Capitol - Your Illinois News Radar » Three projects put under the microscope
SUBSCRIBE to Capitol Fax      Advertise Here      About     Exclusive Subscriber Content     Updated Posts    Contact Rich Miller
To subscribe to Capitol Fax, click here.
Three projects put under the microscope

Friday, Mar 24, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* This BGA/Illinois Answers headline has a lot of sizzle

$141M in Pritzker Projects Have Close Ties to Governor’s Allies But Face Serious Questions

* The main story is about the port in Cairo

The port’s backers include a downstate Republican state senator and a longtime personal friend of the governor’s who did public relations work for him, his charities and his business interests for many years before Pritzker was elected. […]

When Pritzker approved the earmark for the Cairo port, it was far from shovel ready.

Even today, after $2.8 million of the grant has been spent, the project has stalled. Work stopped June 30 amid state officials raising questions about how bond proceeds were being spent. Officials wanted a tighter reign on which costs could be paid out of Rebuild Illinois bond proceeds before funding the next $7.5 million the port requested. […]

But Pritzker’s original Rebuild Illinois plan, signed into law that June, did not direct funds specifically for the Cairo port. […]

Port backers had requested $7.5 million to advance to the next phase.

But they have hit a serious roadblock. The Illinois Department of Transportation, the state agency in charge of the grants, had found a “deeply concerning” pattern of spending, as more than half the state funds already spent had gone to pay consultants. […]

Not only did the $40 million grant fall short of the initial projected cost of $75 million, but the latest design is projected to cost $250 to $300 million. The port district plans to raise the additional funds from private investors, rather than request more state funding, according to port planners. […]

Illinois lawmakers tried to exempt the port from tougher state [wetlands] requirements and apply the less stringent federal standard, which calls for fewer acres of new wetlands, but the governor didn’t agree to their plan.

He vetoed the bill, with the governor’s spokeswoman explaining that given the hardships Cairo has already endured, it didn’t need an “environmental disaster” on its hands.

Not mentioned is that new board members were appointed last year.

* On to the second item

In a similar vein, Pritzker defends his decision to award a $96 million grant for a 5 1/2 mile passenger train line several miles outside of St. Louis, because so little state money has been spent on infrastructure in the area.

Since the late 1990s, local officials have tried to get millions of dollars to extend the MetroLink light rail system from Scott Air Force Base, near Belleville, to MidAmerica St. Louis Airport in Mascoutah, both in St. Clair County Illinois. […]

In 2019 Pritzker put $96 million in his Rebuild Illinois capital plan for the MetroLink extension. […]

State and local officials did not answer detailed questions about the process and provided scant records regarding the origins of the grant. But one political ally of the governor who clearly benefited from the deal is former Congressman Jerry Costello, now a lobbyist and consultant.

On a list of Costello’s accomplishments, the Bi-State Development Agency, which owns and operates MetroLink, pointed to his work “with federal and state officials on the extension of MetroLink to MidAmerica Airport in Illinois. The project was awarded a $96 million grant from the State of Illinois.”

Construction is slated to begin later this year.

* And number three

The Rebuild Illinois legislation includes a $5 million grant that on paper would appear to benefit the Illinois Medical District, a government body that owns and oversees properties on the Near West Side.

But the district says it never asked for the grant to be included in the legislation. Instead, it has been used as a pass-through for a politically active real estate developer and his mixed residential and commercial development on IMD property – 9.5 acres of neglected, contaminated land just southwest of Harrison and Damen.

That real estate developer, Elzie Higginbottom, is the true beneficiary of the grant, which pays for site preparation such as excavation, hauling and soil remediation, plus an outdoor plaza with a $400,000 fountain set amidst 23-foot-high illuminated, stainless steel arches. […]

Higginbottom was credited by Politico with connecting Pritzker to the Black community during the 2018 race for the governor’s office saying he made introductions for the billionaire gubernatorial candidate.

In December 2018, Pritzker named Higginbottom and his wife, Deborah, to his inaugural committee along with 38 other Illinois movers and shakers. […]

Higginbottom has started to lease out apartments in the newly built 161-unit building on the site; the next step is building a hotel, scheduled to be completed by the summer of 2023.


  1. - welllllllll - Friday, Mar 24, 23 @ 2:29 pm:

    This is a nothing burger full of smoke and no fire despite their best efforts.

  2. - Derek Smalls - Friday, Mar 24, 23 @ 2:38 pm:

    Headline had a lot sizzle, story had a lot of fizzle.

  3. - Derek Smalls - Friday, Mar 24, 23 @ 2:42 pm:

    Surprised the opening sentence wasn’t “Good afternoon, Ken. Please tell me your news.”

  4. - Michelle Flaherty - Friday, Mar 24, 23 @ 2:52 pm:

    Alt headline: Authors wonder why places they’ve never been are getting money.

  5. - Concerned Observer - Friday, Mar 24, 23 @ 3:25 pm:

    Having ridden MetroLink in January for the first time in maybe a decade, I say this:

    If they can keep the same measure of service, cleanliness and efficiency up, they should extend it as far as they possibly can.

    We are a CTA veteran family and we were all quite impressed with Metrolink into STL and back. To us it seemed like a clear example of something *positive* government created, so, we say keep it going.

    *note: I speak solely of the light rail system. No comment on the bus feeders.

  6. - Candy Dogood - Friday, Mar 24, 23 @ 4:18 pm:

    ===If they can keep the same measure of service, cleanliness and efficiency up, they should extend it as far as they possibly can. ===

    The MetroEast and St Louis could greatly benefit from expanding commuter rail. Service has been incredibly improved over the last 20 years, it just needs to be a better option for more commuters.

    ===But Face Serious Questions ===

    I really missed where the questions about this actually are — other than IDOT expressing concerns about payments to consultants and the Cairo port project expanding beyond it’s original scope which one might expect for a project that has been in discussion for a quarter of a century.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

* Isabel’s afternoon roundup
* McHenry County State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally abruptly aborts reelection bid without explanation
* Question of the day
* It’s just a bill
* Protect Illinois Hospitality – Vote No On House Bill 5345
* You gotta be kidding me
* Showcasing The Retailers Who Make Illinois Work
* Moody’s revises Illinois outlook from stable to positive (Updated)
* Open thread
* Isabel’s morning briefing
* Live coverage
* *** UPDATED x1 - Equality Illinois 'alarmed' over possible Harris appointment *** Personal PAC warns Democratic committeepersons about Sen. Napoleon Harris
* Yesterday's stories

Visit our advertisers...







Main Menu
Pundit rankings
Subscriber Content
Blagojevich Trial
Updated Posts

April 2024
March 2024
February 2024
January 2024
December 2023
November 2023
October 2023
September 2023
August 2023
July 2023
June 2023
May 2023
April 2023
March 2023
February 2023
January 2023
December 2022
November 2022
October 2022
September 2022
August 2022
July 2022
June 2022
May 2022
April 2022
March 2022
February 2022
January 2022
December 2021
November 2021
October 2021
September 2021
August 2021
July 2021
June 2021
May 2021
April 2021
March 2021
February 2021
January 2021
December 2020
November 2020
October 2020
September 2020
August 2020
July 2020
June 2020
May 2020
April 2020
March 2020
February 2020
January 2020
December 2019
November 2019
October 2019
September 2019
August 2019
July 2019
June 2019
May 2019
April 2019
March 2019
February 2019
January 2019
December 2018
November 2018
October 2018
September 2018
August 2018
July 2018
June 2018
May 2018
April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004

Blog*Spot Archives
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005


RSS Feed 2.0
Comments RSS 2.0

Hosted by MCS SUBSCRIBE to Capitol Fax Advertise Here Mobile Version Contact Rich Miller