Keep the meter running
The "gift" that kept on giving to Madison County coffers is set to fade away with a swipe of Judge Nicholas Byron's pen.
That's $2 billion of Philip Morris cash, posted as bond for its pending appeal of the Price case. It's been lodged at U.S. Bank, which has branches in Edwardsville and Glen Carbon.
As we've reported, the county has reaped the benefits of a share of the interest it earns—about $10 million worth since October 2003.
Last week, the Illinois Supreme Court ordered Byron to dismiss the case. That he hasn't yet is costing Philip Morris, which is required to deposit $200 million in the account-- storing $1,902,594,590.26 exactly as of last Friday -- every quarter.
If Byron enters the final judgment after December 31, Madison County gets another interest payment.
Tick tock, tick tock.
In previous years, he may have been lavishly outspent by the generous folks at SimmonsCooper, but the ambience at trial attorney John Hopkins' annual Christmas party--as it consistently is--could not have been more grand, attendees tell Dicta.
Democrat big shots and prominent public officials were feted by the Hopkins family at their lovely Alton manor-- deliciously rich with history.
Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy were once guests in the home's gentleman's parlor, a detail that is embellished in the room's artifacts. Portraits of the American greats--replicas of presidential portraits at the White House--adorn the south wall.
The home had been on a condemned property list before Hopkins saved it several years ago.
Silver Oak wine aflowin', a divine spread of succulent roast beef, bacon-encrusted scallops, spanikopita and other yummies were served in the dining room of the elegant home--- historic integrity intact.
Christmas party-hoppers report that SimmonsCooper's annual gala didn't match-up this year. Shrimp, meatballs and wine were served in the rented Fresco Gallery across from the courthouse.
In case you missed it..
Kudos to Brian Brueggemann of the Belleville News-Democrat for asking the right questions about "Victims and Families United," the purported "association" of victims that was really just PR-guy Doug Wojcieszak, some trial lawyer cash, and a press distribution list.
"It turns out that Victims and Families United was more Astroturf than grassroots," Brueggemann wrote in an investigation published last week.
Wojcieszak had touted a widow, Judy Buckles, as the group's founder when it was really all him. He staged press conferences under the guise that these "victims" were independently bashing tort reform efforts that some local journalists, sadly, simply accepted at face value.
The group, Brueggemann reports, "ceased operations" last summer. R.I.P.