Pick for Chicago Park District top lawyer withdraws

Weeks after being offered the $198,000-a-year job — and days before he was scheduled to begin work — the lawyer chosen to be the new general counsel for the Chicago Park District said Tuesday he would “withdraw my name from consideration.”

The move by Evanston Corporation Counsel Nicholas Cummings followed recent reports about a federal civil rights lawsuit in which his deputy in the northern suburb alleges “racist and misogynistic harassment and a “hostile work environment.”

The spokesperson for the Park District told WBEZ that the agency’s leaders were “not aware of the lawsuit at the time they offered him the job.” The lawsuit is pending in the U.S. District Court in Chicago.

But in a scathing letter Tuesday to Park District CEO Rosa Escareño and Park District Board President Myetie Hamilton in which he removed himself from consideration, Cummings also wrote that he had told the Park District that the accusations in Evanston were investigated last year by an outside law firm and found to be “unfounded.”

“These facts and the allegations lodged against me were shared with the Chicago Park District team during a thorough process that consisted of four formal interviews and several informal discussions with various members of the Park District team” before he got the new job at the city’s parks, Cummings wrote.

Cummings wrote that he had been treated as if he were guilty of the accusations by the media — and “apparently also by would-be colleagues.”

Still, Cummings wrote, he decided to pull out because “I recognize the allegations made against me and the media reports about them could cause a distraction for the Park District administration, staff and board. I feel that would make it difficult for me to be effective serving as the General Counsel at this time.”

Park District officials

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