Nicolay and Dart LLC were hired after a quick waive of the one week waiting period. This allows the lobby firm to be under contract when the DuPage Mayors and Managers Conference descend on Springfield in April 8 & 9.
The “Drive Down” is, in essence, a chance for DuPage municipalities to be heard by state legislators, to have meetings with state government, and to lobby. DG council members, and now also Nicolay and Dart LLC, will be looking to lobby hard for the $8.5 million to get the Belmont underpass financing fixed, done, and get the project underway.
There is a capital spending bill in the works right now too, being touted by Illinois Works. The Illinois Works Coalition is working to pass a Capital Bill that would provide a minimum of $25 billion for Illinois infrastructure. The Coalition is headed up by Gov. Blago and co-chaired by former Speaker of the U S House of Representatives Dennis Hastert and former Congressman and current President of SIU Glenn Poshard. Chambers of commerce, labor and trade groups and industry organizations are represented on the steering committee. The Steering Committee includes our very own
King DuPage County Board Chairman Bob Schillerstrom. As you can see from the photo, King Bob is keeping a close eye on that Capital Bill, but he did not offer any help for the Belmont $8.5 million-so far. Not in “his” county money, and not in the state Capital Bill: there currently is nothing in there to help finish funding the Belmont project. Thanks for thinking of a project ten years in the wanting in your county, King Bob, a project that will not only make a dangerous grade crossing safe, but spur economic growth in the nearby Ellsworth Business Park.
Back to DG and Nicolay and Dart LLC. What council approved is an attempt, via connected lobbyists, to buy direct access to the guys- Emil Jones, Mike Madigan- that hold the purse strings and dole out the favors. A full court press if you will. The pros being brought in to get ‘er done.
Waiving one week waiting periods is usually a questionable thing, as our council follows a tradition started many years ago. It continues to show a village government that is one step behind and unable to catch up. At some point, there has to be an effort to get things slotted on time and not at the last minute.
This one is a bet that giving these lobby guys money will get us that $8.5 million, getting us our underpass. Time is a cruncher here; in this case King Bob could have helped us out last week and instead reamed us out, so quick Plan B (C? D?) decisions had to be made
By the end of April council will either be looking smart about progress made due to a wise investment in lobbyists, or wondering if they wasted $36,000 on a bad bet. And maybe looking for another plan. The clock continues to run on the construction season: 2008 looks like it will not be the start year for the actual Belmont underpass construction to begin.
If another year is lost, will costs creep up again? DG may be looking for $9 million next year if we do not get the $8.5 million this year.
Fingers are being crossed, and wood is being knocked on.