1. Wrongful or criminal deception intended to result in financial or personal gain.
2. A person or thing intended to deceive others, typically by unjustifiably claiming or being credited with accomplishments or qualities.
Synonyms: cheat - deceit - deception - swindle - humbug - fake
We have included the Webster's dictionary definition of the word "Fraud" because we believe that this word is by far the single best phrase to describe a person like John Arena. Like no other person we have ever encountered, he has embellished, exaggerated, deceived, and outright lied to the public and the press, before, during and after the campaign. In an effort to lay claim to the accomplishments of others as well as invent accomplishments of his own, Arena's fraud knows no bounds. John Arena has got to be the epitome of the definition of fraud so we thought it would be useful for our readers to understand just how Arena fits that definition.
John Arena The Fraud
During the 2011 aldermanic campaign, John Arena claimed to be a successful small business owner. This is the background he sold to both the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times during the endorsement sessions. This could not be farther from the truth. Arena was a failed business owner whose business Arena Design, had virtually no clients and had virtually no revenue for the past 5-6 years. To our knowledge, his only clients according to their website, were the Six Corners Association and a local architect. We will delve into Arena's lies further on this page.
Defrauding the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times
As some of the public may not be aware, there is no vetting process for newspaper endorsements in the city of Chicago. If you run for office, you can simply claim anything about yourself and not be held accountable as the newspapers do not fact-check any claims made by candidates about themselves or claims made by others about you. Therefore, you can essentially make any claims you wish and there are no consequences for doing so. It was this tactic that we believe Arena and his supporters used to gain the support of the 2 major Chicago newspapers to the detriment of other far more experienced and qualified candidates. This was a disgraceful act on Arena's part and was one of the best illustrations of his desperation to win the election. Fortunately for Chicago voters, the Sun-Times has since elected to discontinue it's practice of endorsing candidates as fact-checking the candidate backgrounds and statements about themselves is far too big of a job to accomplish thoroughly and competently. Despite falling for Arena's lies about his background and granting their endorsement, we applaud their decision to discontinue this practice.
As for the Chicago Tribune, the tactics we believe were employed by Arena and his supporters were much more disgraceful and repugnant. Arena and his supporters targeted the background of a far more qualified candidate who, with a impressive educational background and real work experience had accomplished notable achievements with his work with the Six Corners Association. People connected with that candidate's campaign have learned that Arena and his supporters engaged in a letter writing campaign, claiming that the other candidate lied about his own accomplishments and had moved to the neighborhood for the expressed purpose of running for aldermanic office. While these claims have become known, the actual full truth about what was said to the newspapers has still not been made public. We are disgusted by the lengths Arena and his handful of supporters went to damage the reputation of a good, qualified candidate who had dedicated hundreds of hours to serving the community, all in an effort to eliminate a real threat to Arena's candidacy. We have since commenced our own letter writing campaign together with our petition drive, to demand Arena release his income tax returns to prove his claims of being a successful small business owner.
The Real John Arena: What The Public Doesn't Know
The truth about Arena's background would surprise many voters who believed his fabrications. Arena for many years had been the owner of a small business, Arena Design, which claimed to provide graphic design services to commercial clients. The reality is that Arena's firm had virtually no clients. The firm had performed design services for a few local clients including the Six Corners Association and a local architect friend. Things were so bad in the Arena home that Arena's wife had to take a job outside the home as he did not have enough business experience to be gainfully employed. After being elected alderman, Arena received what to our knowledge, was his first steady paycheck in many years.
A History of Interfering With Progress In The 45th Ward
Since moving to the Portage Park neighborhood about thirteen years ago, John Arena has been interfering in any opportunities for positive change. Through his leadership of the Portage Park Neighborhood Association (PPNA), Arena has blocked significant investment and jobs from the Six Corners area of the 45th Ward (For detailed information on lost jobs and investment, please read "Disparate Impact" the economic impact study developed in 2011. This can be found in the content section of the What John Arena Has Cost You page on this site). Arena and his small band of allies at the PPNA blocked a successful family pizza restaurant from the neighborhood because they did not like the decor. They blocked a family pub owner from opening a bistro-type gastro-pub at Six Corners and numerous other businesses from Applebee's restaurant to Caribou Coffee to FedEx Kinko's. All of these businesses had expressed an interest in moving into the Klee Building development until Arena and his allies at the PPNA, blocked those businesses and the jobs and investment they promised because they have philosophical objections to chain and large corporate businesses.
In interviews with the developers of the Klee Building, it was disclosed that Arena would call and terrorize the corporate headquarters of prospective businesses that had shown interest in coming to the Six Corners area, in one case placing over one hundred phone calls to the headquarters of a major retail bank. John Arena also led the effort that blocked a Dunkin Donuts business owner from getting the approval for a drive-thru at their location on Milwaukee Ave. Arena tried to force the business owner to configure the parking lot so that vehicles would have to turn around in the lot rather than exit normally. This new design would have cost the business owners an additional one hundred thousand dollars in expense. That business owner has since sold the business due to dismal revenues from lacking a drive-thru which the had been promised by then alderman Pat Levar. The current owner of that Dunkin Donuts location has been forced to reduce their hours due to that same lack of business.
Arena also supported a con man who leased the Portage Theatre, later subleasing it to a satanic cult and skipping town with the money. There have been various public displays of Arena's arrogance and immature behavior, shouting down other residents and using profanity at public meetings because he did not agree with others who were present. In summary, John Arena has done more damage to the neighborhood in which he lives than any other single resident. Now that he is an alderman, his arrogance knows no bounds. It is unfathomable how a man who in his lifetime has accomplished so little, could have been elected to office.
Arena Excels At Taking Credit For Things He Didn't Do And For Things That Haven't Mattered
Alderman John Arena, as we have seen above, is adept at taking credit for things he had nothing to do with. He did this successfully during the 2011 campaign, taking credit for the economic development activity at Six Corners which he claimed on a door-by-door basis during the campaign and in a stealth campaign to the two major Chicago Newspapers. In the two articles below, he is caught in the act of doing so in a very obvious way. As part of an interview in May of 2011, former alderman Pat Levar announces the planned opening of a Mariano's Fresh Market on the vacant five acre site on Elston Ave. This accomplishment which Levar had been working on for over 2 years, Arena quickly lists as an accomplishment of his own, seen in the 2 articles below.
In that same Chicago Observer article, Arena takes credit for six new restaurants, none of which have opened and based on what we have learned, only two of which are still moving forward. One of those, a bistro planned for the Southwest corner of the near intersection at Six Corners has been in the works for over 4 years. Arena credits himself for bringing new senior housing to the Ward, but in a residential area which Arena forced upon residents despite their concerns about losing on average over 30% of their home values. The new National Veterans Art Museum, while a nice addition to a viably commercial area has not proved to be either an anchor or much less a draw to the area due to the lack of development and vacant storefronts surrounding it. The Filament Theatre, one of Arena's other "accomplishments" which suffers from the same debilitating factors as the Veterans Art Museum. Let's not forget the 4901 W. Irving Park development Arena refers to above. He is referring to the Cermak's Fresh Market project which he managed to chase away (Please see "What John Arena Has Cost You"). Arena even tries taking credit for the opportunities which he has destroyed. Be careful Pinocchio, your nose is growing....
In short, Arena's utopian vision for an art-centric development scheme, has been a miserable failure. It failed because it was never commercially viable. In order to sustain these types of venues, they must be supported by a strong commercial retail and hospitality presence which he has clearly demonstrated by his past and his performance as alderman, he is not capable of accomplishing.
Arena Threatens Jeff Park Chamber Funding If His "Endorsed Slate" Of Candidates Not Approved As Board Members
Arena has threatened to withdraw $30K in city funding to the Jefferson Park Chamber of Commerce if they do not comply with his demands regarding Chamber Board seats. The alderman attempted to bully the board by demanding two board member resignations. Arena then removed 3 names from the list of candidates the board was considering for board positions. The alderman demanded that his modified list of board candidates be approved or else Chamber funding would be cut. One of the 3 candidates removed from Arena's "approved" list was former run-off opponent John Garrido.
Arena, once again is using his position as an elected official to benefit himself at the expense of the public. Arena made it clear at the November 14th Chamber meeting that approval of any slate other than his modified slate would force him to recommend that the city withhold funding next year. In an amazing show of defiance, the board voted against Arena and elected a slate including the 3 candidates the Alderman tried to exclude from the board. Now that they called his bluff, it remains to be seen if he follows through on his threat to cut funding.
Arena hoped to block Garrido from serving on the Chamber board as he sees Garrido as a threat to his now dwindling chances of being re-elected. Several board members commented privately but do not wish to be identified as they fear reprisals from Arena. One commented anonymously "This guy has no shame. He uses his office to benefit himself in the most blatant way possible. This is but another example of it. He is nothing more than a bully." A former community leader summed it up this way. "What should anyone expect from a guy who lied about himself to voters and the press, and lied about his opponents. This guy has never done anything of merit in his life. He is the worst person imaginable to have been vested with power over others."
Here I Come To Save The Day!
Chicago alderman John Arena, who fashions himself as a superhero, celebrity and champion of the people, has become the epitome of an arrogant, bullying, and ineffective politician, say many Chicago residents.
Arena, who claims to be "one of the hardest working and cleanest
politicians in Chicago" has the worst attendance record in the council. Arena, we have learned, is virtually despised by nearly all of his fellow council members, and privately, even by those in his cherished progressive caucus.
Despite being elected in a Ward with a massively Democrat base by a mere 30 votes, Arena behaves like an omnipotent Roman Emperor rather than a public servant. Instead of pursuing this position of power with the humility which is appropriate for such an office, Arena continues his pursuit of fame and celebrity. We are still in disbelief by the manner in which Arena has taken a public servant position and is attempting to create a personal "brand" for himself by adorning the Ward office with his name as logo and larger-than-life picture of himself on the front. One need only attend one of the festivals or events in the Ward to see Arena the "brand"; it's malignant presence paying tribute to himself, overpowering any theme the event organizers tried to promote as if to the community, he is all that should matter to them.
A number of 45th Ward residents have complained of yelling and screaming by Arena at public meetings if anyone dares challenge or even question him. As his arrogance seems to know no bounds, we took an opportunity to cast him in the appropriate size.
Chicago alderman John Arena depicted above as Mighty Mouse, a superhero of similar stature