Sheriff launches probe of limestone quarry project in Robbins: Kadner

Oct 28, 2013 Full story: Chicago Sun-Times 51

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart's inspector general has launched an investigation into a planned development in Robbins to construct a limestone quarry that would take 20 to 30 percent of the suburb's land through eminent domain.

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Thanks Tom

Chicago, IL

#1 Oct 28, 2013
Sheriff launches probe of Robbins quarry project: Kadner

By PHIL KADNER pkadner@southtownstar.c om October 28, 2013 6:42PM

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart

Updated: October 28, 2013 9:09PM

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart’s inspector general has launched an investigation into a planned development in Robbins to construct a limestone quarry that would take 20 to 30 percent of the suburb’s land through eminent domain.

Cara Smith, chief of policy and communications for Dart, said the sheriff’s department became concerned after reading stories about the development scheme in the SouthtownStar and received a complaint about the plan from a resident.

“We have initiated an investigation into the Robbins mine initiative to ensure the residents’ rights are protected and to ensure there is absolute transparency associated with every aspect of the project,” Smith stated in an email.“Of particular concern is an alleged donation by ALM Resources to a Robbins trustee.”

SouthtownStar staff writer Casey Toner revealed that ALM Resources, the project developer, donated $2,000 to the campaign of Robbins Trustee Shantiel Simon in March.

Earlier this month, the SouthtownStar revealed that Robbins had approached state legislators about introducing a bill in the fall veto session to allow quick-take authority to acquire homes and businesses for the planned development.

Robbins has entered into a public-private partnership agreement with Riverside-based ALM Resources to create a limestone quarry on 60 acres, followed by a 169-acre underground mine, asphalt and concrete plants and a therapy horse ranch. A waste-to-energy incinerator constructed in Robbins more than a decade ago would be part of the development.
Thanks Tom

Chicago, IL

#2 Oct 28, 2013
Robbins would receive 5 percent of the sales from all the limestone mined, according to ALM, but in exchange one of the poorest municipalities in Illinois would turn over control of 320 acres to a private-public partnership called Robbins Resources LLC.

Hundreds of Robbins residents turned out for a community meeting last week, and many demanded that the village reconsider the deal. Many residents and public officials have said they were unaware of the extent of the project before newspaper stories appeared.

U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-1st), whose district includes Robbins, held a news conference at the home of a resident to oppose the plan. Rush called the pact with the developers a “dirty, dirty rotten deal.”

State Rep. Robert Rita (D-Blue Island) balked at introducing the quick-take bill after attending last week’s meeting, explaining that he wanted more details about the development.

Jim Louthen, ALM’s managing partner, has said the project, which could launch the quarry operation in 2014, would eventually raise more than $140 million in revenue from the sale of limestone and from sales and property taxes for Robbins.

At a public meeting last week, Louthen introduced a new partner in the project, Stephen Davis, president of Rib Mountain Aggregate, which would do the actual mining of the limestone.

Robbins residents raised concerns about the quick-take process and getting fair value for their homes, relocation assistance and payment for the mineral rights beneath their homes. But several said they didn’t want to move under any conditions and asked if the village and developers could force them out.

The short answer to that question was “yes.”

One woman said she feared that dust from the quarry operation and resulting truck traffic would cause respiratory problems in her children. A spokesman for the developer said federal and state agencies would regulate all environmental aspects of the quarry and mining operations.

ALM representatives said they would be meeting each Wednesday with residents at a community center to answer questions about the sale of the homes and the impact of the development on Robbins.

But the developers were less than forthcoming with SouthtownStar reporters during a meeting last week to discuss the plan.

When sheriff’s department officials called to request documents about the development, they were told to file a request under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act and talk to the village attorney, according to the department.

Dart created an office of inspector general in the sheriff’s department this year to assist suburban communities in investigating charges of corruption or mismanagement.

Dolton was the first to request the sheriff’s assistance after the administration of a newly elected mayor expressed fears that tax money had been misspent or stolen. Richton Park and Country Club Hills have since passed resolutions naming the sheriff’s office as the inspector general for their towns.

The sheriff’s department has been assisting Robbins police since January when about 200 untested rape kits, many from cases more than 20 years old, were found in the police evidence room.

In February, sheriff’s police also have been patrolling the streets of Robbins, assisting a police department that has a history of being short-staffed and has been accused of incompetence and indifference to crime. The mayor has refused to confirm it, but the police force consists mostly of part-time officers paid about $10 an hour, according to several sources.

As of 2010, the population of Robbins was 5,337, the median family household income was $24,145 and the per capita income was $9,837, according to U.S. Census data.
.
Thanks Tom

Chicago, IL

#4 Oct 28, 2013
Much of the land in Robbins is vacant, and abandoned homes and businesses have become an economic drag for the suburb. For decades, it has attempted to attract economic development without much success.

The $383 million Robbins incinerator, originally designed to burn garbage from municipalities throughout the U.S., created a firestorm of political and environmental opposition, tax subsidies were withdrawn and it never became the economic engine that was envisioned.

Is the village government now capable of representing the interests of residents in a massive limestone quarry/mine project?

There isn’t a lot of confidence on the streets of Robbins.
Thanks Tom

Chicago, IL

#5 Oct 28, 2013
Much of the land in Robbins is vacant, and abandoned homes and businesses have become an economic drag for the suburb. For decades, it has attempted to attract economic development without much success.

The $383 million Robbins incinerator, originally designed to burn garbage from municipalities throughout the U.S., created a firestorm of political and environmental opposition, tax subsidies were withdrawn and it never became the economic engine that was envisioned.

Is the village government now capable of representing the interests of residents in a massive limestone quarry/mine project?

There isn’t a lot of confidence on the streets of Robbins.
Thanks Tom

Chicago, IL

#6 Oct 28, 2013
Much of the land in Robbins is vacant, and abandoned homes and businesses have become an economic drag for the suburb. For decades, it has attempted to attract economic development without much success.

The $383 million Robbins incinerator, originally designed to burn garbage from municipalities throughout the U.S., created a firestorm of political and environmental opposition, tax subsidies were withdrawn and it never became the economic engine that was envisioned.

Is the village government now capable of representing the interests of residents in a massive limestone quarry/mine project?

There isn’t a lot of confidence on the streets of Robbins.
BIIPS

Alsip, IL

#7 Oct 29, 2013
Unless Rita goes to jail it is a dog and pony show!
Sponsored the Shell Bill

Chicago, IL

#8 Oct 29, 2013
Will Davis and Bob Rita introduced the SHELL Bill. WHY?
linda

Oak Forest, IL

#9 Oct 29, 2013
This is the corrupt business model when they can't use the people to create enough revenue for the corporate America shareholders. They bring in the wrecking crew to rebuild what they destroyed. The real money for the shareholder/investor/bondshold ers is in the do overs. These are greedy, third party foreign imposters and traitors from within doing this. They are scummy subhumans who don't have any compassion or humanity for anyone. I hope they all fall in their own greed pit.
Distractions and Deals

Chicago, IL

#11 Oct 30, 2013
Sponsored the Shell Bill wrote:
Will Davis and Bob Rita introduced the SHELL Bill. WHY?
Throughout Tuesday night’s meeting, residents expressed anger and frustration that the project had advanced so far without their knowledge.

It is a Political Strategy.
Tell the people what you want them to know; only when you want them to know.
As in "When the deal is done" and money has changed hands.

Above IS the FOUNDATION for the "TRANSPARENCY LAW".
Money Distribution System

Chicago, IL

#12 Nov 2, 2013
Thanks Tom wrote:
Sheriff launches probe of Robbins quarry project: Kadner
By PHIL KADNER pkadner@southtownstar.c om October 28, 2013 6:42PM
Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart
Updated: October 28, 2013 9:09PM
Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart’s inspector general has launched an investigation into a planned development in Robbins to construct a limestone quarry that would take 20 to 30 percent of the suburb’s land through eminent domain.
Cara Smith, chief of policy and communications for Dart, said the sheriff’s department became concerned after reading stories about the development scheme in the SouthtownStar and received a complaint about the plan from a resident.
“We have initiated an investigation into the Robbins mine initiative to ensure the residents’ rights are protected and to ensure there is absolute transparency associated with every aspect of the project,” Smith stated in an email.“Of particular concern is an alleged donation by ALM Resources to a Robbins trustee.”
SouthtownStar staff writer Casey Toner revealed that ALM Resources, the project developer, donated $2,000 to the campaign of Robbins Trustee Shantiel Simon in March.
Earlier this month, the SouthtownStar revealed that Robbins had approached state legislators about introducing a bill in the fall veto session to allow quick-take authority to acquire homes and businesses for the planned development.
Robbins has entered into a public-private partnership agreement with Riverside-based ALM Resources to create a limestone quarry on 60 acres, followed by a 169-acre underground mine, asphalt and concrete plants and a therapy horse ranch. A waste-to-energy incinerator constructed in Robbins more than a decade ago would be part of the development.
Between township, city, high school, college, park district, grammar school, and legislative districts there are approximately 7,000 jobs and billions in government and private contracts to be influenced.
FOLLOW THE mONEY

Blue Island, IL

#14 Jan 27, 2014
Sheriff’s probe: Robbins deal heavily favored developer

A three-month investigation by the Cook County sheriff’s police into a controversial limestone mine and quarry project in Robbins shows the deal disproportionately favors the developer amid questions concerning the contract, transparency and the village’s legal representation.

Among other findings, the sheriff’s police report states the developer told investigators he currently lacks the money to complete the project, the developer made an allegedly illegal campaign contribution to a village trustee through a company employee and the village attorney didn’t know about the deal until after it was signed.

The report described the redevelopment agreement as “questionable” due to former Mayor Irene Brodie’s deteriorating health when she signed the deal as well as the contract’s notarization by a former village trustee, Willie Carter, whose son owns multiple properties in the project’s footprint, as previously reported in the SouthtownStar.

“It’s like these guys just thought they could come in, pull the wool over residents’ and village officials’ eyes with assurances of,‘We got it covered, this will bring you revenue,’” said Cara Smith, Sheriff Tom Dart’s chief of policy and communications.“When you look at the terms, there’s no guarantee a cent is coming to the village of Robbins.”

To make the deal more favorable to the village and its residents, the report recommends that the village renegotiate the contract. It also urges the village board appoint someone to fill the seat of Trustee Shantiel Simon, who supports the project and told investigators that he has not resided in Robbins for four months.

The proposed quarry/mine project has been on hold since Nov. 27, pending the completion of the sheriff’s police investigation. Mayor Tyrone Ward, in a text message, told the SouthtownStar the village board supports a renegotiated agreement that offers “more than a fair deal for residents.”

Paul Stewart, a spokesman for the developer, ALM Resources, declined to comment, saying he has not yet read the sheriff’s police report. Stewart said he was uncertain of the project’s status because there has been no contact between ALM and village officials since November.

ALM Resources manager Jim Louthen — who the SouthtownStar previously reported is being sued by First Midwest Bank after defaulting on a $350,000 loan — told sheriff’s investigators that he does not now have the financing for the project, according to the report.

It says the report will be sent to the Cook County state’s attorney’s office and the Illinois Board of Elections due to concerns about Simon’s residency and allegedly improper campaign contributions to Simon from a company owned by ALM Resources.

Dart announced the investigation in October, weeks after the SouthtownStar reported that Robbins entered into a deal with Riverside-based ALM in May to create a limestone quarry on 60 acres, followed by asphalt and concrete plants and a 169-acre underground mine. More than 50 houses would need to be acquired for the redevelopment.

ALM wanted to acquire the land through a “quick-take” process using Robbins’ power of eminent domain, which allows it to take private property for the public good. That requires legislative approval, and many residents feared such a bill could pass in the Legislature’s veto session last fall.

However, the village board rejected the eminent domain option a day after a volatile town hall meeting between the developers and residents.

FOLLOW THE mONEY

Blue Island, IL

#15 Jan 27, 2014
“This office could find no necessity for such a hurried and inscrutable strategy,” the report states.“Citizen attendance and opinions voiced at public meetings held after the Redevelopment Agreement was signed confirmed that this (quick-take) issue was one that caused suspicion related to the transparency of the entire project.”

The report states Louthen, who responded to investigators only in writing through his attorney, said he first pitched the project to village officials on Nov. 14, 2011, and the village board approved it the following month. Louthen said that during the next two years, he made more than 20 presentations about the project, according to the report.

It notes a clause in the contract that prohibits any royalty payments to Robbins until the Illinois Department of Transportation agrees to use limestone from the quarry.

The report says investigators tried to interview Brodie about the redevelopment but were told the former mayor was incapable of participating in an interview because of poor health.

The sheriff’s investigation states that ALM Resources and Robbins Renaissance Construction, two companies Louthen runs, donated $4,500 to Simon’s failed mayoral campaign in 2013. Louthen instructed Robbins Renaissance bookkeeper Cynthia Crane to give $800 to Simon’s campaign, and the company later reimbursed her in violation of Illinois election law, the report says.

Simon said he reported all of his campaign contributions and dismissed the report’s claim about his lack of residency.

“Everybody knows I’m a truck driver,” he said.“I have a contract that takes me out of town.”

Former village attorney Mark Sterk told investigators a former village manager, Napoleon Haney, told him about the redevelopment deal a day after it was signed, the report states. Sterk said his law firm represented Robbins for years until the newly elected village board fired the firm last spring, but its attorneys had not attended any village board meetings in the last two years because the village could not afford it, the report says.

Chicago attorney Don Kreger represented the village for free during negotiations on the redevelopment agreement, but it’s unclear why or how Kreger was selected, according to the report. Kreger could not be reached for comment.
FOLLOW THE mONEY

Blue Island, IL

#16 Jan 27, 2014
Sheriff’s probe: Robbins deal heavily favored developer
A three-month investigation by the Cook County sheriff’s police into a controversial limestone mine and quarry project in Robbins shows the deal disproportionately favors the developer amid questions concerning the contract, transparency and the village’s legal representation.
Among other findings, the sheriff’s police report states the developer told investigators he currently lacks the money to complete the project, the developer made an allegedly illegal campaign contribution to a village trustee through a company employee and the village attorney didn’t know about the deal until after it was signed.
The report described the redevelopment agreement as “questionable” due to former Mayor Irene Brodie’s deteriorating health when she signed the deal as well as the contract’s notarization by a former village trustee, Willie Carter, whose son owns multiple properties in the project’s footprint, as previously reported in the SouthtownStar.
“It’s like these guys just thought they could come in, pull the wool over residents’ and village officials’ eyes with assurances of,‘We got it covered, this will bring you revenue,’” said Cara Smith, Sheriff Tom Dart’s chief of policy and communications.“When you look at the terms, there’s no guarantee a cent is coming to the village of Robbins.”
To make the deal more favorable to the village and its residents, the report recommends that the village renegotiate the contract. It also urges the village board appoint someone to fill the seat of Trustee Shantiel Simon, who supports the project and told investigators that he has not resided in Robbins for four months.
The proposed quarry/mine project has been on hold since Nov. 27, pending the completion of the sheriff’s police investigation. Mayor Tyrone Ward, in a text message, told the SouthtownStar the village board supports a renegotiated agreement that offers “more than a fair deal for residents.”
Paul Stewart, a spokesman for the developer, ALM Resources, declined to comment, saying he has not yet read the sheriff’s police report. Stewart said he was uncertain of the project’s status because there has been no contact between ALM and village officials since November.
ALM Resources manager Jim Louthen — who the SouthtownStar previously reported is being sued by First Midwest Bank after defaulting on a $350,000 loan — told sheriff’s investigators that he does not now have the financing for the project, according to the report.
It says the report will be sent to the Cook County state’s attorney’s office and the Illinois Board of Elections due to concerns about Simon’s residency and allegedly improper campaign contributions to Simon from a company owned by ALM Resources.
Dart announced the investigation in October, weeks after the SouthtownStar reported that Robbins entered into a deal with Riverside-based ALM in May to create a limestone quarry on 60 acres, followed by asphalt and concrete plants and a 169-acre underground mine. More than 50 houses would need to be acquired for the redevelopment.
ALM wanted to acquire the land through a “quick-take” process using Robbins’ power of eminent domain, which allows it to take private property for the public good. That requires legislative approval, and many residents feared such a bill could pass in the Legislature’s veto session last fall.
However, the village board rejected the eminent domain option a day after a volatile town hall meeting between the developers and residents.
Lopsided Deal

Chicago, IL

#17 Jan 28, 2014
FOLLOW THE mONEY wrote:
“This office could find no necessity for such a hurried and inscrutable strategy,” the report states.“Citizen attendance and opinions voiced at public meetings held after the Redevelopment Agreement was signed confirmed that this (quick-take) issue was one that caused suspicion related to the transparency of the entire project.”
The report states Louthen, who responded to investigators only in writing through his attorney, said he first pitched the project to village officials on Nov. 14, 2011, and the village board approved it the following month. Louthen said that during the next two years, he made more than 20 presentations about the project, according to the report.
It notes a clause in the contract that prohibits any royalty payments to Robbins until the Illinois Department of Transportation agrees to use limestone from the quarry.
The report says investigators tried to interview Brodie about the redevelopment but were told the former mayor was incapable of participating in an interview because of poor health.
The sheriff’s investigation states that ALM Resources and Robbins Renaissance Construction, two companies Louthen runs, donated $4,500 to Simon’s failed mayoral campaign in 2013. Louthen instructed Robbins Renaissance bookkeeper Cynthia Crane to give $800 to Simon’s campaign, and the company later reimbursed her in violation of Illinois election law, the report says.
Simon said he reported all of his campaign contributions and dismissed the report’s claim about his lack of residency.
“Everybody knows I’m a truck driver,” he said.“I have a contract that takes me out of town.”
Former village attorney Mark Sterk told investigators a former village manager, Napoleon Haney, told him about the redevelopment deal a day after it was signed, the report states. Sterk said his law firm represented Robbins for years until the newly elected village board fired the firm last spring, but its attorneys had not attended any village board meetings in the last two years because the village could not afford it, the report says.
Chicago attorney Don Kreger represented the village for free during negotiations on the redevelopment agreement, but it’s unclear why or how Kreger was selected, according to the report. Kreger could not be reached for comment.
The facts have always shown the project and those involved were scam artists involved in a much bigger ponzi scheme.
Bob Rita

Alsip, IL

#18 Jan 28, 2014
I knew nothing.
Concerns

Chicago, IL

#19 Jan 28, 2014
Lopsided Deal wrote:
<quoted text>
The facts have always shown the project and those involved were scam artists involved in a much bigger ponzi scheme.
The proposed Robbins quarry also poses a sustainable danger to the environment, public health and welfare, air pollution, creating a water pollution hazard and the of release hazardous substances into the environment of many surrounding communities. Cities impacted include: Robbins, IL, Merrionette Park, IL, Dixmoor, IL, Posen, IL, Riverdale, IL, Alsip, IL, Midlothian, IL, Calumet Park, Il, Blue Island, Il.
What is the Connection

Chicago, IL

#20 Jan 28, 2014
"It’s like these guys just thought they could come in, pull the wool over residents’ and village officials’ eyes with assurances of,‘We got it covered, this will bring you revenue,’” said Cara Smith, Sheriff Tom Dart’s chief of policy and communications.“When you look at the terms, there’s no guarantee a cent is coming to the village of Robbins.”

Why were State Reps Bob Rita, Will Davis, and Chris Welch, promoting this debacle?
Interesting

Chicago, IL

#21 Jan 28, 2014
Chicago attorney Don Kreger represented the village for free during negotiations on the redevelopment agreement, but it’s unclear why or how Kreger was selected, according to the report. Kreger could not be reached for comment.

http://www.state.il.us/court/r23_orders/appel...
How STUFF WORKS

Chicago, IL

#22 Jan 28, 2014
Interesting wrote:
Chicago attorney Don Kreger represented the village for free during negotiations on the redevelopment agreement, but it’s unclear why or how Kreger was selected, according to the report. Kreger could not be reached for comment.
http://www.state.il.us/court/r23_orders/appel...
What a BOMBSHELL!
Many Thanks.
Amazing Insight

Chicago, IL

#23 Jan 28, 2014
Interesting wrote:
Chicago attorney Don Kreger represented the village for free during negotiations on the redevelopment agreement, but it’s unclear why or how Kreger was selected, according to the report. Kreger could not be reached for comment.
http://www.state.il.us/court/r23_orders/appel...
This is an in depth look into how projects of this kind get started and who really profited.

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