Guest Column: Contributions and influence II

I am the proud recipient of a communication from the Winnebago County Purchasing Director [“Response to Guest Column, ‘Contributions and influence’” from the Sept. 20-26, 2006, issue]. It wasn’t a tax increase notification, rather a response to my previous guest column in The Rock River Times about developers’ money gifts to elected officials and subsequent contracts granted to those developers by the County Board [“Contributions and influence,” Sept. 6-12 issue]. The information was provided to me as actual facts of how the process was conducted.

The process explained is simple.

I have a job to farm out.

I contact three or more contractors for estimates.

After receiving the estimates, I review them and the contractors’ viability. Then, select one contractor.

In the private sector, this is accomplished without gifts and donations to the deciding person. Not so in our elected official circles. The letter was self-explanatory, and went on to state that language in the contract to Nicolosi & Associates specifically prohibits them from doing development/construction within the same unincorporated area of Winnebago County for the duration of the contract. That is comforting to know that Nicolosi’s development/construction/real estate/title companies won’t be able to do any work for the period of writing the 2030 plan.

What happens after one year when the project is accepted by our County Board chairman and his band of trough feeders? (Trough feeders is explained in the Sept. 6 issue of TRRT.) It’s rather like we taxpayers deciding we want to build a new home or an addition to our home. We get estimates from contractors, select one we like, have the addition built, accept it, and then we move into it. That is what Nicolosi, Sunil Puri, et al. will do—move into the undeveloped areas of Winnebago County that they have designated for development in their 2030 plan. It is the best of both worlds. They get to lay it out and then develop—all on our tax dollars. That is a neat plan, and you certainly wouldn’t expect the perpetrators on the County Board to profit from this, would you?

Local developers gave more than $500,000 for one election cycle plus the money not recorded. This is only a portion of the money from profits for development that are paid for by our tax dollars. While Nicolosi and Puri are wealthy from their efforts, most of the money comes from us. This cycle is made easy by the Winnebago County Board and their special use zoning for PCDs.

The credibility for the Winnebago County Board has been lost by us, the taxpayers. The letter of correction from Ms. Sally Claassen mentioned above is a perfect example of the disdain with which these Winnebago County Board members and other elected officials treat us. As the Winnebago County Purchasing Director, she missed the fact that the firm hired to supply concrete for our 1 percent increase in jail sales tax was a Rockford alderman, Ann Thompson, who owns a cleaning service. Some of our elected officials even said that this reeked. However, it was let go as assigned because we taxpayers could handle the increased cost.

The bottom line is that we, Mr. and Mrs. Taxpayer, have to pay for the entire load of contributions to influence our elected officials. I certainly hope that the loans/contributions of $31,400 to Mr. Scott Christiansen for an ROI of $350,000 to Nicolosi for our 2030 plan stays with the voters come Nov. 7. As a very learned friend said—it is time we took our government back!

Richard Ott is a resident of Rockton and a neighbor of the proposed Puri/Cannell PCD.

From the Oct. 25-31, 2006, issue

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