The Chicago Machine's '99 million dollar man'
Chicago taxpayers are about to cough up a $543 million tax increase to fund police and fire pensions (with much, much more to come), but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to do very, very well “serving” the public. Consider Langdon Neal. Tim Novak of the Chicago Sun-Times’ “The Watchdogs” explains how a lawyer can hoover up just shy of a hundred million bucks from Chicagoans:
When City Hall and other government agencies need property in Chicago, they turn to Langdon Neal, one of the city’s most politically connected lawyers.
Running the small law firm his grandfather founded more than 75 years ago, Neal has made a fortune helping City Hall and other governments condemn land for schools, police stations, McCormick Place, O’Hare Airport expansion.
Since 1999, Neal’s firm has been paid a total of more than $99 million by 10 government agencies, according to records obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times.
The precise tab is certainly higher, but some of those agencies don’t keep records going back that far.
Government agencies count on Neal. And he counts on them. The firm had $10 million in total revenue in 2012, records show — and 63 percent of that came from those government agencies.
Neal & Leroy also represents clients who do business with the same government agencies the firm represents. Neal routinely writes letters asking government officials to waive such conflicts of interest so he can represent clients doing business with his government clients — or so he can represent one government agency that’s working on a deal with another government client.
Over the past dozen years, records show Neal has filed 22 such requests for waivers from City Hall and other government clients. All were granted.
Lest anyone has forgotten, Our president chose Chicago as his hometown, the place where he would learn and practice politics and rise. And he learned a lot.