The head of the city ethics agency has warned Chicago aldermen and other elected officials that if they accept the Cubs' offer to buy coveted playoff tickets at face value, they must attend personally and have their presence announced publicly.As anyone who has ever sat the annual ethics training required of Illinois university employees (no rushing through it, peasant, or you get a do-over!) there is a gift ban, and the offer of a baseball team of tickets at face value to a public official qualifies as a covered gift.
In the ethics chief's memo, obtained by the Chicago Tribune, [director Steven] Berlin noted that city officials are not allowed to accept gifts worth more than $50 unless they come from a friend or family member. The difference between Cubs face-value prices and "understood 'fair market value' … clearly exceeds $50," Berlin wrote.There are members of the city council, however, for which playoff tickets from sports teams are simply prerogatives of office, which makes for interesting listening to the radio. Moreover, there might be South Side aldermen for whom being publicly announced at Wrigley Field (do they get two ruffles and flourishes and the first verse of "There's a Little Tin Box" on the organ?) creates a clip that will appear in an attack ad next primary season.
But the city ethics ordinance does allow officials to attend events "in their official capacity," he added. So, officials can take the offer, provided they go in person and are "publicly acknowledged at each game you attend in some public way." Depending on when that announcement is made, aldermen and others risk some loud boos.