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Daley Seeks 'Medical Hardship' To Avoid Testifying In Park Grill Case

By Chuck Sudo in News on Jul 3, 2014 4:45PM

Attorneys for Richard M. Daley filed a motion Wednesday asking that the former Elective Majesty not be required to testify in the city’s lawsuit to break the lease given to Park Grill due to an undisclosed “medical hardship,” the political equivalent of “the dog ate my homework."

Park Grill has benefited from a sweetheart 20-year lease from the Chicago Park District giving the restaurant’s ownership team an annual lease of $275,000, 4 percent of their gross receipts paid to the city, while freeing them from the responsibilities of gas, water, garbage collection, and property tax bills. Former Cook County Assessor unsuccessfully sued the group for back property taxes and $4.2 million in taxpayer subsidies went into Park Grill’s construction. The restaurant has become a $12 million a year operation.

Park Grill’s ownership team includes Daley confidants Matthew O'Malley, James Horan and Fred Bruno Barbara. The Emanuel administration filed a lawsuit in 2011 to break the lease just as the ownership team was looking to sell, claiming the deal cheated taxpayers out of $8 million in revenue since 2004. The group, known as Millennium Park Joint Ventures, countersued to keep the terms of the deal in place.

Daley was admitted to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in January after suffering what was believed to be a stroke. Daley’s attorney Terrence Burns wouldn’t specify what medical reasons would keep Daley from taking the witness stand but Burns added putting Daley on the stand would be the equivalent of a fishing expedition.

“His deposition testimony established he had little to no substantive recollection concerning the issues and events about which he was questioned,” Burns wrote. “He testified he lacked recollection of conversations regarding approval of concession agreements for Millennium Park or the status of Park Grill negotiations. He testified he did not know if there was anything improper about how Park Grill got the contract.”