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Ald. Danny Solis resigns as chairman of City Council’s Zoning Committee

Danny Solis

Ald. Danny Solis (25th) has told associates he wants to be remembered as a hero for helping federal investigators unravel a corrupt political culture. | Sun-Times file photo

Ald. Danny Solis (25th) has resigned as chairman of the City Council’s Zoning Committee, but for now remains a member of the City Council, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office announced Tuesday.

The resignation came hours after the Sun-Times revealed details of the corruption allegations that led to Solis’ decision to cooperate with federal investigators and spend two years secretly recording conversations between Ald. Ed Burke and movers-and-shakers seeking city actions.

Solis’ resignation means Ald. James Cappleman (46th), the Zoning Committee’s vice-chair, will preside over the committee until a new City Council is seated and reorganizes itself.

Solis was one of Emanuel’s closest council allies.

“Alderman Danny Solis has recognized that he cannot effectively preside over the matters before the Committee on Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards, and he has communicated with my office his intent to resign as Chairman,” Emanuel was quoted as saying in a statement issued by his office.

“I commend him for making the right decision for the City Council and the City of Chicago.”

Solis has told associates he also was prepared to resign his City Council seat, now that his role as an FBI mole has been exposed, but he has not yet done so, and may be hoping to hold onto the seat until his term expires.

However, he is not expected to return to City Hall, where aldermen viewed his decision to cooperate against Burke as a betrayal.

Solis received sex acts, Viagra, free weekend use of an Indiana farm once owned by Oprah Winfrey and a steady stream of campaign contributions in exchange for shepherding official City Council actions, according to allegations in a federal court affidavit obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times.

The allegations are contained in an explosive search warrant application that helps explain why Solis, the powerful chairman of the City Council’s Zoning Committee, agreed to spend more than two years cooperating in a federal investigation during which he is known to have secretly recorded at least a dozen conversations with Burke, the former chairman of the City Council’s Finance Committee.

Although no charges have been filed publicly against Solis, the 2016 affidavit lays out in detail a federal corruption case against the veteran alderman, who was one of the closest City Council allies of Emanuel and Emanuel’s predecessor, Richard M. Daley.

It also alleges that among the people recorded as part of the Solis investigation was Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, the longest-serving state House speaker in the country.

Solis had no choice but to give up the chairmanship. It would have been untenable to leave him in that powerful position as the committee prepares to consider $1.6 billion in tax-increment financing subsidies for three mega-projects. That includes $900 million in TIF money for the massive Lincoln Yards project along the Chicago River.

Contributing: Jon Seidel, Mark Brown, Tim Novak