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Millennium Park trial reflects paradoxes of Daley's Chicago

If former Mayor Richard M. Daley’s deposition in the city’s lawsuit against the Park Grill restaurant had a topsy-turvy Alice in Wonderland quality, as I previously observed, then Monday’s start to the actual trial was a return trip Through the Looking-Glass.

There’s no getting around the up-is-down, in-is-out aspect to a case in which Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration is seeking to undo one of the hallmark deals of the Daley years — and trying to pull it off without being critical of Daley.

Throwing around words like “corrupt,” “rigged” and “sweetheart contract,” city lawyers on Monday asked a Cook County judge to declare void the arrangement that allowed owners of the Park Grill to construct a restaurant in Millennium Park—and to operate it these past 10 years.

Their reasoning? The Chicago Park District never had authority to grant the concession agreement because the City of Chicago legally controlled the property.

Or in other words, the Daley-controlled Park District didn’t get proper permission from Daley’s city government.

And, the judge was told, none of the sweethearts in this sweetheart deal were named Daley, but rather former Park District official Laura Foxgrover, who allegedly steered the contract to Park Grill managing partner Matthew O’Malley’s group while secretly pregnant with his child.

Setting aside for a moment the legitimate concerns about the Foxgrover-O’Malley machinations, the city’s position requires the legalities of the situation to ignore what Park Grill lawyers called the “realities.”