'Hipster' Chicago pol who tried to block Chick-fil-A now a laughingstock
I am having a hard time coming up with sympathy for Chicago's First Ward alderman, Proco "Joe" Moreno, whose district includes the hip and fashionable Wicker Park neighborhood. Moreno, who claimed to be the youngest person ever to be elected to the City Council, is the so-called "hipster" alderman and serially embraces fashionable causes. Until now, he has gotten plenty of love from the media (see this published list of "Proco Joe Moreno's Favorite Hipster Bars," for instance).
Moreno gained national prominence back in 2013, when he tried to prevent the opening of a Chick-fil-A store in the Logan Park neighborhood of Chicago, in his ward because of its alleged opposition to redefining marriage. He backed down but claimed a win, as the Chicago Tribune dryly noted:
A Chicago alderman who made national headlines during the summer for opposing a Chick-fil-A in his increasingly trendy Northwest Side ward has reversed course, saying he will let the fast-food chain open a store in Logan Square.
Ald. Proco "Joe" Moreno, 1st, said the restaurant has agreed to include a statement of respect for all sexual orientations in an internal document and promised that its not-for-profit arm would not contribute money to groups that oppose gay marriage.
Though Moreno said he scored a "big win," the company made nearly identical pledges in a July 19 Facebook post that went up even before Moreno took issue with Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy's opposition to gay marriage [sic].
The statement of respect also falls short of Moreno's goal of adding language opposing discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people to the company's employee handbook.
Moreno said the statement will be included in a memo called "Chick-fil-A: Who We Are" to be distributed to all corporate employees and restaurant operators. The alderman said the memo will state the company's commitment to "treat every person with honor, dignity and respect — regardless of their beliefs, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender." It also would state that it is the company's "intent ... not to engage in political or social debates."
Company officials did not respond to repeated requests to confirm Moreno's assertions about the document or the foundation's donation policies.
But now Moreno has shot himself in the foot and is under police investigation. The Chicago Tribune reports:
Chicago police are investigating whether Ald. Proco "Joe" Moreno filed a false report last month when he told police his car was stolen from his Wicker Park home, authorities said Tuesday.
Moreno, 1st, reported to police on Jan. 4 that he returned home from a trip to find that the vehicle, a leased black 2016 Audi A6 sedan, was missing from his property and that no one else had access to the vehicle, police said.
Police located the car early Monday when they saw a woman driving it and initially charged her with misdemeanor trespass to a motor vehicle, authorities confirmed. But the woman, 35-year-old Liliya Hrabar, told the Tribune on Tuesday that Moreno, whom she said she dates on and off, let her use the car.
Cook County prosecutors dropped the charge against Hrabar on Tuesday, the state's attorney's office confirmed, and police opened an investigation into the possibility of a false report. ...
Hrabar told the Tribune in a phone interview Tuesday that she was in shock when police pulled her over and said she was driving a stolen vehicle. She said Moreno allowed her to use the car because hers was ruined in a crash months before.
WGN-TV notes that Ms. Hrabar spent a night in jail, and seems a bit upset:
She spent the night in jail and has been charged with a misdemeanor after police arrested her driving the alderman's Audi this week.
But she provided WGN with photos and text messages. They appear to show Moreno telling her to come pick up the car in early January, one day before he reported it stolen.
Even after he filed that police report, Moreno continued friendly and flirtatious banter with the woman promising to see her more after the election.
Here's what Moreno told WGN's Meghan Dwyer Monday night:
Moreno: "Again it was a miscommunication with a person that I dated and uh is a friend of mine."
Dwyer: "Why did you report that your car was stolen?"
Moreno: "There was a misunderstanding that she had it for longer than she wanted to and I had a hard time getting ahold of her so that was the only reason that I needed to."
Moreno also told WGN: "There were calls that I wanted to have the car back so I got the car back. She's fine. She's a single mom who I'm trying to help out. You know, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
What a guy! Always looking out of the little people. Moreno, it should be noted, was married in 2013. Here is his announcement of his engagement:
It's official: the "hipster' alderman" is about to be hitched.
Ald. Joe Moreno (1st) announced on his Facebook page Friday that later in the day he will be getting married "to the most inspiring, beautiful and opinioned person I've ever known. She brings out the best in me, and every day I feel lucky to know her."
Moreno is marrying Celena Roldan, executive director of Erie Neighborhood House, a nonprofit organization in West Town that provides education and housing programs to area families and youths.
Ms. Roldan certainly seems like a nice woman, as pictured on Moreno's Facebook page in 2013:
So Ald. Moreno was "dating" a woman and "forgot" that he loaned his car to her. That's plausible...when it comes to Chicago politics, you can't be too cynical. Municipal elections are coming this month, and my bet is that the "hipster alderman" is returned to office. But will the Chicago cops and prosecutors let him off the hook? When it comes to Chicago politics...