Chicago aldermen threw a tantrum after finding out they could not take advantage of an offer that would allow them buy World Series tickets at face value, a discount of several thousand dollars.
“We were not the ones reaching out to the Cubs for some freebies or for some special treatment. The Cubs actually reached out to all of us to offer face-value tickets and those Cubs fans have to say yes. I said yes. I said of course I would like some tickets. We paid for them,” said 31st Ward representative Milly Santiago, who described herself as a “poor alderman” and a die-hard Cubs fan who could not afford to part with thousands of dollars to get tickets.
Santiago’s dissent originates from the Chicago Board of Ethics’ interpretation of the city’s gift ban (which limits the value of gifts Aldermen can accept) that Santiago felt was “kind of insulting, humiliating and embarrassing for us”, since the original ticket offer wasn’t all that plush.
“First of all, those tickets were not front-row tickets. They were all the way in the upper-deck. If I went like this, I would almost touch the ceiling. That’s how bad those tickets were,” Santiago said to the Sun Times, lifting her arm over her head.
“This should be a matter of individual and personal choice. Those who are not Cubs fans can just say, `No. I’m not interested.’ But those of us who would like to get a chance to go to one of those games and be part of history- we should have that choice.”
23rd Ward Alderman Mike Zalewski said that the situation is “a little silly and out of hand.”
“We don’t live in a Third World country where we’re not allowed to go to a sporting event because we’re on the City Council,” Zalewski quipped. “I understand about how much they’re worth now. But just to go a ballgame with my wife and my family and because I’m an alderman, now I can’t buy a ticket?”
The ethics ordinance bans city employees and elected officials from accepting gifts worth more than $50. The difference between the face value of Cubs playoff tickets and the “commonly understood fair market value” certainly exceeds that $50 limit. In addition, there must be a “clear and direct connection” between the attendance of the official and his or her official duties.
The perk came about three years after the City Council gave the Chicago Cubs the green-light to rebuild Wrigley and develop the land around it and less than four months.
In a revised memorandum issued late last Friday, the Board of Ethics said the aldermen can accept the offer on the condition that their “personal attendance is to enable them to perform an official, appropriate, ceremonial duty or action, such as publicly welcoming the crowd or making a speech, throwing out the first pitch, marching with the color guard or standing with other elected officials on the field”- with a “clear and direct connection” between their attendance and the ceremonial duties performed.
When the circumstances and regulations became too convoluted, the Cubs withdrew the offer, sparking the ire of the elected officials who wanted to skip using Ticketmaster like everyone else.