Moreno: Lightfoot's "Aldermanic Privilege" poster child

Date: 
08/24/2019
DoubleDoor

The battle between the 1572 N. Milwaukee Ave. former building owner, Brian Strauss and former Alderman Proco "Joe" Moreno could head to court next week, over the former Wicker Park home of the Double Door entertainment venue.

Moreno could be considered the poster child for "Aldermanic Privilege," which Mayor Lori Lightfoot vowed, during her inauguration, to end. 

This suit could cost taxpayers millions. 

 

MorenoSavini

Moreno talks to Savini in previous story.

Lightfoot scarcely missed a beat after her inauguration and before presiding over her first City Council meeting.

She signed an executive order, within hours of being sworn in to gain control over the acts of aldermen under the umbrella of "aldermanic prerogative."

Strauss' attorney James McKay Jr. filed two lawsuits in 2018. One against the City of Chicago and the other against Moreno. They allege that down-zoning of the property by Moreno which passed the City Council in October 2017 reduced the value of the property and eventually forced the sale of the property. 

Strauss, whose family bought the property in 1977 and sold it to CA Residential for $9.1 million in June 2018, says that Moreno cost him well over several million dollars. 

SaviniStraussMecKay

Dave Savinin (l) interviewing Brian Strauss (c) and his attorney James McKay

In CBS 2 Chicago's Dave Savini report yesterday, Strauss wants Moreno investigated for a 10th floor meeting with other City officials. 

"He [Moreno] used his power to get even with this man [Strauss] because he evicted his pals. He down-zoned without a reason…it was just pure revenge," says McKay. 

McKay's "pal" reference is to the Double Door owners Sean Mulroney and Joe Shanahan who donated money and in-kind to Moreno since 2012:

  • 6/28/2012   Individual Contribution  $1,000.00
  • 3/20/2013 Individual Contribution $500.00
  • 5/6/2014 Individual Contribution    $1,000.00
  • 7/12/2013 In-Kind Contribution  $5,000.00 Fund raising - hall rental  

In the 10th floor meeting, Moreno "was actually trying to orchestrate a sale of the building," says Strauss. He then says that Moreno gave him a way out of having the property down-zoned. He was to sell the building at the meeting for $3 million less than it was worth. 

Former Alderman and head of the Zoning Committee Danny Solis was in that meeting rolling his eyes, according to Strauss.  "it was obvious that he knew what was happening was very wrong." 

DSolis

Danny Solis

That meeting occurred during the time that Solis was wearing a wire for the FBI during the Ed Burke investigation. 

Strauss hopes Solis was wearing the wire that day because then Moreno's rant about Strauss never having another tenant in his building would be heard. 

McKay hopes Solis was wearing a wire too, "I hope he was! Aah.. that would be great great television." 

If the judge allows Strauss' case to go forward, Solis will be called for a deposition and the Strauss Moreno video will be entered as evidence. 

Though Moreno continually states that he did nothing wrong, next week a judge will determine whether the suit will be heard or not. 

Background
Dispute over leases between the landlord (Strauss) and the 20 year tenant (Double Door) goes back to 2005, according to a Chicago Tribune 2015 report. On Nov. 3, 2015, the landlord filed a complaint seeking occupancy payments from Nov. 1, attorney fees and eviction. Monthly rent was reported to be $22,760. 

The tenant's lease expired on Oct. 31, 2015, and they had not signed a renewal. The landlord filed suit. 

In August of 2016, it was ruled, in the Cook County Circuit Court, that Double Door had until the end of 2016 to vacate the property. A notice of appeal against that decision in September and a $468,000 appeal bond was set. However, in December, the tenant's attorneys asked that bond be vacated and they did not pay the bond. 

According to McKay at the time, "It was time for either Double Door to post the appeal bond or move, get out. They did neither. They willfully violated Judge Hambright's [Cook County Circuit Court] court orders." 

The eviction occurred on Feb. 6, 2017. While Moreno's rant that was captured on video apparently occurred on the day of eviction. He had introduced an ordinance to change the property's zoning from B3-2 Community Shopping District to  B1-1 Neighborhood Shopping District on April 13, 2016. It was subsequently passed on Oct. 11, 2017.

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