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Chicago way: Michael Scott case not closed

By Michelle Malkin  •  November 17, 2009 09:40 AM

Yesterday, I noted the troubled political life and sudden death of Chicago developer/Daley croney/Olympic bid-pusher/public schools chief Michael Scott.

The medical examiner’s office ruled the death a suicide.

But the case is not closed. Police are still continuing a probe:

“We know what the (medical examiner) ruled, but there’s still a lot of questions that exist out there,” police Supt. Jody Weis said. “We want to make sure we’ve done a thorough examination before we make a definitive call ourselves. It’s early on, this investigation.”

People who knew Scott well also say they can’t imagine he would take his own life.

“I haven’t talked to anyone that believes that this was in fact a suicide,” said former alderman and WVON radio host Cliff Kelley.

Scott’s body was found partially submerged in the Chicago River near the inoperable Kinzie Street railroad bridge after 3 a.m. Monday. His Cadillac was nearby, and a .380-caliber handgun was found underneath or near his body.

The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is tracing the history of that handgun and will turn over their findings to Chicago police.

Weis said no suicide note has been found. He also said Scott’s wife said it was unusual for him not to return home before midnight. Scott was last seen alive around 6:30 p.m. Sunday.

The Sun-Times also puzzles over the lack of a suicide note and reports:

“The suicide is a shocker. Michael Scott seemed to like himself too much to end his own life,” said a Scott observer.

And there’s yet another failed business deal on his record:

Michael Scott and his partners had hoped to make at least $600,000 through a city-financed deal to build affordable and market-rate housing in Ald. Isaac “Ike” Carothers’ ward, city records show.

But the far West Side project hasn’t gone as planned.

Scott’s death Monday sparked a Sun-Times examination of his financially troubled development in the 29th Ward, where Carothers has been charged with taking bribes from another housing developer, Calvin Boender.

Though court records show Carothers secretly recorded “public officials and real estate developers” after being confronted by authorities, there has been no indication Scott has been part of the Carothers investigation.

However, the same grand jury that indicted Carothers is investigating whether clout played a role in student admissions to the city’s elite public high schools. Scott conceded he was subpoenaed in that probe but insisted he never tried to clout any kids in.

Scott originally had planned to develop the property in the 400 block of North Waller with Chicago real estate mogul Gerald Fogelson. The city agreed to sell them a half-acre lot for less than the appraised value in 2005 when Scott was school board president. Their lawyer and lobbyist was state Sen. John Cullerton, now Senate president.

Scott had left the school board by the time he closed on the city land in 2007, and he had new partners in the deal. A company owned by former Chicago Park District Supt. David Doig and two others replaced Fogelson in the project.

Doig’s firm and Scott paid the city $196,000 for the lot. They had planned to build 41 condos on that parcel and two others Scott owned.

Nine of the condos in the $13.2 million project were to be “affordable” units, making the developers eligible for up to $1.3 million in city tax-increment financing money, according to the agreement inked with City Hall.

But the developers have received no TIF money because the condos haven’t sold.

As I’ve noted before, tax increment financing is nothing but a wealth redistribution scheme.

Tragically, Scott appears to have been way in over his head.

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