.jpgWhile the City Council was following up on the General Assembly's plan to "save" the CTA last week, 27th Ward Alderman Walter Burnett was advocating for minority businesses.

Burnett abstained from last week's vote, citing a conflict of interest. As a "registered security agent" for D.J. Mosier Financial Services, Burnett was concerned that voting on the transfer tax might be unethical. That didn't stop him from grilling CTA leadership on minority contracts, though. Before the final vote last week to approve a 40 percent increase in Chicago's real estate transfer tax, Burnett questioned CTA officials on the dearth of minority financial advisers working on the CTA's pension funds. With $1.2 billion coming into the CTA from the transfer tax, Burnett would like to see half of that business go to minorities. Only six of the 43 current financial advisers are minority. CTA Chairwoman Carole Brown, herself an employee of Lehman Brothers wouldn't make that promise.

"I don't think [D.J. Mosier Financial Services] ever won anything or did business with the CTA, but they tried," Burnett told the Sun-Times. "I wasn't involved. But my license is in their office. I haven't had time to use it or gotten any money. But I just wanted to make sure that, if they did something I didn't know about, I didn't do something unethical." He did acknowledge, however, that his questions needed to be asked. "I was asking for African Americans," he said. "I'm going to continue to ask. If I have to take my license out of the place to ask for equality and fairness, I'm gonna do it. But I won't jeopardize myself by doing something unethical by voting." The transfer tax increase passed, 41-6.

Image via Scott M.