Alderman used Chicago program for discount on next-door lots

Michael Scott said his wife handled the deal without his involvement

Natashee Scott and Alderman Michael Scott Jr. in front of 1250 South Albany Avenue (Google Maps, Twitter/NorthwesternLaw,
Natashee Scott and Alderman Michael Scott Jr. in front of 1250 South Albany Avenue (Google Maps, Twitter/NorthwesternLaw,

A retiring Chicago alderman said he did nothing wrong by using a city program to buy two parcels next to his home at a discount.

Michael Scott, who served two terms as alderman for the 24th ward, plans to buy parcels at 1254 and 1256 South Albany Avenue in North Lawndale for $1,000 and $7,000 respectively, the Daily Line reported. Scott and his wife, Natashee, a deputy to Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton, used a program that lets homeowners pay as little as $1,000 for adjacent public properties appraised at $10,000 or less.

Scott said his wife pursued the deal through Mayor Lightfoot’s administration so that their three children would have more space to play outdoors. The couple plans to add a garage and create a green space with a garden and manicured lawn.

The mayor introduced two ordinances to the City Council on behalf of Chicago’s Department of Planning and Development to sell the lots, which the city has owned since 1992, to Natashee Scott under the Adjacent Neighbors Land Acquisition Program. The couple has six months to transform the empty lots.

Chicago’s ethics rules prohibit elected officials from having any financial interest in the purchase of city-owned properties. There’s an exception for real estate that’s “sold pursuant to a process of competitive bidding following public notice.”

The properties were publicly advertised and no other offers were received, according to Peter Strazzabosco of the Department of Planning and Development, and the Board of Ethics reviewed both sales.

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“The city’s land sale programs are intended to repurpose surplus land for productive private purposes and each transaction is subject to multiple review and approval procedures,” Strazzabosco said. “Both of these sales are compliant with program requirements, review procedures and ethics considerations.”

The alderman said he sat out of the application process and didn’t communicate with the planning department or mayor’s office about the deal.

“I have not talked to any of them about anything,” he said. “I’ve had my wife do this so that it wouldn’t go through me. I have not called on her behalf, I have not sent an email on her behalf. I have not done any of those things, because I did not want it to look as if me — as the alderman — had my hand in doing any of this.”

Scott said May 24, that he was resigning from his alderman post and taking a job as director of industry and community relations for Chicago-based Cinespace Studios.

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CORRECTION: June 1, 2022, 3:10 p.m.: The second paragraph of this story has been corrected to show that original article came from the Daily Line.