3 Cadillacs and 3 tragedies

Another Tragic end to another well known Chicagoan

Anyone in Chicago who turned on the local news, the radio or TV woke up to a body being pulled out of the Chicago River by the Merchandise Mart. If you turned on a local news program you saw a blue Cadillac being towed.

This is the third tragic event of famous Chicagoans that involved Cadillacs, the start was Chris Kelly and his Black Cadillac Escalade, then was Garrard McClendon's parents green Cadillac Eldorado that was taken by their murderers, now a Blue Cadillac belonging to Michael Scott was found by the Chicago River.

The first reaction heard on the news did not specify if this was a suicide or murder. Later on we find out that Michael Scott has a gunshot wound in his left temple, but it is still not known if this was a self inflicted gun shot wound or an act of violence. You would still have to wonder if, it was suicide how did he get in the river?

Still another tragedy. He could be another innocent victim. Still he has done a lot for the CPS, and will be missed.

Chicago School Board President Michael Scott had a gunshot wound to the left temple when authorities found his body in the Chicago River near the Merchandise Mart early this morning, sources said.

An autopsy will be performed later today to rule how Scott, 60, died. He was reported missing from his home in the Monroe police district on the Near West Side in Chicago Sunday, sources said.

Chicago School Board president Michael Scott was reported missing from his home in the Monroe police district on the Near West Side in Chicago Sunday.

His car -- a blue Cadillac -- was found parked near the river where the body was found, police said. It was towed from the scene.
Fire crews arrived about 3:20 a.m. to recover the body just west of the Apparel Center at 350 N. Orleans St., home of the Chicago Sun-Times.

A Chicago Public Schools spokeswoman did not return calls for comment.

Belmont Area detectives are conducting a death investigation.

A stunned Rev. Jesse Jackson showed up at the scene Monday morning after hearing about Scott's death on the news. He said he spoke with him last week -- and Scott sounded normal to him.

"Everyone thought Michael was their guy," Jackson said. "People are so very sad. .. . The suddenness of it all -- midday has become midnight. The sun has been eclipsed."

Jackson described Scott as someone equally comfortable working with Chicago's poorest children or sitting courtside at a Bulls game.

"That's why I think the mayor leaned on Michael the most," Jackson said.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, the former CEO of the Chicago Public Schools, issued a statement saying he was "shocked and saddened."

"Michael cared passionately about public education and made many courageous decisions as President of the Board," Duncan said. "He gave his time, energy and talents to improving the life chances of children. Chicago has lost a great leader and the city's schoolchildren have lost a devoted champion. I extend my deepest condolences to his wife and family."

Mayor Daley was scheduled to be the keynote speaker at a conference in Michigan today, but abruptly canceled his plans when he heard the stunning news about his longtime friend.

Sources said the mayor had to pull himself together before making a personal visit to the home of Scott's widow, Diana.

"He's not just the mayor's school board president, he is his friend of more than three decades," said mayoral press secretary Jacquelyn Heard. "He was a reliable partner -- someone who unquestionably cared about Chicago neighborhoods, the West Side, and cared about children and people who were down on their luck."

Friends say Scott was extremely distraught recently about the death of his first wife, Millicent, the mother of his children.

Ron Huberman, who replaced Arne Duncan as schools CEO, was at Scott's Near West Side condominium this morning to offer condolences to family and friends. He was joined by schools spokeswoman Monique Bond and Rev. Jackson, who was offering prayers.

Cook County Board President Todd Stroger issued a statement through a spokesman Monday morning offering his condolences.

"My wife and I would like to extend our heartfelt condolences to the family of Michael Scott," Stroger said. "Mr. Scott was a strong advocate for education. His contributions to the minority communities of Cook County will be sorely missed. In particular, his love for the upward mobility of residents from Chicago's West Side where he spent his life."

Scott was Daley's long-time go-to guy but raised eyebrows earlier this year when he disclosed to the Sun-Times that he had been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury investigating how students were selected for the system's elite selective-enrollment high schools.

Scott insisted he had done nothing wrong, but the system responded with a massive crackdown on college prep principals' ability to handpick up to five percent of their seats outside the normal selection process. An aide to Scott had requested such a pick at Whitney Young High School, but later withdrew the request at Scott's insistence, sources said at the time.

The furor emerged after Daley had appointed Scott to serve a second stint as school board president. Scott had recommended that sports agent Rufus Williams succeed him in that job, but Williams ruffled so many feathers that he resigned under pressure and Daley re-installed Scott to head the school board and oversee the city's public schools -- a top Daley priority.

Scott was an activist president, meeting on his own time with local residents, and even recently visiting troubled Fenger High School to personally observe an effort to bus kids from Altgeld Gardens to Fenger in the wake of the murder of Fenger honor student Derrion Albert. He was a calm and steady leader at sometimes raucous School Board meetings, often diffusing angry outbursts from the audience or speakers.

Scott, a West Side resident, also had served on the Mayor's 2016 Olympic committee and as former head of the Chicago Park District.

In August, he was forced to answer questions about his involvement in a development proposal near the the proposed Douglas Park Olympic site.

He insisted he would not profit from the deal.

"I would not profit . . . not at all," Scott told reporters at a Chicago Board of Education press conference.

He was responding to a published report contending he was "potentially positioning himself to cash in" if the Olympics come to Chicago because he was helping a group of ministers try to turn some city-owned lots across from what could have been an Olympic site into affordable housing. Chicago eventually lost out to Rio de Janiero, which will host the 2016 Summer Games.

Scott noted at the time that the ministers, whom he said he has known for years, came to him with their development idea in the summer of 2006 -- a year before he was appointed to a committee that has been trying to bring the Olympics to Chicago.

Scott said he agreed to advise the ministers on how to put the deal together, navigate city departments and train people on how to sell affordable housing.

Any profits were to be split among the ministers because "I have no monetary interest," Scott said. "These people are my friends. They asked for my help and I helped them on a part-time basis."

The city has shown no interest in the idea for two years, said Scott.

"The city has no formal plan or deal for any lots to be sold or conveyed for any amount of money for this proposal," Scott said.

Scott owns Michael Scott and Associates, a real estate development firm.

West Side Ald. Isaac Carothers (29th) praised Scott on Monday, saying "he was a great individual who added value to every position he served" in city government.

Carothers -- who was indicted in May for allegedly accepting $40,000 in home improvements, meals and sports tickets from a West Side developer in exchange for zoning changes that netted the developer millions -- spent a year secretly recording public officials and real estate developers for the feds, the Sun-Times disclosed earlier this year.

On Monday, Carothers cut off a conversation with a reporter when asked whether he had recorded any conversations with Scott.

He would only say, "He was just a great friend and a great individual. My heart goes out to his family. It's just a tragedy."

Carothers said he has known Scott for "15-to-20 years, at least."

"He was a great negotiator, a great facilitator," the alderman said.

Pressed further about any business dealings he might have had with Scott, Carothers said, "All I have is what I gave you." He then hung up the phone.


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