A Better Government Association survey revealed several developments made to the developer of the apartment, Onni Group, which had a negative impact on long-time residents.
These residents said they had been swept from their homes to make way for a gleaming new luxury skyscraper they could not afford. Their new Canadian landlords and Burnett, long touted as a champion of affordable housing, promised tenants new homes in the community but ultimately broke that promise, residents say.
The records obtained by the Association for Better Government show Onni Group attempted to pay for not providing affordable housing in the new building. Burnett went from publicly criticizing the developer for trying to “wine and dine” to get out of his affordable housing obligations, to berate his colleagues at a 2018 zoning meeting after he tried to slow down the project by due to allegations of unfair treatment of tenants.
The Alderman’s accommodation in the Onni Group coincided with an influx of money from the promoter to people close to him, according to the BGA’s review of government records. In 2015, Onni hired Mabonne “Maze” Jackson, Burnett’s friend and political consultant, to lobby Burnett, ultimately paying Jackson $417,500. Onni also pledged $25,000 over five years to a charity run by Burnett’s wife, Chicago Housing Authority official Darlena Williams-Burnett, and in 2020 donated $11,000 to a committee of political action over which she presides. One of Jackson’s first reported actions on Onni’s payroll was to organize a fundraiser for Burnett.
Jackson declined to answer questions or agree to be interviewed for this report. You can read the full survey here.
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