Convicted Oak Parker traveled in Obama, Daley circles

William Moorehead, the Oak Park resident sent to prison in 2007 for stealing more than $1 million from various federally supported public housing concerns, apparently ran with a powerful inside crowd connected to both Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley and a then-state senator named Barack Obama.

Published news reports show that Moorehead was once a “longtime business partner” and legal client of Allison Davis, who until recently was the business partner of Daley nephew Robert Vanecko. Davis is also often referred to as Obama’s mentor, a role he reportedly fulfilled as the future president’s first law firm boss.

At one time, William Moorehead & Associates managed 14 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development-insured or -subsidized apartment complexes throughout the Chicago area totaling about 7,000 units. Moorehead’s fraud and mismanagement was uncovered in the course of an audit conducted by HUD’s inspector general in 2003 and 2004.

Moorehead, now 66, pleaded guilty in April 2006 to engaging in a scheme to defraud HUD of at least $995,000 between early 1994 and August 2002. In May 2007, he was sentenced to four years in the Marion medium-security facility. He’s scheduled to be released March 25, 2011.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported that during the period Moorehead admitted he was stealing money, he loaned Davis $100,000. Davis has not been accused of any wrong doing.

One of the Davis-controlled HUD buildings that Moorehead’s firm managed, from 1999 until 2001, Grove Parc Plaza, was taken over by a firm headed by another person with strong Obama connections.

Valerie Jarrett, a member of Obama’s campaign finance committee and now a senior White House adviser, was the chief executive of Habitat Co. in 2001, when it took over management of Grove Parc Plaza from Moorehead’s company.

Obama was hired out of law school in 1993 by Davis’s law firm, Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland PC, and worked on voting rights and employment cases. According to press accounts, he reportedly wrote letters as a state senator, helping Davis and partner Tony Rezko get $14.6 million in state and federal funding for Cottage View Terrace, another Moorehead-managed property.

Moorehead, who also co-owned two housing developments near Cabrini Green with Davis, was supposed to manage another Davis co-owned HUD building, Cottage Grove Terrace, but was reportedly “dumped before it opened in 2002, in favor of Davis’s son, Cullen.”

Barrie Fest washed out

A little rain never hurt anybody, right?

Tell that to the South East Oak Park Community Organization, the group that had to cancel this year’s Barrie Fest on Saturday because of the drizzles. The weather clearing up by around 3 in the afternoon wasn’t enough to save the fest, which was scheduled to start in Barrie Park at noon.

As a co- sponsor of the fest, we at Wednesday Journal were equally disappointed. We’ve been promoting the fifth annual event since the spring. You may have seen the ads. We can imagine all the fun kids would’ve had, the good food from Craig Charlton at Trattoria 225, the live music from local artists. So we’re starting the ball rolling for next year.

Oak Parkers: Be sure to attend the sixth annual Barrie Fest.

Rain, rain: Go away that day.

Smarter electric meters?

New power meters – smart ones – are on the way for Oak Park and River Forest, possibly as early as the end of this year.

Unlike conventional meters, this advanced variety would give you real-time details about your power use and would send those details back to the utility for billing reference.

ComEd is asking the state to start a smart electrical power grid with 141,000 new meters in homes throughout 12 communities, including Oak Park and River Forest.

With these smart meters, you’d be able to consider using power during slow hours, when the cost is cheaper.

“No more blind energy consumption,” says ComEd President and Chief Operating Officer Anne Prammaggiore in a press release. “Smart meters allow customers to take true control of their bills.”

According to ComEd, this could be one of the most comprehensive tests of smart meters in the nation. ComEd is also asking the Illinois Commerce Commission for support in requesting stimulus dollars to help pay for the meters.

If approved, a smart meter could be near you as soon as November.

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