The First Ward Report – Under cover of the Coronavirus – Part 2!

When we last left off, under the guise of those rampant coronavirus restrictions, Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns was determined to make a city council end run to surreptitiously sell the eight-acre parcel bordered by Kaneville Road, Lewis Road, Caldwell Lane, the UP tracks, and Kaneville Court.

Once sold, his handpicked developer will swiftly get the green light to build 45 low-income rental-only townhomes without hizzoner ever having to endure input from the constituents he’s sworn to serve.


To put that in perspective, that’s just like cramming 45 homes, at least 225 people, and 135 vehicles into a space the size of Soldier Field, and what could possibly go wrong with that?

Oh! And as a result of Wednesday’s column, four readers informed me that our recent two-day three-inch rainfall means that land is currently underwater. One of ‘em, a Kaneville Court worker, said that’s always the case. I suppose a basement swimming pool could be a rather unique selling point.

But back to the issue at hand!

The question on everyone’s mind is, since our eminently narcissistic mayor couldn’t even manage to spell the word “altruistic,” and ramming this development down city throats is essentially the same as committing political suicide, what’s in it for him?

Where’s the quid pro quo?

Because trust me! There are three things you can count on in this life. Death, taxes, and Mayor Burns will never do anything out of the goodness of his tiny little heart!

The first possibility aligns with the folks behind this potential project, the Burton Foundation, an ostensibly non-profit group that plans and produces senior and affordable housing developments. Apparently, the Mayor went high school with Burton President Tracey Manning and/or her husband.

People close to Kevin Burns consistently explain that he perceived his mayoral seat as nothing more than a steppingstone. But when his Congressional and county chair runs dismally failed, and his five terms haven’t produced as much as a McDonald’s cashier job, he’s come to loathe being a small-town mayor and he despises his constituents even more!

To wit, I just FOIA’d his recent email rants excoriating any Genevan who had the temerity to even mildly question Governor Pritzker’s shelter-in-place order, and I’ll certainly share them with you! The Mayor always was a charmer.

Though it’s just speculation, it wouldn’t surprise a soul if, after all is said and done, Burns “falls’ into a cushy six-figure position with the Foundation. After all, disgraced former Speaker Denny Hastert “rewarded” him for dropping out of that Congressional race with a plum job with those fine U.S. Olympic Figure Skating fundraising folks.

Another possibility revolves around Burns’ recent and blatant Democratic shift. Though he’s always run as a Republican, the Mayor is suddenly sporting all sorts of progressive colors, not the least of which is this affordable housing initiative.

Some sage sources say it’s all part of his master plan to land a high-profile job with the Pritzker administration, and that’s not as far-fetch a theory as you might think.

There was a time when Kevin Burns and I were friends, and the mayor I knew would NEVER so callously throw those Third Street merchants to the wolves. In fact, he would’ve been the first to stand up and defy the Democratic Governor’s unconstitutional order.

But now he’s telling those curious constituents, in no uncertain terms, that Geneva will follow the law of the land regardless of the economic impact. Fascinating, isn’t it? What the Mayor doesn’t understand is, no such patronage position will ever materialize because his dubious reputation always precedes him.

I’m sure there are other fascinating possibilities, but these are the two scenarios that come up more than any other.

As is always the case, not only did I reach out to Burns for comment, but I also provided Ms. Manning with every opportunity to have her voice heard, which is more than ironic when you contemplate how the Mayor is doing his damndest to silence those Sterling Manor subdivision voices.

Since no amount of lipstick will make a pig any cuter, neither responded to my more-than-reasonable overtures.

Lastly, I also performed some Burton Foundation due diligence, and while their senior housing gets rave reviews, once built, former residents say they their affordable housing projects are simply left to rot.

That certainly doesn’t bode very well, now, does it?

But now that this doomed-to-fail cat is fully out of the bag, the only way to accurately sum it up would be with the words of the late, great Warren Zevon, “Send lawyers, guns and money, the manure has hit the fan!

As always, I promise to keep you posted!

7 thoughts on “The First Ward Report – Under cover of the Coronavirus – Part 2!

  1. Jeff I always find your columns entertaining and informative. Since i am too lazy and you are the FOIA king I was wondering about a few things regarding this property. obviously it is owned by the city now and has a for sale sign on it. I believe that when a unit of government owns property and wants to sell they put out a request for bid and sell to highest bidder. This may not be true since the city obviously bought this for redevelopment purposes and has a for sale sign on it. There must be an appraisal somewhere, what did the city pay and what are they asking? Can they sell below appraised value? If it is below appraised value won’t they have to publish new price and let other potential buyers know of lower price?
    I have never seen a development not need some type of zoning changes, such as water retention, parking green space etc. so even if it is currently zoned for town houses I am sure developer will ask for something. As I said before, any changes require notification (sign) publication and notice to adjoining landowners. I do not see how this can proceed without compliance with Geneva’s own ordinances.
    Someday I will actually go to meetings, now it is so much easier to bother you for answers.

    1. Jim,

      Excellent point on the bidding! Why didn’t I think of that?

      And a source very close to the situation says the zoning is fine, but considering the recent flooding, I wonder if that will be the case going forward.

      And as far as compliance, good things are happening, but they’re still minor improvements and I don’t want those Sterling Manor folks to lose their resolve.


    2. Jeff and Jim
      Please note that there was indeed an appraisal report done by C.A. Bruckner & Assoc. L.L.C. at the time the Burton Foundation had a letter of intent to purchase the property by 8/20/2019 for $700,000 (slightly less than the value conclusion of the report) stated in their report. Bruckner valued the property at $720,000. I found this information on the City’s website back in January of this year.

      1. Janice,

        Thank you for filling us in! You are now an officially deputized First Ward reporter.

        Meanwhile, I’m spending my Sunday blowing the lid off of what really happened at Bria in Geneva!

        That’s means I do appreciate your efforts!


  2. Is bid at the asking price? If the city established and published a asking price and a bid came in lower would as a matter of fairness the city have to re publish new price and allow for other bidders? Say they were asking 500,000. Bid comes in at 400,000 city takes it? Maybe someone would have come in at 450,000

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