◆ 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!