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No known way of knowing now what Daley knows about what he knew: Brown

LaurFoxgrover | Sun-Times files

Laura Foxgrover | Sun-Times files

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Updated: November 23, 2013 6:31AM

Former Mayor Richard M. Daley doesn’t know what he knew about the controversial Park Grill restaurant in Millennium Park, nor does he recall what he forgot, but should he ever remember, don’t expect him to swear to it under oath.

There is a definite Alice in Wonderland aspect to the 162-page transcript of Daley’s deposition in the city’s lawsuit against the owners of the Park Grill, which you can now read online at thanks to The Watchdogs.

Whether you consider yourself a student of the Daley years, or just another innocent bystander who fell through the Looking Glass, I commend the deposition to your attention for its insights into Daley’s petulant nature.

I’ve just finished reading it myself and counted 139 instances of the former mayor answering questions with: “I don’t recall.”

Then there are all the instances of Daley repeating answers suggested by his lawyer Terrence Burns, which practically demand to be read in parrot voice.

Consider this back-and-forth with Park Grill lawyer Stephen Novack trying to pin down Daley on the initial projection that Millennium Park would cost $150 million, as stated in a city press release.

Burns interrupts: “Well, specifically you are asking him about the dollar amounts in this release. He doesn’t remember it.

Daley: “Doesn’t remember it.”

You can see how. “Braawk! Doesn’t remember it,” would work much better.

In another spot, Novack asks Daley: “What if on the flipside of that, while you were mayor, if something came to your attention that the Park District was doing and you did not agree with that, what would you do?”

City’s lawyer: “Object to the form of the question.”

Burns: “Calls for speculation.”

Daley: “Braawk! Speculation.”

Okay, he didn’t really say “Braawk!” but he should have.

Lest you think Daley is slipping in his retirement years, I would suggest that our former mayor finds this a convenient way to deal with controversies with which he would rather not be involved.

The Park Grill is a problem that I’m sure Daley thought would have gone away by now. Most of us did.

But Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration surprised everyone by filing a lawsuit to try to invalidate the 30-year concession agreement with an ownership group that included Daley’s friends, associates and even a cousin.

The city’s lawyers are trying to blame everything on a former Park District official, Laura Foxgrover, who they say unfairly influenced the selection process to give the restaurant concession to a group led by Matthew O’Malley, who happened to be the father of her child.

The glaring problem with this approach is that whatever went down with Foxgrover and O’Malley doesn’t change the fact that every major decision involving Millennium Park had Daley’s fingerprints all over it.

One of the delicious facts that Watchdogs reporter Tim Novak dredged from the lawsuit was that Chicago taxpayers coughed up $390,000 so that a pipe could be installed to supply natural gas to the restaurant, requiring Michigan Avenue to be dug up on a Sunday night.

Does anyone think Laura Foxgrover could have arranged that on her own?


Twitter: @MarkBrownCST

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