Chicago 2016: Let Corruption Shine?

By Kevin Robinson in News on Sep 25, 2009 3:20PM

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He claims he's not the captain....
The Tribune has discovered that Michael Scott has more of an interest in the Olympics than civic pride. Scott, a Chicago 2016 committee member, president of the Chicago Public Schools and a "friend of Richie", also served as a consultant to a condominium developer near the proposed Olympic Village site, a deal that could result in the project being worth far more than it currently is. For his part, Scott says that there's no conflict, given the depth of his role in the project. "I had no financial interest. I didn't do any real work," Scott told the Tribune. This, of course, is all in addition to the story from earlier this summer that Scott owns land located near the proposed Olympic cycling venue, something that Scott and others have said was not a conflict of interest.

Gerald Fogelson, the developer, summed up his relationship with Scott in a way that harkens back to a quainter time in Chicago. "He's a longtime friend. He offices here. He's done us favors. We've done him favors," Fogelson said. "We have other business dealings with him that date back a long time." Patrick Sandusky, one of the city's bid poobahs, says that there's no conflict, either, since no contracts have been awarded, and Chicago 2016 would be dissolved and a new committee with "a public and open bidding process for the village development" would be created if Chicago hosts the Games. Still, though, Fogelson is one of several developers who have formally notified Chicago 2016 of its interest in developing the village. Fogelson, however, doesn't seem too keen on telling the Tribune the extent of his business dealings with Scott. "I don't feel that it's anybody's business to know all the various real estate and other activities we're engaged in," Fogelson said. "I don't think there's anything improper about that. We try to stay under the radar."

Scott has denied much of a role in the project, even though his office is in Fogelson's building, and he has a Fogelson Properties email address. "I helped them get an emcee and gave them ideas for marketing to the African-American community," Scott said, downplaying his role. "I am not the developer." But former 2nd Ward Alderman Madeline Haithcock remembers Scott differently. "I know Mike Scott. I know he was part of it. He was involved," she said. And her successor Bob Fioretti remembers being impressed when he visited Scott's office in 2007 and saw development plans. "I was like, 'Wow, OK. This explains a lot about who's who and what's what in this city.' "