Very little fire behind the smoke
Thursday, Feb 6, 2014
* The Tribune has a long and involved story about a Bill Brady family investment…
* The trouble with this story is that the reporters relied on the appearance of impropriety, but didn’t talk to any of the bill’s actual sponsors to see how this played out at the Statehouse.
The proposal was originally sponsored in the House last August by Rep. Josh Harms (R-Watseka), who represents Gibson City, where the TIF district is located.
Rep. Harms told me he never once heard about the Brady family involvement in that TIF and never spoke to Sen. Brady about the legislation. The town’s mayor asked him to sponsor the bill, which extended the TIF district’s life. The mayor wants to build the first assistive living center in Ford County, so it’s kind of a big deal locally.
* In November, the House rolled several TIF district extension proposals into one bill, which was co-sponsored by Rep. Harms. Sen. Napoleon Harris was the chief Senate sponsor. Sen. Harris said today that he never talked to Brady about the bill.
The hyphenated co-sponsor of the Senate bill is Sen. Jason Barickman, who, like Rep. Harms, represents Gibson City. Barickman was the Brady family attorney for several years, so he was naturally aware of the family’s interest in that land.
But, Barickman said that Gibson City’s mayor asked him to pass the TIF extension bill. Barickman said that at no time did Brady ever say he needed this bill to benefit his family, or words to that effect. He said either Sen. Harris or a Senate staffer told him “that his bill was going to move and I had an opportunity to attach Gibson City to it.”
Sen. Brady voted for the bill, but it passed the Senate unanimously.
I agree he should’ve voted “Present,” but there’s no state law requiring that.