At a press confernce this afternoon, the federal government announced the indictment of Shirley McMayon, former Director of Natural Resources for the Park District. McMayon is charged with pocketing more than $137,000 in financial benefits in the 4½-year kickback scheme.
According to the FBI, the individuals who allegedly bribed McMayon are cooperating, and the FBI is "aggressively" pursuing leads that have arisen out of this case.
I know many Chicago-area birders might not want to acknowledge the rampant corruption at City Hall, but that corruption is creeping closer and closer to things that we hold dear. As a taxpayer, I'm offended, and as a birder, I'm nervous. Today's indictment essentially alleges that maintenance contracts were awarded not on merit, but were instead awarded to companies that were willing to bribe Park District employees. Even worse, some of the "bribes" were actually paid for by the City itself, because the contractors billed the City for products or services that were never delivered, then kicked back the money for those phony contracts to a Park Distrct employee. Something to think about the next time you go birding in one of the lakefront parks and see maintenance that has been neglected, eh?
I have not been able to determine whether any of the contracts involved were for birding spots like Montrose or Jackson Park; if I hear anything else, I will post it. But this indictment does offer a warning to any birding group that aligns itself too closely to City Hall: the person you talk to today at the Park District may be in jail tomorrow.