Memories of Springfield’s Red Light District

The hotel on the left was called the Renaissance Hotel in the beginning. It was another urban renewal project spearheaded by Bill Cellini.

When I was staying at the Hotel Governor (now a parking lot where the the Old Capitol Art Fair Wine Tasting is held), the cheapest place in the Illinois State Capitol to rent a room, there was a row of apartment buildings across the street.

Cheapskates besides me who stayed there included

  • State Senator Prescott Bloom, who gave his life trying to save both of his children when his Peoria home burned,  and
  • State Rep. Lew Caldwell, an independent black Chicago Democrat with a Northwestern University Social Work Master’s Degree, who authored “The Policy King.”

It was also used as a place at least one State Senator rented to have a one night stand. The noise on the other side of the wall kept me awake a bit longer than I normally would have been.

I remember one of buildings across the street had a bar on the first floor where I sometimes bought popcorn.

Above the street level establishments were reputed to be ladies of ill repute. I was told that was where the “Springfield wife” (that’s what the girl friends were called) of a pious Northern Illinois lived. Right across from the infamous St. Nicholas Hotel (where Secretary of State Paul Powell of cash in shoe box fame stayed).

In any event, when Bill Cellini’s company bought up the property and put in what I thought was a totally senior citizens housing development, it was considered quite an improvement for Downtown Springfield.

Much as the construction of the hotel built by Cellini’s investment group with state help engineered by Governor Jim Thompson and Treasurer Jerry Cosentino was praised because they replaced Springfield’s skid row.

Now with Cellini’s having been convicted of assorted politically-connected nastiness’s, any politician with a Cellini connection seems fair game for the media.

The Chicago Sun-Times has a photo of Bill Celinni's urban renewal project, which is called Neart North Village.

Yesterday, the Chicago Sun-Times revealed that Illinois State Treasurer Dan Rutherford is living in an apartment there at state expense. (Apparently, the building houses more than senior apartments.)

And Cellini family members and family-owned firms own the building.

$1,600 a month rent for a Springfield residence that Rutherford, as a state official, is required to maintain.  (George Ryan had a duplex when he was Secretary of State).

Draw your own conclusion as to the propriety.

On other matters, remember that Rutherford is head of the Mitt Romney campaign for the second time around.

Remember that Romney was not at all pleased that U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald prosecuted, let alone convicted Scooter Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s guy.

Is anyone but me sure that Fitzgerald will not be reappointed if Romney is elected?


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