How is it that unwanted strip clubs sneak their way into quiet suburban Chicago neighborhoods? An equally important question, who is the muscle behind the bullying tactics that make it so hard for these towns to fight back strip clubs?
The mayor of Broadview says 90% of his residents don’t want a strip club that has fought 7 long, expensive years to set up shop there. The town, which is not an affluent community, has spent several hundred thousand dollars in a court fight with the proposed Chicago Joe’s Tea Room. A guy named Joe is on the zoning application. But he’s only the front man for the politically savvy brains of the project who’d rather hide in the shadows. His name is David Donahue, a man who started as a legislative aide to powerful House Speaker Michael Madigan and learned the political trade from Ed Vrdolyak and who now politically consults dozens of candidates.
But strip clubs are where his money comes from.
Donahue was one of the shadowy figures who used an ingenious scheme to successfully put the lucrative strip club Polekatz into another small suburb, Bridgeview. He’s using the same method to try to get Chicago Joe’s into Broadview.
The mayor of Broadview said yes, it does look cookie-cutter-suspicious. They find a small suburb with loose ordinances and try to cozy up to the mayor or city council to get approval for gentleman’s club. If they fail, they sue the town on first amendment rights.
At the same time, we learned Donahue works the political end of the town. If the mayor doesn’t like Donahue’s plan, then he’s vulnerable to a re-election challenge.
WGN questioned the current Broadview mayor, Sherman Jones, whom sources say got backing in 2009 from a Donahue faction when the previous mayor didn’t back the strip club plan. Jones denied that during a conversation with WGN’s Mark Suppelsa:
Suppelsa: Did he help fundraise?
Mayor: Not to my knowledge.
Suppelsa: What does that mean?
Mayor: You’re asking questions that I said I wasn’t going to talk about.
Suppelsa: No you didn’t want to talk about the litigation because you were concerned about that.
Suppelsa: I just want to make it clear in ’09 you didn’t…
Mayor: I had no knowledge of Donahue’s involvement with anything other than what I found out later on that he had a relationship with the guy that was supposed to be helping me in my campaign.
In an ironic twist, it was the Illinois Committee for Honest Government that sponsored flyers linking the previous mayor to the hated strip club. Latino Campaigns Inc. contributed to that and it is on their literature where see David Donahue’s name finally come out of the shadows. Even though his name wasn’t attached, Donahue was also behind threatening letters to city council members suggesting they’d be responsible for bankrupting the town if it didn’t settle the long drawn out lawsuit over Chicago Joe’s.
It does cost a lot of money to keep this going in court. So where does David Donahue get the money, since he only admits to making $17,000 dollars a year in a recent court deposition? He controls 99% of Chicago Joe’s ownership interest but it’s a half million dollar loan from a convicted tax cheat who funds the lawsuit.
Michael Wellek is the money man to Donahue. Wellek made headlines a few years ago when he got caught hiding $12 million dollars cash in a storage locker. Wellek owns other suburban strip clubs. For his part, Donahue isn’t hurting as financially as he said in that one deposition. He has admitted to making 10 grand a month as a consultant to the Bridgeview strip club, Polekatz.
As for Broadview, Mayor Sherman Jones, he thinks last year’s stiff competition for his re-election last year came from none other than David Donahue’s political doings. And why wouldn’t he suspect that? After all, Donahue’s strip club still hasn’t been approved by the town of Broadview.