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Not to spoil the hugfest, but…

Thursday, Aug 28, 2008

* This is interesting

As his sentencing nears, pressure is mounting on Tony Rezko to cooperate with federal investigations into some of the highest-profile politicians in the state — including Gov. Blagojevich. […]

Now, sources tell the Chicago Sun-Times that Rezko has been seen at the federal courthouse as many as a dozen times since his June conviction. He’s been held since then at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in downtown Chicago.

* So is this

A state panel Wednesday urged Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s administration to cancel a multimillion-dollar deal to rent office space from a politically connected developer whose family has been a major donor to the governor.

Under the lease, the state is paying downtown Chicago rental rates—more than $19 per square foot—for a building in economically depressed Harvey that was conceived as a model center for child welfare agencies but never reached its potential.

The lease is at the center of what has been a quiet but intense fight between the Blagojevich administration, which sought to sweeten and extend the contract, and a little-known oversight panel.

“It is a bad situation, and every month we delay, the taxpayers of Illinois are paying money for no reason,” said Edward Bedore, a member of the Procurement Policy Board who calls the deal “outrageous.”

* And this is a bit ironic

Here’s the rest of the story on Gov. Blagojevich’s announcement this week that he wants to “rock the system” with new ethics reforms:

The West Side building where the governor held his news conference was once co-owned by Ali D. Ata. That would be the same Ali Ata who has pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges involving Rezko, a former Blagojevich adviser and campaign fund-raiser.

Blagojevich hired Ata to head the Illinois Finance Authority in January 2004 even though Ata and three partners didn’t pay the mortgage on the 3500 W. Grand building they’d been leasing to the state and had been foreclosed upon in September 2003. In the 10 years before the foreclosure, Ata and his partners had taken in $3.2 million in rent from taxpayers.

At Rezko’s trial, Ata — a onetime Rezko business partner — testified he made hefty campaign contributions to Blagojevich, at Rezko’s urging, to land his state post. Blagojevich has denied that the contributions were behind Ata’s hiring.

* A missed opportunity

State Sen. Rev. James Meeks said on Wednesday at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Co., that he would continue to push his boycott of the first day of school in Chicago.

However, in Chicago, dozens of parents said the idea was not for them, and would walk their children to class, NBC5’s Dick Johnson reported.

“On the first day of school, we are going to work to make sure that 100 percent of Chicago Public School children are in school on that first day,” said Phillip Jackson of the Black Star Project. […]

“I talked to the governor last night, I talked to the speaker yesterday,” Meeks said. “They said that sometime this (Wednesday) morning, we’ll schedule a time to meet.”

That meeting apparently didn’t happen.

* Sad

Layoffs, furloughs and a hiring freeze are being implemented by Illinois Comptroller Dan Hynes to cope with cuts made to his office budget by Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

The comptroller - just the latest among statewide elected officials to implement such measures - is also offering incentives for workers to retire early in hopes of avoiding even further involuntary cuts.

* Related…

* “If you do things the right way, pay your dues, you get to be Dan Rostenkowski — you don’t get to be president,” said Kent Redfield, a political science professor at the University of Illinois at Springfield. “Chicago politics is not geared to producing presidents — it produces aldermen and mayors.”

* Creators Syndicate is pleased to announce that Robert D. Novak will be writing occasional columns

* A New York financial services firm that employs Mayor Daley’s nephew stands to make millions if the mayor gets his way and the Chicago Children’s Museum moves from Navy Pier to Grant Park.

* Differences pushed aside

* Suburban school districts, police working out protest logistics - Officials say they will welcome Chicago students

* Gaines’ perspective

* Dan Hynes Speaks before Illinois Delegates

* And no footsie. Please.

* SJ-R Opinion: Good ideas, wrong tactics on ethics bill

* Duckworth blasts McCain over military policy

* Maybe the good people of Denver should leave Chicago pizza to Chicagoans

* The 4th District Appellate Court in Springfield has ruled that a hospital in Urbana has to pay property taxes. The court agreed with the state Department of Revenue and local tax authorities, who contend that Provena Covenant Medical Center doesn’t provide enough charity care to be tax exempt.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

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