Chicago politicians angry over losing World Series ticket perk

Chicago politicians angry over losing World Series ticket perk

A new ethics ruling prohibits aldermen from getting World Series tickets at face value — a perk not afforded to most of the public.

Weeks after an initial offer to purchase playoff tickets at face value, Chicago aldermen have learned they will not be allowed to purchase Cubs World Series tickets as part of the same perk.

The Cubs have offered federal, state and local officials face-value tickets for years. But the Chicago Board of Ethics ruled Oct. 21 that to accept the Cubs’ offer, aldermen who accept this deal must be performing a public, ceremonial duty, such as throwing out the first pitch or delivering a speech. The original ethics ruling from Chicago Board of Ethics Executive Director Steve Berlin said aldermen would need to be introduced to the crowd or be displayed on the video board. Despite the change in ruling, aldermen who took advantage of the offer during the first two rounds of the postseason will not be punished.

But aldermen are still not happy about the rule change.

Alderman Milly Santiago, 31st Ward, said, “I’m a poor alderman, I cannot even afford to buy a $1,000 [Cubs] ticket. I cannot afford that.” Santiago earns $116,208 a year.

Alderman Roderick Sawyer, 6th Ward, didn’t take part in the deal, but he spoke out about his aldermanic colleagues not getting World Series tickets at face value.

“(Aldermen) should be able to take advantage of history,” Sawyer said.

Everyday Chicagoans who want to take advantage of history never had such an offer.

Tickets for the third game of the World Series – the first game in the series at Wrigley Field – are starting on StubHub at $1,700 for standing room only, to just under a million dollars to sit in the outfield box level. Since the city bans public officials from accepting gifts of more than $50, accepting World Series tickets would have triggered fines.

But Chicago aldermen aren’t used to being told “no.” Despite the city being dubbed the corruption capital of the country, aldermen have worked hard to shield themselves from any sort of oversight. They let former Legislative Inspector General Faisal Khan’s contract expire without a replacement ready in 2015, thus making the office obsolete, and a group of aldermen changed a February ordinance to limit auditing powers of Inspector General Joe Ferguson.

Aldermen’s track record, though, would suggest oversight is needed. In the past 40 years, 33 of approximately 200 Chicago aldermen have been convicted of federal crimes, such as bribery, extortion, embezzlement, conspiracy, mail fraud and income-tax evasion. Telling these politicians they can’t receive a luxury not afforded to the public should not be an issue, but a level playing field with the public seems foreign to aldermen.

City politicians have burdened Chicago taxpayers with more than 30 taxes and fees, and a record-high property tax hike in 2015. Given the nickel-and-dime approach taken toward taxpayers in the city, politicians should consider how to make Chicagoans’ lives more affordable instead of being frustrated over lost luxuries for themselves.

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