The Chicago Sun-Times has earned its reputation as a fearless watchdog against political cronyism, patronage, and otherwise corrupt behavior. The paper’s latest investigation likely won’t shake City Hall to its core, but reporter Tim Novak may have just uncovered the Chicagoest story in recent memory .
Please give the Sun-Times a click to read the full reporting, but here’s a short summary: In 2013, Chicago alderman Ed Burke led the charge in approving a deal that allowed Vienna Beef—Chicago’s most famous purveyor of all-beef franks—to purchase a lot for its factory with a favorable tax rate. According to the Sun-Times, Burke’s law firm Klafter & Burke was hired just nine months later by—guess who?—Vienna Beef, and the firm helped the hot dog makers reduce their property taxes by more than $300,000. Burke’s firm was then awarded “an undisclosed percentage of the money it saved Vienna on taxes.”
This account was confirmed by Vienna Beef, but a company spokesperson claimed that hiring Burke’s firm, of all the real estate tax assessment attorneys in Chicago, was purely coincidental. The alderman did not respond to inquiries by the Sun-Times. Perhaps no one besides Mike Royko could have crafted a more Chicago-esque story.