Daily Dose: Local history, College Illinois, Ricketts' new purchase, Petition challenge, Opposition research, Dumbest idea of the Year

Daily Dose: Local history, College Illinois, Ricketts' new purchase, Petition challenge, Opposition research, Dumbest idea of the Year


Local history


In 1911, tomorrow is the day that Champaign voters will decide whether they want the proposed new street lighting system. They will be called upon to decide if they want to issue $35,000 in bonds to pay for the system. The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. There are seven polling places in the city.


In 1961, porch lights should go on at 7 p.m. Thursday to guide Boy Scouts and Marine Reservists canvassing Champaign-Urbana and Savoy picking up householders’ toy contributions to the annual Toys for Tots campaign. The toys will be used in the Salvation Army toy shop, 517 N. Neil St., C. Residents who do not have toys to give are asked to turn off their porch lights between 7 and 9 p.m.


College Illinois in big trouble.


From the Chicago Sun-Times ...


llinois’ financially tanking prepaid college tuition program could require a $1.6 billion bailout from the state to remain solvent during the next 25 years, a new study shows.

If state lawmakers do nothing to prop up College Illinois!, the fund could be drained completely by 2022, financial consultant Gabriel Roeder Smith & Company reported in its analysis for the Illinois Student Assistance Commission.

The report, made public Monday, says if no new contracts are sold going forward, the shortfall will develop between 2022 and 2036 to pay for past contracts coming due. The contracts are supposed to allow parents to pay in advance and lock in lower tuition rates for their children to attend state schools, including the University of Illinois.


Ricketts pay big for one acre by Wrigley Field

From Crain's Chicago Business ...


(Crain’s) — Just weeks after bringing in a new management team to turn around the Chicago Cubs, the Ricketts family has made another bold move: paying $20 million for a property across the street from Wrigley Field.


A Ricketts family-led venture last month bought about an acre of land at Clark and Addison streets, currently home to a McDonald’s restaurant and parking lot. A spokesman for the family won’t say what the family plans to do with the parcel, but the Ricketts have made no secret of their desire to redevelop the properties around the ballpark.


“Parcels of land near Wrigley Field don’t come up for sale very often and the investors did not want to let this opportunity pass,” the spokesman says.


Oak Brook-based McDonald’s Corp., which sold the land and leased it back, plans to continue operating its restaurant at 3620 N. Clark St. The Ricketts can tear down the restaurant at any time, but a McDonald’s spokeswoman says a McDonald's store must be included as part of any future development at the site.


“Our relationship with the Ricketts family is mutually beneficial and we look forward to serving residents and visitors of Wrigleyville for years to come,” McDonald’s Vice-President Pancho Gonzalez says in a statement.


The Ricketts venture paid about $459 per square foot, well above the norm of $300 per square foot for land deals in the heart of Wrigleyville, says John Figlioli, president of Chicago-based Garrett Realty & Development Inc. Still, he says the land has enormous potential.



Petition challenge

From today's News-Gazette column ...


The State Board of Elections is reporting 139 challenges to various judicial and legislative candidate petitions around Illinois, but only one was in East Central Illinois.

Rob Roman of Chrisman, who is running against state Rep. Adam Brown, R-Decatur, in the new 102nd House District, had his candidate petitions challenged by Curtis Wooters and Bruce Cannon, both of Findlay and both of whom are GOP precinct committeemen in Shelby County. Cannon also is chairman of the Shelby County Board. 

John Fogarty, a Chicago attorney who is affiliated with House Minority Leader Tom Cross, had reviewed Roman’s petitions last month.

Roman said Tuesday that he didn’t know what the challenge was about but said that he would not give up his candidacy.

“All I know is what was posted on the board of elections website,” he said. “But I am confident that everything was done properly in collecting signatures.

“It is just unfortunate that the people who asked for a choice, who asked me to run, are being challenged. I’m disappointed. This is one of the reasons I’ve said, ‘enough is enough.’”


Opposition research

From today's News-Gazette column ...


Elizabeth Balderas, a staffer with the Senate Democratic Victory Fund chaired by Senate President John Cullerton, filed Freedom of Information Act requests with several county offices for information on Republican county board member Alan Nudo.

Nudo, of Champaign, is one of two GOP candidates — the other being John Bambenek — in the 52nd Senate District that includes much of Champaign and Vermilion counties. The winner of the Republican primary will face Democratic Sen. Mike Frerichs of Champaign in the general election next November.

One Balderas request, filed with the county board office, asked for pension payments made on Nudo’s behalf (there are none), as well as trips he has taken on county business (none), expense account records (none), sick days paid (none), and health care benefits paid (none). Balderas also wanted his salary history (board members get $45 per meeting), his voting record (and his wife’s), his statements of economic interest, and tapes and minutes of all county budget hearings since 2007.

“My intention is to concentrate on issues and voting records,” said Nudo. “And I would hope that all candidates do the same.”

Campaign disclosure reports show that Balderas is paid $1,219.84 every two weeks as a staff member for the Senate Democratic Victory Fund.


More on the dumbest idea of the year

From the Chicago Sun-Times ...


What Illinoisans are saying about a plan by two state lawmakers to split Chicago and Cook County away from the rest of the Land of Lincoln, creating a 51st state:

“Downstate families are tired of Chicago dictating its views to the rest of us. This isn’t about partisan politics; it’s about the region where you live. The old adage is true: Just outside Chicago there’s a place called Illinois.” —State Rep. Bill Mitchell, a central Illinois Republican pushing the measure.

“We’re all in this together. The idea of separating out and dividing us is a bum way to go. It’s definitely not the Illinois way to go.” —Gov. Pat Quinn, a Chicago Democrat.

“My God, how nice would that (divorce) be. I don’t think anybody’s taking it seriously, but it’d be nice to dream. Let them sink, and we’ll swim.” —Mike Nikonovich, owner of a winery and brewhaus in Grafton, Ill., northeast of St. Louis.

“There are some politicians who try to exploit that (resentment toward the Chicago area) and try to suggest that any problems we have Downstate have to be the fault of Chicago. I’ve never played that game. I just don’t think that’s fair.” —U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, a Democrat native to southwestern Illinois’ East St. Louis.

“There’s no getting around that Chicago and Cook County are the goose that lays many golden eggs distributed to downstate counties. Without Chicago and Cook County, the state would be a much poorer entity than it is now.” —Jim Nowlan, senior fellow of the University of Illinois’ Institute of Government and Public Affairs.

“I tend to agree we don’t have a prayer for many good policies in this area. If it’s not good for the public in that area (of Cook County), we just lose the vote. “Can we make things more fair? Yes. But to say, ‘We’re not happy with this, so we’re just gonna branch off’ — I don’t agree with that. We all just need to get along.” —Bob Biehl, a corn and soybean grower in southwestern Illinois’ St. Clair County.

“This is one of the issues where if you’re a Downstater (politician) it’s being on the right side. It’s championing Downstate and decrying the dominance of Chicago.” —Kent Redfield, emeritus professor of political science at the University of Illinois at Springfield.

“My guess is that (lawmakers pushing the split) are astute enough to know this has no chance of passing in the real world, and that they’re in tune enough to know this is good red meat for folks in their district — that they’re being screwed by Chicago when the truth is the other way around.” —Charles Wheeler, a former longtime Illinois Statehouse reporter now teaching journalism at the University of Illinois at Springfield.

“There is a certain regional pride in southern Illinois. I think this (measure) feeds into that. There’s a little resentment — envy (in Downstate).” —David Yepsen, director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.





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