Ex-Broadview mayor reaffirms Durkin's role in proposed strip club deal
Henry Vicenik, the former mayor of Broadview, told West Cook News that House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) called him to see if he were amenable to a deal proposed by the politically connected backer of a proposed strip club in the village.
Durkin was a private practice lawyer at the time. The deal offered would remove Vicenik from a lawsuit filed in 2007 by the proposed club, Chicago Joe’s Tea Room, against Broadview and village officials for denying it a special use liquor permit.
Vicenik’s comments regarding the village’s fight to prevent Chicago Joe’s from opening its doors in Broadview are in sharp contrast to comments Durkin’s office made regarding any role Durkin played in the deal over the lawsuit involving Chicago Joe’s.
In a Dec. 30 Chicago Sun-Times story, Durkin’s office denied that Durkin made any calls “to facilitate a meeting” between Vicenik and David Donahue, the Chicago Joe’s backer, and one-time aide to House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago).
But in a June 2013 deposition as part of the lawsuit against Broadview and village officials, Vicenik said Durkin did call about his meeting Donahue.
In the phone interview with West Cook News, Vicenik provided more details.
“Durkin called to see if I would agree to a deal with Donahue that if I made a statement that I had always been opposed to Chicago Joe’s then I could get off the suit," he said. "So I met with Donahue and agreed with it because it was nothing I didn’t say publicly all along.
“Donahue even suggested a lawyer I could use to get me off the suit. I still have the lawyer and I’m still on the suit.”
When asked why he thought Donahue would offer such a deal, Vicenik said he didn’t know.
“Maybe he thought it would show that I was always biased against the club,” he said.
The suit is now in federal court.
A few years before Chicago Joe’s filed its lawsuit, Broadview re-zoned an old industrial area for strip clubs, adult book stories and card readers. Vicenik said it was a way to try to bring some business to the village but at the same time keep it away from the center of town.
He said that when Donahue first approached him about the club it was slated to open in the re-zoned area. But he said that later Donahue made a deal with the owner of a building not in the old industrial area. That’s when the village denied the special use permit for liquor.
Vicenik was mayor from June 2000 to May 2009 when he stepped down. He said that the pressure from the fight over the club -- including a board meeting where Donahue threatened to take the homes of all board members – had nothing to do with his decision to resign.