When a group of farmers, landowners, and residents first me in Mendota to oppose a powerline from Spenser, Iowa to Channahon, Illinois, it was acknowledged more proposed eminent domain projects are coming. That was some prophetic advice. More people are coming seeking easements through farmland for their personal gain. Not only actual utility companies but more venture capital projects who see the cost of obtaining easements through farmland and flipping the projects to the highest bidder as a quick dollar. The Rock Island Clean Line was just the beginning of venture capital speculation projects seeking eminent domain throughout the Midwest. Meet the Great LakesBasin Railroad, the new speculation project that wants eminent domain authority to build its project.
Frank Patton is a retired banking software saleman. He wants to build a railroad through northwestern Indiana into Illinois. To the best of knowledge, he has never ran a railroad or been employed by an existing railroad beyond his grandchildren's Thomas-The-Train Set. The railroad would hook through the center of Illinois and cross the Illinois River at Seneca. The Railroad would meander up to Earlville where it would shoot north and proceed up to Wisconsin at about Janesville. The estimated cost of this shortline railroad would be about $8 billion.
So who is funding this shortline railroad?
Not Union Pacific.
Frank Patton will not tell the public who his financial backers are. Maybe he has $20 billion in his 401k and wants to create an eight billion dollar railroad. Seriously, Who has 8 billion sitting around to invest in a startup shorline railroad? There are only a handful of people in America with that kind of money. More likely he is just a front man for someone else’s money. So who are his investors? Your speculation is as good as anyone’s? Could it be Warren Buffet? Doubtful. He already owns a railroad.
Could it be George Soros?
Could it be Michael Zilkha?
Only Frank Patton knows who his friend is and he isn’t talking, at least to the public. It wouldn’t be surprising if behind closed doors Frank Patton discloses the names of his partners to government officials to look impressive but so far Frank Patton only says he has help.
If Frank Patton, a retired banking software salesman, is just a friendly face for other people who will own and operate this railroad, he’s just as much a strawman. In all likelihood, eminent domain will be involved. Homes will be possessed and demolished. Affected residents deserve the right to know who will be taking control of their private property.
Then there is the fact that Frank Patton’s has been building his railroad since 2013. Again, in all likelihood eminent domain will be used to acquire these properties. Just like other speculation projects, Great Lakes Basin Railroad (GLBRR) has been working with and talking to federal, state, and local. There have been stories going back to 2013 that Patton has been “developing” this eminent domain project. Yet, landowners have not been notified. The Department of Transportation’s Surface Transportation Board has environmental scoping meeting scheduled in Illinois for next month yet affected communities are largely just finding out about this project.
How long have Patton been working with or partnering with federal, state, and county politicians and bureaucrats for a speculation project with a high degree of failure? How many landowners discover a railroad is being proposed through their backyard via Facebook? In the meantime Washington bureuacrats wonder why America hates them so much. Many of us see it as an ethic violation when government employees conspire with venture capital in deals that involve eminent domain.
Call it what it is. They are not “meeting” with government agencies, committees, or boards. They are “conspiring”. Speaking of conspiracies. Look at this map of the proposed route. Seems strange that GLBRR is avoiding DeKalb County. Below is the map included in the recent Chicago Tribune article. Makes a person wonder if locally elected officials in some counties are easier to work with and more “agreeable”. How are people supposed to feel when their home could be demolished because it was more lucrative or the path of least resistance to avoid a specific county?
Look at the Chicago Tribune's map. The proposed line goes out of the way to the west and up the county line, then back to the east just inside the Boone County border. What’s going on here? It's not hard to draw a logical conclusion someone powerful enough to shut this project down lives on DeKalb County or perhaps has farmland in DeKalb. It's a logical conclusion when you see the Eminent Domain Pornography like the map above.
Let's not go down the road where landowners try to push projects such as this on someone else's property. When project developers commit the sins of choosing a path of least resistance like this, projects deserve to die. Morally corrupted people such as Frank Patton have no business working in the delicate field of eminent domain.
Frank, who is your friend in DeKalb County? Whoever it is, they probably think they are very powerful in Illinois politics. Not implying political payoffs, but this map wasn't drawn with a crayon. There is a reason all of DeKalb County was avoided.
Are there several potential solutions being proposed? Yes.
Are there people attempting to work outside the established railroad & transportation organizations to push their projects for their profit? Sure looks like it.
When one company has been working with the government for several years attempting to sell the project that means 278 miles of eminent domain, yes, landowners and residents will be skeptical. When your starting eminent domain projects such as this, honesty is key. When landowners are shut out of the process for 2 and a half, three years and maybe longer, there is a pattern of deceit. Landowners and residents should have been brought to the table much much earlier.