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No traction

Tuesday, Jan 28, 2014

* Maybe it’s because this Tribune story appeared a few days before Christmas, or maybe because the Tribune is no longer an AP member its stories aren’t being picked up by other papers like they used to, but it’s fascinating to me that this piece has gained absolutely zero traction

State Sen. Bill Brady’s homebuilding business has been sued twice for defaulting on loans worth millions of dollars since his last run for governor, including one case playing out in court as he seeks the 2014 Republican nomination.

Brady has built his political career in part on the success of his family’s Bloomington-based real estate development business, and he blames the recession that battered the housing market for the financial troubles that emerged as he launched his bid to unseat Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn in 2010.

The family business has continued to struggle. Just weeks before the March primary election, Brady is due in court in Bloomington for a status hearing on a $2.38 million loan default lawsuit filed against him, his brothers and several of their development companies after they failed to make good on a series of loans.

Last year, Brady resolved a $1.7 million default case in Champaign County Circuit Court by selling some of the mortgaged properties to a campaign contributor.

* Bill Brady and his family build houses. The national economic collapse wiped out a whole lot of home builders.

In May of 2011, just 726 single family housing building permits were issued in the entire state of Illinois. Things have improved a little, but not much. Just 1,011 permits were issued last May. Take a look, for instance, at this new report on “zombie properties” in Cook County to see how bad things still are.

So, I don’t really fault him for his family company’s troubles. Frankly, it’s even a little amazing to me that his company remains a going concern.

* And maybe that’s what’s really behind the lack of publicity here. Things sometimes happen to businesses that cannot ever be controlled by the businesses themselves. And if that’s the case, is this really an issue?

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - cod - Tuesday, Jan 28, 14 @ 10:48 am:

    Many developers and builders did not default after the crisis because the Fed reduced interest rates to the point that it cost banks almost nothing to extend loans indefinitely.

    The builders and developers that did default were very often the ones who went way out on a limb to the highest degree of leverage so they could maximize returns.

    I dont know the specifics of Brady’s financial problems are, but I would not be so quick to exonerate his business practices. We need to see those details before we judge.

  2. - RINO - Tuesday, Jan 28, 14 @ 10:48 am:

    It’s a testament to their business skills that he and his family have been able to keep their construction business afloat. As a developer, myself, I’ve experienced the heavy handed ness of banks during the Great Recession…calling loans, requiring a 30% or more pay down of loans before refinancing, when you can’t sell properties to get the funds to meet their demands. I didn’t stay afloat, I salute those who have.

  3. - MrJM - Tuesday, Jan 28, 14 @ 10:49 am:

    Frankly, it’s even a little amazing to me that his company remains a going concern.

    Brady : Building :: Giannoulias : Banking

    – MrJM

  4. - walker - Tuesday, Jan 28, 14 @ 10:52 am:

    I just hope, when the attacks come, he doesn’t pull a Giannoulias, or a Christie, and say “I really have nothing to do with this kind of thing in our business.”

    He cannot have it both ways, uninvolved, but “bringing my business skills to government.”

    Just take the heat, and acknowledge the struggles of your company in this economy.

  5. - wondering in Lake County - Tuesday, Jan 28, 14 @ 10:54 am:

    He was a minority investor/partner in those entities. It doesn’t seem his financial exposure is enough to disrupt personally. Differing from BR, he and his family knowingly are dealing with issues in court, not claiming ignorance. Anybody that has/had exposure to real estate development is lucky to have survived.

  6. - Frank - Tuesday, Jan 28, 14 @ 10:55 am:

    The fact that this story hasn’t picked up traction is a sign that his campaign hasn’t picked up any either. If Rauner ends up with a poll in the closing stages of the campaign that shows Brady is his biggest threat, you can bet we’ll see this story surface in attack ads.

  7. - PoolGuy - Tuesday, Jan 28, 14 @ 11:01 am:

    Thanks Rich for posting, glad I got to read an article on zombie properties. never heard that term before.

  8. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Jan 28, 14 @ 11:02 am:

    It’s not an issue to me. We all got whacked when the bubble burst.

    From what I’ve read, Brady took sensible risks as all builders do. He wasn’t recklessly scamming and scheming with no regard to the lives of others.

    It was the reckless and immoral banksters who took money off the table before the crash, and got made whole on the taxpayer dime afterwards.

    Rather than Brady, Alan Greenspan and the other enablers who held a public trust should be answering to a judge.

    Eventually, they will have to, as we all will, and I trust that ultimate truth weighs on them every moment of ever day.

  9. - Drallid - Tuesday, Jan 28, 14 @ 11:08 am:

    I wonder if Bill Brady will do for Illinois what he has done to his families business — drive it into the ground?

  10. - NON STORY NO TRACTION - Tuesday, Jan 28, 14 @ 11:13 am:

    Brady is a non-story in this election. The press would rather write about BR because he is a new character in politics and with better headlines to make and the one who has a chance to beat Q. Brady had his day and the press realizes it, it is no fun to write about him anymore.

    If Brady’s lawsuit is an issue he should come clean by himself. He would at least then get some free press time, because we know he has no $$$$ for TV.

  11. - olddog - Tuesday, Jan 28, 14 @ 11:24 am:

    @ NON STORY NO TRACTION 11:13 a.m. –

    Nice job of slipping your talking point into a subordinate clause. Subtle. But you might want to know that some of the people who read the comments on a blog have a thing about SHOUTING in capital letters …

  12. - Fred Derf - Tuesday, Jan 28, 14 @ 11:27 am:

    “Things sometimes happen to businesses essentially that cannot ever be controlled”
    Like old people dying in a nursing home?

  13. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Jan 28, 14 @ 11:28 am:

    “We all got whacked when the bubble burst.”

    Thankfully, Rahm Emanuel was providing needed supervisory oversight as a mortgage industry regulator… oh, never mind.

  14. - NON STORY NO TRACTION - Tuesday, Jan 28, 14 @ 11:32 am:

    @Old Dog……When I shout you will hear me. There were no capitals in the message…..

    But is see you don’t comment on the content of the passage. The facts speak pretty loudly for themselves.

    If I insulted you I’m sorry. If RM thinks I did something wrong he would delete my passage or at least ask me not to do it again.

  15. - PublicServant - Tuesday, Jan 28, 14 @ 11:47 am:

    Oh I don’t know. Rauner’s commercial buys I’m sure will mention it at some point. If he wasn’t aware of Brady’s troubles, and I agree with you that it really isn’t Brady’s fault, he sure is now. You may ne getting a thank you note from the trash-shovelers for Bruce.

  16. - Hans Sanity - Tuesday, Jan 28, 14 @ 11:49 am:

    I see it as an issue, but not so much so much in regards to the credibility of the Brady campaign.

    I question the value of new housing as a positive economic indicator. It’s more about population movement and shifts, especially with national fertility rates lower than replacement fertility.

    Communities based on new housing by luring non-immigrant populations from one area to another — urban core to outer metro area or vice-versa — are tough to sustain, especially environmentally.

    Instead of competing for the supposed attention of the world business in some PR rating system, I’d like to see candidates welcome international immigrants while continuing to get specific about maintaining and improving the quality of life for IL voters — roads, transportation systems, protection of water & natural resources, education, growth in agricultural products.

  17. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jan 28, 14 @ 11:50 am:

    === You may ne getting a thank you note from the trash-shovelers for Bruce.===


    I’ll put it with all the hate mail they’ve been sending. :)

  18. - Judgment Day - Tuesday, Jan 28, 14 @ 11:50 am:

    Down in the Bloomington-Normal area (which is a fairly well off area, btw), Brady Homes isn’t the only builder. There’s already been a number of builders who are gone - It’s actually more of a story that they are still afloat.

    Beyond the builders, it’s the subs who are getting wiped out. That’s where the real problems are. When subs got to sell their tools just to keep the lights on and make partial payments on way overdue bills, you know it’s bad.

    Not likely to get better anytime soon.

    Btw, check around and see what has happened to staffing in both Code Enforcement/Building Departments in both villages, cities, and counties. That tells you the tale. Cutbacks are also occurring there.

  19. - olddog - Tuesday, Jan 28, 14 @ 12:04 pm:

    @ NON STORY NO TRACTION === There were no capitals in the message…..But is see you don’t comment on the content of the passage. ===

    Are there any capital letters in your screen name? As far as the substance of your post at 11:13 a.m., see my post at 11:08 a.m. I didn’t think I needed to repeat myself.

  20. - NON STORY NO TRACTION - Tuesday, Jan 28, 14 @ 12:12 pm:


    you don’t have a post at 11:08am…….

  21. - Pot calling kettle - Tuesday, Jan 28, 14 @ 12:16 pm:

    It’s relevant if Brady makes it relevant. It all comes down to how he touts his personal experiences with respect to his ability to and style of governing. He can turn it into somewhat of a positive by letting people know what happened, why, and how it informs his governing agenda. On the other hand, if he chooses the “I’m a successful businessman, let me bring that success to the Gov’s office” route, he’s setting himself up.

  22. - olddog - Tuesday, Jan 28, 14 @ 12:46 pm:

    @ NON STORY etc. 12:12 pm === you don’t have a post at 11;08am ….. ===

    If you’re going to troll for your candidate, you might want to read the comments. Will it help if I copy and paste it for you? Here:

    - olddog - Tuesday, Jan 28, 14 @ 11:08 am:

    How much traction are the stories on Rauner’s business dealings getting? Business reporting has always been a weak point, not just in Illinois but everywhere, and it doesn’t seem like it’s getting any better.

  23. - Juvenal - Tuesday, Jan 28, 14 @ 2:21 pm:

    In Brady’s Defense:

    His base doesnt care.

    he addressed this in 2010 pretty effectively by portraying his business as the victim of the Great Recession, which was pretty effective, and would be effective again I think.

    That said:

    To anyone expecting “the media” to vet primary candidates: Scott Lee Cohen.

    The part of the Tribune story that caught my eye was the sale of mortgaged properties to a campaign contributor to bail out his business. That deserves followup.

  24. - cod - Tuesday, Jan 28, 14 @ 3:11 pm:

    The story may have little public traction right now because there just isnt enough detail, but if I were Gov. Quinn’s campaign manager, I would assign someone to investigate the details for potential use in the future when he runs against Brady again.

    Some developers stiff their subcontractors and even their home buyers when they are in financial trouble, and there may be some media-worthy dirt somewhere. If there are any bankruptcies that resulted from Brady’s financial dealings, there will be lots of publicly accessible paper trails that remain afterwards.

    Or he may be squeaky clean, a developer with integrity who cares. There are as many of those as of the other type.

  25. - CYR - Tuesday, Jan 28, 14 @ 5:16 pm:

    Not an issue at all. The trib has tried to find stuff with this before. All they have is home builder struggles after housing market crash, WOW who da thought. Even the debtors say there is a good working relationship. This isn’t a wrongful death law suit with a billion in punitive damages, or an SEC accounting scandal or paying someone who has the influence to award you a 50 million dollars of state funds. The Trib tries to go after Brady again before ever touching rauner.. what a joke.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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