The village of North Riverside earlier this fall quietly jettisoned the firm that has served as its principal lobbyist in Springfield since August 2017.
Mayor Hubert Hermanek Jr. said at a meeting of the village board’s administrative committee on Nov. 9 that he had terminated the village’s $48,000 annual contract with The Roosevelt Group.
On Dec. 14, village trustees are expected to approve a contract with a new lobbying firm, the newly formed GR Consulting, which will be paid the same amount the village had been paying The Roosevelt Group.
The new lobbying firm’s principals are Arthur Turner Jr. and Larry Luster.
Turner is the son of longtime former state Rep. Art Turner Sr. The younger Turner succeeded his father in representing the 9th District in 2010. Turner Jr. resigned as state representative in the 9th District in July, a month after GR Consulting filed incorporation papers with the Illinois Secretary of State.
Luster, a lifelong resident of Springfield, is the former director of policy and outreach at The Roosevelt Group and was political director for Kwame Raoul’s campaign for Illinois Attorney General.
“I think it’s absolutely imperative we have a lobbyist in Springfield,” Hermanek told trustees on Nov. 9.
Hermanek said he was recommending the change, because he’d terminated The Roosevelt Group’s contract a month earlier. Why?
“Their ability to lobby has been greatly diminished,” Hermanek told trustees at the meeting.
The reason for that is because The Roosevelt Group has been caught up in a wide-ranging federal corruption probe involving state and local politicians and firms seeking their favor.
WBEZ reported in July that federal agents had issued a subpoena to House Speaker Michael Madigan seeking information on, among other things, The Roosevelt Group as well as documents pertaining to Exelon and ComEd.
The Chicago Sun-Times in September noted that Roosevelt Group partner Victor Reyes had lobbied on behalf of ComEd and that another Roosevelt Group partner, Mike Noonan, had served as a paid consultant to the red-light camera company SafeSpeed LLC.
Earlier this year a former SafeSpeed founding partner, Omar Maani, entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with prosecutors in exchange for his cooperation in the corruption probe.
North Riverside hired The Roosevelt Group in 2017 after the retirement of their former lobbyist Jack Kubik. According to the minutes of a village board committee meeting from July 2017, The Roosevelt Group came recommended by then-Cook County Commissioner Jeffrey Tobolski, who found himself a target in the same federal corruption probe and in September pleaded guilty to extortion and filing a false tax return.
The 2017 committee meeting minutes indicate that Hermanek and Village Attorney Burt Odelson personally met with Noonan about The Roosevelt Group signing on as North Riverside’s lobbyist on a $4,000 monthly retainer.
Hermanek credited The Roosevelt Group with pushing through legislation that last year created a non-home rule gasoline tax. The mayor said the law was written specifically to benefit North Riverside, a non-home rule community in Illinois that houses a Costco store and gas station.
The village got its first month’s worth of gasoline tax revenue recently, a check for $19,000.