Rahm’s tenant wanted $100,000 to move out, broker testifies
BY ABDON M. PALLASCH Political Reporter February 7, 2011 6:49AM
Boxes containing some of the belongings of Chicago mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel and his family were found in a crawl space of their home in the Ravenswood community.
For $100,000, Emanuel might have been able to skip the entire challenge to his residency status and his ability to run for mayor.
That’s the price his tenant asked for to move out of the house.
Emanuel called that request “ridiculous” and counter-offered $30,000 to $40,000, said Emanuel’s friend Paul Levy, who handled the negotiations for Emanuel.
These revelations came out on the last day of Emanuel’s three-day-long residency hearing. Attorneys made their closing arguments. Hearing officer Joe Morris hopes to make a recommendation Wednesday the Board of Elections can vote on Thursday about whether or not to bounce Emanuel from the ballot
Emanuel charged Rob and Lori Halpin about $5,000 a month to rent the Emanuels’ Ravenswood home while they moved to Washington, D.C., where Emanuel was serving as President Obama’s chief of staff.
When Mayor Daley announced in September that he would not seek re-election, Emanuel called Rob Halpin and asked him, even though he had just renewed the lease on the house through June, if he would be willing to move out.
Emanuel testified about that conversation Tuesday, but did not offer numbers. Levy, a real estate broker and friend of Emanuel who negotiated through Halpin’s attorney, filled in the numbers Thursday.
“He suggested that Mr. Halpin was looking for $100,000,” Levy said, recounting his conversation with Halpin’s attorney, Jim Erwin. “He said his client was difficult and hot-headed.”
“I called Rahm. Rahm said, ‘That’s ridiculous — I’m not going to do that,’ ” Levy said.
Instead, Emanuel offered $5,000 a month – a rebate of the expected rent, for every month left on the lease. Depending on how quickly they could be out, that could be up to $40,000, Levy estimated.
Attorneys seeking to throw Emanuel off the ballot for mayor say the fact he rented his house out and could not spend nights there upon his returns to Chicago means he fails to meet the state requirement that he “reside” in Chicago a year before Election Day if he hopes to run for mayor.
The fact he stayed in a hotel “like a visitor” on his few visits home shows he is not a resident, some of the activists who challenged him argued.
Emanuel’s attorneys argued that Emanuel establish himself as a Chicago resident in four terms in Congress and did not forfeit that residency when he accepted President Obama’s offer to serve as chief of staff.
But attorney Burt Odelson said the state’s muncipal code requirement that candidates for mayor “reside” in the town they run in for a year before Election Day was clear.
“He has nowhere to stay here in Chicago when he comes back to visit,” added attorney Andrew Finko.
“This all boils down to: Has Rahm Emanuel lived in the city for the last year and a half? No, he has not. You cannot be a resident of two cities at one time,” said objector Thomas Babbington.
After three long days of hearings, all parties seemed a bit tired. Objector Paul McKinley started referring to Emanuel’s tenants the Halpins as the “Hamsters.”
When Morris called him on it, objector Jeffery Joseph Black shouted to Morris, “Let the record reflect that you called Mr. Babbington ‘Mr Babble” the other day!”
Morris laughed and apologized,
Odelson appeared to be losing his patience with some of the non-attorney activists who have piggy-backed onto his case. Odelson complained some of the out-of-left-field questions some of them ask cloud the central legal question of the case.
As one challenger, Dr. Lora Chamberlain, asked Levy whether the disputed “storage area” in the house’ basement where the Emanuels say their valuables are stored is heated, Odelson told her that was a “great” question.
“Really?” she asked.
“Yeah, for the other side,” he said.