Insider in Park Grill deal didn’t reveal baby’s father
By TIM NOVAK Staff Reporter July 10, 2014 7:04PM
Laura O'Malley. | Richard A. Chapman/Sun-Times
Updated: July 11, 2014 9:09AM
Laura Foxgrover, a Chicago Park District official who oversaw concessions, testified Thursday she never put it in writing that the father of her unborn child was negotiating the biggest concession deal in park district history.
She said she also didn’t say anything in response to an email July 3, 2002, from a park district negotiator saying he was unaware of any relationships between park officials and the Park Grill restaurant owners — who included Matthew O’Malley, the father of Foxgrover’s baby.
“I never put it in writing that I was having a baby with Matthew O’Malley,” Foxgrover testified in a lawsuit filed by City Hall to break the Park Grill’s 30-year lease at Millennium Park, a deal reached after Foxgrover gave birth in September 2003.
Foxgrover repeatedly said she was unable to recall emails she received while the park district and its negotiators, Urban Concessions, were negotiating with O’Malley and his partners.
Foxgrover, who married O’Malley last summer, maintains she was just a conduit, passing along information, and didn’t discuss the deal with her child’s father.
Several months after the child was born, Foxgrover wrote a letter saying she was recusing herself from the Park Grill negotiations, though not mentioning her relationship with O’Malley. She continued working on the restaurant, though, helping O’Malley get a liquor license from City Hall.
The Park Grill deal was the second concession deal O’Malley got from the park district while Foxgrover was in charge of concessions, a job she landed in February 2001, leaving up her previous job with O’Malley’s Chicago Firehouse restaurant. In 2001, the park district awarded O’Malley and his brother a deal to operate the Clock Tower Cafe at the Marovitz Golf Course. Foxgrover didn’t recuse herself from that deal, though she and O’Malley had a sexual relationship at the time.
Foxgrover left the park district in December 2003, after Mayor Richard M. Daley objected to the size of the Park Grill’s sign, a deal Foxgrover says she approved with permission from parks Supt. David Doig and his chief of staff Drew Becher. They later denied giving Foxgrover the authority to OK the sign.
After her resignation, Daley asked Foxgrover why she quit.
“When I told the mayor David lied about the sign, he said, ‘Yeah, he’s lied to me too,’ ” Foxgrover testified.
Foxgrover rejoined the park district four months later, after Daley replaced Doig with Tim Mitchell. She now works for O’Malley’s company.