The man and his money
Thursday, Nov 3, 2011
* When Gov. Jim Thompson decided the state should lease buildings instead of building or buying them, Bill Cellini made a bundle…
* When Thompson moved from concrete to asphalt roads, Cellini and his friends made out nicely. When the Republican-controlled General Assembly allowed for the commercial and residential development around UIC, Bill Cellini expanded his reach to Chicago and built University Village. We all know about the hotel, financed with a $15.5 million state loan before it was finally foreclosed upon after its loan balance topped $30 million. And then there was the TRS investment business, which ended up leading to his downfall.
* But Cellini made his really big cash on a casino…
It’s impossible to run a government without making some people a bunch of cash. And while not condoning his behavior, there’s no doubt that Cellini was a genius. Wherever there was money to be made off the government, he was there, like an Illinois Zelig. Actually, he probably came up with most of those ideas, which is all the more amazing.
If he’s lucky, a person will have one good moneymaking idea in a lifetime. Cellini had too many to count. I just don’t think there will ever be another one like him. Not only is he a unique person, but laws and times have changed too much to do what he did now.