Chicago politicians play moneyball

You got to love this story from the Chicago Sun-Times.


A week before Alderman Tom Tunney (44th) declared his opposition to new advertising signs the Cubs want to erect that could block the views of rooftop clubs overlooking Wrigley Field, the alderman’s political fund got contributions from three club owners. The checks to the Citizens for Tunney fund included $2,500 from George Loukas — who owns the Cubby Bear Lounge as well as rooftop clubs — and $1,000 apiece from Ivy League Baseball Club and Right Field Rooftop LLC, owners of the Skybox on Sheffield club.

That makes at least $171,356.50 in all that Tunney has received from owners of the clubs, which offer fans a rooftop vantage to see Cubs games. That’s nearly 10 percent of all the campaign money the North Side alderman has raised since he ran successfully for his first Chicago City Council term in 2003, according to a Chicago Sun-Times analysis of campaign-finance records.

Rooftop club owners have given another $15,675 to Tunney’s Democratic organization in the 44th Ward, which includes Wrigley.

Previously, the Sun-Times reported that Tunney is opposing key elements of the plan to allow the Cubs to put up new signs in an effort to bring in an estimated $150 million in advertising and sponsorship money to pay for major renovations to their iconic ballpark.  Tunney previously sided with the rooftop club owners in 2010, when he agreed to let the team erect a Toyota advertising billboard above the Wrigley bleachers only after the team agreed to a four-year moratorium on new outfield signs.

“I’ve been trying to be as fair and balanced as I can be,” Tunney says. “It’s my job to manage the relationship between Wrigley and the community.”

He adds, “I think I’m pretty modest in my fund-raising compared to other chairmen of committees.”

Rooftop club owners supported Tunney even before he became committee chairman a year ago. They gave him $37,000 worth of food and drinks and ticket purchases for a 2008 Tunney campaign fund-raiser and another $27,500 in 2009 for a rooftop event.

Besides the $4,500 from the rooftop club owners, Tunney’s campaign fund also got $11,000 from businesses that are members of a neighborhood group that’s opposing plans to let the Cubs hold street fairs near Wrigley. Tunney has echoed their concerns that the street fairs would siphon customers from bars and restaurants on Clark Street.

The Cubs failed to win support for the concept of closing streets for concessions last year, but it’s part of the Cubs’ new plans. The team and its executives also have contributed to Citizens for Tunney — a total of $16,750 — though they haven’t opened their checkbooks to him lately. The last time was in October 2010, when the team sent a $1,500 check. A spokesman for Tom Ricketts, chairman of the family-owned team, declined comment.