Ed Burke's Client Conflict

Finds ways to help

Ald. Ed Burke typically abstains from voting on issues before the City Council that involve any of his myriad of clients in his second job as lawyer, but that doesn't mean he doesn't find ways to help them get what they want from the city.

According to a Sun-Times report, Burke wrote letters of support for zoning changes for two of his private clients while abstaining on actually voting for the changes because of the conflict-of-interest doing so would pose.

Two instances might not seem like a big deal, but they highlight the complicated agendas at play when an aldermanic powerhouse who is also the City Council's finance committee chairman does business on the side of powerful interests depending on favorable city rulings.

And in one case, the client was Calvin Boender, the controversial developer who was indicted with Ald. Ike Carothers last month in an alleged bribery scheme.

"Boender, who has been a client of Burke's law firm for at least four years, hired Burke to seek property tax cuts on 14 properties -- only one in Chicago -- since Aug. 15, 2005," the Sun-Times reports. "Seven of the cases were filed before Burke wrote a letter endorsing Boender's plans to redevelop the corner of 43rd and Cicero on Burke's 14th Ward."

And Burke has saved Boender money.

"This year, Burke persuaded Cook County Assessor James Houlihan to lower property tax assessments on three of five properties Boender owns."

Boender is also a campaign contributor to Burke, and hosted a fundraider for Burke's wife, Anne, who is a state supreme court justice.

Burke's law firm, which specializes in contesting property tax assessements, sells itself as "small enough to render an exceptional level of personal attention to each and every client."

Steve Rhodes is the proprietor of The Beachwood Reporter, a Chicago-centric news and culture review.

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