Capitol - Your Illinois News Radar » *** UPDATED x1 *** Ricketts patriarch: Government borrowing is a “crime” and non merit-based projects are pushed by “hooligans”
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*** UPDATED x1 *** Ricketts patriarch: Government borrowing is a “crime” and non merit-based projects are pushed by “hooligans”

Monday, Nov 15, 2010 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Oh, this is rich.

The patriarch of the Ricketts family, Joe Ricketts, is so against government borrowing and spending that he has created a website called and produced this video

The money quote…

“I think it’s a crime for our elected officials to borrow money today, to spend money today and push the repayment of that loan out into the future on people who are not even born yet.”

Um. Hmm. Isn’t that pretty much exactly what the Cubs want to do now? And since Mr. Ricketts believes this sort of a thing is a “crime,” should his son, the Cub chairman, be arrested?


* Mr. Ricketts’ website defines earmarks this way

What’s an earmark? In general, it is a provision inserted in the text of a Congressional bill or report that allocates money or a tax benefit for a specific project, program, or organization, circumventing a merit-based or competitive allocation process.

And the “merit-based or competitive allocation process” for the $300 million Cub bonds are… what, exactly? I suppose since Mr. Ricketts is talking about federal earmarks his family can ignore the obvious ideological conflict with state and local action.

* In the above video, Ricketts also describes those who support earmarks as “hooligans.” If there is any justice in this world, that term should be thrown right back at his own family.

* I truly had an open mind about this Ricketts proposal last week. But if the Ricketts family patriarch is against it, then why should anyone be stupid enough to vote for it?

[Hat tip: WindyCityWatch]

*** UPDATE *** Mayor Daley agrees with the elder Mr. Ricketts

“That would deny the next mayor — if I sign the agreement and say, ‘Go ahead’ — of the revenue they need to balance the budget,” Daley said. “And government needs money in order to balance budgets.

“We have to really talk about how you finance this without jeopardizing — whether it’s $5 million, $7 million or $8 million of — future growth….It’s a good concept. They’re well-intentioned….but that would really burden the next mayor. You wouldn’t want to do that.”

And so does Gov. Quinn…

“We have top priorities in Illinois right now that must be dealt with,” Quinn said, adding that the Ricketts family’s proposal “would not be a top priority for me.” […]

The governor added: “These are private owners of a baseball team. They spent almost $1 billion buying it. They knew what they were buying. To be coming to the people of Illinois for assistance now after an election isn’t a top priority… If they wanted this to happen, they should have talked about it before the election — not after.”


  1. - George - Monday, Nov 15, 10 @ 1:46 pm:

    These people only dislike other people’s earmarks.

    And only dislike spending that is for “other” people.

  2. - Wumpus - Monday, Nov 15, 10 @ 1:47 pm:

    Maybe the Wrigley field issue does have merit? This is coming froma tax that Wrigley participants pay into.

    I am against it as my property taxes somehow went up after the elections.

  3. - Chicago Cynic - Monday, Nov 15, 10 @ 1:47 pm:

    Rickets was also the sole funder of an independent and clearly misnamed group called “Taxpayers Against Earmarks”. He funded $600,000 worth of ads to defeat Sharon Angle. Umm, shouldn’t that have been called, “Taxpayer Against Earmarks”

  4. - hisgirlfriday - Monday, Nov 15, 10 @ 1:48 pm:

    Wasn’t the Arizona taxpayer-funded new Spring Training facility a pretty big earmark too?

  5. - The Doc - Monday, Nov 15, 10 @ 1:48 pm:

    These people only dislike other people’s earmarks.

    And only dislike spending that is for “other” people.

    In DC, I believe these folks are called Republicans.

  6. - OneMan - Monday, Nov 15, 10 @ 1:50 pm:

    Your request is an earmark, my request is important to the long term growth of the nation old bean….

  7. - Anonymous - Monday, Nov 15, 10 @ 1:50 pm:

    Chicago Cynic

    Ricketts’ PAC actually gave $600K to Angle. He was not trying to defeat her.

  8. - wndycty - Monday, Nov 15, 10 @ 1:50 pm:

    @hisgirlfriday $84 million worth, yes

  9. - Scooby - Monday, Nov 15, 10 @ 2:06 pm:

    Blanket opposition to long term borrowing is really stupid. Sure it can be misused or abused, but to oppose the whole concept is just asinine. I guess I’m getting old, I’ve just grown so weary of so much of this nonsense.

  10. - hisgirlfriday - Monday, Nov 15, 10 @ 2:07 pm:


    Have you asked Quinn or Preckwinkle about what was up with Laura Ricketts pumping thousands of dollars of cash into their campaigns the final 10 days of the campaign? If only, just to get the standard on the record denial that the donations had anything to do with this proposal?

  11. - Responsa - Monday, Nov 15, 10 @ 2:11 pm:

    May I suggest that people who are viewing this Ricketts proposal thing mainly through a Democrat-Republican lens, or who are pushing that narrative, may be missing the much bigger picture that was quite evident by reading Rich’s earlier post from this morning?

  12. - lakeview - Monday, Nov 15, 10 @ 2:12 pm:

    In other words, the Ricketts family runs a political campaign as well as they run a baseball team and clean restrooms.

  13. - Vote Quimby! - Monday, Nov 15, 10 @ 2:14 pm:

    So Ricketts says there are only two groups: “hooligans” and “heroes.” No gray area for politicians who actually try to decipher the merit of funding requests?
    For us or agin’ us, I’m always leery of people who only present black/white issues…much as I’m suspicious of CapFax posters who use their real name.

  14. - lakeview - Monday, Nov 15, 10 @ 2:20 pm:

    Oh. I have a better one.

    The Ricketts Family: making Tribune Company look good since 2010.

  15. - Chicago Cynic - Monday, Nov 15, 10 @ 2:40 pm:

    Oops. I meant Ricketts gave to defeat Harry Reid.

  16. - TD - Monday, Nov 15, 10 @ 2:51 pm:

    Let’s reduce the 12% amusement tax. The Cubs could increase their ticket prices without increasing total costs to fans, and they could pay for their own renovations.

  17. - The Mad Hatter - Monday, Nov 15, 10 @ 3:03 pm:

    I’m against this proposal from the Cubs. Now, if they asked for some dough to move to Duluth that would be a different story. LOL

  18. - JakeCP - Monday, Nov 15, 10 @ 3:08 pm:

    As a Sox Fan, I don’t support it hahaha. In all seriousness, I don’t believe this should happen. The Ricketts need to do some fundraising on their own time.

  19. - Mike Ins - Monday, Nov 15, 10 @ 3:19 pm:

    Dear All Taxing Bodies Local/State/Federal:

    I propose that all my income, property and sales taxes that I pay are frozen at the dollar amount I paid in 2010. Any future monies I pay above the 2010 level for the next 35 years I propose to spend myself. This spending will improve my infrastructure and provide jobs and growth to the local economy.


    Small Potatoes

  20. - Vole - Monday, Nov 15, 10 @ 3:41 pm:

    Ain’t that $600 billion the Fed just printed supposed to go toward bank loans for stuff like this?

  21. - hisgirlfriday - Monday, Nov 15, 10 @ 3:48 pm:

    Very curious to see what Ricketts does now that Daley and Quinn have called his leaving Wrigley bluff.

  22. - wndycty - Monday, Nov 15, 10 @ 3:51 pm:

    The value of the Cubs without Wrigley probably drops significantly. So Daley and Quinn can definitely call their bluff.

  23. - MrJM - Monday, Nov 15, 10 @ 3:52 pm:

    “You know we need to keep dad away from the webcam. Who’s turn was it to watch him? Mine?!? Dammit.” — Tom Ricketts

  24. - bored now - Monday, Nov 15, 10 @ 3:52 pm:

    i personally have no problem with long-term borrowing to build long-term infrastructure. but wrigley would appear to fit on the opposite side of that equation. long-term borrowing to prop up an existing asset in the short term — primarily to the benefit of private shareholders — does not seem like a useful benefit. it may be a great old park, but it appears to me that wrigley, as much as anything else, hampers the cubs’ ability to compete for post-season play, something that would hardly be addressed by this proposal.

    and i have a sneaky suspicion that fans would still fill the existing wrigley to watch little league games, so the existing infrastructure could be put to good use without spending more money OR tying down the cubs’ future…

  25. - Rich Miller - Monday, Nov 15, 10 @ 3:52 pm:

    ===probably drops significantly===

    To zero.

  26. - wordslinger - Monday, Nov 15, 10 @ 3:54 pm:

    From the Wrigleys to the Tribbies to the Ricketts. Yeah, not so much with the baseball business sense.

    That explains why they haven’t won a World Series since the Kaiser was in Berlin.

  27. - Tom Joad - Monday, Nov 15, 10 @ 3:56 pm:

    The Rickets have shown that priority number one is making money off fans, municipal and state governments. At the same time they are reducing spending on players. It seems that they think can can pull one over on Illinois taxpayers like they did in Mesa, Arizona.
    If they didn’t have the money to buy and renovate Wrigley, why did they go ahead and buy the team? Did they think Rod would still be governor? That is the only way this idea would fly.

  28. - Wensicia - Monday, Nov 15, 10 @ 4:28 pm:

    The main reason the Ricketts bought the Cubs and their ballpark seems to be greed. They want to squeeze Illinois and Cubs fans for every dollar they can pssibly get. Holding the ballpark hostage won’t work, not when they haven’t shown the desire to build a good team.

  29. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Monday, Nov 15, 10 @ 4:49 pm:

    Nice find WindyCityWatch.

    Cullerton had no choice but to sponsor this measure — Wrigley’s in his Senate District.

    When it dies a brutish death, he can blame Daley and Quinn.

  30. - Wee Willy - Monday, Nov 15, 10 @ 4:54 pm:

    should Pat Quinn decide to take a pass on helping out the Cubs and the Ricketts with Illinois taxpayer’s money, I (a Republican) will have to say that Pat Quinn just got my respect.

    If Illinois apparently has that much extra money to throw around towards helping out privately- owned sports teams, then consider throwing some additional Illinois taxpayer money towards Will County and the City of Joliet and it’s deadbeat Jackhammer baseball team. Joliet’s Jackhammers baseball organization has stiffed a lot of hard-working and decent Will County vendors and business people to which they owed money.

  31. - Anon - Monday, Nov 15, 10 @ 4:55 pm:

    I am glad that someone pointed out the hypocrisy of the elder Ricketts. He was responsible for much of the “swift boating” of the Dems this election cycle. You usually only see the kids out front when it comes to the Cubs but he is no stranger to his cause.

  32. - DzNuts - Monday, Nov 15, 10 @ 5:27 pm:

    “If they wanted this to happen, they should have talked about it before the election — not after.”

    Since when did the election stop the Governor from taking care of “state business” handing out worthless checks all over the state? I don’t agree with Ricketts here, but please, Governor, come up with something better than it was a timing issue. Some of us cynics could translate what you said into a theory that if they would have elevated the concern via some campaign cash, that maybe you could spin it into a jobs retention speech.

  33. - John - Monday, Nov 15, 10 @ 7:33 pm:

    That’s rich, as in Rich Daley. He wouldn’t want to burden the next mayor, but he instead spent the remainder of the parking meter money and in no way tried to cut spending or institute lay-offs while leaving the new mayor a probable $750M hole. Don’t let the door hit you….

  34. - 47th Ward - Monday, Nov 15, 10 @ 7:41 pm:

    Well, this is another reason businessmen make horrible politicians and vice versa. I’m sure there are still a lot of Pete Ricketts’ campaign ads around from his US Senate race against Ben Nelson (don’t forget your hat!). Maybe one or two of those will be as entertaining as old man Ricketts’ viral video because this is a great way to change the subject.

    I’d remind everyone that, despite the apparent hypocrisy of the Ricketts family, the Cubs proposal is as fair and vaild as the public financing giveaways for the Bears and the White Sox. Cubs fans have been subsidizing the White Sox since 1991. Mike Madigan literally stopped time to help the White Sox. The McCaskey family used public money and psls to vandalize a public landmark, without putting much skin in the game in terms of family money. Now the Cubs put forth a proposal and we’re talking about tea party politics.

    Yes, this is a political site, so that’s fair game. But don’t think the Cubs won’t look to move. Especially now. And don’t think there isn’t a suburb or two that would give them anything they ask for in a stadium deal.

    So we can discuss the Cubs proposal, maybe negotiate in good faith, and if there is enough public support, keep them at Clark and Addison. or we can lambaste them with their own words and laugh them out of town.

  35. - returning dog - Monday, Nov 15, 10 @ 8:32 pm:

    All I know of the Ricketts family was what I saw of the younger brother on ‘Undercover Boss’. Snotty brat ‘bought’ and threw away the 4 hotdogs he was supposed to sell, and then LIED to his own employee that he had sold them, even when caught red handed with the dogs in the trash.

    He is a fundamentally flawed character; liar, lazy, and most importantly WASTEFUL.
    Why should the taxpayers of Chicago/Cook, and the state, subsidize him and his family?

    Raise ticket and merch prices, sell the dogs for $5 instead of $4.50, whatever.

    Don’t come looking for corporate welfare when you find it so easy to throw money or food away.

  36. - western illinois - Monday, Nov 15, 10 @ 9:05 pm:

    Actually the cubs value is crashing now. TV ratings were half of 2009 and tickest were going for a dollar. If the season ticket holders balk next year how do the Ricketts pay off the debt? Pour in their own money. Is that the Wall Street way or do thye return to bankruptcy where a judge and creditors not MLB owners decide who buys it

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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