Well, dear readers, when we left our story last week we wondered why Chaser’s, a bar from Niles was making political contributions to the Morton Grove Action Party. We also wondered why the Village never tried to buy the old Maxwell/Studio property when it first went up at foreclosure sale but waited to buy it from Ted Mavarkis, another political donor, after he bought it in foreclosure. It gave him a hefty profit of hundreds of thousands of dollars and he got to keep one third of the original site, thus making any redevelopment limited, at best. And, finally there was the question of why was the deal structured so that Moretti’s, yet another political donor, could walk away with a prime piece of Dempster street real estate at net zero cost?
As we join our story this week we continue to question what looks suspiciously like “Chicago Political Machine style” pay to play.
A few years ago, a Morton Grove village trustee, Larry Gomberg, introduced an ethics ordinance for the village. The current mayor, a trustee at the time, voted in favor of that ordinance and it passed and became part of the village code and is in force today.
One section of that ordinance states:
D. Prohibition Of Political Contributions:
1. Any person or business entity whose contract(s), and pending bids for contract(s) with the village of Morton Grove in aggregate annually total more than twenty thousand dollars ($20,000.00) shall be prohibited from making any contributions to: a) a political organization established to promote a candidacy of an elected village official, or a declared candidate for an elected village office, b) an elected official, or c) a declared candidate for an elected village office in excess of one hundred fifty dollars ($150.00) per year per official, declared candidate, or political organization. This prohibition shall be effective for the duration of the term of office of the elected official, or for two (2) years after the date of the election for a declared candidate for an elected village office, whichever is longer.
In addition, all village officials must sign a copy of the code of ethics, ( section 1-8-12 adopted 10-26-2009, effective 1-1-2010), which states, in part:
“F. ADHERENCE TO ALL LAWS: I shall comply with all state, and local regulations, including without limitations the Village of Morton Grove’s Code of Ethics, the State of Illinois Open Meetings Act, the State of Illinois Gift Ban Act, the State of Illinois State Officials and Employees Ethics Act.”
Now, just for fun, let’s look at the following list of contributors that the Action Party accepted donations from that by their acceptance are in violation of Village Ethics Code.
1. Groot Industries, Inc (source of payments: Morton Grove Village warrants) (proof of donation: Action Party D-2 Quarterly Report 10/1/14 to12/31/14). Groot billed Morton Grove $658,298.59 in 2014.
2. G & L Construction, Inc (source of payments: Morton Grove Village warrants) (proof of donation: 2014 Action Party Sponsor Board. Guy & Lu Batista are owners of G & L Construction, Inc. The minimum donation for sponsor board was $200.00) (This donation was not reported on any Action Party D-2 reports). G&L Construction billed Morton Grove $158,140.53 in 2014.
3. Terry Liston (Village Attorney). (source: Village payroll records) (Proof of Donation: 2014 Action Party Sponsor Board, minimum donation was $200.00) (donation was not reported on any Action Party D-2). Ms. Liston’s salary was over $100.000.00 in 2014.
Looking over the sponsors of the political golf outing it is easy to see why some businesses and individuals would want to contribute. It is called access. Sometimes it is called “pay to play” and it happens at all levels of government.
We saw this recently with the Federal election where a major Clinton Foundation donor was placed on a sensitive government intelligence advisory board even though he had no obvious experience in the field, a decision that appeared to baffle the department’s professional staff.
A prolific fundraiser for Democratic candidates and contributor to the Clinton Foundation, who later traveled with Bill Clinton on a trip to Africa, Rajiv K. Fernando’s only known qualification for a seat on the International Security Advisory Board (ISAB) was his know-how as a Chicago securities trader, who specialized in electronic investing.
(SOURCE: http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/clinton-donor-sensitive-intelligence-board/story?id=39710624 ).
The son of Sri Lankans who moved to the United States, he was raised in Oak Brook. Fernando, who turned 45 this past summer, is a graduate of Hinsdale Central High School and Beloit College in Wisconsin.
After learning the ropes at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Fernando, a Bucktown resident, founded Chopper Trading, whose high-speed trading is conducted in domestic and international financial markets.
Fernando was a major fund-raiser — a bundler — for President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election bid, funneling $500,000 to his campaign. He also hosted fund-raisers in his Chicago home for Vice President Joe Biden in September 2011 and for Clinton in July 2015 and he made sizable contributions to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s political funds for his 2011 and 2015 elections.
You might rightfully ask; “What does all this have to do with Morton Grove?”
If you look at the Action Party Golf Outing sponsor board for 2014, you will find Chopper Trading’s logo in the upper left hand corner. This is the trading firm that was owned by Raj Fernando, (however, once again, the contribution does not show up on any of the Action Party D-2 reports).
So, the question that now comes to mind is what is there in Morton Grove that would be of such interest to a heavy-duty political contributor and donation aggregator like Rajiv K. Fernando? What kind of access or consideration or favor could there be in a small Chicago suburb that would interest a high-power individual who rubs elbows with the upper eschallon of the Clinton Foundation?
Until shown otherwise, our theory is that there must be something in town that’s a reward for yet another big political donor. It is a fair assumption that Mr. Fernando is looking for something more than a large sausage and mushroom Moretti’s pizza with extra cheese.
And so, dear reader, tune in next week when we will explore if our mayor has announced any more amazing projects, if Babbling Billy, disappointed that Moretti’s hasn’t opened yet has resorted to eating library paste,
and if their trusty counselor, Ophelia Ordinance finally researches the definition of ethics… and we ask the question why was the new consultant in the water deal involved in litigation over child pornography?