LAKEVIEW — Michael Tadin Jr. hit the news this week after it was revealed he and his wife planted hedges around public parkland and created a private yard for their upscale Lakeview East home for years.
But it was his longtime association with a Southwest Side asphalt plant that drew protesters to his home Thursday evening.
Tadin co-owns the controversial MAT Asphalt plant in McKinley Park and MT Transit. He also owns Morgan Street Development.
When the plant set up shop at 2055 W. Pershing Road in 2018, neighbors and even local officials had no idea it was coming and no notice the company would be seeking a pollution permit from the state. A state law implemented in 2019 changed that.
Despite company promises to reduce pollution and noise, neighbors told Block Club about trucks riding past their front doors carrying open containers of asphalt and dust blowing into their neighborhoods.
Activists from the Southwest Environmental Alliance and Neighbors for Environmental Justice turned out at Tadin’s home — drums in hand — to demand the McKinley Park business be shuttered amid the respiratory pandemic.
“This just shows you what he’s willing to do. He’s taking public land from the people, just like he’s stealing our air over in McKinley Park with MAT Asphalt,” Lydia Arroyo of the Southwest Environmental Alliance said.
Block Club revealed Tuesday that Tadin Jr. and his wife, Natalie Tadin, planted hedges around the 3,000 square feet of Chicago Park District land in front of their home, according to an inspector general report issued last week.
The couple drew the perimeter around the space in 2015 — effectively commandeering public parkland for a personal front yard, city officials say.
The inspector general’s report was first brought to light by Better Government Association reporter Alejandra Cancino on Monday.
Tadin Jr. denied that he’d done anything wrong, saying he’d received legal permission to set up the hedges and fencing, and members of the public freely used the space.
Several did just that on Wednesday, after the news broke.
Tadin Jr. is the son of trucking magnate Michael Tadin Sr., the chief beneficiary of the Hired Truck scandal and a key ally to former Mayor Richard M. Daley.
The senior Tadin built his trucking empire with the help of tens of millions of dollars in city contracts doled out to his businesses, including Marina Cartage and MAT Construction. The $40-million-a-year cash spigot to construction companies under Daley ended after the Sun-Times exposed the scandal.
The Tadin family and their companies spread that wealth to politicians across Chicago by way of campaign contributions. Tadin Jr. and his wife have donated to local politicians, including Ald. Tom Tunney of the 44th Ward, where the home sits, and Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
Tadin Jr. denied receiving any political favors to create the makeshift front lawn, but park district officials said for years they were unable to force the Tadins to take down the barriers.
Lauren Gonzalez, also of Southwest Environmental Alliance, demanded that the city end its ties with the Tadin family and its businesses.
“The city shamelessly cuts deals with polluters without considering the implications of the people and land that gets screwed over in the process,” Gonzalez said.
At the protest, one sign spelled out the stark disparities in air toxins in McKinley Park near the plant versus Tadin’s neighborhood.
“It’s time for us to reclaim our public land, reclaim our air, reclaim the health of the babies (and) the children who suffer the most during the crisis right now where people are dying from a virus and they continue to pollute our air,” Billy Drew of Neighbors for Environmental Justice told the crowd.
As for the parkland, Tadin Jr. agreed to remove the hedges after his lawyers spoke to the park district. Thursday morning, a landscaping crew was on the property ripping up the plants.
“It was city property. I was wrong, I took it down,” Tadin said. With the hedges gone, he will pay to have the parkland resodded Friday.
“Taking away the bushes is an empty gesture,” Pete DeMay of SEA said. “It’s time to move the asphalt plant that’s polluting McKinley Park.”
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