The Bulldog followed up on a thread on Everyblock regarding Lycée Français de Chicago.
The thread implies that a $1,500 political contribution to Ald. Ameya Pawar from DLA Piper, a law firm representing the developer of the site, influenced the alderman’s decision to support the development.
The allegation was posted by ‘CGC.’ CGC has no profile on EveryBlock. CGC’s only communication with the community, in fact, has been to address the LFC development.
The Bulldog asked Pawar about the issues raised.
Q: There was an assertion by a commenter on EveryBlock that implied the Lycée Français development was influenced by a campaign contribution from an attorney representing the developer.
A filing with the Illinois Board of Elections indicates the developer gave your campaign a contribution of $1,500 in May.
What is your response to this accusation?
A: DLA Piper contributed to the Friends of Ameya Pawar PAC. This PAC was created to help fund the operations of the 47th Ward Public Service Office. DLA Piper handles many zoning projects in the City of Chicago. The contribution to the PAC had absolutely no impact on my support of the project, nor did DLA Piper intend to have any impact on my support as a result of this contribution. As most people are well aware, I slowed the progress of the Lycee Francais project down so that we could appropriately discuss and consider the project with the community and the City’s Housing and Economic Development Department. The City and the community were in overwhelming support of the project and as you know, no public subsidy was granted for this project.
Q: Have you kept the contribution?
We did keep the contribution. On any given day my office receives between 200-500 plus dollars in requests. People contact us to sponsor events, run ads, host senior dinners, run kids’ programming and other community events. The community has also requested a robust constituent services operation, but the City only provides salaries for three staffers. My campaign promise was that I would not build a political war-chest and I have kept that promise. All the money I raise goes directly back into community work. I am raising money to fund community programs, support office operations and hire additional staff to support innovative programs like GROW47. Raising money is a reality of being an elected official and I am going to continue raising money to put back into our community.
Q: What can you tell us about the current status of the development?
As a major development the project must pass an independent review board – the City’s Plan Commission. Lycee Francais presented to the Plan Commission and passed. The project has also passed the City Council’s Zoning Committee. There will be additional community meetings in the near future.