Aldermen and Finance Committee Discuss Chicago’s Issues
Aldermen said that the proposed $20 million settlement paid out to each of the families of two men killed after their vehicle was struck by Chicago’s intoxicated, off-duty detective Joseph Frugoli raises concerns that the city will be held liable for anything officers do while not on the clock. Chicago’s City Council Finance Committee, taking their concerns into consideration, eventually agreed to cut the proposed amount in half and, instead, pay $10 million to each of the families.
“This to me seems to open us up to any type of action that somebody says, ‘Well, you all didn’t discipline this person here because he did x,’ and now all of the taxpayers are liable for his private actions,” said Ald. Jason Ervin, 28th. “That’s, I can’t go for that. That’s a huge leap you’re asking us to take here. How is that our responsibility…if Joe the window-washer goes home and does something? This is a very slippery slope we are embarking on.” He added, “I understand he is a police officer, but how do we get roped into your private life, your private activity? Why are we on the hook for his private actions — not police actions? I can see if he shot somebody. But this is totally out of bounds as far as his job is concerned.”
But Finance Committee Chairman Ald. Ed Burke, 14th, pointed out Frugoli had gotten in trouble for a drunken bar fight and two prior car crashes. In the 1992 Bridgeport bar incident, Frugoli punched a man in the face and yelled, “Nobody messes with the Frugolis!” The victims’ families asked the court to sanction the city for failing to comply with the routine exchange of evidence known as discovery.
Frugoli was convicted of aggravated DUI and leaving the scene of an accident in the deaths of Andrew Cazares and Fausto Manzera. He is serving an eight-year sentence in state prison.
At the same time, Chicago’s aldermen also approved a contract for Aeroterm to issue up to $150 million in bonds for various expansion projects at O’Hare International Airport and they approved an ordinance to amend the leases of cargo facilities and hangars at O’Hare, which would increase the annual revenue from $4 million to $41 million.
In addition to these matters, the Finance Committee approved a $1.35 million settlement with the family of Michael Jansson, who went missing for eleven years before officers discovered his body in 2012 inside a car at the bottom of the Chicago River. Jansson drove away from a bar in 2001 after an argument for which he was thrown out. His family sued the city after his body was found, arguing Jansson drove into the river because warning signs on a nearby street weren’t properly maintained.
The committee also approved tax incentives for the historic main post office building. This is one the sites Mayor Rahm Emanuel has proposed as a location for the new Amazon headquarters Chicago is bidding for. The tax incentives would save developers an estimated $100 million in taxes over twelve years, according to city planning officials.