With the Olympic Games going on in Brazil and recalling Chicago’s failed bid to host them back in 2008, it occurred to me that the Rio is infamous for it’s sewage-strewn coastline in much the same way Chicago is infamous for it’s corrupt politicians — both are absolutely gorgeous places to live, but they have some seriously disgusting issues that still need to be cleaned up.
Chicago is divided into 50 wards overseen by alderman whose reputation over the years could be describe as ‘suspect’ to put it mildly. Over the last 40 years, around one-third of all alderman elected during that span have been convicted of corruption. Their crimes have included a variety colorful grifting schemes that amount to basic theft, blatant bribery, and even extortion.
So it should come as no surprise that 44th Ward Alderman Tom Tunney has become a prominent and suspicious figure in the estimated $1 billion neighborhood development plan centered around Wrigley Field. From day one, Ald. Tunney has tried to maneuver himself between Cubs ownership and their plans to renovate the historic stadium that just happens to fall in his realm of control like a massive petroleum deposit under the land of a Third World despot.
After seizing power in 2003, Tunney immediately insinuated himself into the long spat between the rooftop owners across the street from Wrigley and the Tribune Co. who owned the Cubs at the time, eventually brokering a deal that kept the rooftops in business. But that victory apparently came at a significant cost… literally.
Beyond the estimated $2 million per year the rooftops would pay the Cubs, according to a former Sheffield Ave. rooftop business bookkeeper, rooftop owners were “highly encouraged” to hold fundraisers for Tunney every year, implying blatant coercion to deliver money in return for his political favors. The source, who was employed by the rooftop rom 2001 to 2011 and wished to remain anonymous, also told me that “magically, 13 fundraisers have been held each season ever since — one for every rooftop at the time.”
Since then, the Tunney regime has been marked by conflicts of interest and linked to corruption scandals such as property tax evasion. This along with his obnoxious posturing, many mysterious construction delays, and generally nasty public squabbles between he and Cubs owner Tom Ricketts all point to yet another alderman flexing his political muscle in a blackmail scheme to line his own pockets.
And speaking of pockets, Tunney appears to be in the pockets of other local businesses. It’s a commonly held belief among Wrigleyville residents that Tunney’s primary motivation for fighting the Cubs is to support the local bar owners who have paid him off to secure their interests, as evidenced by this FOX32 report from earlier this summer. One can only assume his efforts to shake down the Cubs have failed and sparked his assault on 1060 W. Addison.
Tunney’s racket operates under the guise of an altruistic crusade against the big, bad Cubs and for the little guy — namely Wrigleyville’s small business owners and residents — yet those parties owe their profitability and high property value directly to their proximity to Wrigley Field and the enormously popular team who haS played there for over a century.
As Tunney has waged his unscrupulous war, the limited power he exerts has clearly gone to his head. Even as he is being forced to relent in his latest battle against the awesome new beer garden adjacent to the stadium, last week’s Sun-Times account of him “cracking the door open to relaxing plaza rules for playoffs” reads like a medieval tale of yore:
Hear ye! Hear ye! To show his benevolence, the magnanimous Lord Tunney of Wrigleyville is ‘considering’ allowing the peasants of his 44th Ward to enjoy ales and wine in the village square during the autumn festival.
And the peasants rejoiced!!
Megalomania and corruption aside, the most annoying aspect of his bullshit ‘Occupy Wrigley’ siege is the fact that the Cubs aren’t asking for a single public dime to fund their ambitious plans. Meanwhile, other franchises like the Texas Rangers, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Atlanta Braves are all swindling their way into new stadium boondoggles at taxpayers’ expense and truly deserve to be the targets of public ire.
Just look eight miles to the south where Jerry Reinsdorf and the White Sox get shiny new $7 million video boards and a $3 million upscale bar/restaurant built by my tax dollars with little flack or fanfare. Reinsdorf famously held the city and state for ransom to get the new Comiskey Park built with taxpayer money in the first place, yet the Cubs have had to fight tooth and nail every step of the way for new amenities they are paying for themselves!
I realize we getting dangerously close to talking politics on a blog that expressly against such nonsense, but our corrupt government is simply fucking with the wrong guy. That’s what wrong with America. So after a 13-year reign, I’m calling on residents of his 44th Ward to rise up and dethrone Lord Tunney of Wirgleyville! It is long past time to wrest control of his fiefdom from his corrupt grasp.