The president of both the Grant Park Conservancy and the Grant Park Advisory Council, Robert O’Neill, has publicly stated his determination to transform the park to host a variety of attractions.
Mr. O’Neill is president of both the Advisory Council and the Grant Park Conservancy, creating a strong conflict of interest: As president of the Conservancy, Mr. O’Neill is paid a salary which is tied to the amount of contributions the Conservancy receives. He is therefore beholden to the interests of his donors. On the other hand, the Advisory Council was specifically designed as a citizen-based group focused solely on the interests of Grant Park and the community. The public is the only group whose interests should be represented by the head of the Advisory Council. No one person should head both of these groups, nor should the Conservancy and the Advisory Council be run effectively as the same organization, which is currently the case.
Neither the Conservancy nor the Advisory Council operate openly and with transparency. Particularly significant is the dark money in Grant Park -- who contributes to the Conservancy and how much? These facts are not available to the public.