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Sneed: State Rep. Jack Franks aims to stop sweetheart loans to profs

Illinois Rep. Jack Franks (D-Marengo)

Illinois Rep. Jack Franks (D-Marengo)

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Updated: December 9, 2013 11:02AM



Stop the perks!

Perk patrol: State Rep. Jack Franks (D-Marengo) wants to stop lavish loans to professors on the backs of students in debt.

Sneed has learned that Franks is filing legislation Friday that would make it illegal for colleges and universities to give sweetheart loans to their faculties and staff.

◆ Kick shot: “These not-for-profit institutions are tax-exempt as well as property tax-exempt — and if they are acting like a for-profit organization by giving out perks to professors, that’s wrong,” Franks told Sneed in June, when he first learned about the practice.

◆ Backshot: “This summer, I read about professors and staff at New York University receiving interest-free loans for summer homes and loan forgiveness as part of their compensation, and my first thought was of all of their students who are paying interest on loans that will not be forgiven,” Franks said. “Immediately, I decided something had to be done to ensure students, parents and taxpayers in Illinois aren’t footing the bill for the same type of activity.”

◆ Backshot II: One egregious example cited by the New York Times involved a mortgage loan to new U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, a former NYU executive veep, whose loan from NYU was forgiven and became an issue during his confirmation hearings.

“This better not be happening,” Franks, chairman of the State Government Administration committee, told Sneed in June.

◆ Franks said he dispatched letters to 19 Illinois colleges and universities, asking if they had an interest-free loan program for faculty and staff — and “what were the terms of these loans and whether they were forgiven after a certain period of time,” he said.

◆ The upshot: “All but one of the schools responded . . . and five of them have these loans: University of Chicago, Loyola University Chicago, North Park University, Lake Forest College and Northwestern University,” he said. Columbia College didn’t answer.

◆ End shot: “Attracting and retaining talent is a legitimate concern for universities and this bill does nothing to impede that; it simply puts everyone on the same playing field,” added Franks. “Using a public university’s financial resources to provide lavish fringe benefits is unfair to taxpayers and students.”

◆ Slap shot: House Bill 3749, also known as the Higher Education Employee Loan Act, prohibits tax-exempt colleges, universities and any affiliated foundations from issuing loans to employees for the purpose of purchasing second homes. The measure also prohibits schools from providing loans to employees at below-market rates or forgiving them.

The Jarrett file . . .

$$$: Is Valerie Jarrett saving the taxpayers money?

Sneed hears that Jarrett, President Barck Obama’s first friend and senior White House adviser, was spotted without her usual contingent of bodyguards at the East Bank Club recently.

◆ Sight seen: “There is always a retinue of Secret Service agents when she works out at the club, but about two weeks ago — at the tail end of the government shutdown — they seemed to have disappeared,” said a top Sneed source.

◆ “Valerie was on the elliptical machine, and while everyone else was watching the shutdown mess on TV, she was watching ‘Law and Order,’ the source said. No kidding. Probably because the bodyguards were furloughed.

He’s back!

Nawwww! Now comes word that reclusive former presidential hopeful John Edwards, whose mistress helped torpedo his career while his wife lay dying, is out and about . . . and dating a much younger woman.

This & that . . .

◆ Former presidential adviser David Axelrod is writing a book, in between play dates with his new pup.

◆ Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton summoned up Marni Rix at the Marianne Strokirk Salon to style her newer, shorter haircut while in Chicago recently.

Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, are hotfooting it in India . . . And how was your day?

Sneedlings . . .

Congrats to Chicago Sun-Times TV critic Lori Rackl on being honored as alumna of the year by her alma mater, Addison Trail High School . . . Friday’s birthdays: Bonnie Raitt, 64; Christie Hefner, 61, and happy belated to Burt Natarus, 80.



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