Opinion-Editorial: “Trash Can” Proco Joe Say it Ain’t So – City Inspector General investigates Alderman Moreno
The City Inspector General opened up an investigation of Alderman Proco Joe Moreno for his role in authorizing the illegal placement of trash cans throughout the 1st Ward with his photo and advertisement on the side of each can. Alderman Moreno may have violated several laws, including using public property and his public office to campaign for another political office.
CBS Channel 2 Investigative Reporter Jay Levine did an expose and story on the “Free Green Cans” that have been popping up all over the 1st Ward with Alderman Proco “Joe” Moreno’s campaign advertisement on them. According to Levine, “Ald. Proco Joe Moreno (1st), running for ward committeeman, has apparently been helping a contractor break the law by placing trash and recycling containers without a permit, then accepting campaign contributions in return.”
According to the report, “Moreno, who first claimed he “paid for the ad”, then said he “will pay for it”, and now calls it – at least in part – a “campaign contribution,” which will be appropriately reported…still says that, after giving the company the go ahead to place the containers, and sell advertising on them – and taking some freebees for himself – he also intends to advocate for the company in meetings he’s set up with city officials next week.”
These trash cans have suddenly shown up in the last couple of weeks not coincidentally during a hotly contested Democratic Committeeman race between myself, Anne Shaw, incumbent Jesse Ruben Juarez, and Alderman Proco Joe Moreno.
Chicago Department of Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein said the alderman does not have authority to place such trash containers on city sidewalks without a permit from CDOT. Klein said the containers in this case don’t have that permit.
It is also illegal to use public property or one’s elected office for political campaigning, as Alderman Moreno is doing in this instance.
Another problem with Alderman Moreno’s actions is that there is no transparency with respect to who is responsible for the trash in these cans and who is responsible for them period. There is virtually no way for anyone to find out unless the company files a permit. The City permit and registration process forces the company to disclose who is the owner, where the garbage is being processed, and who is responsible for the maintenance of the cans. Jay Levine tried to track this information down, but could reach no one with the company, which incidentally lists its address at a 4 flat residential building in Uptown. Since they have failed to file a permit or be registered with the City there is no one to go to to find out where the trash is going. Levine opines, “they could be taking it to the alley and dumping it for all we know.”
This is shady and Alderman Moreno has gone way beyond the bounds of his power in an act that is not only not transparent, but is also illegal, just so he could use his office to illegally campaign for Committeeman.
This is unacceptable, unethical and illegal behavior. People complain about the lack of good government and the rampant corruption in City politics and here is a good example. Citizens of the 1st Ward should not stand for this behavior. Jay Levine tried to speak to Moreno about these allegations, but he refused to speak to him. Levine observed that, “Moreno is usually eager to speak to reporters – not this time.” What is he afraid of or did he think he could slip this past the voters. The 1st Ward deserves better. Please exercise your voice and vote. Early voting is through March 15 and election day is March 20.
The original story and broadcast can be viewed at http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2012/02/28/inspector-general-looking-into-unpermitted-street-trash-bins-in-1st-ward/
By Anne Shaw
ED. Note: The CEO of Free Green Can is Steve Holland. Here’s a press release from Sept, 23, 2011.
ED. Note II: The Pipeline has “elected” to make no endorsements of any local candidate. Instead, we’ll share Op-eds like this one, as well as encourage readers and candidates to write in with their thoughts, if any, on the upcoming March 20, 2012 primary. Thanks to Nick Pryzbyciel who attended this BCO Candidate Forum and Daniel Gerzinga who wrote about Shaw earlier today. Or was that yesterday?
About the Author: Anne Shaw is running for 1st Ward Democratic Committeeman. Anne spearheaded the movement and campaign to save the 13th District Police Station from closing and continues her fight for public safety and strong police presence in the 1st Ward. An award winning attorney for 16 years, exclusively representing families and small businesses, Shaw has been endorsed by three independent progressive organizations: the Northside Democracy for America, the Progressive Alliance PAC, and the Asian American Action Fund of Greater Chicago. She was also the only candidate for 1st Ward Committeeman to receive the Northwest Chapter of the IVI-IPO’s motion to endorse. Anne has been active in the East Village for almost a decade and was the Vice President of the East Village Association in 2003. Additionally, Anne has been active in the Chicagoland community for almost two decades, most recently founding and chairing two pro bono legal clinics serving poor, immigrant, and underrepresented communities. For more information about Anne Shaw, please visit www.FriendsforAnneShaw.org.