Opinion-Editorial: “Trash Can” Proco Joe Say it Ain’t So – City Inspector General investigates Alderman Moreno

By at March 1, 2012 | 1:52 am | Print

Photo by Philin Phlash

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?

Photo courtesy of Anne Shaw

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.

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  1. Resident, 3 years ago Reply

    Well, while I might not vote for Moreno, I know I won’t vote for Shaw; I could never vote someone in to office who is this poor of a writer.

  2. Chicago Mayor, 3 years ago Reply

    This is not an Opinion-Editorial, it’s a political add for the writer….

  3. bea, 3 years ago Reply

    It’s always nice to see an article like this, accusing someone of unethical behavior, and then discover that the article has been written by the opposing candidate.
    Sheesh. What ever happened to actual JOURNALISM?

    • chicago-pipeline, 3 years ago Reply

      It is an opinion piece and stated in it that it is written by an opposing candidate. Any candidate is welcome to voice their opinon. If you don’t think the pipeline is delivering REAL JOURNALISM then you and all others are more than welcome to submit stories, for instance Shaw is having a rally/vigil in 40 minutes, but after attending two or three meetings, reporting on those, plus putting together other stories and writing the weekly enewsletter that I stayed up all night long to get out by deadline, well, I am too tired to cover it. Would you like to go cover it? Real journalism is really tough todo these days. Join us . . Ans d Mae th

      • chicago-pipeline, 3 years ago Reply

        Excuse typos, on phone as need break from laptop. Join us and make the pipeline better. Cover the local election. We have plenty of ideas and stories and the only thing not on our side is time. Publishers in real JOURNALISM care about dollars from political ads, and I would rather not junk up the pipeline with political ads. Content is free everywhere else, why shouldn’t candidates have a platform. In the week before election we will do a run down of who is running for what, etc. Let me know if you would like to volunteer to put that together.

        • bea, 3 years ago Reply

          What I’m referring to is the fact that it doesn’t state up front that it’s an piece on Moreno’s trash cans written by someone running against him – “myself, Anne Shaw” is buried in the fourth paragraph, and the byline is “chicago-pipeline.” Most readers, myself included, would miss the “myself, Anne Shaw” reference and not realize that the article was written by someone running against Moreno in a “hotly contested” election until they got to the end.
          It’s up to the Pipeline whether or not they want to provide a platform for candidates to bash the people they’re running against, I’ve got no opposition to that. What I object to is not knowing going into an article that it’s written by a candidate about another candidate, accusing the other of misbehavior.
          As for how tired the people running the Pipeline are, I’m sorry to hear it. But finding this lousy excuse for an op/ed offensive and misleading doesn’t obligate me to start writing for a paper or website.

  4. Demetrius Freeman, 3 years ago Reply

    I don’t see anything on the cans about a campaign, just a promotion of how to reach his city service website, which is what all Alderman should do.

    Jay Levine is looking to sensationalize a story about free recycle cans for city residents to use. The cans have been out throughout various parts of the city of Chicago outside of the 1st ward. (Various parks)

    For a shady business owner, you sure do find the evil in the silliest things. You and the current committeeman deserve each other :-)

  5. chicago-pipeline, 3 years ago Reply

    Demetrius, on a personal note I have enjoyed the cans. There is one right by Milwaukee and Western near the McDonalds that I use all the time. Being an election season,candidates are looking to dig up dirt on each other. One of the reasons I stopped going to SSA meetings a few years ago is because I couldn’t take the bureaucracy… it seemed like to get city trash cans on the street, it was a huge hassle and took years. And then it was rumored that the 32nd ward and part of Damen had gotten their trash cans removed because of some bad blood between Daley and Waguespack. I see advertising as one of the purest ways to support certain services. If it weren’t for advertising, would GROUPON writers have their jobs sitting in cubes writing snarky daily deal emails about businesses? If I weren’t for advertising the pipeline wouldn’t exist either. If a business is willing to pay for advertising to support something that is beneficial, is that wrong? IF the cans had correct permits and were legit, Shaw and others could have advertised on them too. As for Levine, the info on the cans was everywhere. Bloggers wrote about it. Chicago Journal did a big piece on the cans. Maybe it was a mystery to CBS which rarely sets foot in the hood unless there is crime in the news, or in this case, mud slinging.

  6. chicago-pipeline, 3 years ago Reply

    Bea, you bring up many good points, and I agree. The byline automatically reverts back to chicago pipeline unless anne shaw or any contributor is part of the wordpress network. I should have put a disclaimer at the very top of the article indicating it is written by her, like I did for ronda locke. Thank you. Everything you are saying makes sense.

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