CONSULGATE

For many years now Polish Chicago has been living the “open secret“. The open secret is revolving around the concept of the consulate’s transformation from being the Polish Consulate in Chicago – into a “Laundromat”, as it is being referred to in  the predominantly Polish neighborhood “Jackowo”, where instead of serving Polish community and promoting Polish culture, the consul – friendly partnerships receive lucrative contracts and stuff the consul’s pockets in return for favors.
It should be common knowledge that the days of People’s Republic of Poland’s (PRL) are long over, and that the government’s officer is supposed to serve the community and disengage in any kind of swindling activity. In spite of the fact that this outdated kind of pattern should cease to exist, the Chicago consulate keeps on running its business according to the so called rules from 25 to 30 years ago.

In the Polish Chicago community, the connections of Wieslaw Pietrasinski, the vice-consul, are widely known with all those who, number one – have money, number two – have a common interest in cultivating the consulate’s friendship, and number three – are willing to stuff theirs and the consul’s pockets. Among those, our ingenious consul came upon such individuals as Christopher Kurczaba, Mario Pucharic and KGHM – Polish Lead. Connections with Edward Mazur also came in handy, and the collaboration between every possible Ministry: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Culture and Arts or the Chancellery of the president of RP turned out to be invaluable.

After all, Chicago and the vice consul general are both on a foreign soil, why not then take advantage of the funds and make deals with the Polish Community Association by coming to negotiations with its president, the ex prime Minister Maciej Plazynski, as well as the more powerful player in the game, Grzegorz Popielarz, who is holding a position of the Secretary of the Commonwealth, at the same time monitoring the common funds supplied by the European Union?
The facts pertaining to the involvement of Pawel Pietrasienski, carrying out consular duties (for the period from January until December 2007) and the vice consul of the Republic of Poland in Chicago in the embezzlement of Polish currency and the ongoing corruptive activity speak for themselves.

2005

Pawel Pietrasinski flies in for the second term of the diplomatic office in Chicago. Pietrasienski establishes, during his term in office, close relations with Christopher Kurczaba – the Chicago attorney (6219 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, IL, Phone 773 774 0000) and Mario Pucharic, the owner of Integra Communications (828 Custer Ave, Evanston, IL, Phone: 847 864 4000). Pietrasienski and Mario Pucharic have known each other since they both attended the Warsaw School of Economics – SGPIS.
Pucharic’s father was at that time a Croatian ambassador in Warsaw. Kurczaba joined the team during Pietrasinski’s first office term in Chicago. Since then, the three of them under the guise of the Polish Consulate in Chicago have organized the visit of Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz in Chicago in April of 2006. Hanna Gronkiewicz – Waltz arrives with an official visit  for the opening of the  “Towards the Freedom” exhibition devoted to the Polish Underground State. The funds were acquired from the City of Warsaw, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Culture and Arts, and Association “Polish Community”.

The contract bidding process for the renovation of Consulate General in Chicago located at 1530 N. Lake Shore Drive commences. To this day, it is not entirely clear, but will soon be revealed, (or maybe it is perfectly clear) why “Cianciara Architects” (1390 Ridge Road, Highland Park , IL, Phone: 847 831 4538) owned by Zbigniew Cianciara was the winning bidder.
For those not in the know, Cianciara is the father of Anna Katarzyna Pucharic and the father-in-law to Pucharic, the owner of “Integra Communications”.

The Pietrasienski-Kurczaba-Pucharic partnership organizes the first event, under the assumed name Eurobeat, Inc. (whose parent company is “Integra Communications”), “The Parade of Stars” with the participation of K.A.S.A., Sylwia Wisniewska, DJ Seba, Jessica Blue, Abigail Lopez and Marek Przeradowski. The event took place on Saturday, May 7th, 2005.

2006

Gronkiewicz Waltz’s visit was financed by the city of Chicago’s hosts.
The Pietrasienski-Kurczaba-Pucharic partnership forms a nonprofit organization called POLISH AMERICAN CULTURAL AND EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTE- PACEI for short.

The mechanisms of action are as follow:

The consulate – that is Pietrasienski – plans to organize an event or a happening. The consulate turns to PACEI for help in organizing the event. PACEI hires INTEGRA COMMUNICATIONS to take on the responsibility of organizing the event.

Pietrasienski as the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland’s representative  receives funds from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Culture and Arts, The office of The President of the Republic of Poland; Association “Polish Community”  and frequently from Warsaw City Council.

Consul Pietrasienski is officially milking the money from the Polish government; securing the financial involvement of the “Polish Community” Association is extremely easy since its treasurer is no one else but Pietrasienski’s best friend – Grzegorz Popielarz. Integra Communications gains sponsors from Polish and American companies lured by the glamour of the involvement of Polish officials, such as Lech Kaczynski, the President of Poland, the Prime Minister, Jaroslaw Kaczynski and other Ministers, such as Michal Kaminski, Waldemar Pawlak, Radoslaw Sikorski or just recently involved, the former president, Lech Walesa.

Since 2005 Consul Pietrasienski, in cooperation with PACEI and INTEGRA COMMUNICATIONS organized the following events; presumably deriving personal gains from the funds assigned for the organizational purposes:

2005 – PARADE OF THE STARS and POLAND ON THE PIER, The first Constitution Day May 3rd Parade

2006 – Hanna Gronkiewicz Waltz’ visit, The second Constitution Day May 3rd Parade

2007 – POLAND IN THE PARK, The first event organized in Millennium Park – May 3rd

2007 POLAND FOR CHICAGO, The second event organized in Millennium Park along with the participation of Lech Kaczynski, the President of the Republic of Poland

2008 – POLAND IN THE PARK, The third event in Millennium Park

2008 – Celebrating the 400 Year Anniversary of the First Polish Settlers in the USA – Jamestown

2009 – POLAND ON THE PIER, The third Constitution Day May 3rd Parade

2009 – FREEDOM ‘89 ORIGINATED IN POLAND – The fourth event organized in Millennium Park with the guest of honor – Lech Walesa

Since 2005 the Pietrasienski, Pucharic and Kurczaba partnership, I will call them the “Chicago Holy Trinity” collectively organized 9 significant events at the expense of Polish tax payers.

One should realize that no public bid was held for the purpose of organizing or servicing any of the above mentioned events.

As I was informed by the Office of Attorney General Lisa Madigan, PACEI has never been registered as a nonprofit organization.
In order to be registered as a charitable organization, otherwise known as nonprofit organization, one must surrender to a diligent scrutiny, financial for the most part, and a disclosure of pertinent documentation must be made to the Attorney General’s office for review. Not one of the fathers of PACEI, Kurczaba, Pucharic or Pietrasienski was willing to undergo such scrutiny. That taken into consideration, none of the state or federal requirements were fulfilled, thus disqualifying the organization from legal status in the eye of the law. The only thing that was done was the registration of PACEI with the Secretary of State corporate data system. PACEI is registered under the assumed name of POLISH AMERICAN CULTURAL AND EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTE with the file number 65301601, which was officially brought into existence by Christopher Edward Kurczaba on January 11, 2007 as a nonprofit corporation.

From: Natalie Bauer
To: Ivo Widlak
Sent: Wednesday, June 03, 2009 4:13 PM
Subject: Polish American Cultural and Educational Institute

Ivo,
The organization you are asking about is not registered with the Attorney General’s Charitable Trust Division.
Thanks very much.

Natalie Bauer
Deputy Press Secretary
Office of Attorney General Lisa Madigan

At present, two months before the end of Pietrasienski’s term, PACEI has been wound up and their website disappeared from the face of the internet. The website www.pacei.org has not been renewed in 2009, as there is no reason for it to uphold the web domain since it will serve no purpose any longer. Furthermore, all the traces of its existence need to be concealed to make it look like it never even existed. It is extremely difficult to erase anything on the internet, as for example, the website from the Celebration of Polish Days in Chicago where PACEI logo appears as the main sponsor.

The activity of the “Chicago Holy Trinity” Pietrasienski-Kurczaba-Pucharic makes one wonder even more due to the fact that their sponsors appear to be rather peculiar corporation choices, such as KGHM – Polish Lead. The question is, what true interest would this corporation have in sponsoring President Lech Kaczynski’s visit in Chicago? All too often, in light of PACEI being recognized as a charitable institution along with the Polish diplomats invited by the consulate to the major events, Mayor Richard Daley would not charge the event organizers any fees for renting out the facilities like the Millennium Park or Navy Pier. The cost of renting out places like that is not insignificant; and often amounting to several dozen of dollars. One can wonder to one heart’s content where all the saved money went….
That is just one issue and the result of two Pietrasienski’s terms on the diplomatic post in Chicago.

Let us turn to the subject of renovation of the consulate located at 1530 North Lake Shore Drive in Chicago. In 2005, under Pawel Pietrasienski’s rule as a Consul General, the renovation commenced. It is worth mentioning that after the then in term consul Jaroslaw Lasinski’s penal recall, it was Pawel Pietrasienski who, for the next twelve months, was responsible for making any decisions related to the Chicago diplomatic post’s activities.
It is common knowledge, that the negotiations regarding the necessary renovation of the consulate were initiated during the term of the Consul General – Franciszek Adamczyk. At that time the contract bidding offers were submitted, and since then Zbigniew Cianciara wanted to get his hands on the contract.

It appears, through my reliable sources, that only two bidding offers were made to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and three to the Polish Consulate in Chicago in 2005. One of them was prepared by Cianciara Architects. With regards to the fact that Zbigniew Cianciara is Mario Pucharic’s father in law, the said architect could have had access to the information regarding competitive bidding offers that were submitted, as well as received recommendations from the consulate directly to lower the offer in order to win the bid, which was imperative for the consul to do to have personal gains. Having access  to the dollar amounts in offers made by the other bidders, Zbigniew Cianciara’ s offer was submitted in the amount of around $3,000,000.00 (three million dollars) thus winning the competition. During the renovation Cianciara and his firm raised the expenses three times the original offer so that the final cost of consulate’s renovation amounted to over 6 million dollars. That amount alone would have sufficed in tearing down the consulate and building one up from the ground level. In the meantime, consul Pietrasienski  was not at all troubled by the changes in estimates prepared by Cianciara Architects, continuous expansion and modification of the original offer or the untimely deadlines.

After the renovation was completed, an architect from the City of Chicago, on friendly terms with Cianciara Architects, approved the repair work, and the consulate issued a favorable statement, consequently hiring Cianciara’s Architectural firm to do the interior decorating and purchase furniture, making the firm responsible for all the project aspects. It turned out, shortly thereafter, that the furniture is trashy, of very bad quality and not adaptable to the office space.

Consulate of the Republic of Poland in Chicago did not pay too much attention to the fact that the architect, Cianciara, used the cheapest and the worst quality building materials that did not necessarily conform to the rules and regulations for building construction.  In consequence, major flaws became apparent with regards to the consulate construction.  Not only did the sewage system fail to conform to the accepted standards, but also the pipes turned out to be too narrow and installed incorrectly. This utility malfunctioning caused the consulate’s basement to be flooded with sewage every time the toilet was used. The furnaces and radiators were also malfunctioning.
The alarm systems were in the same category, they would go off on its own, most often during business hours, which may have been very appealing to the consulate employees who used the alarm malfunctions as a break from work – to go out and catch a breath of fresh air from working in the ill-designed and way too constricted office cubicles.

Pietrasienski did not care as long as his diplomatic pockets were stuffed and was not in the least concerned about, for instance, the stairs in one of his buildings at Astor Street that were supposed to have been renovated (as per the contract’s terms) but were not. It was also not in his interest to notice the cracks in the walls or the plaster falling off from the freshly renovated building at 1530 North Lake Shore Drive.

All the activities were closely monitored by the vice-consul, Jacek Dobrowolski, the head of the administrative and financial department – and the chief accountant in the Polish consulate, who by helping Pietrasienski hide the distortions, approved of the invoices and paid out the funds for the jobs that Cianciara Architects botched up. In return for the favor of cooperation and keeping his mouth shut, Dobrowolski allegedly received incentives on many an occasion in the form of free vacations in the sunny Florida, where he and his family were accommodated in a luxurious apartment owned by attorney Kurczaba. In any way, the practice of inviting all the consuls and some of the Republic of Poland government officials to the attorney’s Florida apartment is a common practice, and it is said that all the important decisions are made there. It creates a means of mixing business with pleasure where the weary RP officials can live and dive without a worry of incurring unnecessary expenses.

Nearing the end of 2007 the post of the Consul General in Chicago, held at that time by Pawel Pietrasinski, is handed over to Zygmunt Matynia. Having spoken with the Poles in Chicago, Matynia files a petition for inspection with MSZ (Ministry of Foreign Affairs). A year goes by before MSZ delegates a building inspector to come to Chicago, and his name is Tadeusz Bozenski. According to the information obtained from the consulate employees a few days ago, Bozenski was to then recommend the building not be approved for use. The building inspector disclosed all the construction defects, stating all the same that “the job is fucked up and the commission arriving from Warsaw will never approve of the botch-up” and that “for that kind of money the building could have been leveled down and a new one erected in its place”. To this day, Pietrasienski is fighting off those allegations arguing that the consulate headquarters is a recognized historic building and  this is the main reason why the cost of renovation so rocketed.

The Freedom ‘89 concert, with the presence of Lech Walesa, organized in August of last year was a rundown and conclusion of the vice consul Pietrasinki’s term in office, as well as the last event organized by the “Chicago Holy Trinity”. One can learn more about the subject in “Chicago Facts” (Fakty Chicago) and “Progress for Poland”.

On May 17th, 2009, Arkadiusz Mularczyk (PiS – Law and Justice), Member of Polish Sejm (Parliament), flew over to Chicago with reference to the unveiling of the Katyn Memorial (a link from Mularczyk’s official website from his visit to Chicago). During that visit, Mularczyk learns about Polish Diplomats’ suspicious activities in Chicago. Upon his return to Warsaw, Mularczyk poses a parliamentary question to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Radoslaw Sikorski, pertaining to the Republic of Poland consulate’s renovation. On May 17th, I contacted the Member of Polish Sejm, Mularczyk, advising him of the information I had in my possession regarding the RP consulate’s activity in Chicago, as well as the vice consul Pietrasinski himself. On June 1st, 2009 after our telephone conversation, Mularczyk informs the Polish Press Agency of his Parliament interpellations, accounts of which are distributed by the Polish Press Agency first, then published by the daily newspapers: “Rzeczpospolita” and “Gazeta Wyborcza” respectively.

At the time of this article publication Minister Sikorski did not provide answers to questions posed by Mularczyk.

Later that same day I approached the MSZ spokesperson, Piotr Paszkowski, asking for a statement. Below is the account of my correspondence with the Ministry’s spokesperson.

From: Ivo Widlak
To: Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Cc: Arkadiusz Mularczyk
Sent: Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009 12:33 am
Subject: Request for clarification in the matter of Republic of Poland’s consulate in Chicago, USA

Radoslaw Sikorski, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
Al. J. Ch. Szucha 23
00-580 Warsaw
cc: Artur Orzechowski, Director, Department of America, Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Piotr Paszkowski, The Spokesperson

Honorable Minister,
As a representative of Polish TV in Chicago, I am turning to you for a favor of clarifying the matter of Consulate General’s renovation in Chicago. As it was publicly announced, on May 25th of this year, the Member of Polish Sejm, Arkadiusz Mularczyk (PiS), directed a question to you demanding clarification in the above referenced matter. I am also determined to find out when you plan on answering his question.
I also request that you disclose all of the financial minutes and materials pertaining to the Consulate General in Chicago’s renovation.
Thank you in advance for your attention and your prompt response will be very appreciated.
With Best Regards,
Ivo Widlak
International Press, Radio and TV Journalist
Ivo Widlak Television Networks

From: The MSZ Spokesperson
To: Ivo Widlak
Sent: Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009 3:34 am
Subject: Request for clarification in the matter of Republic of Poland’s consulate in Chicago, USA

Dear Sir,
In reaction to your recent email I requested that a copy with a list of questions from the Member of Polish Sejm, A. Mularczyk, be forwarded to my office, however, the department responsible for the distribution of correspondence claims a letter of that nature has not been received yet. Your letter suggests that the questions, provided we  receive them, are akin to those you sent, therefore, the answers to be provided could also be forwarded to your attention in response to your questions. Whereas the office of the spokesperson is in no position, nor is competent enough o transmit documentation of a financial and bidding nature, which you are requesting to be revealed, but which may be disclosed by an appropriate department in due course.
Sincerely,
Piotr Paszkowski
MSZ Spokesperson
From: Ivo Widlak
To: MSZ Spokesperson
Cc: Arkadiusz Mularczyk
Sent: Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009 11:43 am
Subject: Re: Request for clarification in the matter of Republic of Poland’s consulate in Chicago, USA

Dear Sir,
Thank you for your prompt response. With regard to the subject matter, I have some additional questions:

1. What was the reason for the investigation of the issues related to the renovation of the consulate’s building? And WHAT issues were there?

2. Please forward the contract bidding report as well as the detailed account from the  contest, the winner of which was to renovate the building

3. Please forward at least three different companies’ estimates taken into account whilst debating on the consulate’s general contractor’s bid

4. Why did MSZ decide to choose the company belonging to Zbigniew Cianciara, father-in-law to Mario Pucharic – the owner of Integra Communications and which consul Pietrasienki continually collaborates with?

5. Please forward the contract bidding report and the detailed account from the contest, the winner of which was to provide service at the events organized by the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland

6. Please forward the estimates of at least three different companies that were taken into account for event promotions

7. Please forward any and all financial documentation related to the events organized by the Consulate General

I would truly appreciate a prompt response.

With best regards,
Ivo Widlak

From: MSZ Spokesperson
To: Ivo Widlak
Sent: June 2nd, 2009 8:25 am
Subject: Request for clarification in the matter of Republic of Poland’s consulate in Chicago, USA

Dear Sir,
In December of 2008 the Inspection office of the Bureau of MSZ Inspection and Audit was examining the matters tied to the renovation of the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland as to whether it was operating in compliance with standard laws and regulations, including, but not limited to construction contracts, payment deadlines, as well as  finance management, and no transgression has been noted.

I do not have sufficient information at my disposal regarding the Member of the Polish Sejm, A. Mularczyk’s receipt of questions, however, the answer will most certainly be provided in due time, including the provision of relevant financial statements.
With best regards,
Piotr Paszkowski
MSZ Spokesperson
From: Ivo Widlak
To: The Spokesperson of MSZ
Sent : Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009 10:44 AM
Subject: Re: Request for clarification in the matter of Republic of Poland’s consulate in Chicago, USA

Dear Sir,
Please advise as to whom and to what institution I should turn to with reference to obtaining  the financial reports?

Since you claim that you have not received the Member of Parliament Mularczyk’s questions, I AM THE ONE ASKING QUESTIONS and requesting answers to those I posed in the last email, effective immediately.

Ivo Widlak
International Press, Radio and TV Journalist
Ivo Widlak Television Networks

Having exchanged emails, the contact between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and I ended. The spokesperson was incessantly unavailable, and after a few days, my phone calls were no longer answered….

Therefore, even a layman is capable of figuring out that someone has been avoiding somebody. In a similar manner, the subject of Pietrasienski’s private vehicle is also being avoided. In July 2005, the beginning of Edward Mazur’s extradition trial, a full-time employee – mechanic of Consulate General of RP in Chicago, with a shop on Belmont Avenue, participated in the purchase of two identical, brand new vehicles – Nissan Muranos. One of them was for Pawel Pietrasienski -which he is driving to this day, and the second one for Mariusz Brybora – Consul of the Republic of Poland Embassy in Washington, who used to be a consul in Chicago and remains on very good terms with vice – consul Pietrasienski. The Polish Community in Chicago is speculating that the purchase of the two vehicles, each valued at over 20 thousand dollars, was financed by no one else but Edward Mazur himself in order for both, the Washington Embassy and the Chicago Consulate to “protect his best interest”. Mazur had to be grateful for something Pietrasienski did, since the former threw Pietrasienski a revelry farewell in 2000…

At the conclusion, it is worth mentioning, that in the summer of last year, Pawel Pietrasienski had purchased a significantly sized condominium in Warsaw, which he managed to fully furnish – in spite of the rather modest salary of the Republic of Poland’s diplomatic representative. Therefore, he has something to look forward to when going back to Poland in August. Not only does he have something to go back to, but also, as is claimed by Pietrasienski’s close acquaintances, he is in the process of preparing a lucrative niche for himself at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Should the position at the Ministry be not available, then the office at the Ministry of Culture or the Association “Polish Community” would be nothing to sneeze at.

On June 1st, 2009 I sent an email and a fax to consul Pietrsienski requesting an interview. To this day, I have not received a response. I am curious to find out which one of the Polish politicians will turn out to be stupid and senseless enough to still want to have anything in common with Pietrasienski who is leaving behind a stench of monstrous proportions…

Ivo Widlak
Independent Radio, Television and Press Journalist

originally published June 2009 in Chicago