STILL, No Answers to Those Pesky Emma’s Landing Questions

City of Geneva: Review and Release the Minutes and Tapes* of the February 2020 Secret Meetings NOW

The page displayed below relates to the Geneva “Emma’s Landing” Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) project. The document’s provenance is important and the red boxes around two paragraphs have significance. I received the communication via a Freedom of Information Act request to the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA). The document is page 22 of a 48-page file (attached) titled 11831_site control, Emma’s Landing, Geneva, Illinois, The Burton Foundation.

I made similar FOIA requests to the City of Geneva for information related to all aspects of the Emma’s Landing application and approval. Although I received hundreds of pages of mostly redundant email threads, I did not receive the document with the red box. The yellow highlighting of “Good news” was added by me. The red box was present on the IHDA FOIA response.

Now, here are two crucial context issues for the only two red boxes in a document titled “Site Control”: 1) Given that the Governor’s Press Release announcing that Geneva was a LIHTC winner also stated that the Emma’s Landing site had been donated by the City of Geneva (which did not happen but is stated in the red box); and, 2) Given that the site also required access from a second adjacent property “control” of which is highlighted by a second red box on page 20, the conclusion is inescapable that the IHDA used informal documents improperly concealed from the public in their determination to award Burton Foundation and the controlling Fellhauer couple a large sum of money. Twenty-two competing applications were denied, and Geneva won with a trick play.

Below is the entire 48-page Emma’s Landing Document concerning control of the building site and access road. The two red boxes, one on page 20 and one on page 22 were placed by IHDA to indicate accepted documentation that the required site control was obtained.

This is crucial: On page 20 and high-lighted in yellow by me is this: “I realize this is coming at you last minute but the deadline is at 12:00 noon. Is there any way that this can be expedited. Thanks” The quote is from the Burton Foundation attorney’s communication to the Geneva attorney. In the red-box reply the Geneva attorney indicates “the form of the agreement” would be provided before the noon-deadline but that “the City Council will need to approve it.” Clearly, the “form of the agreement” was sufficient for Burton and IHDA to proceed based on the “comfort” of the Geneva City Council but without ever letting the sunshine of transparency reach the secret process.

Geneva citizens and taxpayers were played like a cheap fiddle by the Mayor, his minions, and the Fellhauers (AKA “Burton Foundation”). IHDA was either duped or gave a wink and nod when it accepted that the site was donated, raising Geneva’s Qualified Allocation Plan score high enough to cheat Geneva’s way into the winner’s circle and stuffing a couple million dollars into the Fellhauer’s pockets. Other winners exist, like Joy Nelson, who stood in as the “place holder” “owner” of the property encompassed by the fraudulent Emma’s Planned Unit Developer Ordinance and subsequently sold the property that provided the access. Many questions need answers, such as why the process was greased through on the subterranean fast track during the height of a pandemic. (Remember JBP’s evisceration of the Open Meetings Act while urging the tabling of non-urgent matters?) Who else benefitted either politically or financially (or both) from this treachery?

* Post script:

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