There have been many questions about Rick Scalera's dual role as "special adviser" to the Galvan Initiatives Foundation and his activities in City and County government, and we all recall that Tom Swope was the chair of the Historic Preservation Commission right up until the moment he went to work for Eric Galloway full time as executive director of the foundation. Now it seems Galloway has another emissary on the HPC: Peggy Polenberg.
The majority of the projects that come before the HPC are Galloway projects. Sarah Sterling, former First Ward alderman and now supervisor for the First Ward, recently revealed, in a letter sent to Mayor William Hallenbeck, city attorney and HPC counsel Cheryl Roberts, Common Council president Don Moore, and HPC chair David Voorhees, the extent to which Polenberg, who was appointed to the HPC by Hallenbeck in May, is in the employ of Galloway and benefits financially from that relationship. The following is quoted from Sterling's letter:
A situation has come to my attention that seems to indicate a huge conflict of interest regarding the Historic Preservation Commission and I would like your opinions.
Peggy Polenberg, who is now a member of the HPC, has been the buyer's agent, representing Galvan, for seven properties since the beginning of 2011.
A total of $857,000 in sales upon which she received commissions. . . .
It is well known in the real estate community that Eric uses Peggy exclusively for his real estate purchases that are listed on the local real estate MLS. (If she has helped him on other private sales there would be no public record of it.)
It looks to me that it's a direct conflict of interest if Peggy takes part in any HPC conversations regarding any properties that Galvan owns under any of their holding names. I question how effective she can be on the Historic Preservation Commission when she must absent herself for any discussions regarding Galvan properties when they seem to be presenting applications at every meeting. All of the above properties are in historic districts and certainly the Robert Taylor House has been presented recently. It doesn't appear that she has ever mentioned her ongoing financial connection to Galvan or ever recused herself.It is likely that this situation will be a topic of discussion at today's HPC meeting, which begins at 10 a.m.