Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Pension Reform: Keep Daley's Nephew Away From Funds

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    NEWSLETTERS

    So maybe it’s not the greedy teachers who are causing the city’s pension funds to go broke. Maybe it’s Chicago Democrats who make a living off their political connections.

    The pension fund stands to lose $1 million in a failed real estate investment whose characters have links to former Mayor Richard M. Daley, failed Senate candidate Alexi Giannounlias and President Barack Obama, according to the Sun-Times

    A group led by Robert Vanecko and Allison Davis founded a real-estate company that received $68 million in investments from five city pension funds. They spent $1 million of that money on a building at 2400 S. Michigan Ave. that once housed the Chicago Defender, intending to convert it to a restaurant or hotel. But the recession killed those plans, and the building is in foreclosure.

    Vanecko is Mayor Daley’s nephew, which probably worked in his favor when he sought investment money from the Daley appointees who run the pension boards. Davis was a founder of Davis Miner, the civil rights law firm that gave Obama his first job out of Harvard Law School. Eventually, Davis quit his law practice to go into real estate development with Tony Rezko, another early Obama mentor.

    The plot is even thicker. The building was formerly owned by Boris Stratievsky, the alleged Russian mobster who received $23 million in credit from Broadway Bank when Giannoulias was chief loan officer. Stratievsky’s son, Lev, later pleaded guilty to attempting to launder $100,000 for an undercover FBI agent he believed was associated with Ukrainian drug dealers.

    If Mayor Rahm Emanuel is serious about pension reform, maybe the solution isn’t cutting benefits to government employees. Maybe it’s keeping such sleazy characters away from the pension funds. I doubt any teacher will collect a million-dollar pension.

    Buy this book! Ward Room blogger Edward McClelland's book, Young Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President , is available Amazon. Young Mr. Obama includes reporting on President Obama's earliest days in the Windy City, covering how a presumptuous young man transformed himself into presidential material. Buy it now!