As reported from the Chicago Tribune’s online blog “Clout Street” –
Mayor Daley’s Chicago 2016 panel has no problem with committee member Michael Scott’s role developing a for-profit real estate project near a planned Olympic venue, according to a statement the organization released Tuesday night.
Scott met with Olympic bid officials Tuesday to explain his plan to develop residential and commercial units on city-owned land kitty-corner from the proposed Douglas Park cycling venue. Scott has said he was working on behalf of a group of West Side ministers, although his name alone appears on the venture’s incorporation papers. After the Tribune published an investigation Friday, Scott said he would take no profits or fees from the development.“Chicago 2016 officials, including its Chief Ethics and Governance Officer, met today with Mr. Scott to understand Mr. Scott’s role,” the statement said. “As a result of that meeting, Chicago 2016 has concluded that Mr. Scott had no conflict of interest between his volunteer role with Chicago 2016 and his efforts on behalf of the religious leaders seeking to improve the community surrounding Douglas Park. Mr. Scott has had no role in the determination of venue locations, and was not involved in the decision to utilize Douglas Park for certain venues.”The Olympic committee’s conflict-of-interest policy requires officials to declare any interest in any project that could benefit from decisions made by Chicago 2016. Experts have said that the property in Scott’s project would increase in value if the cycling venue is built in Douglas Park.
Scott’s politically connected team of ministers, which includes Rev. Charles Robinson, a Daley-appointed member of the Chicago Transit Authority board, is planning to develop several pieces of property on the West Side in addition to the lots near Douglas Park.
While Scott said he had no financial interest in the venture, he acknowledged last week that he had used his own money to pay fees to incorporate WMC-I. Scott alone is listed as an officer of the firm. Also, two crucial letters of support from Ald. Sharon Denise Dixon (24th), which effectively set aside the city-owned lots for the development, name only Scott as the developer of the project.
Last Friday, Daley reacted angrily to the Tribune report, refusing to comment. On Saturday, the mayor said Scott had no role. The mayor denied that Scott was the manager of the project despite documentation in state records and Scott’s own acknowledgment.
Chicago 2016 officials said Tuesday that the development’s goal was to develop affordable housing. It did not, however, acknowledge that the development also is planned to include market-rate housing and retail units, including a Nike shoe store.
The Chicago 2016 statement also said Scott has been an “invaluable member” of the committee, working on “procurement, employment and transparency” issues.
Monday night—a day before Scott met with the bid officials—Chicago 2016 Chairman Patrick Ryan said he has “no reason to believe that Michael Scott has violated any conflict of interest. I have no reason to believe that.”
The Olympics committee’s statement was issued the evening before Daley is scheduled to welcome U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame inductees to Chicago at a public event.