Saturday, June 4, 2016

2018 Election: Gov. Rauner vs. President Kennedy’s nephew?



The next election for governor of Illinois is not until November 2018, but already Chris Kennedy is making the rounds for a possible campaign, sources told NBC Chicago. Mary Ann Ahern reports. (Published Friday, June 3, 2016)

The next election for governor of Illinois is not until November 2018, but already Chris Kennedy is making the rounds for a possible campaign, sources told NBC Chicago.

Kennedy, the eighth of 11 children of Robert and Ethel Kennedy, has lived in the Chicago suburbs for nearly 30 years.


He had previously considered a run for the U.S. Senate in 2009, but opted out shortly after. Instead, Gov. Pat Quinn appointed Kennedy Chairman of the University of Illinois Board of Trustees.

He and his wife now run Top Box Foods, a nonprofit providing fresh food options in the inner city.


Sources tell NBC 5 Kennedy has been meeting privately with key Democratic leaders and possible donors.

“I have heard that Chris is more serious this time,” said Eric Adelstein, a Democratic strategist. “Look, I think we have a unique situation, and here’s why -- I believe Rauner is a failed governor.” 


However, Republican strategist Chris Robling disagreed, saying “the concern over politics 2 and a half years from now reflect the fear over discomfort.”

Robling is well aware that lawmakers and Gov. Bruce Rauner have been unable to reach a budget deal now for the second year in a row. Robling says “things have to change and change is very, very trying.”


Republicans are launching online ads attacking House Speaker Michael Madigan. The governor is fighting back as Democrats say no grand compromise will happen until after the November election. 

Rauner, speaking to reporters Thursday, said, “we should not let elections or electioneering get in the way of doing the right thing for the families of our state.”


Other names mentioned as potential Democratic candidates for governor include U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, but he has said he’s not interested. If Chris Kennedy does run, it would be the 50th anniversary of his father’s 1968 campaign for president.

“Chris is a guy who will not just run on that name, I think he’s going to run on accomplishments and a vision,” Adelstein said.


Robling, however, notes, “he has had relatives who’ve done well and he’s had other relatives who’ve done terribly and Chris might be on one side of the family or the other, who knows?”

NBC 5 has reached out to Kennedy but he declined to comment.

Source: Sources: Chris Kennedy Considering Possible Run for Illinois Governor in 2018 | NBC Chicago
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As Koch brothers cling to Madoff cash, a new legal battle arises




Billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch have made plenty of good business decisions over the years. Placing millions of dollars with Ponzi-scheme mastermind Bernard Madoff may have been one of them.

Koch Industries Inc. invested an unknown sum with the con man's now-defunct securities firm years ago, and walked away with $21.5 million in profits before Madoff's arrest in 2008. But since 2012 the company run by the conservative-activist brothers, worth today a combined $109 billion, has refused legal demands to return the money.

Irving Picard, the trustee liquidating Madoff's firm, contends in a suit that the cash is fraudulent proceeds of the fraud and should be shared among the thousands of victims. Koch Industries, and dozens of other early investors named in 87 other lawsuits, argue the company can keep the profits because the money was sent overseas and is beyond U.S. jurisdiction. At stake: a total of $2 billion.

The battle is coming to a head in Manhattan bankruptcy court, where Judge Stuart Bernstein could rule within weeks on a key issue affecting Picard's suit. The defendants claimed a victory in 2014 when U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff said that money transferred overseas is generally out of Picard's reach. In the Koch case, the $21.5 million was sent in 2005 to a fund based in the British Virgin Islands, and then to a Koch entity in Britain, filings show.

Picard is claiming the transactions were essentially domestic transfers made to appear foreign.

"The trustee is not crazy — he has a very decent argument," said John Pottow, a bankruptcy law professor at the University of Michigan Law School.

Koch Industries has said the suit lacks merit. "The Koch entity involved made an investment in an entirely separate fund," Koch spokesman Rob Carlton said in an email. "That Koch entity no longer exists, and its investment was redeemed in 2005, long before anyone knew of Madoff's fraud." The Koch brothers are controlling shareholders in the company, and have other investors.

Picard's spokeswoman, Amanda Remus, declined to comment.

Picard isn't accusing Koch and the other defendants of wrongdoing. As in his many prior suits to recover cash, he contends the returns aren't legitimate because Madoff used money from new investors to cover the fake profits of older ones. He has used that argument successfully in mostly domestic cases to claw back more than $11 billion for victims, who lost $17.5 billion in principal. (Some foreign defendants settled with Picard and moved on.)

Most of the $2 billion involves transfers from funds that were operated by Fairfield Greenwich Group — by far the biggest feeder fund that channeled investors' money to Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities, or BLMIS. Several other suits involve funds run by Tremont Group Holdings. Both are based in New York and dealt with their shareholders from their offices in Manhattan, even though they had feeder funds based in the Caribbean to capture foreign investments for Madoff, Picard says.

"Regardless of where these feeder funds maintained operations, their transactions related to BLMIS were predominantly domestic," Picard has said in filings in federal court in New York. Moreover, the customers knew their investments were subject to U.S. law, he argued.

If Picard wins on this issue, his fight to recover the $2 billion isn't over. He must then prove that the transfer in each defendant's case was "domestic." Then, for transfers that occurred more than two years before Madoff's arrest, Picard must establish one more thing: that the feeder fund in which the defendant invested had "actual knowledge" of the fraud.

"We're strongly of the view that the extraterritoriality defense applies to the Fairfield Greenwich defendants," Mark Cunha, a lawyer for Fairfield, said in an interview. "We look forward to the judge's decision."

Koch Industries, an industrial conglomerate and one of the biggest private companies in the U.S., started investing with Madoff in the mid-1990s, court records show. At first, it invested with a Fairfield fund in the U.S., Greenwich Sentry.

In 2003, the company set up the entity in Britain, Koch Investment (U.K.) Co., to invest through a different fund that Fairfield set up in the British Virgin Islands that was exclusively for foreigners, called Fairfield Sentry. Two years later Koch Industries withdrew the cash that's now at the center of the trustee's lawsuit. (Koch also withdrew $58 million from Greenwich Sentry that same year, according to the fund's Chapter 11 filings.)

"Although registered in the United Kingdom, Koch Investment had no employees or operations in the United Kingdom, and was operated and managed entirely from the United States," the trustee said.

Picard's legal team has also cited the bankruptcy of Maxwell Communication Corp. in the 1990s. The judge in that case noted the "dangerous implications" of automatically labeling a transfer as foreign just because it involved foreign participants.

Picard's plan "makes sense since it's so easy to move money outside the United States," said Joelle Scott, of investigative due diligence firm Corporate Resolutions Inc. "I'd be surprised if the judge shut him down."

Madoff is serving a 150-year sentence in a federal prison in North Carolina for running the Ponzi scheme.


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Railroad support for GLBT project unclear



While two of the railroads that were supposed to be served by Great Lakes Basin's proposed freight line have publicly stated they will not participate, the remaining four appear uncommitted to the project.

Officials with the railroads have either said they were not involved in GLBT's proposal for an $8 billion, privately funded freight train line that runs 278 miles from Milton, Wis., to LaPorte County, or had no comment. One of those railroads acquired a rail line that already provides a bypass around Chicago and the other furloughed 4,600 employees earlier this spring because of a drop in cargo traffic.

Officials also noted their railroads support the Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency Program (CREATE), an ongoing project to alleviate rail congestion in Chicago that's already in place. Frank Patton, GLBT's founder and managing partner, has said his freight line would alleviate rail congestion and take trucks off the roads.

"We have supported CREATE since 2013," Patton said in an email. "We believe, along with many others, that CREATE is not the single solution to the projected 60 percent growth in traffic in the next 25 years."

He said the description of a second phase of CREATE in a Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning document that notes developing a program "so that the regional rail system has the capacity to efficiently handle potential future traffic loads and meshes with an efficient system for local pick-up and delivery" describes GLBT's proposal "perfectly."

Patrick Waldron, a spokesman for Canadian National, had no comment on the proposal but in 2009, the railroad purchased the former Elgin, Joliet and Eastern Railway, which, according to CN's website, "allows us to seamlessly connect our five rail lines entering the city, avoiding those crowded inner city rail corridors."

According to a company news release from January 2015, CN has invested more than $1 billion in its Midwest operations in the past several years.

The purchase of EJ&E, company president and chief executive officer Claude Mongeau said in the release, "frees up capacity for other carriers on the Belt Railway of Chicago and Indiana Harbor Belt – a benefit for the entire greater Chicago rail network."

A spokesman for BNSF, Andy Williams, also had no comment, though an April 1 article on Bloomberg's website notes the railway put 4,600 workers on furlough because of declining cargo traffic.

The article notes that traffic for large U.S. railroads dropped 6.2 percent in the first quarter of this year, rail cargo fell 2.5 percent in 2015, and that most railroads responded by reducing workforces.

Canadian Pacific "is not affiliated with the Great Lakes Basin proposal," Andy Cummings, a spokesman there said.

CSX has not made a formal decision, said Gail Lobin, spokeswoman for that railroad, though the railroad supports CREATE and its efforts.

In the path of proposed rail line, Lowell wants more information

"CSX is always looking at opportunities to increase efficiency and capacity in and around Chicago, and across our entire network. Our efforts include working with other railroads to capture those efficiencies, including through support of the CREATE initiative, which has had a positive impact in efficiently moving freight not only in Chicago but throughout North America," she said in an email.

Patton has said that property owners whose land is impacted by the freight line could pay for rail spurs and switches and provide boxcars for pick-up and delivery of goods.

Union Pacific representatives said in March that they would not take part in the proposal. Norfolk Southern submitted a letter late last month to the federal Surface Transportation Board stating it already has bypasses around Chicago and is not inclined to use the proposed route.

Opposition to GLBT has been fierce across three states and opponents have flooded the STB with letters against the project in what a representative there has called an unprecedented response to the project.

They have repeatedly questioned the needed for the rail line, particularly in light of the news that neither Union Pacific nor Norfolk Southern would take part in the proposal.

"(GLBT's proposal) seems unnecessary and it just backs up what our group says," Kathleen Honl, one of the organizers of the Porter County opposition group Residents Against the Invasion of Land by Eminent Domain (RAILED), said last week.

Amy Lavalley is a freelance reporter for the Post-Tribune.

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Senator Steve Stadelman calling on Governor to release funding for services



ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) -- Thousands of families across the state are suffering because of the budget stalemate in Springfield, but some local legislators say there's a solution, and all it needs is Governor Rauner's signature.

Toyya Young lives in one of the apartments owned by Shelter Care Ministries, a group that aims to help families overcome homelessness. Young says the help the group has given her family has been enormous.

"We were homeless, and they actually helped us get stable housing," she says.

However, the budget impasse in Springfield is preventing non-profits across the state to help families like Young's. Senator Steve Stadelman is urging the governor to sign bi-partisan legislation, which would provide 700 million dollars in funding for services like Shelter Care, Meals on Wheels and programs for kids. Stadelman says the legislation has been sitting on Rauner's desk for the past month.

"The past year or so, we've have many non-profit organizations that have gone out of business. Their future's in jeopardy and then they had to cut back programs. This would provide immediate relief for these providers to continue these services so they are not cut in the future," says senator Steve Stadelman.

Shelter Care says they've had to scale back on families they can help, because the cuts.

"It seems harder to get help all around. Everyone is kind of holding onto what little money they have. I think the residents and the people we serve are feeling the pinch because they can't access the same amount of services that they could before," says Sarah Parker-Scanlon of Shelter Care Ministries.

Young hopes the governor takes action.

"With homelessness, there's a face. We have faces. There's people hurting. There's children to think about. They're innocent. People are trying to do their best," says Young.

The bill passed the house by a 111-0 vote and passed the senate by a 56-0 vote. A spokesman for Governor Rauner told 23 News that this human services funding is part of a more over-reaching stop gap budget that he was pushing yesterday in the Stateline. And that's where the democratic leadership should be concentrating.

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Will Boone County Board approve an actual “resolution” regarding GLB RR?


Below is Cathy Ward’s Facebook account of  the Health Committee meeting.  Apparently a resolution will be discussed at the county board meeting if it can make the June 15 deadline. 

Cathy Ward

June 2 at 8:21pm ·

TRAIN TALKS - After much heated debate about the value of a Resolution objecting to the proposed freight train, the Boone County Board's Health Committee tonight (June 2) approved a motion to submit a Resolution to the Feds (STB). Board member Sherry Branson led the discussion, which I strongly supported, noting hundreds of our Boone County residents asked for this and we have been legally advised that a Resolution is stronger than the letter the board approved in May. Board ...members Sherry Giesecke and Ray Larson said they did not believe the feds want a Resolution. They voiced strong opinions that the letter is all that is needed, but in the end, all five members supported the motion to draft a Resolution. At least the first step won approval. So frustrating. This should be a no-brainer. After it is drafted, it will go to the full County Board for final approval. Deadline is June 15.