What the CL City Council Could Do to Get Rid of the CL Library’s Blagojevich Factor

As bond analyst Steve Willson has pointed out, in his industry those doing business with a government are banned from future business for two years if they make political contribution related to the entity.

No such prohibition exists for builders, architects and others who benefit financially from the building of schools or, in Crystal Lake’s case, a new library.

About two weeks before the fall election, architectural firm Engberg Anderson gave $8,000 to the campaign committee seeking a majority vote in an advisory referendum. ¬†(This didn’t even merit a “thumbs down” from the Northwest Herald, much less a story.)

$8,000 is  certainly is enough for a mailing.

The check came from a Wisconsin address.

I don’t know whether this is common practice above the state line, but it certainly has happened locally.

When District 300 passed tax hike and bond issue referendums in the mddle of the first decade of this century, tons of money poured in from those who ended up building the schools.  (The Northwest Herald did a splendid job covering the campaign finance aspect of thar campaign.)

Same with a huge contribution from a Woodstock builder to support the building of new schools whose company subsequently went bankrupt.

Woodstock North High School

Distrcit 200 is now discussing closing some schools because of surplus capacity, but at least one school is now in what was constructed of the builder’s new subdivision.

And, who can forget how ex-Governor Rod Blagojevich sold commission seats on the Health Facilities Planning Board?

The pay-to-play corruption reached right into Crystal Lake when holders of the seats, purchased for $25,000 contributions, voted against a new hospital.

Hire the contractor I demand or no approval was leader Tony Rezko’s approach.

So, how can the Crystal Lake City Council stop similar action in Crysftal Lake?

Proposed Crystal Lake Library

It can pass an ordinance forbidding any corporation who has donated to a committee seeking referendum approval related to a new city building from being paid to help build it.

Pretty simple, it seems to me.

As simple as the legislation I wrote forbidding any entity convicted of a felony or admitting thereto while dealing with the State of Illinois from ever doing business with state government again.

That statute was upheld by the Illinois Supreme Court and, the last time I looked, every state contract has a requirement that the vendor affirm no such felong exists.


What the CL City Council Could Do to Get Rid of the CL Library’s Blagojevich Factor — 6 Comments

  1. Citizens can email their local board members advocating for such a policy.

    Citizens can advocate for such a policy during the public comments section of board meetings (some boards have a specific time during the meeting where one can comment on non agenda items).

    Board candidates can make it an election issue.

    Taxpayer friendlier boards, perhaps MCC or Cary Elementary District 26, could pass such a board policy.


    Vendors contributing to board member political campaigns is common in Illinois.

  2. And vendors or potential vendors contributing to referendum campaigns is common in Illinois.

    Both such contributions are recorded in the Illinois State Board of Elections (SBE) website, campaign contributions section.

  3. If the Library board promised the architect a contract in return for a donation to the committee favoring the referendum, then their actions would be blatantly illegal.

    Yet apparently the Crystal Lake City Council want us, the public, to assume simply nothing untoward happened as long as there is no evidence of an explicit quid quo pro.

    They appear to have forgotten that governments are supposed to avoid conflicts of interest or appearance thereof, and I emphasize the latter part of that phrase.

    I find it especially disturbing that the Northwest Herald has completely ignored this issue, especially given the amount of money the architect has already been paid and the amount of money they stand to make if a new library is built and they are not prohibited from doing business with the City, and especially given the fact the Northwest Herald was made aware of this issue before the last referendum and chose not to inform the public.

    What happened to the public’s right to know?

  4. If Jack Franks brought the issue to the Northwest Herald, then you would see something about it in their paper.

  5. Unethical – conflict of interest!

    in the real business world of non- government this would Not happen they would be fired on the spot!

    … all involved.

  6. LTResident, your point is dead on.

    And should those who work for the government be held to a higher standard or a lower standard?

    I would suggest a higher standard.


    Because governments are supported by taxes, which is money taken from people by force, and when you take money by force, you’d better have a darned good reason.

    That means government programs should meet both of the following two criteria.

    First, they should do things that are critical, not trivial.

    Second, they should do things the free markets have proven themselves inherently incapable of providing.

    Hence, governments should build roads because they are vital to the nation and not a good private enterprise could readily provide.

    Does this mean unlimited roads? Of course not. This is where the “trivial” part comes in. This is why we do cost/benefit analysis.

    So what about libraries?

    Are they vital?

    Well, it says on the side of the Boston Public Library, the first tax supported municipal library in the nation, “The Commonwealth requires the education of the people as the safeguard of order and liberty.”

    There are two points to note here.

    First, the library was dedicated to serious learning, not entertainment.

    Second, the Boston Library was created at a time when there were few public schools, and when obtaining information about the world was expensive and difficult.

    Is that the case today?

    No, today we have universal education and information is broadly and cheaply available.

    So, are libraries as important today as they were 160 years ago?


    Do they still have a place?


    But is competing with RedBox to offer multiple copies of recent blockbuster movies, at four times the price that RedBox charges, a vital public service that private enterprise is not providing?

    Absolutely not!

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