LANSING | Officials interested in boosting Lansing at the Statehouse hired a prominent firm to represent the village's interests with Illinois government.
By a 6-0 vote, trustees approved a lobbying services agreement with Alfred G. Ronan, Ltd.
Ronan was a staffer in the Illinois Department of Transportation during the administration of former Gov. Dan Walker, according to the Illinois Blue Book. He went on to represent a portion of Chicago’s Northwest Side in the Illinois House of Representatives from 1979-1992.
Since leaving the Legislature, he has become a prominent lobbyist representing many interests — both Democratic and Republican — before the General Assembly.
Ronan said he sees Lansing’s interests as similar to those of many other municipal governments across the country, they need money to help maintain streets and infrastructure.
He also cited the Lansing Municipal Airport as a priority for the village, and said when state officials try putting together a new capital projects bill next year, he plans to work to ensure that Lansing projects are included in the statewide list.
The contract begins Sept. 1, although Ronan said he already has had talks with Village President Norm Abbott to put together a list of priority projects for Lansing.
“We’re going to get started right away,” he said.
Village Administrator J. Wynsma said Lansing will pay Ronan $5,000 per month for the next year to keep Lansing officials informed about legislative activity and to work with legislators toward passage of bills that municipal officials have an interest in.
“He’s well-regarded down there,” Wynsma said of Ronan’s reputation in Springfield.
Ronan’s lobbying firm during the early 2000s was Ronan Potts LLC, and the firm, along with one of its employees, were indicted in 2004 in a bid-rigging scheme involving an $800 million expansion of the McCormick Place convention center in Chicago, according to the U.S. attorney's office. But the U.S. attorney’s office said Ronan himself never faced criminal charges and he cooperated in the investigation.
In recent years, Village Planning Director Kristi DeLaurentiis has used her contacts in Springfield from a past job with the Metropolitan Planning Council to keep Lansing appraised of state government activity.
But Wynsma said Lansing could use a full-time lobbyist.
“We have attempted to follow the legislative process unsuccessfully,” he said. “The village of Lansing can use more representation.”
Among bills pending in the General Assembly that Lansing has had an interest in is a measure to exempt the Lansing Municipal Airport from leasehold taxes, which are charged to private businesses that lease government land. State law exempts airports outside of Cook County. Village officials say the taxes treat the Lansing airport like O’Hare International and Midway airports, rather than comparable air strips across the rest of the state.
The bill has been pending for several years and has at various points received Illinois House approval. But it has never been able to gain the support of the full Legislature in any given year as municipal officials say it was pushed aside by higher-priority statewide issues.