How much do radio and TV commercials cost ComEd to tell us they will go bankrupt if they don't raise rates?Posted by Third Generation Chicago Native at 5/08/2007
As things heat up in Springfield with Lt. Governor Quinn, State Senate President Emil Jones, State House Speaker Michael Madigan, the commercials that ComEd is airing increase. I don't care if it is local radio and TV, this is getting ridiculous. I can't believe these commercials aren't cheap. Who is paying for them? Yes the people who now are paying much higher electric rates as the parent company Excelon makes record profits, and shares keep going up.
Feeling conflicted? Jones says no
May 6, 2007
BY CAROL MARIN firstname.lastname@example.org
I like Emil Jones a lot, but these days he's pretty angry at reporters like me.
The same Illinois Senate president I watched glide on the dance floor at the inauguration of Gov. Blagojevich in January, the same Emil Jones who just a few days later wrapped his arms like a proud political papa around Barack Obama when he announced for president, is mad enough to spit nails. And I think I can name his likely targets.
"You fabricate," he told Sun-Times Springfield Bureau Chief Dave McKinney Thursday.
Jones is referring to our stories last week about the incredible good fortune that has befallen his family during the reign of Rod Blagojevich and at a time when public utilities need formidable friends in the Legislature.
In a joint investigation, NBC5 News and the Chicago Sun-Times reported last week that at the same time Jones was engaged in legislative guerrilla warfare to guarantee that his campaign benefactor, Commonwealth Edison, wasn't stuck with a rate freeze, Jones' own stepson was making money working for Exelon, ComEd's parent company.
Not the Senate president.
"He doesn't check with me on what business he's doing," said Jones. "So I have no way of knowing what he's doing."
As it turns out, Jones' stepson, John Sterling, is apparently doing a lot of business his stepfather doesn't know about. Sterling, the CEO of Synch-Solutions, a computer technology firm and minority business enterprise, has loads and loads of contracts. In addition to the deal he has with Exelon, he has computer technology contracts with 12 governmental agencies including the City Colleges of Chicago, which just last month handed him another $45 million no-bid contract in addition to the $55 million they paid him for past work. Do the math. A hundred million dollars is a tidy chunk of change.
Does it matter that the Senate president's daughter, Rene Rose, does lobbying work in Springfield on behalf of the City Colleges? Or that the powerhouse law firm that hired her as a lobbyist, Mayer, Brown, Rowe and Maw LLP, also has Exelon as one of its clients?
Maybe it's just all a crazy coincidence. Illinois, after all, is not only the Land of Lincoln, it's also the Land of Coincidence.
And there are more coincidences in this saga.
In addition to Jones' stepson and daughter, his son Emil III just got a new and higher-paying state job last month working for the Blagojevich administration's Commerce Department at a salary of $57,360. His new title and 7 percent raise came right around the same time that Jones emerged as one of the governor's only outspoken advocates for a controversial new gross receipts tax that just about everyone else hates.
And finally, there is Jones' wife, Lorrie Stone. Under the Blagojevich administration, her salary has jumped $70,000 when she was promoted to state mental health chief. She makes $186,000 now.
"I'm proud of my son. I'm proud of my wife," said the Senate president on Thursday, pointing out that his family is filled with well-educated, highly qualified professionals.
Does he feel that he has any conflicts at all?
"I don't have a conflict," said the Senate president.
But that doesn't end the discussion.
While we were busy last week reporting on the giant no-bid contracts to Jones' stepson, we almost failed to notice a little bill that was passed out of the Senate last week. It's a doozy.
Senate Bill 1381, now in the Rules Committee of the House, would pave the way for even more no-bid contracts in Illinois. It would allow the state to circumvent the bidding process and hire computer technology firms or other minority businesses just as long as -- get this -- those companies had previously had contracts with other units of government or community colleges.
We don't need any more no-bid contracts in Illinois. And I would respectfully disagree with my friend, the Senate president.
When coincidences look like conflicts, they usually are.