The Real Deal Chicago

Alderman v. alderman: Solis was FBI mole in Burke property tax extortion probe, report says

Solis, gatekeeper for Chicago development projects, secretly taped his colleague who stands accused of delaying a permit in exchange for legal work
January 23, 2019 02:21PM

From left: 25th ward alderman Danny Solis, and Ed Burke

Working with the FBI, Alderman Danny Solis secretly recorded colleague Alderman Ed Burke for two years before Burke was charged with trying to extort a restaurant owner in exchange for property tax appeal work.

Solis (25th) helped federal investigators build their case against Burke (14th), who allegedly delayed the processing of city permits for a South Side Burger King because the franchise owner wouldn’t hire Burke’s law firm, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, which reported the revelation.

Solis, who serves as a gatekeeper for development in Chicago as chairman of the City Council’s Zoning Committee, already announced he would not seek re-election next month. Amid the revelation he served as a mole to help prosecute one of his council colleagues, Solis now is prepared to step down from the Council, the Sun-Times reported.

Burke has denied any wrongdoing, and Solis did not return a request for comment from the paper.

Solis’ ward covers most of Pilsen, where he’s been a one-man approval board for all significant construction in one of the city’s most rapidly-gentrifying neighborhoods. The ward also includes slices of the West Loop, South Loop and Chinatown, plus the 62-acre plot where Related Midwest is planning its $7 billion “The 78” mega-development.

For more than two years he has been at odds with New York-based Property Markets Group over the firm’s plans for a major Pilsen development known as Parkworks. Solis’ insistence the developer boost the amount of affordable housing in the project led PMG to launch a legal challenge that’s still pending[Chicago Sun-Times] — John O’Brien