By Frank Schier
Editor & Publisher
As the cliche goes, the local “Silly Season” is upon us; and as election day nears, I find more of “Sad Season” than silly. While I have my preferences, the choices this year were harder than in any election before. I am more than ever disgustingly aware, as our Assistant Editor Brandon Reid’s excellent articles on campaign contributions have shown, the usual suspects are still buying our elections.
One of these usual suspects is well known in certain circles for his cash envelopes, which he gives to some politicos in both parties to disperse, therefore distancing himself from the hand-offs. I wish someone would come forward who is willing to testify to that because it is blatantly illegal, when neither he nor the candidate reports that cash contribution. But no one has the courage to testify or go on the record. Everyone is afraid, and I can’t name a name without a very hard proof in this case because of some very deep pockets on that person’s part. Three or more unnamed sources do not cover the costs of a long-term libel suit. That is really sad.
In my opinion, the most significant elections are for the Mayor of Rockford and the Village President of Rockton. Please pay attention to those races because they are so indicative of our insider politics that are becoming transparent because some people are willing to take a risk, and some not because they are afraid.
Here are some endorsements considered to be crucial. Uncontested races are not addressed. For space and time considerations, some races will be addressed online. Check www.rockrivertimes.com daily until the election.
FOR CITY OF ROCKFORD VOTERS
Consolidated Election, April 9, 2013.
Voters will be eligible to vote in the districts as indicated on their valid voter identification card.
INSTRUCTIONS TO VOTERS
TO VOTE, COMPLETE THE OVAL TO THE LEFT OF YOUR CHOICE
To cast a write-in vote, complete the oval to the left of the blank space provided and print the candidate’s name in that space. For specific write-in instructions, refer to the card of instructions provided in the booth. If you tear, soil, deface or erroneously mark your ballot, return it to the Election Judge and obtain another. This is a two-sided ballot. Be sure to fill out both sides of the ballot.
CITY OF ROCKFORD MAYOR
FOR A FULL 4-YEAR TERM (VOTE FOR ONE)
JAMES (JIM) HUGHES
LAWRENCE J. MORRISSEY
Many, many factors make this a difficult endorsement, and I hope I can provide some clarity and chronology to address many charges on all sides of this intensely complicated race.
First of all, I have an obvious bias in this race. In 1998 in a booth in the Irish Rose after hearing many things that impressed us, Mike Leifheit and I convinced a young lawyer who just returned from working in Chicago to help his family law firm to run for mayor — Larry Morrissey.
Actually, we said he should write his ideas into a series of four articles to be published in this paper, which would give him and us indicators for public support for his ideas. The support was very strong, and Larry was on his way. “Downtown Larry,” as some called him then, lost his first race, but won his second attempt at the office, unseating Doug Scott, a long-time Democrat who had held many offices and quite a bit of clout statewide.
Also, in the spirit of disclosure, this newspaper has endorsed Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey in previous elections, and as an attorney, Morrissey — along with Peter Alexander — successfully represented this newspaper in a libel lawsuit in 2004. Also, Michael Kleen served as an unpaid columnist for this newspaper for a short period of time before announcing his candidacy for mayor.
Back in 2005, for Downtown Larry to win as an independent candidate was quite an achievement, and many of us thought a golden age might be approaching for downtown and the city as a whole. I don’t think I’ve ever had so much hope for the city. Yes, you can still be naive at 50 years old.
I should have known the political process would take its toll. Much to my displeasure, many of the usual suspects that were on former mayors Charles Box and Doug Scott’s campaign contribution reports are now on Mayor Morrissey’s, specifically First Rockford Group CEO Sunil Puri and Northern Illinois Building Contractors Association. Markedly absent were any new contributions from Peter Provenzano of SupplyCore, his core supporter in previous races. Reportedly, a huge rift has developed between Morrissey and Provenzano because Morrissey has not reciprocated to the level Provenzano desired for his past contribution — Morrissey reportedly has not even returned Provenzano’s phone calls and vice versa. We printed Supplycore’s holding in the downtown area to stress their positioning around key public developments, and how they have sat on property without developing it, which considering the state of the real estate market for the last few years, may be more than understandable.
Mayoral candidate Jim Hughes has contributors I find understandable and much more offensive. I’ve know Jim for many years, too; and I stress, I KNOW Jim. I’ve watched him shuck and grin and tell good and bad jokes for years; usually when I was drinking beer with him or speaking with him at his county office. I warily like him, but I am very wary of his buddies.
I’m very disturbed by the contribution to Jim’s campaign by former Winnebago County Sheriff Don Gasparini. Known for his assault weapons full-metal-jacket massaging of the local deer population, which he really got off light on (Chicago Tribune called him, “Teflon Don,”), he gained more recent distinction by locking and loading a deal with long-time pal Randy Olson, then president of the Winnebago County Forest Preserve District, to unload some algae-filled ponds near Four Lakes Forest Preserve for the bang-up price of $216,000. To bring those three ponds and the property up to WCFPD standards, the district will probably have to invest an additional $1 million or more. When this deal went down, the WCFPD’s dry Land Acquisition Fund had to go fish in the Operations Fund via Olson’s creative financing. This is the kind of “deal” Jim would shrug at and give me a sly grin. “Hey, it’s legal,” I can hear him saying, “Donny’s OK.”
All that may be true, but such deals at taxpayers’ expense are still improper and embarrassing to the civic body. Hughes’ other notable contributors include various unions, Carl Scandroli and the Illinois Licensed Beverage Association. Besides being the decision-maker on all contractual negotiations for the city, the mayor is also the head of the Liquor Commission.
One embarrassment that received some public attention was the attempt by Hughes, as Winnebago County’s director of development services and Winnebago County Board Chairman Scott Christiansen (R) to develop the Amerock and Tapco Building, where they attempted to keep the developer a secret from the public in 2010.
Eventually, the name Crystal Properties and its CEO, Peter Anello of Las Vegas, surfaced. At the time, Hughes told me it was a very big deal with several partners, but was never specific as to who those partners were. Hughes was very excited and confident about the deal. A series of press releases by the Crystal Properties were released without the participation of the city, but quotes were given by the county.
As to a visit to Las Vegas, Christiansen said: “I was out there on vacation staying at my brother Tim’s time share. I went to look him [Anello] up and see what this fellow was all about. I met him out there for a breakfast or lunch.”
One source said Christiansen called the City of Rockford and was very excited about Anello and Crystal Properties.
Crystal Properties of Las Vegas has a D- rating, on a A-F scale, from the Las Vegas Better Business Bureau. (http://www.bbb.org/southern-nevada/business-reviews/real-estate/crystal-properties-and-investments-in-las-vegas-nv-81877).
Christiansen also said: “Then, Anello came here and it all fell apart between him and the partners.” Christiansen confirmed Philip Pritchard was one of those partners.
Actually, Pritchard was also involved in one of the first development proposals for Amerock/Tapco by Concept West of Las Vegas and Tudor Group of California/Las Vegas and worked for Global Development at the time doing the environmental work.
Christiansen added, “I think he worked for Larson and Darby at one time, and Pritchard was here several times” in relation to Milwaukee’s Robinson Environmental’s work to satisfy a EPA Phase I study for Ricky Trinidad of Rock River Live, who also wanted to develop the Amerock/Tapco property. Rock River Live produced several promotional videos featuring local public officials, but that deal didn’t fly either.
March 20, 2010, the daily paper reported, “The city, however, isn’t buying it.
“…they also question the legitimacy of the Rock River Live proposal and the group’s financial standing.
“And they want to know why Rock River Live shares the same name as a Web site created last year for Las Vegas-based Crystal Properties to market its Amerock redevelopment plan, which never materialized.
‘“That’s a big red flag,” Morrissey said. “That causes me to question the legitimacy of the proposal. It’s essentially the same numbers, the same general approach, literally some of the same financial figures. … When I commented previously about not wanting to be held hostage by development proposals that aren’t legitimate, this is exactly the type of thing I was talking about.”’
Apparently, the mayor really knew what he was talking about and protected the citizens of Rockford, considering the following release.
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Litigation Release No. 22366, May 11, 2012 reads:
“Securities and Exchange Commission v~ Global Development & Environmental Resources, Inc., et al Civil Action No. 8:08-CV-993-T27MAP (M.D. Fla.).
“COURT ENTERS FINAL JUDGMENT AGAINST DEFENDANTS PHILIP PRITCHARD, PIETRO CIMINO, AND~ GLOBAL DEVELOPMENT & ENVIRONMENTAL RESOURCES, INC.
“The Commission announced that on April 23, 2012, the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida entered a Final Judgment against Defendants Philip Pritchard, Pietro Cimino, and Global Development & Environmental Resources, Inc. The Final Judgment orders Pritchard, Cimino, and Global to pay, jointly and severally, disgorgement in the amount of $2,122,625, plus $523,173.27 in prejudgment interest. The Final Judgment also orders Pritchard and Cimino to each pay a civil penalty of $130,000.
“The Commission commenced this action by filing its complaint on May 22, 2008. The complaint alleged defendants participated in a fraudulent pump and dump scheme to evade the registration provisions of the federal securities laws and then sell purportedly unrestricted Global shares during a fraudulent promotional campaign.
“The Commission previously announced on March 8, 2010 that following a five-day trial, a seven-member jury in the U.S. District Court in Tampa, Florida found Darko S. Mrakuzic liable for violating the anti-fraud and registration provisions of the federal securities laws in connection with the above scheme that netted Mrakuzic more than $6 million in profits in violation of Sections 5(a) and (c) of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 10(b) and Rule 10b-5 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. On February 7, 2011, the Court ordered Mrakuzic to pay a total of $9,135,089 which included disgorgement of $6,568,568, pre-judgment interest of $2,306,521 and a civil penalty of $260,000.
“Global, Pritchard, Cimino, and Defendants Carmine 3. Bua, Anthony M. Cimini, Sr., and Dante M. Pánella, all previously settled the Commission’s anti-fraud and securities registration charges against them by consenting, without admitting or denying the Commission’s allegations, to permanent injunctions. All the individuals consented to penny stock bars, and Cimini, Pritchard, and Cimino consented to officer-and-director bars. The Court also previously ordered disgorgement and civil penalties against Cimini, Bua, and Panella. The Commission’s claim for a civil penalty against Global Development has been voluntarily dismissed.”
As to Hughes’ knowledge or introduction of Pritchard and company, “I think it was solely through his job at the county. They all of a sudden showed up at the door with a project,” Christiansen said. This whole affair may come back to haunt Christiansen and Hughes on several levels. Hughes was unable to be contacted by phone at deadline.
One matter that has very publicly haunted Morrissey’s campaign in this election has been that of tax-increment financing (TIF) funds given by the city to Morrissey Realty Group — the company the mayor helped found prior to his election and the company that is now run by the mayor’s family. The TIF money was allocated by the city for redevelopment of the Lundstrom-Peterson property, 401-403, 405-411, 414, and 416 Seventh St., and 1039 Third Ave.
Morrissey Realty Group as the developer was given a total of $800,000 in TIF funds in 2010 to redevelop the property. Of that, $400,000 was spent to purchase the property. Those funds came out of an old Seventh Street and Midtown Development TIF.
Chandler Anderson’s Icon Development Group was the general contractor on the project, not a co-developer with the Morrissey Realty Group as commonly asserted. Anderson declared bankruptcy in October of 2011.
As Alex Gary wrote in the daily at the time: “Anderson is just the latest developer to run into financial issues in the aftermath of the Great Recession. Already this year, foreclosure suits have been filed against such noted developers as Rubloff Development, Kurt Carlson, Jan Mansfield, Summit LLC, Steven Murphy and Florian Guski.”
However, citing none of this when pressed to answer where the remaining $400,000 went, the mayor up to this point failed to answer the question.
When presented with the question by Republican mayoral candidate Michael Kleen during a March 21 Rockford mayoral candidate forum streamed live online by the Rockford Register Star, Morrissey went on the defensive, telling Kleen it was “outrageous” that he would use “rumor and innuendo to base that kind of baloney statement you just made.” Morrissey added that the project was approved under a prior administration, and he, personally, has had no involvement in the management of Morrissey Realty Group properties since prior to first being elected mayor in 2005. However, worth noting is that the TIF funds were distributed in 2010, during Morrissey’s second term.
However, the Development Agreement was passed by the city council under the Doug Scott administration, which delayed it as long as possible; so if Scott lost, Morrissey would have to preside over the final version and any amendments.
Morrissey resigned from all his duties with family real estate or legal practice upon his election, and adapted perhaps too much of a “hands-off” policy with regard to any family business.
Morrissey went on to state that no one in his family has ever received special treatment from the city since he was elected mayor. Specifically, he referenced that his brother-in-law was laid off by the city, and he did nothing to stop the move, despite it making him unpopular around the house. He also said the development agreement is managed by city staff, not the mayor’s office.
“If you’re accusing me of illegal conduct, again, I’d like to see the facts as opposed to rumors, because I think that’s outrageous,” Morrissey concluded.
He echoed those sentiments at the Rockford College debate, asserting he should not know about his family’s business in his role as mayor.
I pressed City of Rockford Administrator Jim Ryan and the mayor personally, saying his distancing himself from the issue was only hurting him and could cost him the election. I cited an information packet being circulated by Brian Jenkins Leggero, which he has sent to Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. Leggero has run for several offices and been endorsed by this paper in all of those races.
Ryan called me and said City of Rockford Legal Director Patrick Hayes had finally examined the materials at Morrissey’s direction, and would give me an interview on the matter.
Hayes affirmed the city’s Development Agreement had been entered into in 2005, with two amendments, the first in 2008 and the second in 2010.
The second amended agreement provided for $350,000 on execution of the agreement (which was dispersed), $50,000 on or after June 30, 2010 (which was dispersed), and $50,000 on or after June 30, 2011 (which was not dispersed).
It also provided for $1,000 a month penalty if 36 months after the agreement the project was “substantially uncompleted.”
Hayes said the Morrissey Realty Group paid $1,000 in March, and would have to pay $1,000 a month hereafter.
“The misery of all of this to me is his dad is 80 years old, and Larry can’t help his dad,” Hayes said. “Look at the great project of the old brewery. You don’t see much on the outside, but Lloyd Koch has shelled out $11.5 million.”
Hayes said he would soon release a detailed list of expenditures on the Midtown Lofts, which include costs for taxes, insurance, legal fees, engineering fees, architecture fees, general contractor fees, demolition costs to gut the building, and other costs, noting $400,000 can go quicker than you think.
Hayes said he would soon release a detailed list of expenditures on the Midtown Lofts, which include costs for taxes, insurance, financial fees, legal fees, engineering
Hayes also noted at the same time Chandler Anderson, again only acting as the general contractor, was facing the loss of the developer’s bank funding on the Valencia apartments projects, which contributed to his bankruptcy. The Valencia Apartments TIF is another issue, and a lawsuit I will address as well.
After an extensive and very open conversation (and I don’t think he’s one of my biggest fans), Hayes pointed out one factor that prompted the city council to unanimously pass all the development agreements with amendments for the Morrissey Realty Group was the presentation $2.7 million in funding was forthcoming from Northwest Bank. I asked him what happened, and he said, “I don’t know.”
So, I called Joe Morrissey. I must also disclose that Joe and I have had a mutual friend and project in the past, Red Argraves.
I had met Red when I was 8-years-old and he was the assistant manager of the old State Theater on the river where the Luther Center stands today. My brother, Fred, was the youngest union projectionist at 18, and he used to give my mother a break by taking me to work. The whole experience was wonderful, and so was Red. Imagine management allowing that today in our litigious society.
I saw Red on and off over the years at his subsequent posts at the Midway, Times, Coronado and North Towne theaters.
When I moved my business to 128 N. Church St. 17 years ago, Red was a regular at Parthenios down the block, as was Joe. They frequently sat together.
I gave Red a ride home in a snowstorm, and found his living situation intolerable. I had a big old Victorian, and moved him in with me for five years. When he could no longer walk the eight blocks to Parthenios, Eileen, Bill and Joe Morrissey came and moved him into the Luther Center, which Joe had arranged. Joe and Bill made sure Red had groceries, clean laundry and a cleaning lady at their own cost. I never thought about it until now as I am writing this in my library at home, but Red returned home in a way to the Luther Center/old State Theater site. Red died there. I inherited his original literary and original art estate, and I’m looking at four boxes of them in my library right now. Joe was also Red’s attorney, and saw that I got Red’s things and his lifetime of work.
When I called Joe, he said he had just come back from laser eye surgery to repair an earlier surgery, and was seeing better, but could I call Michael Schirger because he was taking care of legal matters for him. Joe said: “I’m 80, and I don’t recall all I should, but Michael has the files and can help you. Just tell him I told you to call.”
Schirger, who has his offices in the Morrissey Building, said “Morrissey Realty Group and Midtown Lofts, LLC are clients.”
I asked him about the $2.7 million from Northwest Bank, and he said: “Despite their best efforts, the funding never came through. Morrissey Realty Group and Midtown Lofts, LLC are not the only development group that had that happen. Many groups got caught by the recession.
“I don’t have a report [of costs making up the $400,000] to give you. I have receipts and disbursements. The process is underway,” Schirger said.
Schirger noted he or the city would release a detailed report before the election.
“The property is listed,” he said. “That’s how I became involved, working with the city and some developers to move this project forward. There is interest in the project, and we’re attempting to respond to that interest to move the project forward.”
He declined to identify the prospective developer.
The Developers for the Valencia TIF project at the corner of North Court Street and Fisher Avenue are Valencia Developers, LLC, David R. Smith and Marc C. Berg.
They are the defendants in a civil lawsuit filed Jan. 1, 2013, by Attorney Ken Ritz on behalf of the City of Rockford because the city did not respond to an Oct. 29, 2013, certified letter from Ritz.
Ritz asserts he can file for the city because the city did not respond with “60 days of the date of delivery.”
That letter reads as follows:
October 29; 2012
Hon. Larry Morrissey
425 E. State Street
Rockford, IL 61104
Dear Mayor Morrissey.
The City of Rockford was defrauded of at least $243,462.45 in connection with the proposed and aborted rehabilitation of the Valencia Apartments located at the corner of North Court Street and Fisher Avenue.
This money should be returned to the city.
It appears that David R. Smith and Marc C. Berg are beneficiaries of a trust or members of an LLC that received the money. They are alter egos of the trust and LLC. As such, they are personally liable.
The Illinois Recovery of Fraudulently Obtained Public Funds Act provides that before any action is instituted, the local governmental unit shall make a good faith attempt to collect amounts owed to it by using formal procedures and methods.
I am making a demand upon you, as a citizen of Rockford, to let me know if you have made a good faith attempt to collect the money owed to Rockford by using informal procedures and methods.
Under the Act a private citizen may bring an action to recover the damages on behalf of the city if you do not commence the proper actions.
Pursuant to the Act, I intend to bring an action to recover the damages on behalf of the city, unless the city either —
1. Institutes an action for recovery of the money; or
2. Sends notice to me that the city has arranged for a settlement, and its terms; or
3. You notify me that you intend to commence suit within 60 days.
Kenneth F. Ritz
City Legal Director Hayes said, “I have not been able to identify anyone here at the City of Rockford that received that letter.
“I was made aware of it in the middle of last week.
“I understand Ken’s continuing frustration with the unfinished property right next to his law firm.
Hayes said the funds were dispersed with “a few things left to do; things like minimal work on electrical systems, covers on heat registers, things that were not a threat to life safety.”
He said staff is communicating with Title Underwriters, which confirmed that the expenses had been incurred, and that they look at these TIFs diligently.
While some contractors may have to be paid yet, he noted the entire TIF was $350,000, and a balance does exist.
“Foreclosure has seized the development, and the city’s position is secured by a second mortgage,” Hayes said. “Chandler Anderson was the general contractor, and he did leave the project because of allegations were that the bank would no longer fund the project.”
Ritz said he will probably file another Amended Complaint.
Larry Morrissey has really been sandbagged by many unfounded allegations, but he did not respond immediately to many of them because he did not deem them credible.
This endorsement has been an attempt to put those issues to rest.
Morrissey has done more for the infrastructure of this town than any other mayor. He has improved and cleaned up West State to an amazing extents and now it will get a complete facelift.
The Morgan Street Bridge and College Avenue Round about are going to be amazing.
The work done on South Main by Klehm Arboretum is fantastic.
The Discovery Center and Burpee Museum River Walk really bring us our first major development on our major and most underdeveloped resource, the Rock River.
The Morrissey administration’s support of the Rock River Trail Initiative has been unwavering, substantial, and has prompted many other municipalities on the river to support this effort to found a national trail on our hometown stream that flows from the Horicon Marsh to the Mississippi River.
Morrissey Etsy project enabling is great for local business and is visionary.
Morrissey represents us well in a sophisticated manner downstate, nationally and internationally.
He is aware of the charges of cronyism. He’s paid the price for it. He has probably overreacted in trying to counter the problem.
If you really want to see where Morrissey is going read the last third of his State of the City speech on the city’s website, www.ci.rockford.il.us/. The accomplishments in that speech are very real.
Look at the quality of the website as well, and its content.
Morrissey’s efforts at transparency are really modern, and he is our mayor for the future.
Hughes’ cronyism makes Morrissey look good by comparison. Hughes means well, but he just doesn’t have the depth of field. He is a candidate of the past, who thinks reinstalling street lights a major campaign point, where it is really a side issue.
Our jobs’ challenges are linked to the economy, as is our crime rate. Criminals were imported by former administrations, and paroles are still coming. You can’t dump that all on Morrissey.
His negotiation style with the police and fire union is horrible. But he doesn’t believe that unions are always right like Hughes, who has not discussed how he would handle the budget in that regard. Morrissey has made some really hard, unpopular fiscal choices, yet he is balancing a very complex budget.
I don’t think we should make the investment in the three neighborhood police station. We have to get creative with the PSB. It’s an existing resource. What other tenants and services can help support it?
I have great affection for Michael Kleen, but he is just not qualified for the job. He’s learning, but he has the mistaken belief that issues are simple. His admirable common sense needs more experience and study. His idea to tear down all the at risk buildings to provide surface parking illustrates that he does not have a grasp on progressive urban development. He’s very smart and will learn. He is the preferred candidate of our Assistant Editor Brandon Reid (click here to read his view). We disagree.
Jon Bystrom, who has been with me from the very start of this newspaper, is very convinced Larry Morrissey completely botched his lawsuit against a former partner, and prefers anyone but Morrissey because of it. While I see his loss, we disagree.
Morrissey is the candidate who has the most to offer for the next three years. He is not perfect, but he’s the best we have. And I think he’s getting better.
Other contested city races endorsements that will be expanded online, along with county races
Rockford Alderman, Ward 1 — Incumbent Timothy Durkee (R) over Paul Frey (I)
Rockford Alderman, Ward 2 — Elliott Kallstrom (I) over Melvin A. Miller (D) and Jamie Getchius (R)
Rockford Alderman, Ward 3 — Incumbent Douglas Mark (R) over Thomas P. McNamara (D) and Maurice A. West (I)
Rockford Alderman, Ward 6 — Pamela R. Connell (R) over Vernon Hilton (D)
Rockford Alderman, Ward 9 — Peter Herdklotz (I) over Jay B. Ware (D), Teena M. Newburg (I) and Beverly J. Giorgi (I)
Rockford Alderman, Ward 11 — Incumbent Karen Elyea (D) over Jaime J. Salgado (I)
Rockford Alderman, Ward 13 — Incumbent Linda McNeely (D) over David J. Lickteig (I)
Rockford Township Supervisor — Incumbent Michael J. (Mickey) Goral (D) over Harmon Mitchell (R)
Rockford Township Clerk — Incumbent Jeffery A. Holt Jr. (D) over Eli Nicolosi (R)
Rockford Township Trustees — Incumbent Jasper St. Angel (D), incumbent Greg Tuite (D), incumbent Frank Manzullo (R) and Kenneth W. Staaf (R) over incumbent John A. Rundquist (R) and Robert E. Brokish (R)
Cherry Valley Township Trustees (select up to four; only one recommended here) — Paul Gorski (D) (over Jan Klaas (R), Wendy Owano (R), Donald Carlson (R) and Eugene S. Bolek (R))
Rockford Park District Commissioner (full six-year term) — Jack L. Armstrong (over Ian K. Linnaberry)
Rockford Board of Education, Sub District A — Incumbent Lisa Jackson (over Dion Simpson)
Rockford Board of Education, Sub District C — Write-in Alice Saudargas (over incumbent Kenneth J. Scrivano)
Rockford Board of Education, Sub District E — Michael D. Harner (over Kim Mullins)
Rockford Board of Education, Sub District F — Michael Connor (over Jeffery A. Holt Jr. and Juan Reyes)
Rockford Board of Education, Sub District G — Incumbent Laura J. Powers (over Jaime Escobedo)
Rock Valley Community College District — Romero L. Bennett, Lynn Kearney and Colin Grennan (over Patrick Murphy, Christoffer Banks, Richard W. Mowris, Walter P. Chimiak, Frank Haney, Ray Montelongo and Michael D. Olson)
Village of Rockton President
This race is really between incumbent Dale Adams and Joe J. Simpson. Gail Beach is well meaning and a good person, but neither she nor Adams can compare to Simpson. He is our choice
First of all, Adams simply has to go.
His recent inaction and complicity to protect a very historic property in Rockton is inexcusable. Why doesn’t Rockton have a Historic Preservation Statute? Simpson supports one; vote for him. Watch our website for more on this issue before the election because of space restrictions in this issue
As I have tried to point out, in this modern political age, we as Americans seem to be all too comfortable with the idea of political corruption. It has become, in part, what we expect from our various levels of government. Many of us feel that our vote will go unaccounted for. That as an individual, we are not only helpless but also unaware of our government’s actions. This political atmosphere is exactly what our founders intended to avoid.
Even our local municipal governments seem to be a microcosm that displays the corruption and dysfunction of our federal government.
The Rockton Village board has some representation that falls short in the credibility department.
The head of the budget & finance committee (Dave Winters) has personally filed bankruptcy in recent history. This same individual has also recently decided that all village documents requested by the citizens of Rockton will need to be requested via FOIA. Trustee Winters, when the Freedom of Information Act was constructed, its intention was to assist the taxpayers in achieving transparency with their government (not to cause them to be restricted with further “red tape”).
In past years, many have mentioned the problematic TIF districts, and the extensive legal battle with Rock Energy Cooperative. What citizens should be inquiring about, though, is how the debt from that lengthy legal battle is being serviced. A high interest loan was obtained, and an “infrastructure maintenance fee” was tacked onto the citizens’ electricity bills. It has been proven, though, that less than half of those funds collected annually are used to service that debt.
In Rockton, Ill., Village President Dale Adams has been in control of that great community for several terms. In that time, the village of Rockton has had several great small businesses leave. The village has most recently lost an anchor commercial enterprise (and successful Chicago area restaurant) Rosatti’s. Many feel that the Rockton road strip mall developments are not where the village’s development focus should be directed. In a community with high employment and decent median household incomes, why are several of our downtown businesses struggling to be profitable?
One of the most troubling facts though, is one that pertains to the firm who acts as Village Engineer. They have an employee who works for them (who has worked throughout the village for years), who admitted to, and was convicted of, sexually molesting a young girl (multiple times) several years ago. A previous administration (in Rockton) had dismissed this man. Mayor Adams (with full knowledge of his criminal history) returned him to his position once he became the Village President.
Adams has unquestionably paid very questionable and nebulous billings from the Nicolosi Law firm, now under Hinshaw & Culbertson. Those billings really need to be examined.
Again, three people are on the ballot for Village President in Rockton. Joe J. Simpson, Gail Beach and the incumbent Dale Adams. Ms. Beach has recently made the decision to not actively campaign. She is instead helping Joe Simpson with his campaign. Her name will still appear on the ballot, but would ask that people vote for Joe Simpson.
Joe Simpson has worked for the city of Beloit for 13 years and is the Human Resources analyst.
He has been closely involved with the exciting downtown developments in the city of Beloit. We need this kind of fresh, experienced, and highly-motivated individual leading this village. In a community where we possess such an under-utilized downtown business district, Joe Simpson will be able to lead us in growing and revitalizing our great community. Stop voting for the same familiar name, that has gotten us nowhere.
Please fulfill your American duty and remember to vote Tuesday, April 9.
From the April 3-9, 2013, issue