Kass Again Focuses on Cellini and Marchese

Last May, Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass focused on two of the principals who won the contract from Crystal Lake Mayor Aaron Shepley and his city council for the Route 14/Vulcan Lakes TIF contract:

Bill Cellini and
Michael Marchese

Sunday, he did it again.

In the Kass spotlight were Springfield Republican biggie Bill Cellini and his sidekick from the Jim Thompson years, Republican National Committeeman Bob Kjellander.

While both have been widely reported to have been mentioned in Governor Rod Blagojevich’s fund raiser Tony Resko’s trail, the actions of neither are expected to come up in the Rezko trial. Neither have been accused of anything.

Kass brings them up to illustrate how poorly positioned the Illinois Republican Party is to make hay out of Democrat Resko’s corruption trial.

Kass points out that they, like Rezko and chief accuser Stuart Levin, (the Crystal Lake Mercy Hospital shake-down guy), who was my GOP opponent Jim Ryan’s biggest lifetime contributor after being his law school study partner, are part of a bipartisan “Illinois Combine,” whose only goal was to enrich its members.

As Kass explains,

“Levine isn’t the only Republican implicated in the Operation Board Games. There’s ‘Co-Schemer A‘–Illinois Republican boss Big Bill Cellini. He’s the Republican asphalt king, casino magnate and recipient of millions of tax dollars to finance his hotel deals and other projects, like multiple partnerships with Chicago Mayor Richard Daley’s favorite developer, Michael Marchese. And you thought only Chicago Democrats got fat on public money?”

The Tuesday before Rezko’s indictment, Shepley and his city council majority picked Cellini and Marchese to tackle the potentially $120 million Vulcan Lakes Tax Increment Financing deal.

Having worked as Cellini’s campaign front man in 1971 in Denny Kelley’s hugely unsuccessful Springfield mayoral campaign against Sangamon County Coroner Bill Telford, I would, of course, have recognized him had I attended that council meeting instead of a Cub Scout meeting with my son.

It was the Northwest Herald’s since departed reporter Karen Long who broke the story.

That inspired me to get a copy of the recording of the meeting. I posted a short version

and a longer one on Cellini’s interchange with Shepley on the necessity of condemnation for the shopping center next to the Vulcan Lakes TIF district where Cub Foods and Walmart used to be.

Shepley explained later that he thought it could be the site of a lifestyle shopping center.

The question that remains unanswered is how a Springfield-based Republican developer in business with a Democratic Party developer described by Kass as Mayor “Daley’s favorite” found out about this Crystal Lake TIF opportunity, let alone captured it from local developer Bo Strom of Charles River Development.

The short version—30 seconds–by the way, has been viewed 575 times; the long one—2 minutes and 19 seconds—448 times.

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The snippet about Bill Cellini is contained as a sidebar on a Sunday front page article on the Tony Rezko trial which starts selecting jurors on Monday.

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