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Prairie Parkway part of ‘60 Minutes’ report Sunday

‘60 Minutes’

The CBS TV news magazine show “60 Minutes” airs at 6 p.m. today.

Updated: December 14, 2011 8:20AM

Former U.S. Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert and the Prairie Parkway will be part of a report to air Sunday on the CBS television news magazine “60 Minutes”.

CBS TV reporter Steve Kroft was in the area about six weeks ago, “working on a piece on how members of Congress profit from insider information,” said Jan Strasma, a member of Citizens Against the Sprawlway, in an e-mail this week.

“One of the examples (in the ‘60 Minutes’ coverage) is Hastert’s $2 million profit from selling land a few months after inserting $207 million in earmarks in the 2005 transportation bill for the Prairie Parkway,” Strasma said.

The Prairie Parkway is a proposed highway linking Interstates 88 and 80, stretching from I-88 in west central Kane County, through Kendall County and connecting with I-80 near Minooka.

According to the 60 Minutes website, Kroft “reports on how America’s lawmakers can legally buy stock based on non-public information.” It will be in a report titled “Insiders,” the website says.

In Hastert’s case, it was land, not stock, that the former speaker purchased around 2003 north of Plano. He bought a 195-acre estate for about $2.125 million, or about $11,000 an acre, then sold part of it along with other land he held in a trust two years later for about $5 million, or about $36,000 an acre.

The Beacon-News broke the story about Hastert’s profit in an award-winning, three-part report in 2006 that included discussion about the effect of the Prairie Parkway corridor on land values in western Kane and Kendall counties.

Hastert has maintained that the increase in the land values had more to do with development moving west from Kane and DuPage counties, rather than the parkway corridor.

But Hastert critics, such as Strasma, have said the profit was more connected to the Prairie Parkway.

Strasma said Kroft and three news crews spent a day in the area of Big Rock and western Kane County. Strasma said they interviewed him, and also filmed at the area around Hastert’s land holdings in Kendall County.

They also filmed around the Big Rock Township farm of Marvel Davis, another staunch opponent of the Prairie Parkway, who would lose part of her farm to the parkway if it is built where the Illinois Department of Transportation has recorded the corridor.

Davis has gotten attention as a parkway opponent, and also as someone who sold her land to the Kane County Forest Preserve at a substantially lower price than she could have to a developer. That land now is part of the Big Rock Forest Preserve.

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