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Morning Shorts

Monday, Jun 14, 2010

* The hired guns of Illinois’ governmental bodies

The highest-paid elected-official-turned-lobbyist, according to the Sun-Times/BGA survey, is Lipinski, who as a congressman was the powerful longtime chairman of the House Transportation Committee. He has lucrative contracts with the CTA and Metra.

* Hired guns: Lobbyists for Illinois governmental bodies

* At times, city even lobbies the city

* Washington firm reaps millions lobbying for Metra, sewage district

The Carmen Group has made millions representing Metra and the water reclamation district — two of Chicago’s largest government agencies — for more than 25 years.

The water reclamation district — Cook County’s sewage-treatment agency — pays the firm as much as $645 an hour, under a $657,000 no-bid contract, to help it obtain continuing federal funding for the ongoing Deep Tunnel flood-control project.

And Metra, the city and suburban commuter rail agency, paid the Carmen Group $712,500 last year. That was under a contract that was renegotiated three months ago, cutting the lobbying tab to $500,000 this year.

* Illinois historic site could become national park

U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock of Peoria has introduced legislation for a study on a Pike County site that was the first town planned and founded by an African-American. U.S. Sen. Roland Burris proposed similar legislation earlier this year.

* Illinois now taking some campground reservations online

* Privatize Public Transit?

* Tribune’s $43M executive bonus plan lambasted by trustee

* RR Star: Tollway needs to fix roads, agency’s credibility

* Mayor Daley runs up big debts building his global city; what about the rest of Chicago?

As Mr. Daley, 68, prepares a presumed run for an unprecedented seventh term, economic data examined by Crain’s show his success over the past 21 years in remaking Chicago’s business center and nearby neighborhoods into a “global city,” where incomes and education levels are high and amenities are world-class.
But big parts of Chicago have been left behind.

And the city is stuck with the debts Mr. Daley has piled up on infrastructure-rebuilding and gentrification, including the cost of projects such as the Olympics bid, Millennium Park, theater districts, median planters — not to mention underfinanced city pensions and the tax-increment financing subsidies doled out to downtown developers.

Bonded debt and long-term leases have risen much faster than the city’s property-tax base under Mr. Daley and now amount to about $5,600 for each Chicagoan. Then there’s billions in unfunded pension liabilities — another $5,000 per Chicagoan — and one of the deepest municipal budget holes in the country.

* Chicago Teachers Union gets new leadership

* CPS To Borrow $800M, Boost Teacher Pay By 4%

CPS revealed its latest plans on how to confront its record deficit within hours of teachers concluding their vote on whether Chicago Teachers Union President Marilyn Stewart or challenger Karen Lewis, a King College Prep teacher, should lead them through tough times ahead. Election results are expected early today.

* Marin: It’s summertime, but the living ain’t easy

* Witness expected to say he saw Burge smother suspect

* City’s hookah bars under fire

* Aldermen want to dispose of suburbanite recycling in city

* Tribune: Big-foot backlash

* County to make pitch to Navistar

The draw? The former Motorola building in Harvard, now known as the Midwest Corporate Campus. Officials from the city of Harvard, the McHenry County Economic Development Corp., the County Board, and state and federal lawmakers have collaborated to pitch the 1.6 million-square-foot facility as the new corporate headquarters for Navistar.

* SouthtownStar: Oak Lawn fees demonstrate a bigger problem

* Waste: Unwanted sludge-treatment plant may cost taxpayers $217 million

* Former prosecutor to represent Kane in fight against coroner’s legal bills

* Streator roads clear after tornado

* Will Peoria catch the next train?

Existing service in Bloomington-Normal is just one of the factors that could influence the possibility of Peoria rail service. Others include the fact that Illinois recently received over $1 billion in federal funds to upgrade Amtrak service between Chicago and St. Louis and that other Illinois communities - most recently the Quad Cities - are already on track to restore rail service.

Rail service, of course, is something that used to work in Peoria, once the fourth largest regional hub in the country. Peoria used to be served by 15 different passenger railroads that accounted for 70,000 miles of track. But the city has been off-track since 1981, after Amtrak’s short-lived Prairie Marksman experiment failed to deliver passengers on service between East Peoria and Chicago.

* West Nile virus in Tazewell County

* Judge rules DeWitt County has been collecting too much tax money

A judge ruled Thursday that DeWitt County has too much money on hand and had levied some property taxes improperly, and county officials are trying to figure out how that will affect pending tax bills.

In a lawsuit filed by a citizens group challenging the county’s tax practices, Douglas County Judge Michael Carroll ruled that the county violated a 1969 Illinois Supreme Court ruling that prohibited counties from holding excessive reserves without plans for spending the money.

* SJ-R: FOIA not that complicated

* Interested in being on the editorial board?

The six-month terms of The State Journal-Register editorial board’s three community guest members are about to expire. This week we will begin the process of naming their successors.

* Milton proposes more school district cuts

* Cape Girardeau may get casino

Southern Illinois officials claim a possible Cape Girardeau casino could have an impact on the region’s sole casino, Harrah’s Metropolis Hotel and Casino.

“It’s pretty darn close from what I’ve been reading about the location. It will definitely draw other communities,” said Metropolis Mayor Billy McDaniel.

* Patti Derge Simon sendoff is June 24

* Edna Stewart, 1938-2010

Edna Stewart’s legendary soul food restaurant on Chicago’s West Side served as a meeting place for leaders of the civil rights movement during the 1960s.

Among her patrons were the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and an aide, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who came to eat for free while they organized for equal rights. King and his colleagues also held meetings in the eatery to launch a campaign to end housing discrimination.

* Edna, Chicago’s Soul Food Queen, Dies

- Posted by Barton Lorimor        

4 Comments
  1. - Ghost - Monday, Jun 14, 10 @ 10:17 am:

    SJ-R has an interesting you think you know rod quizz

    http://extras.sj-r.com/quizzes/think-you-know-blagojevich


  2. - wordslinger - Monday, Jun 14, 10 @ 10:21 am:

    Daley had a nice ride with the condo boom — more property on the books, a lot of transfer fees. It’s still kind of amazing to see all those towers south of Roosevelt and west of Canal. But that gravy train won’t come around again for a while.


  3. - Really?? - Monday, Jun 14, 10 @ 10:26 am:

    So let’s get this straight? CPS is going to lay off teachers and increase class sizes in order to save money and balance their budget. BUT, they are also going to borrow $800 million to give teachers raises? It is stories like this that make the teacher union’s claims of “doing it for the kids” seem a bit bogus. And I guess as long as the rest of the teachers get their raises, they don’t care that some of their colleagues are losing their jobs.


  4. - Ronbo - Monday, Jun 14, 10 @ 11:06 am:

    Rich:

    WSIL (Carbondale TV) announced today thay the Governor will be making an “announcement” soon on STAR Bonds. any insight as to what that might be?


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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