A single Chicago alderman exercising his traditional right to have final say on decisions in his own ward racked up taxpayer-funded legal costs of more than $800,000 in the past four years, records show.
The tab includes legal fees and settlement payments in two federal lawsuits filed against Ald. Robert Fioretti, 2nd, some of his colleagues and the city, as detailed in court and Law Department records. The suits challenged Fioretti's use of aldermanic privilege to stand in the way of two businesses seeking permits in his ward.
Both businesses — the venerable Congress Plaza Hotel and the now-defunct Felony Franks hot dog stand — got their permits in the end, but only after lengthy delays they attribute to Fioretti's decisions. The city lost the case focusing on Fioretti's refusal to sign off on a sidewalk cafe permit for the Congress Hotel.
A judge's ruling in that case for the first time acknowledged the tradition and power of aldermanic privilege, which is neither mentioned nor defined in city code.
And the city is in the final stages of settling the case brought by Felony Franks, which centered on Fioretti's refusal to back a sign permit.Seems like a lot of cash for two relatively minor issues. Obviously we don't know all the details, but a sidewalk permit and an objection to a sign? Seems like $800K could be put to use somewhere better!
The article goes on to say that the Congress Hotel dispute could be tied to his position on a labor dispute (see old Sloopin post about the longest strike in that nation).
The Felony Franks sign issue was blocked by Fioretti because churches in the area opposed the name and "glorifying crime". The Felony Franks concept was to give jobs to ex-cons...something we didn't know and find intriguing. Felony Franks (which was in the near west side) is now closed.