Thursday, May 11, 2017

GLBT Bigly Price Reduction

Suppose a property developer came to Chicago with a slick haircut, a full head of blond hair, and a funny accent and said “I want to put up a skyscraper in downtown Chicago and it’s going to be big league.  It’s going to be really really huge.  It will cost $8 billion but it will be the greatest tower in Chicago’s history. I just need some property tax concessions and I need the city to cosign my loan.”  Then after pressure to show the project’s viability to make a profit, the cost of the bigly project is dropped to $2.8 billion.

Do you think the mayor, aldermen, and public would question the sale pitch or blindly accept the promises of economic expansion and riches for everyone?

Does anyone else see the red flags with Great Lakes Basin Transportation?  Last year Frank Patton told us the project cost $8 billion.  This year the exact same project is projected to cost $2.8 billion when GLBT submits the actual Application to the Surface Transportation Board.   

Oops.  Last year’s projection allegedly included the Great Lakes Basin Tollroad (aka Illiana).  Frank Patton prefers to call it the Dan Burnham Interstate, but call a spade a spade.  It’s the Illinan reincarnated. 

So what kind of idiot tells every one the project will cost $8 billion for over a year (probably closer to 2 years) then when there is public pressure and pushback, he lowers to projected project’s cost to $2.8 billion. 


What a bargain!

So, if we’re doing funny math here, how do we know the 2.8 billion isn’t just a lowball figure to get the project started and make the numbers look good on paper.  What if 8 billion doesn’t cash flow, but 2.8 billion looks better on paper.  Hey! Let’s lower the cost of the project to get regulatory approval.  Once the easements are purchased through eminent domain and we flip the project, it doesn’t matter what the cost really is. 

Come on Frank. 

There’s a big discrepancy between here, and the public is already suspicious of you being a snake oil salesman.  Your numbers on the application to the Surface Transportation Board need further justification to be believable after spending over a year spinning a yarn that this project will cost $8 billion.  If you want to get this project approved by the STB, I would suggest you give more detailed financial projections.   Get on top of this.  Show a more detailed projection of the cost for each bridge, how many tussles will be needed for drainage ditches, how many borrow pits will be needed for elevation.  Fly-overs aren’t cheap.  Give a better projection of the cost of land acquisition.  Give a per mile cost for the track.  Make us believe this $2.8 billion figure.   To get STB approval, more information is better.  It’s called “transparency”. 

Consider it free advice Frank.  Give the STB a more accurate and itemized cost description.  The Application is terribly vague.  SPeaking of vague, it is an oddity that the GLBT Chief Financial Officer, Thomas Duffy, did not give testimony in the Application.  Odd...

We realize you are going to be asking the federal government (taxpayer) to back your loans with federal guarantees.   Right now we just have to suspend our ability of disbelief to find this $2.8 billion price tag believable. 

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