Sunday, June 29, 2014

Andy Shaw, President & CEO of the Better Government Association files lawsuit to compel Navy Pier Inc to open its books and provide transparency to taxpayers under the $1 Per Year Lease Agreement executed with MPEA.

"McPier is taking you for a ride"
See Chicago Sun Times article here....

Here is a refresher on how we arrived at this point.

In December, 2010 Renee Benjamin, General Counsel, hired Shefsky & Froehlich, a politically connected law firm with millions in billings to MPEA, City of Chicago and the sister agencies, was handed a sole source contract to "research if a not for profit is subject to FOIA and OMA". Benjamin approved payment for $17,000 to an outside firm fully knowing the answer in advance. 

It took 4 attorneys billing at $295 per hour and 2 attorneys billing at $195 to conclude that a 501C3 non-profit is not subject to FOIA and OMA. 

Again, this is amusing as Benjamin was the FOIA Officer for MPEA, with training from the Illinois Attorney's Office. She could have simply referred to Lisa Madigan's handbook on FOIA (see Page 9) or called her office for an answer without spending taxpayer dollars. 

Any Chicago student studying civics could easily find the answer by simply looking for it!

Pay to Play, the Chicago Way!

But, this was actually an orchestrated effort by Jim Reilly to immediately incorporate Navy Pier Inc. in anticipation of splitting it out from MPEA effective July 1, 2011 and move all the Navy Pier patronage workers out of public scrutiny.

Benjamin received an immediate reward from Riley after she "retired" from MPEA effective 12/31/2010 and then obtained a sole source wired deal to act as Riley's "consultant" to supplement her monthly $8,000 pension with annual billings of between $65,000 and $70,000.

Never did these folks imagine that Tim Novak at the Chicago Sun Times would obtain direct evidence of improprieties, fraud and waste of taxpayer funds via their filed and signed IRS990 tax returns!

The BGA has filed suit to shed light on this corruption and we applaud Andy Shaw and his team for their efforts on behalf of the taxpayers of Illinois.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


Since July 1, 2011, 9 Million annual visitors to Navy Pier who patronize the tenants and enjoy the amusement rides are not supporting the Chicago economy. Instead,  100% of the cash from the tenant leases is going directly to former employees of Navy Pier who have a sweetheart deal to manage the facility and pocket the proceeds at taxpayer expense.

These 75 TENANT LEASES produced $43 MILLION PER YEAR IN REVENUE TO MPEA and were improperly transferred to Navy Pier Inc. on July 1, 2011 in exchange for a $1 25-YEAR SOLE SOURCE WIRED DEAL TO ENRICH FORMER PATRONAGE WORKERS AT BOGUS NON-PROFIT 

Tenant Leases transferred to NPI from MPEA

MPEA Tenant Lease Revenue Jan., 2011 to June, 2011

MPEA Antenna Contracts Jan., 2011 to June, 2011

The current leases are not available for FOIA as custodial authority has transferred to Navy Pier Inc., a bogus non profit that has raised ZERO dollars in tax deductible contributions since inception and also enjoys a $5 Million interest free loan from MPEA along with $100 Million of taxpayer assets transferred under the lease agreement!

These same former employees also now control $115 Million in bonds transferred under MPEA's bonding authority that can be spent without taxpayer accountability.

We urge the BGA to compel disclosure of these leases in the FOIA Lawsuit 2014-CH-10364 filed with the Cook County Circuit Court against MPEA and Navy Pier Inc.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Carol Marin hosts Chicago Tonight interview with Tim Novak (Chicago Sun Times) and Matt Topic (Better Government Association) on "Navy Pier's Secretive Spending"

Watch the video and read the article here...

Big salaries, bonuses for some Navy Pier top staff

Navy Pier's private operator exempt from public records law

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Ensuring patronage stays dead this time could take some effort

Tuesday, June 3, 2014


According to an investigative report by Dan Mihalopoulos  "SEC charges UNO with defrauding investors, warns probe 'not done' (Chicago Sun Times 6/2/2014)"

The SEC is currently investigating UNO, a non-profit charter school that hired friends and family to obtain sole source contracts for personal gain.

This steal is only $37.5 Million.

On July 1, 2011, Navy Pier Inc. a bogus non-profit put into motion by Jim Reilly, Trustee at MPEA, in cahoots with former General Counsel, now "independent consultant" Renee Benjamin granted a 25 year - $1 Per Year Sole Source Management contract to the former MPEA employees who were responsible for the deficit and mismanagement of Navy Pier.

At that time, $100 Million of taxpayer assets were shifted into Navy Pier Inc along with all of the annual revenue producing contracts that total $43 Million per year. 

What could Mayor Emanuel and Governor Quinn do with their 50/50 split of any profits from the $43 Million? Perhaps use the money towards the pension shortfall?

The original transfer moved $60 Million of Municipal Bonds from MPEA to NPI without investor approval. This act rendered tax free bonds, taxable. This will come as a surprise when the investors redeem their bonds.

Now, under a FOIA, Corruption Busters just obtained information that a 3rd Amendment has been approved authorizing transfer of an additional $55 Million for Navy Pier improvements. 

NPI is currently under investigation by the IRS for running a for-profit business under the veil of a non-profit. They have raised NO DONATIONS required under an IRS 501C3 filing since inception in 2011. However, all of their activities are revenue producing and mirror operations of a FOR PROFIT entity. 

We have previously reported that Marilynn Gardner and Dan Blondin, former MPEA employees, have dramatically increased their personal salaries with the proceeds from the revenue at NPI; all at taxpayer expense.

This steal is now $60 Million plus the new $55 Million. Makes the UNO deal pale by comparison!

We call for an SEC probe and charges to recover taxpayer funds improperly transferred.