Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Belvidere City Council turns down permit for bar in former Secretary of State's building

By Breane Lyga

Posted: Feb 06, 2017 10:42 PM CST


The former Secretary of State building in Belvidere will not be developed into a new bar.

City council turned down a special use permit for a proposed bar on pearl street. One alderman says several people turned out Monday night to voice their concerns over having a bar in that spot. The special use permit asked for video gaming to be in that bar. It would've been in a residential area.

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How things got done in Boone County in the last decade


My View: Looking at how things got done in Boone County in the last decade



Posted Feb 6, 2017 at 9:49 AM Updated Feb 6, 2017 at 11:30 AM

By Pat Mattison

From where I sit, this is the way planning for the future in Boone County has progressed in the past 10 years.

In a way, bribes (I am using the word bribes here just to get your attention) aren't necessary in Boone County governments. For instance, the pattern to foster growth from any industry - nursing home or senior citizen residential center, retail shopping center, high end residential subdivision, bank, classic restaurant, Wal-Mart or chain restaurant - has been to fix up a professionally done slick brochure or the like with half truths and label it "economic development." Then you call a meeting - outline promises of jobs, property and sales tax revenues along with the attracting of newcomers and increased housing - and the likes of Growth Dimensions, the Boone County Board chairman, the Belvidere mayor and village presidents grab their rubber stamps of approval.

If any sensible citizen questioned increased traffic problems, crowded schools or environmental problems they were branded among the "good ol' boy" leaders as tree huggers, liberal elitists, "aginners" or threats to the good people of Boone County.

Almost all of the development discussion is done behind closed doors in small committee meetings, and actions are presented to whole boards without prior knowledge or review for action at their regular board meetings. Too many issues are presented as having to act immediately to meet some critical deadline, or the tremendous opportunity for the good of all will be lost.

There are even appointed paid "administrators" working for the county that arrange out-of-town dinner trips for interested board members to visit applicants.

Some of the board members vote yes because their vote would not stop the approval, and they do not want to be judged for not being informed. Or if it wasn't going to pass anyway, they didn't want to be considered "obstructionists" - or who knows what?

There are a large percentage of "go alongers" serving the various city, county and village boards in Boone County that derive their "ego satisfaction" by being on the board or council. There are even board members that take a liking to a particular applicant for a special-use permit and will make the presentation for or with them.

Debate is something that is experienced at the high school tournaments. What board member could possibly question another board member's intent? "Conflict of interest" for these board members is a concept that happens in the Chicago City Council but is unknown in the Boone County environment.

This begs the question for all Boone County voters to consider for the future. Will any bona fide business or developer really consider Boone County attractive with this kind of governmental culture? Where would another Chrysler type operation go to explore and develop its future in Boone County?

Pat Mattison is a former member of the Boone County Board.

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Chris Kennedy to run for Illinois governor

Businessman Chris Kennedy to run for Illinois governor

SARA BURNETT,Associated Press 47 minutes ago

CHICAGO (AP) — Democratic businessman Chris Kennedy said Wednesday he will run for Illinois governor in 2018, bringing the instant name recognition of his family's political legacy to what will likely be a sharply contested race to unseat Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.

In an email and video sent to supporters, Kennedy, 53, said he's running because Illinois is heading "in the wrong direction."

"I moved to Illinois thirty years ago with an enthusiasm for business and a commitment to serve. Today, I am announcing my run for Governor because I love Illinois, but we have never been in worse shape," he said. "We don't need incremental improvement — we need fundamental change in state government."

Kennedy is the son of the late Sen. Robert Kennedy, who also served as attorney general, and Ethel Kennedy. He is the nephew of former President John F. Kennedy.

The former chairman of the University of Illinois Board of Trustees, Kennedy founded and now leads Top Box Foods, a nonprofit organization that provides affordable, healthy food to Chicago neighborhoods.

He also serves as chairman of Joseph P. Kennedy Enterprises Inc., the Kennedy family's investment firm. He previously managed a real estate company whose holdings included Chicago's Merchandise Mart.

Kennedy, who lives in Kenilworth with his wife and four children, has flirted with running for public office before — including a bid for U.S. Senate — but didn't follow through.

He surfaced as a top contender for governor after he spoke to the Illinois delegation to the Democratic National Convention last summer. Kennedy ripped Rauner's pro-business legislative agenda and blamed him for Illinois' more than one-year state budget stalemate, saying he's inflicting "suffering and chaos" on Illinois.

House Speaker Michael Madigan, who leads the Democratic Party of Illinois, said at the time Kennedy would make an "excellent candidate."

That drew an attack from the Illinois GOP, which has worked to link any potential rivals to Madigan, Rauner's staunchest opponent at the Illinois Capitol.

"Mike Madigan endorsing a run for governor by Chris Kennedy tells you everything you need to know about Chris Kennedy," Illinois Republican Party spokesman Steven Yaffe said. "Chris Kennedy secretly kissed Mike Madigan's ring months ago because he knows Madigan is the real boss."

Kennedy has considerable personal wealth that could help fund a campaign against Rauner, who late last year put $50 million of his personal fortune into his re-election fund.

But first Kennedy could face a difficult Democratic primary. Chicago Alderman Ameya Pawar already has announced he's seeking the nomination, and other Democrats are considering bids, including billionaire businessman J.B. Pritzker, state Sen. Andy Manar and U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos.

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