Mendoza gets $100,000 donation from co-owner of clout-heavy scrap yard

SHARE Mendoza gets $100,000 donation from co-owner of clout-heavy scrap yard
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Susana Mendoza. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

A part owner of a clout-heavy scrap yard has contributed another $100,000 to Susana Mendoza, doubling the contribution he made to her mayoral campaign in early December.

Howard Labkon and other members of the Labkon family, current owners of General Iron Industries, have lathered local politicians with well over $1 million in campaign contributions in recent years.

The beneficiaries have included Mayor Rahm Emanuel and a parade of Chicago aldermen.

The family also has employed an armada of clout-heavy lobbyists, including former Emanuel aide John Borovicka, former Hispanic Democratic Organization chieftain Victor Reyes and John R. Daley — son of County Commissioner John Daley and nephew of mayoral candidate Bill Daley as well as former Mayor Richard M. Daley.

The largesse apparently paid dividends last fall, when General Iron’s aldermanic allies beat back an attempt to revoke a waiver that has allowed the company to collect scrap metal 24-hours a day, start operating its shredders at 5 a.m., and keep them running until 10 p.m.

Typically, scrap metal yards must cease operations at 9 p.m. and not start up again until 7 a.m. the next day.

General Iron is in Lincoln Park, next to the $6 billion Lincoln Yards development. The company has announced plans to move operations to the Southeast Side, but not until 2020, making the waiver all the more important.

Last Thursday, Mendoza got another $100,000 contribution from Howard Labkon, matching the $100,00 he donated to her campaign on Dec. 3.

Randall Samborn, a spokesman for other members of the Labkon family, has said the earlier contribution to Mendoza’s mayoral campaign was “not requested or authorized by” other members of the family, who run the business on a day-to-day basis.

Howard Labkon remains a part-owner of General Iron. That’s despite the fact that Labkon has what Samborn has called an “adversarial relationship” with other family members who manage General Iron and the fact that family members have taken legal action against each other in the past involving the company.

Although Howard Labkon is now one of her biggest donors, Mendoza on Wednesday declared her support for revoking the waiver.

The issue will almost certainly be resurrected after the May 20 inauguration of a new mayor and City Council.

That’s particularly true given the long lead time before General Iron’s move to the Far Southeast Side.

“She wants to revoke it,” Mendoza campaign spokesperson Rebecca Evans said of the waiver in a text message to the Chicago Sun-Times.

“She supports shutting down General Iron and does not support them relocating anywhere else.”

Mendoza has not yet weighed in on a proposal by local aldermen Brian Hopkins (2nd), Scott Waguespack (32nd) and Michele Smith (43rd) to build a 24-acre park on assembled property not owned by Lincoln Yards developer Sterling Bay — property that includes the General Iron scrapyard.

Emanuel has pledged $800 million in tax-increment financing for infrastructure improvements tied to the Lincoln Yards project.

Hopkins wants up to $200 million in park funding included in the list of projects bankrolled by TIF funding.

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