BGA JAWA investigation in the Sun Times (part 2)
Posted in the Dixmoor Forum
#1 Sep 23, 2013
The first donation of $600 to Webb came shortly after the agency approved Postl-Yore’s no-bid contract in June 2011, records show.
◆ Two ventures led by Joseph Letke have been paid $315,933 for financial consulting and accounting work under separate no-bid deals. Letke and his companies have donated $10,000 to Webb’s fund and $7,000 to Harvey Mayor Eric Kellogg’s since 2004, records show. Letke is the comptroller in Markham and Harvey, and his firm performs financial audits for Robbins.
◆ Schillerstrom’s law firm, Ice Miller LLP, has been paid $264,630 for legal work. Schillerstrom was directly involved in early negotiations with Hammond, and while his firm still works for the agency, he says he’s not involved in current talks. Schillerstrom briefly ran for governor in 2010.
◆ Municipal attorney Burt Odelson’s law firm has been paid $202,296 for legal work. Odelson donated $1,600 last June to Denson’s fund and his firm works with Calumet Park and, until recently, Blue Island.
Webb says no contracts were awarded in return for campaign donations.
However, he concedes it “doesn’t look good” and says he plans to return the $2,100 from Postl-Yore but not cash from Letke and other vendors, with whom he has long-standing relationships.
“I don’t want this to be a conflict,” he says.
If an agreement is reached with Hammond, Postl-Yore, with the help of several engineering firms, would work to complete the long-delayed feasibility study, officials say.
If subsequently approved by the water agency board, the construction project would take an estimated three years to complete, officials say.
If it’s determined to be too costly, taxpayers in each of the towns, many of which are cash-strapped, must pay back the bondholders. Each suburb is responsible for a percentage of the principal plus interest and other fees. All told, that will be an estimated $11.2 million when the variable rate bond matures in 2025. Harvey’s share alone would be $4.3 million, a gut-wrenching sum given its financial challenges.
Already that town and two others are deeply indebted to the City of Chicago. Harvey owes $15.3 million in unpaid water bills, while Dolton and Robbins owe $1.5 million and $9.5 million, respectively, according to the City of Chicago.
Tom LaPorte, spokesman for Chicago’s Department of Water Management, says Chicago’s water rates are among the lowest in the country, despite recent increases to pay for improvements to an aging infrastructure.
As for the south suburban plan, he says,“We believe the communities involved will agree that staying with us is wiser and far more cost-effective than building a new system.”
Andrew Schroedter works for the Better Government Association.
Blue Island taxpayers, are you tired of the greed, money mismanagement and political games played with your hard earned money? Call your aldermen today and tell them to pull BI out of the JAWA!
#3 Sep 23, 2013
The money for this scheme should be given back to the cash strapped communities that floated bond issues to pay for this so called study. Not even a water source. Shame on you Burt Odelson for your Legal Conflicts. Big Thank You BGA
#4 Sep 24, 2013
We finally realize that Blue Island Attorney Burt Odelson does not like those who are paying his inflated legal bills. It is disgusting, to think the Alderman of Blue Island let him get away with this for so long. The Alderman forget, they are Public Servants, and do not work for Odelson, but the People of Blue Island.
#5 Sep 24, 2013
This JAWA was inspired by Burt Odelson, and his ongoing feud with Chicago Mayor Emanuel.
#6 Sep 24, 2013
Do not let Peloquin off the hook!
#7 Sep 24, 2013
There are many MORE more WHO also used JAWA to CLAIM TO FAME AND FORTUNE.
#8 Sep 24, 2013
FBI MUST Question Peloquin, to see if he lies to them, as he lied to us!
#9 Sep 24, 2013
Your right, Mayor Emanuel put him in his place. The Mayor saw what kind of shyster(Informal chiefly US a person, esp a lawyer or politician, who uses discreditable or unethical methods) he actually is. Every City and Village involved should sue Odelson Law Firm.
#10 Sep 24, 2013
Most of the Jawa profiteers have worked together for many years.
#11 Sep 25, 2013
The real question is if Domingo Vargas, Carmine Bilotto (who has supported the JAWA) and the city council will continue to fund the JAWA project. Hopefully they'll do the right thing and refuse to fund this debacle and try to get even some of the taxpayers money back. Remember, the city sold $600.000.00 in bonds for the JAWA and we now will owe not only the principal but also the interest and all fees for this sale. When these bonds mature in 2025, we will be on the hook for over a million dollars for this mess. This is money that could been used to re-open our bridges, remodel the Rec Center and to repair our streets. This a sad lesson in what can happen when dirty money meets local politics.
#12 Sep 25, 2013
Dixon to get $40 million in settlement of embezzlement case
By Melissa Jenco
The city of Dixon will receive $40 million to settle a lawsuit against the auditors and bank that did not catch its treasurer embezzling nearly $54 million from its coffers over two decades, officials announced Wednesday.
“The only thing I asked of our attorney is don’t leave any money on the table and I don’t think he left any money on the table,” Mayor Jim Burke said Wednesday in a telephone interview.
The settlement, reached after a 17-hour negotiation that went into the early morning hours Saturday, calls for payments of $35.15 million from accounting firm CliftonLarsonAllen,$3.85 million from Fifth Third Bank and $1 million from the accounting firm of Janis Card Associates, according to Burke.
The lawsuit filed last year in Lee County stems from former city treasurer Rita Crundwell’s theft of nearly $54 million from the small northwestern Illinois town that she used to fund a lavish lifestyle and championship horse-breeding operation.
Crundwell, 60, was sentenced in February to 19 years and seven months in federal prison after pleading guilty to a single count of wire fraud and admitting to money laundering.
#13 Sep 26, 2013
"Jawa, Lies, and Video Tapes"
#14 Sep 26, 2013
#15 Sep 26, 2013
Starring the Blue Island Jawa Director(s) Past and Present.
#16 Sep 26, 2013
#17 Sep 26, 2013
Strict Strong Sentences are Needed to Send a Powerful Message; THIS WILL NOT BE TOLERATED!
We've Got More Questions than Answers. The appearance of Confict of Interest and Ethics Violations. Why would someone push so hard to have certain companies do business?
#18 Sep 27, 2013
It is alleged, that Bob Rita has been stunned, did not see this coming. He feels he is loosing the grip he once had. I feel sorry for Cindi.
#19 Sep 28, 2013
#20 Oct 2, 2013
Shaw: Thanks to some legislators who helped BGA serve as watchdog
By Andy Shaw September 17, 2013
Andy Shaw is president chief executive officer Better Government Association.
Andy Shaw is president and chief executive officer of the Better Government Association.
Updated: September 20, 2013 6:25PM
One of the vexing dilemmas that confront full-service watchdog organizations such as the Better Government Association — where we investigate public officials, analyze public policy and then propose reform legislation — is that many of those we criticize are also part of the legislative process that determines the outcome of our proposals.
It’s an occupational hazard that’s unavoidable, and sometimes it derails our initiatives when lawmakers we’ve called out decide the best payback is to kill one of our bills or water it down.
But more often, thankfully, our reform allies on city, county, suburban and state governing bodies stay the course, put the objections aside and try to get the good government initiatives passed. That’s what makes our watchdog work so rewarding.
All of this came to mind recently when I saw a quote in a news story from Susan Garrett, the former state senator from Lake Forest, who was one of the BGA’s most consistent reform allies in Springfield.
She was decrying the legislative loopholes, contingencies and special favors that allow some corrupt public officials convicted of crimes to maintain all or some of their government pensions.
Garrett said anyone who is found guilty of public corruption at any level of government in Illinois should immediately lose their public pension. The BGA agrees.
For the record, Garrett gave up her Senate seat voluntarily last year to pursue other interests, but obviously she didn’t stray too far. She recently re-entered the reform world through a new door as board chair of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, one of the BGA’s allies.
The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform is the organization that, along with CHANGE Illinois, led the successful fight in 2009 to put the first financial limits on contributions to Illinois political campaigns.
Since then, the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United case has thrown campaign finance laws up for grabs. Cindi Canary, longtime executive director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, has moved on, and her iconic mentor, Dawn Clark Netsch, died.
As a result, the organization is retooling, with Garrett and another former north suburban lawmaker, Beth Coulson, the board’s new vice chair, leading the charge.
Garrett and Coulson were among the legislators who understood that BGA criticism of their colleagues, and even them on occasion, and our focus on Springfield’s dystopian torpor, was intended to be instructive and constructive, not personal or vituperative.
Some of the other state legislators who deserve a shout-out for working with the BGA during the last session of the General Assembly, even if they didn’t always agree with us, include:
Sen. Mike Jacobs (D-East Moline), who acknowledged the importance of public safety and government accountability by sponsoring a bill to create a zero-tolerance alcohol impairment policy for on-duty police officers.
Sen. Dan Kotowski (D-Park Ridge), who took on conflicts of interest by sponsoring a bill that tightened financial disclosure laws.
Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston), who understood the need for accountability in the criminal justice system by sponsoring a bill requiring law enforcement officials to obtain a warrant to use information collected by drones.
#21 Oct 2, 2013
And the coalition of legislators — Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago), Reps. Mike Zalewski (D-Chicago) and Scott Drury (D-Highwood) and House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago)— who recognized that the high cost of wrongful convictions, in financial and human terms, is an atrocity that can no longer be tolerated.
They spearheaded passage of a criminal justice reform bill that requires electronic recording of police interrogations in eight felony categories, not just homicide cases. That’s a major reform.
In earlier sessions, Rep. Fred Crespo (D-Hoffman Estates) led the fight to end the scandalized legislative scholarship program, Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) supported measures that made it easier for residents to dissolve their antiquated townships, and Sens. Heather Steans (D-Chicago) and Pam Althoff (R-McHenry) took an interest in many of our reform initiatives.
They respected our jobs as watchdogs. And did their jobs as lawmakers.
That doesn’t eliminate the clash of conflicting agendas, but it does say we can disagree without necessarily being disagreeable.
And that’s progress.
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