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Former alderman resigning from city planning job

Mayor Lori Lightfoot had rewarded John Arena with the $129,996-a-year job in the Department of Planning and Development despite objections from the rookie alderman who defeated Arena in the 45th Ward.

Former 45th Ward Ald. John Arena.
Former 45th Ward Ald. John Arena is resigning from his position in the city’s Department of Planning and Development.
Sun-Times file photo

Former alderman John Arena is resigning from the city job he landed not long after losing a bid for reelection, Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office announced Friday.

News of his departure comes just over two weeks after Arena was accused of using that job in the city’s Department of Planning and Development to continue fighting the man who beat him.

The most-recent controversy stemmed from Arena’s alleged conduct at a community meeting in mid-December on a proposed $200 million development at the site of a former Sears department store at Six Corners. Ald. James Gardiner (45th), who defeated Arena, said the former alderman was being disruptive while also doing political work at the event.

Arena at that time denied the allegations through a city spokesman.

Plans for redevelopment of another parcel at Six Corners have been stalled since a proposal backed by Arena hit a last-minute snag at a committee meeting in April, just as the defeated alderman was leaving office. Arena has spent years trying to fill that hole at the junction of Cicero and Milwaukee Avenues and Irving Park Road.

A statement released Friday by Lightfoot’s office did not mention any reasons for Arena’s departure.

“Mr. Arena informed the Mayor’s Office late last month of his decision to resign from his position as a Senior Advisor for the City’s Department of Planning and Development effective January 17,” the statement said. “We thank him for his service to the City of Chicago.”

Gardiner previously had complained to Lightfoot about her decision to reward Arena with the $129,996-a-year job. Lightfoot at the time defended the hire.

“I’m not gonna have somebody who defeated somebody in an election dictate to me how or when or under what circumstances somebody gets hired,” Lightfoot said then.