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Feds “appear to be looking into at least 10 distinct alleged schemes”

Tuesday, Oct 15, 2019

* Mark Brown

A search warrant of [Sen. Martin Sandoval’s] Springfield office made public Friday shows federal investigators appear to be looking into at least 10 distinct alleged schemes involving the newly resigned chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee.

Red-light cameras, video gambling, road contracts, family businesses, real estate developments and the state’s largest public utility are all caught up in some way in Sandoval’s suspected mischief.

Not to mention several local governments, a member of the tollway board, IDOT, a trucking company, a “Countryside cigar lounge” and a body shop

Also named in the warrant were Sebastian Jachymiak and Technicraft Collision Repair Experts, a body shop in Justice. Jachymiak, who is one of the managers of the company, according to a filing with the Secretary of State’s office, did not return a call to Technicraft seeking comment.

Technicraft has contributed more than $100,000 to political candidates and organizations since 2007, including Getty, who received $12,900, according to state Board of Elections records. Technicraft has also contributed $14,525 to Tobolski and $3,600 to Sandoval.

The body shop’s website is here.

* Back to Brown

For Sandoval, the most troubling name on the search warrant may be Monarca Inc. That’s a company listing his wife Marina as the president.

I don’t know what Mrs. Sandoval’s company does, or how it might be mixed up in this. This is the first we’d heard of it.

But I can tell you when politicians put their family members in harm’s way through their own monkey business, federal authorities have a pressure point that can result in submission faster than any mixed martial arts hold.

Yep.

Boom.

* Rick Heidner isn’t the only video gaming exec named in the search warrant

Mentioned with Heidner is Joe Elias, who runs about a dozen video gambling parlors around the state, all carrying Heidner’s gambling machines. Elias could not be reached for comment.

* I told you about this last week

There is also a reference in the warrant to specific legislation, House Bill 173.

A measure from 2017 with the same bill number would have outlawed red-light cameras. The legislation passed the House overwhelmingly, but stalled in the Senate, at one point showing up in the Sandoval-led Senate Transportation Committee.

The bill is here.

…Adding… More on the bill history

It was sent to the Senate Executive Committee and relegated to a subcommittee chaired by state Sen. Antonio Munoz, D-Chicago, a long-time ally of Sandoval’s and fellow member of the Hispanic Democratic Organization.

The Senate sponsors, after seeing the bill put into a subcommittee and not voted on, tried to amend the bill into a study “evaluating automated traffic law enforcement systems in this (s)tate.”

After being sent back to the catch-all Assignments Committee, the bill then was sent to the Transportation Committee, which was chaired by Sandoval, on May 13, 2016.

On May 24, 2016, Sandoval directed the amended bill to the Subcommittee on Special Issues, which had no members.

* Daily Herald

Just months after joining the Illinois tollway, Director Cesar Santoy resigned Friday after his name surfaced in an FBI investigation involving Sen. Martin Sandoval, the chairman of the state Senate Transportation Committee. […]

Santoy, an architect and Berwyn alderman, was appointed by Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker in February amid an ethics reform push at the agency. The previous board was ousted by the General Assembly in January following Daily Herald reports of nepotism and patronage involving contracts and hiring. […]

In addition, investigators sought items related to Behnke Materials Engineering and to Michael Vondra and his company Bluff City Materials. Both businesses are tollway subcontractors.

Tollway officials said the agency “has not received a subpoena for any records related to this investigation. We use a competitive bid process for construction contracts and bid results are reported on the tollway’s website as part of our commitment to transparency.”

* And, of course, there’s this

As we’ve discussed before, “CW” is often fed-speak for “Cooperating Witness.” The redacted McCook search warrant listed a “CW1″ and a “CW2.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   14 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 - Link says votes aren’t there *** Lightfoot’s Statehouse asks: Publicly owned casino, graduated real estate transfer tax

Tuesday, Oct 15, 2019

* I went over this topic with subscribers earlier this morning. Turns out, the Sun-Times also had much the same information

Mayor Lori Lightfoot wants the Illinois General Assembly to reduce the effective tax rate on a Chicago casino to 45 percent, have the city and state “own the license” and authorize a graduated transfer tax that would apply to commercial real estate sales.

The mayor floated those plans during a private meeting over the weekend with members of the Chicago delegation. […]

“The casino [plan] proposed to have the city and the state own the license and the casino be operated by a private vendor. That’s a difference. We’ll have to see how people feel about that issue. I can’t predict how people will react,” [Illinois House Majority Leader Greg Harris (D-Chicago)] said Monday. […]

Lightfoot’s decision to take on the concept of city and state ownership — amid a burgeoning corruption scandal that has spread from Chicago and the south suburbs to Springfield — comes as a bit of a surprise. Many expected her to keep a complicated subject simple and confine her request to the tax structure.

*** UPDATE *** Greg Hinz

Sen. Terry Link, D-Waukegan, is the chief sponsor of the bill approved in the spring that authorized new casinos in Chicago and other locations. He told me he potentially could vote for Lightfoot’s plan, but doubts most of his colleagues or Pritzker will go along.

“This idea is not new. This was floated in the spring. The governor was adamantly opposed,” Link said. “He told me that he did not want city ownership in any regard.” Asked if the votes are there to win approval in the fall veto session that begins Oct. 28, Link replied, “I don’t think so. I don’t think a single Republican would vote for that.”

I tried to reach Link yesterday, but was unsuccessful. Drat.

* From the governor’s office…

After the casino feasibility study was released in mid-August, the Governor was willing to give the new city administration time to develop alternative proposals for the Chicago casino. We understand that a number of lawmakers now have been briefed on these proposals, and we look forward to reviewing them after we are briefed on the details of the proposals. The Governor remains open to a number of approaches for making the Chicago casino successful, but with regard to public ownership, our administration would need to ensure that the challenges of public ownership are fully understood and addressed.

* Back to Greg

That [”after we are briefed on the details of the proposals”] remark points to another unusual aspect of Team Lightfoot’s handling of this matter. In normal Springfield etiquette, mayors brief all the major players, including the governor, before walking back-bench lawmakers through a proposal. In Lightfoot’s case, she briefed Chicago lawmakers and, separately, Senate President John Cullerton but not Pritzker, though I’m told the mayor has had some preliminary conversations with the governor.

Yep. There’s definitely tension between the two offices.

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      


Poll: Just 38 percent of Chicago voters oppose CTU strike

Tuesday, Oct 15, 2019

* ABC 7

Just days before Chicago Public Schools teachers could walk off the job, a new ABC7/Chicago Sun-Times poll shows nearly half of the people surveyed support a strike.

The survey found 49% of voters either strongly or somewhat support a walkout, while 38% are opposed. […]

“Most people don’t want strikes in general,” said ABC7 political analyst Laura Washington, “The union has done a very good job in making their case. They’ve got a number of other public unions that are supporting them.”

* Sun-Times

The survey was done Friday and Saturday with automated telephone interviews of 618 Chicago voters.

The poll, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points, offers a lens into the public relations war that has been waged in recent weeks by the city and Chicago Teachers Union to win the hearts and minds of city taxpayers and CPS parents. Winning public support is paramount as negotiations come to a head and pressure mounts on the two sides to work out an agreement. […]

CPS parents, who made up a quarter of the voters polled, were more likely to support a strike – and to blame Lightfoot for the ordeal. More than half supported a strike and nearly one in five parents placed responsibility personally on the mayor. […]

The freshman mayor’s approval rating stands at 54%, with 15% expressing disapproval. Almost a third of voters say they’re not sure what to think of Lightfoot’s performance. […]

A few months before the 2012 teachers’ strike, Emanuel’s job approval rating stood at 52% with 29% disapproving, according to a Chicago Tribune/WGN-TV poll.

…Adding… Some commenters have asked about support for the 2012 CTU strike. This poll was taken after the teachers walked out

Conducted by We Ask America, the poll of 1,344 voting Chicago households asked, “In general, do you approve or disapprove of the Chicago Teachers Union’s decision to go on strike?” 55.5 percent said they approved and 40 percent disapproved. Another 4 percent had no opinion. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 2.8 percent,” according to Rich Miller, the report’s publisher.

From that day’s Capitol Fax

Asked who they thought was “most to blame” for the strike, just over 34 percent pointed their finger at Mayor Rahm Emanuel, while 29 percent blamed the Chicago Teachers Union and 19 percent blamed the school board. In other words, a solid majority blames management, one way or the other.

Whites blamed the union more than the full sample, at 41 percent. People without school-age children blamed the union a bit more than the full sample, 31 percent. And 39 percent of those with children in private schools blamed the union.

But almost a majority, 48 percent, of Latinos blamed Mayor Emanuel, as did 33 percent of African-Americans, 42 percent of parents of public school children and 40 percent of parents of school-age children. All age brackets except those aged 55-64 blamed Emanuel the most, with 50 percent of 18-24 year olds pointing their finger at hizzoner, as well as 41 percent of 35-44 year olds.

- Posted by Rich Miller   61 Comments      


*** LIVE COVERAGE ***

Tuesday, Oct 15, 2019

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comment      


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