I thank the Chicago Reader and reporter Harold Henderson for the article “Other People’s Money: The Truth Behind a $30 Million Campaign Trick, and How You’re Still Paying for It” [November 3]. The Reader has taken the time to fully investigate and reflect on what is going on and what went on in the controversial hotel deal which has already cost the state millions during the past 13 years with millions more ahead should the deal run its potential, 15 more years.
No one in the private sector would ever have gotten into something like this, and had they and discovered it was such a dog, they would have divested themselves of it as quickly as possible. With impaired investments, your worst hit is your first, and the earlier you take it, the less you lose.
That has been my intent from the beginning. Anyone can argue that my proposed settlement of $10 million was too low. We shall see. However, since my proposal unraveled on June 30, I have received absolutely no offers for the hotels of any kind, let alone for the $19 million which the University of Illinois finance wizards suggested when they are not even certified appraisers.
Every day is a loss for the state. There is a time to bite the bullet. Yes, it should have been long ago, but that is yesterday’s news. What are we doing about it today? I stand behind my proposal as the only one which worked, and had it come into play, we already would have had $10 million in the till on the front end. Invested wisely, it would have already earned $210, 269.62 in interest with the potential of some $23 to $35 million down the road. Cash in hand, a predictable deal, is worth something rather than playing on the come. I do not think it is a wise course to ever play on the come with public finance.
This could have been behind us and we could have gone on to better things. Now we are mired in legal wranglings, costly lawyers, a feeble trust fund which will not sustain itself, and years of God knows what. This deal was like sticky bubble gum on the bottom of the state’s shoe from the beginning. Our shoe is now firmly stuck.
We will continue to try to find a way out of this quagmire, but you are right. There is no political gain here. I intend to end this problem one way or another, but it will not be overnight. We all need to work together towards a satisfactory end for the taxpayers of Illinois.
Judy Baar Topinka
Illinois State Treasurer