Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Corruption in the Building Code and Zoning Process

A recent 7th Circuit case exemplifies the corruption that often complicates and vilifies the building code and zoning process. An alderman from Chicago named Troutman was involved.

In December 2003, James Pattison sought a zoning change and alley access for a property he was developing on Michigan Avenue. He met with Troutman and a man whose name he could not recall in order to seek Troutman's support. At that meeting, Troutman handed Pattison a stack of tickets for a fundraising event for her campaign. Pattison stated that he would do his best to sell the tickets, and Troutman told him that he had already bought them. Pattison understood that to mean “that if I wanted to get what I needed to get done for my building, I was going to have to purchase these tickets.” There were 50 tickets at $100 each, costing him a total of $5,000. Pattison issued three checks totaling $5,000 after being instructed by someone in Troutman's office as to how to fill out the checks. Once the checks were cashed, Pattison received the letter of support from Troutman.

I'll add some of the other incidents over the next few days. The real concern is that this is most likely only the tip of the iceberg. And certainly, even if it's not, most believe that it is.

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