Cal City legislators want Sears to give back money

2013-04-11T21:18:00Z 2013-04-11T23:06:13Z Cal City legislators want Sears to give back moneyGregory Tejeda Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
April 11, 2013 9:18 pm  • 

CALUMET CITY | State Rep. Thaddeus Jones, D-Calumet City, and two of his legislative colleagues whose districts include portions of the south suburbs plan to introduce a resolution Friday that says Sears should give back financial perks the state approved for the retailer two years ago to help maintain an Illinois presence.

Those perks included more than $100 million in assorted tax benefits. The Legislature acted when Sears Holding Corp. talked of moving its corporate headquarters from northwest suburban Hoffman Estates.

Since receiving those perks from Illinois in December 2011, Sears has laid off workers at its corporate offices and announced the closing of more than a hundred stores across the country.

But Jones admits he is most upset by the move Sears announced earlier this year to close its store at River Oaks Shopping Center. That store, which has been in existence since 1966, is an anchor of the shopping mall that is a dominant portion of Calumet City’s economy.

Jones, who also serves as an alderman in Calumet City, told his municipal colleagues that he and state Reps. Elgie Sims and Marcus Evans Jr. will introduce the resolution on Friday.

Calling Sears’ conduct “an egregious act,” Jones said, “we want (Sears) to give the money back.”

He said the closing of the Calumet City Sears store particularly bothers him because it means the loss of 164 jobs locally.

Sears officials were not available Thursday night to comment on Jones’ legislative threat.

But Mayor Michelle Markiewicz Qualkinbush was sympathetic to Jones’ intentions. “Calumet City supported Sears for decades, and now they’re walking away from us,” she said.

Jones acknowledged his resolution is a symbolic act that makes a statement but would have no binding authority over Sears.

“I don’t know if we’ll get any money back,” he said, adding he’d like to see the Illinois attorney general’s office look into the issue to see if any laws were violated by the retailer.

“I don’t know where this process will end up,” Jones said.

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