Sunday, August 16, 2015

Chicago Attorney And His Client Profit From Chicago Convention Spending

Langdon Neal (Sun-Times Photo)
Chicago's Metropolitan Exposition and Pier Authority ("McPier") is the Windy City's equivalent of Indianapolis' Capital Improvement Board and all that that implies. McPier gets pretty much whatever it wants to promote Chicago's downtown convention business even as the City teeters on the verge of bankruptcy. Its latest plan to give Chicago's convention business a competitive advantage over other cities entailed fronting half the costs of a new basketball arena for DePaul University adjacent to the McCormick Place Convention Center, along with a new 1,200-room Marriott Hotel, to create a more entertainment-friendly environment around the sprawling convention center complex. As the Chicago Sun-Times Watchdogs report, the project has become quite fruitful for McPier's attorney and his clients.

Langdon Neal serves as counsel for McPier Authority as well as a member of the same Chicago Board of Elections which permitted Rahm Emanuel to run for Chicago mayor despite the fact he had given up his residence in Chicago and was living in Washington, D.C. with his wife and kids while he was serving as President Barack Obama's White House Chief of Staff. Neal's law firm was paid about $4.5 million to help McPier acquire a two block swath of property for the new basketball arena and hotel at a cost to the convention authority of nearly $62 million. Area residents were concerned the towering hotel and basketball arena project was going to impact the nearby residential area negatively. As an accommodation, McPier agreed to build a pocket park. That's where things got really interesting.

In 2013, Neal represented an Australian real estate developer, Drapac Group, in acquiring a nearby foreclosed property from Harris Bank for $1,020,000. Just by coincidence, this 21,857-square-foot property was identified by McPier as the parcel needed to build the pocket park. McPier acquired the parcel from Neal's client, Drapac, just 14 months after it purchased the property from Harris Bank for a whopping 400% profit at $5,473,750 without bothering to obtain an appraisal to determine the property's worth. A spokesman for McPier claims Neal, who was also registered to lobby on behalf of Drapac, informed the convention authority of his past representation of Drapac. McPier's spokesman says Neal obtained a waiver to be involved in the real estate transaction that netted his former client a 400% return on their investment.

The Sun-Times Watchdogs requested a copy of Neal's letter disclosing his relationship with Drapac and the waiver letter he received, but McPier said both documents were protected by the attorney-client privilege. Neal's law firm, incidentally, is paid to give McPier advice on public records requests. McPier officials also said they couldn't say how much Neal had billed the authority for the Drapac transaction. Neal refused to discuss the matter with Sun-Times reporters. According to the Sun-Times, McPier has spent $62 million to date on the project, including $25.9 million Mayor Emanuel gave McPier from the City's TIF fund to pay for the project. McPier operates with as little transparency as our Indianapolis Capital Improvement Board, but at least reporters in Chicago make an effort to expose their shady dealings, unlike the Indianapolis news media, which sits on the sidelines cheering every move the cash-rich convention industry makes at the expense of other more pressing public spending priorities.


Anonymous said...

One could insert the "leading" Indianapolis head honcho corrupt Democrat and corrupt Republican attorneys for the Chicago names in the piece and, voila!, you have our corrupt Hoosier political system. And what a shame that it is attorneys who pervert the law, hide behind legal excuses that aren't always morally or ethically based, to enrich themselves and their friends.

Ain't life grand in this Town? You can engineer your wife to Congress to save your family from Obamacare [remember, Congress exempts itself from dictates WE must follow and exempts many in its vast bureaucracy) and all the while these corrupt, no-good attorneys develop even more political chits to a federal funding source for the crony deals even more vast than anywhere in Indiana.

No wonder we have less respect for attorneys than we do for plaid-jacketed used car salesmen. Much. Much. Less. I am at the point where I wonder if acts of quiet civil disobedience will grow. Hell, if attorney Greg Garrison can overtly break laws in Lockerbie and never ever be charged, as far as I am concerned, the law is worthless. Utterly worthless.

And the people

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:21 Here: Point of Information... "And the people" at comment conclusion is part of a not-entirely deleted paragraph not intended to be published. Mea culpa.

Anonymous said...

If you really stop to think about it, neither Chicago or Indianapolis should be in the convention business. Given a choice, nobody wants to come to these cities. They want to go to more exotic places. This site has already documented how we get this business...we basically pick up the tab and give these people so many freebies that they can't say no. Then we spin it and tell the mostly ingorant populace of our fair city that they're coming because we're so freaking awesome....truly the place to be.

Uh, no. They come because they were bribed and they were bribed so a handful of locals can use tax money to enrich themselves while the city crumbles around them. People are genuinely surprised to discover that we have electricty AND indoor plumbing and by golly it doesn't suck nearly as badly as they feared it might, and somehow that gets twisted around to "they love us!"

It's truly comical to watch. Center Township has been largely abandoned. Infrastructure is in horrid shape. Our sewers explode. A band of thieves is robbing from the poor and giving to the rich. All bad, but what is really bad is that outside of a handful of people, nobody seems to care...even a little. I don't think the average Hoosier has the intellectual capacity to understand just how bad he/she is getting jobbed and frankly, who really cares as long as the booze is flowing and there's a game to get excited about...even if the game is cricket.

Anonymous said...


Not unlike Chicago, and Indy, Hammond Indiana has it's own graft. When Thomas McDermott Jr was first elected to office, work completed by the previous administration laid the foundation for Cabela's to build in Hammond. McDermott Jr took credit for the project.

In this deal, McDermott's father, Thomas McDermott Jr was openly paid a finder's/consulting fee by Cabela's for his assistance obtaining the property. The finder's fee reportedly amounted to over $900,000. Along with this came some ownership of additional Cabela area out lots.

In the mean time McDermott Sr was burdened by a series of recorded IRS Liens amounting to over $1.6 Million.

Several years ago, severe flooding affected northwest Indiana. The floods trapped area residents with out an exit road. There was vigorous discussion using portions of McDermott Sr.'s lots, (held in trust), to establish an emergency road out to RT 41. Mayor McDermott Jr was very verbal in his opposition against such a plan. Had a road been built thru McDermott Sr.'s property, it would have been mostly worthless. Instead Mayor McDermott Jr held fast assuring his father's land holdings would remain intact, Hammond residents would be denied an emergency exit road.

If you look at the Cabela's complex, Walmart recently purchased the land and built a mega outlet. McDermott's attitude regarding the super retailer Walmart's competition, was well they will have to deal with it. All the while, McDermott Sr reportedly looking at a windfall.

BTW, McDermott Sr had not been paying his property taxes, and had unpaid tax debt exceeding $100,000, unpaid property taxes. McDermott Sr's property never made the property tax sale many believe because of political connections.

Recently a 3rd party purchased the property at a tax sale for pennies on the dollar. Interestingly McDermott Sr appears to be still living in this property.

It is believed Sr profited handsomely from the land deal, paid his taxes with pennies on the dollar. There is some believe an Oxbo landing restaurant owned by a limited LLC which received over $800,000 in public funds has McDermott Sr as one of its share holders.

The stench of corruption is heavy in Northwest Indiana

Anonymous said...

"The stench of corruption is heavy in Northwest Indiana"

Always has been. Always will be.