Shocking news from City Hall as the scandal touches the statehouse. Political reporters Carol Marin, Paris Schutz and Amanda Vinicky dive into the story in this week’s Spotlight Politics roundtable.
Ald. Danny Solis, the longtime chairman of City Council’s Zoning Committee, has stepped down from his perch, but will continue on as alderman until his planned retirement in May. That leaves 46th Ward Ald. James Cappleman to take his place on the committee, and that could spell a lot of trouble for the massive $6 billion Lincoln Yards development that got swift approval from city planning commissioners.
Cappleman has expressed concern over the lack of affordable housing in the project, given its giant scope – at least six other aldermen have come out against the Lincoln Yards development in its present form. But Mayor Rahm Emanuel and some top members of his administration want to see the project approved before they leave office. It involves a controversial $900 million TIF district that could pay for infrastructure upgrades in the neighborhood, one that will rise between Bucktown and Lincoln Park on the former site of the A. Finkl and Sons steel plant.
In related news: Solis has been on the lam since the Chicago Sun-Times revealed bombshell allegations that he wore a wire to record conversations with 14th Ward Ald. Ed Burke. This week, the Sun-Times revealed that Solis allegedly received sex acts, Viagra pills and campaign cash in exchange for ushering measures through the City Council. There were also revelations of recorded conversations with House Speaker Michael Madigan, who was caught soliciting business from a developer in Chinatown – a neighborhood within Solis’ 25th Ward. Madigan, in addition to his statehouse job, co-runs a law firm that reduces property taxes for high-profile clients.
Madigan’s attorney says there is no concern; the speaker has no recollection of every suggesting a quid pro quo, nor is there any indication that Madigan or his firm are under investigation.
Regardless, the scandal could have widespread repercussions: for the speaker’s power, in the mayor’s race and the future of major development projects like Lincoln Yards.